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Cheap Eats in LA?

So my first post ever was about sushi. I quickly realized that all this time I was living in blissful ignorance. Urasawa? What is that? Quickly turned into, "Ohhh, looks lovely but perhaps after I save a bit..."

Once a professional but now a full-time student (i.e. zero cashflow). Sadly, my tastebuds cannot unlearn what little they know (b/c what little they know has at times felt like love to them and how can they say goodbye to that? : P). Need to ration out sushi nights. But what to do in the meantime?

Living-off-savings-and-student-loans type people unite! Let's share with each other what awesome cheap eats sustain us.

I'll start! (^_^)

1) Tito's Tacos (Culver City) - taco ($1.20), meat and bean burrito ($2.40), and the salsa (yum!)
2) Daily Wok (Gardena) - pho ($4.25), spring rolls ($2.25)
3) Ralphs (Marina Del Rey) - salmon and avocado sushi rolls ($6.25)
4) Whole Foods (Westwood) - milano panini ($6.99)

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  1. One of the things I love most about LA is that there are so many great inexpensive delicious foods! Great places get mentioned here all the time providing inspiration for exploration...here's what comes up in a quick search:


    1 Reply
    1. re: hrhboo

      Hey, how do you edit your responses on this thing? I tried to edit a comment and it keeps posting it twice... : ( BOOO...

    2. the two best deals i've found are:
      1) the all-you-can-eat deal on falafal sandwiches that is offered by the hungry pocket on mondays and wednesdays.
      their sandwiches are fresh and great.
      the price was about $7 last year
      and if you have a little extra money they will squeeze some juice to order for you.
      they have the very best homemade piquante sauce in town, too. be sure to ask for it.
      Hungry Pocket 1715 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica 90405 Btwn 17th & 18th St Phone: 310-450-5335
      2) thai boom
      they offer their lunch special menu all day long.
      fantastic quality.
      fwiw, i love almost all their food except their noodle dishes. that leaves a TON of other terrific options.
      on venice blvd and midvale (west of overland)

      1 Reply
      1. re: westsidegal

        You've said two of my favorite words: "falafel" and "all-you-can-eat"... OK, the latter is not a word but a phrase but you know what I mean. Thanks for the info! I'd never even heard of Hungry Pocket! It sounds yummy, it's not too far from my house, and it's cheap. Lovely. : D

      2. Fortunately, I'm not confined to the student lifestyle, but we still need to be able to go out without breaking the bank. In the SFV, we do Swann Thai (Sherman Way & Coldwater), and get stuffed for under $20. Their small plates menu has amazing stuff for like $2.50 each! Also, Pho So 1 on Van Nuys - get a huge bowl of Pho for like $6. Two of us usually get out of there for $20 even with coconut juice & spring rolls.

        3 Replies
        1. re: alexfood

          Thanks for the tip! I will definitely look those places up (most likely the pho place - I am a pho fiend) the next time I'm in the SFV. Unfortunately, with gas prices the way they are, I may end up driving two bowls of pho and a spring roll's worth of gas getting there and coming back! : P

          1. re: alexfood

            Sherman Way is a cheap eats mecca. Anyone on a budget and with a taste for ethnic food should pay a visit. Krua is my regular Thai place but Swann is among several other excellent and inexpensive options. My new fave is el Hatuchay, a totally humble and welcoming Peruvian restaurant.
            High-end restaurants may be lacking in the Valley but we got the low-cost ethinic stuff in abundance.

            1. re: bodie

              El Hatuchay is very good but try Las Quenas, which is a couple blocks east, on Sherman and Bellaire, for even better -- and make sure to get ceviche with octopus in it, and if budget allows, leche asada for dessert. Both Las Quenas and El Hatuchay have "menus", which is two or three courses for a fixed price. First course is usually salad or papas a la huancaina, but you may get lucky.

              Also on Sherman Way: Sunshine Thai (Fulton-ish), Bua Siam (Coldwater Canyon), BBQ Unlimited [Cantonese] (Coldwater Canyon-ish), Pho 999 (Coldwater Canyon), Pollo A La Lena (Coldwater Canyon), Sanamluang Thai (Coldwater Canyon-ish), Khun Dang Thai (Fulton-ish).

              Nearby and worth it: Wat Thai (Coldwater Cyn/Cantara, weekend lunch only), Sri Siam (Coldwater Cyn/Vanowen), shepherd's pies at Mom's Place (Coldwater Cyn/Vanowen), Golden Fork/Zolotaya Vilka (Fulton/Vanowen), El Criollo Cuban (Fulton/Victory), takeaway from Vallarta Market (Victory/Ethel), Carnitas Michoacan (Victory/Coldwater Cyn), falafel sandwiches from Top Falafel (Victory/Coldwater Cyn, behind Uno's), Tasty Burger (Vanowen/Whitsett), Skaf's Lebanese Grill (Oxnard/Laurel Cyn).

              If you can't fill your belly for under $10 at any of these places (maybe $15 at the Cuban place), you're a way bigger eater than I am... and I'm not a little guy.

          2. Taste, quality, size for the money -- a must try no matter what budget.

            Tito's Market (Beef empanadas -- $1.10)
            9814 Garvy Ave.
            El Monte, CA 91733
            (626) 579-1893

            3 Replies
            1. re: JeetJet

              Minor correction: it should be "Garvey Ave." If you're in the SGV, we've a number of cheap places. I have some listed on my restaurant review website: http://www.geocities.com/raytamsgv.

              1. re: raytamsgv

                You are right.My Thanks. From the 10 go South on Rosemead Blvd. Form the 60 go North on Rosemead. At Rosemead Blvd. and Garvey Ave go East on Garvey and Tito's will be on the right. The market is in the rear of the "U" shaped strip mall. Tito's subs and empanadas built the strip mall.

                Tito's Market (Beef empanadas -- $1.10)
                9814 Garvy Ave.
                El Monte, CA 91733
                (626) 579-1893

                1. re: JeetJet

                  I go to Monterey Park pretty often so will definitely swing by to try this place next time I do. Thanks! : )

            2. i don't know if i'll ever be able to afford urasawa.. but as of now (i am a grad student with zero cash flow) i LOVE sushi don in valley village (laurel canyon exit off the 101). 5 pieces of nigiri (2 albacores, 1 tuna, 1 yellowtail, 1 salmon) plus 5 pieces of any kind of roll you want (their blue crab rolls and scallop rolls are my favorite) for $8.95! they get their fish with their sister restaurant, sasabune.

              i also love sunnin lebanese cafe in westwood for their chicken kebab sandwich for $5.50!

              dino's burgers (pico near normandie) for their chicken maniaco for about $5.

              chutney's (pico x barrington) for their lunch specials. i think a quarter chicken plate is something ridiculous like $2.95. everything is cheap though. and GOOD.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jwn

                YAY! Fellow grad student!! You feel my pain. Furthermore, every single one of your suggestions sounds appealing and they're cheap! HOORAY! : D

                I cannot WAIT to try the sister restaurant of Sasabune place in Valley Village. Thanks!!! : )

                1. re: jwn

                  Update: I was in and out of town for a while but snuck in a trip to Sushi Don back in June and was blown away! So fresh and so cheap!! Can't thank you enough for the recommendation. Sooo happy to be back in LA. There are so many more places to try that y'all have so kindly suggested! : )

                2. The places listed below all have other items than the things mentioned -- for some, I've listed what my housemate and I tend to get for dinner (usually for takeout):

                  1) La Playita (Santa Monica/Venice taco stand) burrito ($3.50) they’re large; a chicken burrito from there can be dinner for me

                  2) Pollo a la Brasa (Koreatown) ½ chicken + fries + salad ($8.50) feeds two somewhat sparingly

                  3) Elena’s (Glendale) #11 (soup or salad, chicken kebab, two smallish lulu kebabs, rice, roast pepper & tomato) (~$8) easily feeds two. Other items on the menu are have the same sides and are equally generous

                  4) Zankou (various locations) half roast chicken, humus, chopped tomatoes, garlic sauce & other garnishes, pita (~$10 including extra pita); with the extra pita, feeds two

                  5) Rodeo Grill (Echo Park) ½ grilled chicken, rice, beans, salad + tortillas (~$7+tax) serves 1 very generously. Plate with 3 enchiladas, rice & beans (~$7+tax), serves 1. The Rodeo Grill is a little less expensive than the other places I’ve listed, but they often have M-F specials.
                  -Breakfasts (served until 1pm) are a good deal at the Rodeo Grill. I like the French Slam, with 4 triangles of French toast, bacon, sausage, and two eggs (~$6)

                  6) Happy Tom’s (Echo Park), one block away from the Rodeo Grill, is operated by the same people has very similar food for about $1 less per dish; it’s open somewhat shorter hours and is a little less nice to sit in.

                  7) Philippe the original (Chinatown) has inexpensive breakfasts which are only served until 10:30am.

                  Grocery stores:
                  8) El Rancho (Echo Park, corner of Alvarado & Sunset). Nice cheap little neighborhood grocery store with a butcher, some decent veggies, and sundries. Oriented towards Mexican-Americans and people from El Salvador.

                  9) Jon’s Market (various locations). Supermarkets with large selection of ethnic items. Their veggies can be cheap but one has to select them carefully.

                  10) And then of course there’s always Trader Joe’s. I always end up spending more than I want to, but their staples and entrees can be reasonable if one exerts self-control.

                  I lament the now-departed Cafe la Paz, formerly of Echo Park. Does anyone know whether the owners were able to re-open somewhere?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: emmy

                    You are awesome! God bless your soul (and stomach)! : D

                    Out of the non-grocery store places you mentioned, I only recognized Zankou, which is fabulous. The prospect of visiting some of the hole-in-the-wall sounding places on your list really excites me. SIGH. So happy... Thank you! : )

                    Btw, your description of Philippe reminded me of this little diner in Culver City called Tokyo 77 (or something like that). It's located behind the parking structure on Cardiff between Venice and Culver. Have you ever been there? Their burgers are in the $2 range and though I've never had it, the breakfast is $2.35 or something ridiculously cheap. All these older regulars are always in there. Real homey feel. I love it. : )

                    1. re: emmy

                      Oh, no! What happened to La Paz?

                    2. IMO these are the best fish tacos in L.A.., yes I have been to the East L.A. place (Tacos Baja...ha ha) and these are bigger and better. Also, on Wednesday they are $1 ea. Buy a small drink and get free refills. The free salsa bar is very good too. The shrimp taco cost more but they are way better than Tacos Baja shrimp.

                      Tacos la Bufadora (Deep Fried Fish and Shrimp tacos)
                      10990 Lower Azusa Rd
                      El Monte, CA 91731
                      (626) 575-7174

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: JeetJet

                        IMO (pre-Tacos la Bufadora) my favorite fish tacos are from California Fish Grill in Gardena. The fried fish tacos are $1.90, the cajun shrimp one is $2.35, and the grilled zucchini is oh-so-good... (forgot how much they cost though). I'm curious to see whether CFG will be dethroned after I try some TLB... What a happy and inexpensive experiment. : )

                        1. re: emmaramma

                          It is a ball trying fish and shrimp tacos from place to place, or for that matter any kind of taco, and ya, inexpensive fun. Now I will try California Fish Grill in Gardena. I sometimes stop in at Gardena Bowl for Bacon Fried Rice. That is a good anount of food for the money and can be two meals. Next time I stop there I will try a taco at CFG.

                          Since you like shrimp, I wonder if you have tried Fisherman's Outlet -- lunch only. My fav shrimp cocktail anyplace because of the perfect flavor, amount of fresh shrimp and low price. I think it is close to $5 or $6. But this is a meal in itself. I always feel like I ate like a happy whale after having that shrimp cocktail because of the amount of shrimp in my belly. I have said on another post that I think that shrimp cocktail is the best food value in L.A for the money.

                          Fisherman's Outlet Restaurant and Market (Grilled of Deep fried seafood, Shrimp Cocktail, Large salads))
                          529 S Central Ave (Cross Street: Fifth Street)
                          Los Angeles, CA 90013-1714
                          (213) 627-7231

                          1. re: JeetJet

                            Ooooo, bacon fried rice. Sounds good! I'm on a diet (well, not really... just trying to eat more salads and move around more - haha) but am tempted to try it. I love spam fried rice and spam musubi w/ a passion... : )

                            And no, I haven't tried Fisherman's Outlet yet. Thanks for the info! I just googled them and visited their website. The pictures of the chargrilled shrimp almost made me drool. Speaking of shrimp, have you had the shrimp cocktail platter from Costco? I got one the other day for $10. Thought I could eat the whole thing in one sitting (b/c it was SO good) but had to stop after half. I too had a lot of shrimp in my belly and I too felt like a whale, though not too happy since I was about to burst. Haha.

                            Happy eating!!! : D

                            1. re: emmaramma

                              Ya, Cosco seafood has been good for our family get-togethers. We tried the shrimp twice in the last two months when we could not sit next to the Bab-b-q. My son picks it up.

                              Also, Since you also mentioned going to Monterey Park. If you want to try Bacon Fried Rice then maybe try Shakas. IMO it is even better than Gardena Bowl. The amount of food will last a whole day -- just keep pounding. Also, very good shave ice just like on the islands but get a small shave ice because it is very large. Check out my post on Shakas.

                              My post

                              2300 Garfield Ave.
                              Monterey Park CA
                              (323) 888-2695

                              101 W. Main St. #C (Enter from First Street behind Starbucks Coffee)
                              Alhambra, CA
                              (626) 293-5520

                              1. re: JeetJet

                                Hahah! Loved your post. I could hear Iz playing in the background... : D Thanks for the suggestion. You're the second person who's mentioned Shakas to me in the last couple months. Must go soon.

                                YAWN! Dude, it's 1am already. Better get going. Until next time, bon apetit! : )

                      2. If you can find a Pollo Campero, their fried chicken is awesome, a meal can be had for $5.
                        I also love Chipolte for most anything. I think most can be had for under $7.
                        And it maybe a sin to mention, but McDonald's Angus burgers are really good.
                        No, really.
                        The garlic halibut at Versailles is pretty good for $10
                        I also love the grilled paninis at Ralph's deli counters. I am partial to the turkey with cheese, avocado and onion for $7
                        I also love the mushroom lasanga at Whole Foods
                        The Ethopian restaurants on Fairfax also have great lunch deals, mostly under $10

                        Just a few thoughts.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Ndelible

                          Thanks for your thoughts!

                          Agreed about Chipotle! During finals week I had their chicken burrito 4 days in a row and didn't get sick of it. Was marveling at how $11 could buy dinner (a Chipotle Chicken Burrito for $7) plus coffee and dessert ($2 Americano + $2 brownie).

                          I think I've been to Versailles 10 times over the years. 1 time I got some pork dish. The other 9 times I got the garlic chicken. I am a creature of habit... But perhaps now I will break out of that to try the halibut.

                          Looking forward to trying your other suggestions as well, especially the fried chicken and Angus burger! : )

                          1. re: emmaramma

                            How about the snackers at KFC? I prefer the buffalo and barbecue versions, myself. 1$ each.

                            1. re: Iateitup

                              The snackers aren't bad but if I'm gonna go the fast food fried chicken route, I'm more a fan of Chicken McNuggets. When they're fresh, they're so crispy and delicious! : )

                              1. re: emmaramma

                                I view the chicken nuggets as a vehicle for the dipping sauces, because people would look at me funny if I just ordered those.

                        2. Costco Hot Dog and soda for $1.50

                          $1 scoop Tuesdays at Baskin Robbins

                          Won Won Kitchen (in Temple City) with nothing over $5, incl. things like black pepper chicken and pork chop rice.

                          HK Market (korean market in Glendale) with all prepared food 50% off after 8 p.m.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            There is also an HK Market on Olympic just west of Vermont with the same 50% off after 8 pm.

                          2. I'm guessing that you live near West LA. These are my immediate suggestions, and yes, I'm going to list chains. :)

                            Baja Fresh
                            Any drive thru that you like
                            Souplantation ($8-$10)

                            I was eating at Chipotle and Panda Express for a while, but I have recently stopped. I would still eat at Chipotle. My last experience at Panda was bad, so X that one off.

                            Also, a friend of mine gets sandwiches frequently from Vons. They have interesting spreads and bread (quite tasty, actually). I think there's a deal where after you buy a number of sandwiches, you get one free. Check it out at a Vons deli near you. I think you need a Vons card for this.

                            Also, I read on the Shamshiri (Westwood) website that they have lunch specials. Although I've never been there for lunch, the prices look cheaper, and it could be a good deal.

                            (Note: For some reason the Shamshiri website is down today.)

                            Also, the salad bars are Gelson's and Whole Foods can be good. The cost of the salad adds up quickly, though, as they price by the pound.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: katkoupai

                              the shamshiri grill lunch specials are GREAT deals!
                              basically, they offer a ton of stuff at about 1/3 off the price of the same item on their dinner menu. of course, the portion size is about a third less than the dinner portions, but even at that, you will still get big portions.
                              their website doesn't reflect even half the menu items that they offer.
                              they need a new webmaster.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                for over a year, the Shamshiri website has omitted a page or few from their menu.

                              2. re: katkoupai

                                i like these chains.. i like the mojo potatoes over at shakey's too.. they had a good pizza deal before for starving students... and they deliver =)

                                1. re: kinipela

                                  There are some particular locations of a “Chain” that are very strong links in that chain. In SGV I know of two that I feel shine. The fried chicken at the Shaky’s in Covina is always golden, crispy, not oily, very moist and tender and has been for the last several years. I just had it this week and it was perfect. Half a chicken with those MoJos cost $7.25. That meal was big enough for two and IMO it compares with Roscoe’s. I say that because the first time I had it I ate at Roscoe’s the day before. I really do not like Panda Express but one location in the food court at the West Covina Mall, off the 10 fry, has been very good twice for me. The freshness, flavors, service – very good manager here.

                                  Shakey’s (Fried Chicken and MoJos)
                                  1422 N Azusa Ave (Corner of Arrow Hwy, AMC/ PetsMart complex)
                                  Covina, CA

                                2. re: katkoupai

                                  the shamshiri grill lunch specials are a GREAT deal.

                                  be aware that their website, though, is incomplete and a poor representation of their good food, the fabulous diversity of the food, and of the extent of their menu choices.

                                3. Pho So 1 is my favorite Vietnamese place, inclusive of all the places in the SGV and Garden Grove :o

                                  For better Mexican food than Tito's, how about Cactus Taqueria #1 on Vine. (Tacos are $1)

                                  Not totally cheap, but Doughboys has a high food-per-unit-dollar ratio.

                                  1. Farm boy Sushi platters or plates
                                    Lunch Buffet at Woodlands
                                    Box o' Shitake snax at Whole foods
                                    medium fro yo at Yogurt Zone
                                    pickled turnip salad at 99 ranch market
                                    Hudade Combo at Rahel
                                    Hummus and a bag of pita from Italian mediterranian Deli
                                    AYCE sushi at Midori
                                    Beer Appreciation Nite at BJ's (now, they make you buy a dinner.no longer a deal, and the food is ICKY!)
                                    Hot Dog at Ikea
                                    Chili My Soul
                                    1 $ day hot dogs at the stand (I AIN'T telling when... crowds are big enough!)
                                    Beer tasting at Vendome

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Diana

                                      keep in mind that during the week rahel offers an all-you-can-eat lunch combination plate consisting of about 6 items. rahel is a favorite of mine. sometimes i'll spend as much in gas getting there as i do on the tab.

                                    2. 6.95 lunch specials at Blue Marlin on Sawtelle! I really like their fried chicken...dipping in the soy-ginger sauce! comes with salad, rice and i think miso soup....also they have some curries on that menu to boot!

                                      1. As long as immigrants continue to fill jobs in ethnic restaurants in ethnic enclaves, most eateries in those neighborhoods are true bargains. Chinese and Mexican are front and center, and I find you can eat like a king on a student's budget if you know where to go and what to order.

                                        It sounds like you're a student residing in the Westside. If you can afford $5-$6 for lunch, I'd go to Lin's on the south side of Pico just east of Barrington. Tony Michaels brought up this place in a thread about local Chinese restaurants so I decided to give it a try and am glad I did - thank you, sir.

                                        You can order one of their lunch specials that will actually be two meals for the average person. They go light on the salt and oil, so you won't feel trashed after eating there either. I've eaten there often as well as ordered lunch to go. I must say that as a big eater, I felt like a glutton trying to finish the food in front of me in either case. Their soups are a bargain as well. I can't remember the exact price, but $6-$7 gets you a huge serving of soup and noodles with lots of protein and vegetables. Again, its enough for two substantial servings.

                                        Lin's also has a dish that you don't find very often - Shanghai-style rice cakes (under the noodle section of their menu) with pork, bok choy and onions. I think this might be a dinner menu item but again - the servings are generous and if you like mochi, this is like eating mochi in a manner not common but very gratifying. And like most Chinese restaurants, tea is included, so you can save some cash by not having to buy drinks.

                                        Lin's Chinese Cuisine
                                        11668 w. Pico Blvd
                                        LA, Ca 90064

                                        Taqueria Sanchez on Centinela in Mar Vista (the mother ship in the form of a carneceria and lunch counter is on Inglewood, south of Culver) is a good value as well. Again, $6-$7 puts you in the realm of a very satisfying meal. A soft taco and a burrito with your choices of protein can easily be done for this amount, and they tend to be generous on the protein. Their al pastor and carne asada are very good, but their shrimp items are nice, savory and succulent as well (you do pay a little more for those). They toss in a fair amount of chips, and the salsa bar is always well kept. It's not Tito's, but IMHO, Tito's isn't really Mexican.

                                        Most taco trucks around town that have a fair amount of eaters standing around is a good sign. The food is usually inexpensive and the apparent popularity should tell one that the truck make food that is at least very good. Three places in the Venice/Marina area stand out in my mind. On the 4000 block of Glencoe, about a block south of Washington, is a taco truck that has been serving up food since at least 1984. I think they are parked there from morning until about 5:30-6PM at least monday through saturday. Two more, both located on Rose Ave in Venice have been mainstays in this part of the neighborhood for as long as I can remember as well. One is located on Rose by 3rd Avenue, and the other is located on Rose about a half block west of Lincoln. They both seem to have carved out their niches - the 3rd Ave truck seems to grab the day crowd, while the Lincoln truck works more in the night.

                                        The veteran blogger, Broncosaurus, can sniff out a food bargain from twenty miles out. You might check his list of entries as well. His expectations are relatively high but he doesn't open up his wallet to just any eatery unless he feels the place offers good food at a good price.

                                        Good eating, and hang in there - good food will sustain your appetite for greater dreams...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          "Good eating, and hang in there - good food will sustain your appetite for greater dreams..."

                                          Thank you for the kind words (and the many suggestions)! : )

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            d'ya have a link to the brocosaurus blog?

                                          2. Gonna sound like an odd rec, but here goes anyway... A lot of places do take-out that also have kids' menus. (Some won't let you do take-out on kids' menu, but some will!) A good example is CPK, if you're looking for decent tolerable pasta or pizza, and the brownies are really very good (89 cents with the meal). Gourmet? No. A good reasonable deal for 5 or 6 bucks, yeah. You might ask whether local places that you know have kids' menus will allow take-out on them.

                                            1. I'll add to the list with the best reasonably-priced breakfast in town, at S & W Country Diner on Washington in downtown Culver City. All of their breakfasts come as combos -- pick a main item and add choice of sides. They do an excellent homemade corned beef hash with two eggs for about $6.95, and choose either hash browns (they do them very well - ask for crispy) and toast or two tasty and enormous pancakes, or other choices. During weekdays they have omelette happy hours between 10 and 11 and early, I think 7 to 8, with discounts and the same excellent sides.

                                              My favorite inexpensive Chinese lunch combo, for quantity and value, is at Cheng Du. Their longtime location is on Pico between Gateway and Barrington (formerly Chung King) and they have a new location on Westwood just north of Santa Monica Blvd. (formerly Panda Cave). A big cup of my favorite hot'n'sour soup, spicy and packed with stuff, a large entree (I suggest the Mongolian beef or the shredded pork with broccoli in garlic sauce a la Cheng Du), steamed or fried rice, and an egg roll for barely over $5. Also huge bowls of a spicy beef broth with loads of noodles and beef at lunch.

                                              I second the rec for Shamshiri at lunch. The chicken shawarma plate for $7.95 comes with a choice of salad (I like the cucumber, parsley and onion), fresh flatbread, a huge mound of rice, a generous portion of chicken (the beef can be dry, in my experience), and good hummus and grilled tomato and veggies. I'd be shocked if it didn't fill you and supply a second snack or nosh.

                                              I second the rec for Taqueria Sanchez, on Centinela south of Washington (parking in the back). Most tacos are a buck and a quarter -- get the al pastor and the carnitas -- and splurge on their wonderful shrimp at $1.60. Comes with chips and their excellent salsa bar. Add a drink and you've got a satisfying, filling lunch for just over $5.

                                              In Westwood Village, line up at Diddy Riese. Their hot dog (a large kosher frank on an oversized bun) and soda cost under $2. Then top things off with an ice cream sandwich with choice of two cookies and a scoop for $1.25. Lunch for under $4. For burgers, Jose Bernstein does a combo with fries and a drink for about $4 and at the Tomy's shack next to the In'and'Out drive-thru line a double-burger combo with bigger patties, cheese, toppings and a large sack of fries and drink is less than $5. (Avoid the bland, gooey and messy chili.) Between In'and'Out and Tomy's is Bella Pita, a new falafel place with freshly fried falafel, light pita, and an unusual condiment bar with all sorts of add-ons -- $4 per sandwich.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: nosh

                                                To my surprise, my loving wife brought home an enchilada plate, a mega-tostada with al pastor, and two shrimp tacos from Taqueria Sanchez - way more than the two of us could finish - for $14... again - $6-$7 per gets you plenty of food at Taqueria Sanchez. Throw in the chips and salsa bar, and you're cruising on autopilot... horchata or Jamaica drinks for a little more of a splurge...

                                                1. re: nosh

                                                  odd for some reason i can't reply to the original posting...

                                                  i agree that diddy reese is yummy =) i don't like how they raised their prices years ago.. but hey, i still go ;P

                                                  also, there's buck fiddy which apparently now is something like two niddy... it's the sandwich place on gayley.... there's mongol's in westwood...

                                                  and while folks may not like it, cafe 50s is cheap on the last wednesdays when you wear your pjs... =)

                                                  1. re: kinipela

                                                    How fun! Is this the one on Van Nuys Blvd?

                                                    1. re: Diana

                                                      it's a lot of fun actually =) here's more info =) (and i'm not specifically calling you out in particular diana... hahah it's more of a "you" in general...)...

                                                      actually i believe it's on santa monica (on the westside)... what's more fun is that if you wear traditional pj's (they want folk to wear the matching pants and top with collar and long sleeves) you can eat for free off of a different menu. the menu is mostly breakfast food, so eggs, bacon, etc. the only thing you have to pay for are your drinks... they just ask that you tip off of the original bill (perfectly understandable... i'm so proud to use coupons when dining- that's what its there for.. but i always tip according to the original bill)

                                                      anyway, it's free to eat off the breakfast menu, so you'll have to take the following things into consideration if you are thinking of eating there on the last wednesday of the month.. pajama night:

                                                      1) it's free... so it's not 5 star... don't expect 5-star... it's free... that's the whole pull =) if you like diner food, then i'm sure ou'll find it good.. plus, i'm a firm believer of dining as a total experience, so if you go with a good group or what not, then overall you can have a good time...

                                                      2) it's free... so expect it to get packed and crazy.... it's free... people like free things.. people like free food... there's often a wait.. i say go either really early or really late.... i usually go really late when i had time, and well, we still had to wait.. but it was still fun anyway... and when there is a wait... servers can get easily stressed out... for the most part i've never had any complaints, but again, i tend to try to avoid the rush hours... there's still a wait, but sometimes not as bad... so be patient with the servers... it's free food.. be grateful.... =)

                                                      3) it's free... from a breakfast menu... so if you can imagine, the free menu won't have bells and whistles.. it's basically a basic menu.... and there is not a plethora of choices... if you are simple individual, i would hope you would find soemthing on the menu that you would be able to eat.

                                                      4) it's free... with conditions... meaning:

                                                      a) don't expect that you can order a sandwich from their other main menu which has more choices and expect to get that for free or even half off. so if you don't think you could limit yourself, then i would actually advise not to go....

                                                      b) they are a bit particular as to what pj's can be approved for their special. so it's basically what i described above... it's a matching pajama top and bottom set with long sleeves and a collar... think traditional flannel pjs.. although it doesn't have to be flannel per se.. i mean who has flannel pjs in la??? hahaha i do.. 'cause when it hits 60 degrees, it's FREEZING.... =) HAHAHAH if you wear nonregulation pjs, then you are lucky if you get 50% off of your limited menu choice... but i personally don't understand that becase why get 50% off, when you could go for free? you would be surprised as to how many people actually go all out and wear slippers, robes, the pjs... etc... a few times i see folks with shower caps and rollers in their hair =)

                                                      the place is more about the experience of wearing your pjs.. having a good time, etc.. it's cool.. it's not chic-chic and it's definitely fun =)....

                                                      1. re: kinipela

                                                        did not know there were more than one cafe 50s.... there's a negative posting that has been brought back about one in venice... i don't know if they are related...my posting is about the one on santa monica... which may not be the best diner in la... but for reasons mentioned above, it's fine... =)

                                                2. Costco Pizza... it's like a buck a slice... (anywhere in LA), WESTWOOD... next to UCLA, BBQ HOUSE...it's like $5 for a GREAT BEEF BOWL deal enough for maybe two or three people

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: iluvfoodtoomuch

                                                    Great rec - totally forgot about Costco's food counter - and you don't have to be a member to order their food... All of the food there is a serious deal - what is it - $1.75 for a hotdog/polish sausage and drink? Now that's a deal!

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      What is the scoop on the restaurant operated by Art Institute student chefs?? I read/heard about it some place..

                                                      1. re: miffy

                                                        I personally couldn't tell you - sorry. But this sounds like a logical rec as I would think culinary-type schools offer meals (to culinary guinea pigs) at pretty nice prices. The local "sushi academy" does this... Maybe someone out there knows about the Art Institute student chef deal.

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          Thanks for the reply anyways-- I heard it maybe on LA Times? or AOL ?? I cannot remember but it did not list out price and it is only during the week M-Th... but I wish I could at leat remember the name of the place- it is a restaurant but run by those stdent chefs-- is what I gathered but I could be VERY WRONG...

                                                          1. re: miffy

                                                            It's called Bistro 561 and it's in Pasadena. The food can be great but be prepared to wait a loong time for it!

                                                            1. re: hrhboo

                                                              Wow! YOU are resourceful! That is the name and it made me feel better just to know that I was not crazy or I saw it in my dream-- I really thought I was losing it

                                                              1. re: miffy

                                                                It's very reasonably priced for what you get, but I wouldn't exactly call it cheap. The tasting menu costs around $65pp, if I recall correctly.

                                                                1. re: hrhboo

                                                                  wow - did not know that--- that is like a regular restaurant

                                                              2. re: hrhboo

                                                                The wait can pay off too. I got a nice comped desert once when they forgot the pizza half of my order. They're justifiably proud of their desert counter, btw.

                                                              3. re: miffy

                                                                there's also bistro 31 at the art institute culinary school in santa monica on ocean park at 31st. be sure to check the dates and times that it's open, though, before you go. i've had wonderful fairly inexpensive lunches there!

                                                                1. re: DMojoD

                                                                  You know what?! That is the one I heard- now that rings bells! How do I find more about it online?

                                                          2. re: bulavinaka

                                                            Yep, I think you've put your finger on the ultimate good deal winner.

                                                            On the other hand, a Costco membership is about $40/year, and you can probably "sample" 6-8 food stations inside the store 2-3 times a day, so for the true starving student...do the math ;)

                                                            1. re: broncosaurus

                                                              for sampling,
                                                              usually on sundays the new whole foods in el segundo offers a nice array of samples.

                                                        2. Don't forget the taco trucks on York in Highland Park. There's a couple around Ave 53 and 54. Tacos $1. They are excellent. Also, Huaraches on York has a lunch special of 3 tacos and a drink for $2.99. And everything else is cheap, too.

                                                          1. Not sure if anyone mentioned the $5 to go menu at Il Forno in Santa Monica. Haven't tried it myself but I have eaten dinner there and it's pretty tasty.

                                                            1. So you live in/near Santa Monica but will go to Gardena for cheap eats? Interesting.

                                                              Not that far: Dino's Burgers, on Pico between Normandie and Vermont (north side). Half a chicken, more fries than you can handle (warning: this are soaked in the vinegary chicken marinade/drippings; I love 'em, but they aren't crisp), and a soft drink for about $6.

                                                              I've never had the burgers. But the chicken has to be one of the best cheap meals in town.

                                                              1. #1 combo with chili-cheese fries at Tommy's (locations all over LA) - $7.00

                                                                Truly, the best cheap burgers in LA.

                                                                1. It looks like you're on the Westside... too bad!

                                                                  Duarte in the SGV has a great sushi rest on the cheap! The owner is a LA Sushi Academy instructor.

                                                                  Sushi-Ya on Huntington... tough to beat the prices... All-You-Can-Eat for $25! Handmade to order... no production line.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: bigmidget

                                                                    You missed one of the BEST places!!! It's called Carousel in Sherman Oaks... the food is to die for and the place is packed ALL DAY long!

                                                                    1. re: barcelona

                                                                      Do you mean Carnival, on Woodman Avenue?

                                                                  2. also, since it seems that gardena is not too far for you, for JAPANESE - style pasta dishes, THE SPOON HOUSE on redondo beach blvd near western.
                                                                    here is a link to a site that will show you their menu.

                                                                    click on the spot where it says "on screen menu.'

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                      Thanks for the info! I've been there once. I tried the California Roll pasta (perhaps I should have started w/ something less inventive?) but didn't really like it. I've heard a lot of people sing Spoon House's praises to high heaven so am curious and open to giving it another shot. Is there anything you recommend?

                                                                      1. re: emmaramma

                                                                        i like the pasta with natto (fermented soy bean paste);
                                                                        for most westerners, natto is an acquired taste.
                                                                        i also like their pasta with cod roe and squid and seaweed.

                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                          Whaaat? Natto pasta sounds soooo messy... I am imagining my mouth area covered in stringy strands of goo. Hehe. But I love natto so will try that along w/ the cod roe one (yum). Thank you! : )

                                                                      2. I'm always a fan of Asahi Ramen as well as countless other cheap eats on Sawtelle. I also find Gilbert's El Indio offers cheap and good Mexican.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: anothernotch

                                                                          Believe it or not, I don't think I've ever tried Asahi Ramen. So thanks for the rec!

                                                                          I really really love ramen. Must be a Japanese thing (haha). I really like Ramen-ya's garlic ramen. And my friend got me hooked on Santouka (inside Mitsuwa Market). I've also tried Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, Shinsengumi in Gardena, and Umemura also in Gardena. My favorite at the moment is Santouka, but maybe Asahi will take its place... : )

                                                                          Does anyone remember Shu-chan Ramen in Torrance? That used to be my fave. Was SO disappointed when it closed.

                                                                        2. Most of my suggestions would all be on the east side, but here goes:

                                                                          Porto's in Glendale & Burbank
                                                                          Hodori Restaurant in Koreatown for late night Bibimbop
                                                                          Casa Diaz in Los Feliz on Hollywood Blvd.

                                                                          All really yummy!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: WonderToast

                                                                            Thanks! : )

                                                                            Everyone keeps telling me about Porto's. Will swing by the next time I'm out that far east. Perhaps to enjoy a sandwich in preparation for a nice tall yard of beer at Yardhouse in Pasadena. (j/k) : P

                                                                            Speaking of K-town... I love Beverly Tofu House. *DROOL* : D

                                                                            (I can't believe I'm thinking about food at 2 in the morning.)