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cheap(ish) eats for last few months in LA

I recently realized that I will not be in Los Angeles for much longer, as I will move back home after I graduate in May, and I have not yet even come close to exploring all the good foods LA has to offer. Does anyone have any recommendations for great restaurants on a college student budget? Close to the USC area would be great, but if it's worth it, I'm willing to drive far.

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  1. Philippe the Original in downtown LA: Must go if nothing else but for the story telling.

    Pink's Hot Dogs in Hollywood: Not necessarily the best hot dogs but you won't find another Pink's.

    Olvera Street: visit any of the Mexican establishments, there are few places that do Mexican food well unless you're moving to Texas.

    The many wonderful Thai restaurants in North Hollywood, again, I doubt you'll be able to find better Thai in other areas.

    Korean BBQ in koreatown: same idea, doubtful there'll be better offerings.

    Coffee from Groundworks cafe in Downtown LA

    Dim Sum in the SGV area - close enough from USC and doubtful you'll find a replica outside of LA.

    Banana Leaf at the Farmer's Market on third. It's great Singaporean food.
    or just explore the food establishments in the Farmer's Market. They're not all great, but it's fun to explore all the choices.

    Normandie Bakery (i think that's the name, do a board search) -- they offer great baked goods.

    1. La Casita in Bell isn't too far from you, if you've not been already--many posts if you search. cheers

      1. Bills Original Taco House on Martin Luther King & San Pedro

        La Taquieza on Figuroa across the street from Chanos

        Both 3-5 minutes from Campus

        1. I say the Grand Central Market is a good way to eat cheap. I want to try out Tumbras a Tomas, and there's a stall that had some awesome looking torta bread.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SauceSupreme

            Tumbras a Tomas was awesome! Got a taco for $2 and it was HUGE. Enough meat for 3 tacos inside. That was my whole lunch. $2.

          2. GINGERGRASS
            in Silverlake on Glendale blvd/Silverlake blvd, just across the street from Silverlake Wine.
            They have great food, fresh and clean...it's like Cal-Vietnam type food...great beers and wine too. Great portions, great quality produce. Great for meat eaters and veggies...great enrgy in the space.
            Prices $4-$18

            VIET NOODLE BAR (or noodle house, not quite sure)
            on Gelndale blvd in Atwater Village.
            Love this new little place...super cheap but super good and super clean. Huge communal table and a wall of books for those who like to eat while they read some yummy aromatic food. prices from $3-$10

            in Littel Tokyo on Central between 1st and 2nd.
            Go for lunch for the specials...same great quality food but at an amazing price.
            Night time, if you don't order sushi (it gets mighty pricey in the evening) order of the amazing fried goodies/apps menu and get some great beer and sake...you'll have had a great night out without breaking the bank.


            1. Hit up Rahel on Fairfax for Ethiopian. The AYCE lunch buffet is a great cheap meal, but the dinner special combos are also affordable.

              Sabor A Mexico in Culver City

              Skip Pink's. Eew. Thank GOD there isn't another.

              A Dim Sum Lunch in the San Gabriel Valley.

              Friday Dosa madness (AYCE Dosa) and AYCA Buffet at Woodland's Pure veggie indian in Chatsworth on Topanga Canyon (SFV). Seriously good eating! Really cheap! Worth the drive? Hell yeah!

              Chili from Chili my Soul in Encino on Ventura

              Cupcakes, cookies, and scones from Leeda's Bake shop in Sherman Oaks

              AYCE Sushi at Midori in Encino, Studio City, or Sherman Oaks. Not the best sushi, but darn good sushi for AYCE.

              Bob's AYCE breakfast buffet at the Bob's Big Boy in Glendale. Yeah, it's Bob's, but Bob's started in LA, and it's cheap by the pound food.

              Pancakes and biscuits at John O Groats on Pico

              A dog at the Wiener Facotry in Sherman oaks. Go before it closes. Makes pinks look like the slop it is.

              Also, on Encino is the Stand. On monday nights after 5, you can get a plain dog for $1, and a loaded dog for $2.50. Honey Blonde beer , 20 oz of it for $2 http://www.thestandlink.com/events.html

              El Katracho on Kester in Van Nuys has amazing Honduran food for a great price. We got out stuffed for two for under $25-WITH tax, tip and alcohol.

              Ice Cream at Scoops.

              Clifton's Cafeteria. Food is not amazing, but OK. The Cafeteria is a historical part of LA that must be seen to be believed.

              Pastrami at Langer's

              Mochi at Fugetsudo in J Town.

              Seafood at Quality Seafood on teh Redondo Beach Pier.

              Most of these are a drive for you, but all are worth a visit!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Diana

                I will second the WEINER FACTORYsuggestion from Diana....pinks is nasty (in NOT a good way)

                1. re: tatertotsrock

                  pinks is an la experience - but is gross.

                  i'd say - johnny's pastrami on washington/sepulveda - used to be great, not sure if it still is. used to have the best pastrami sandwiches. nearby is tito's tacos - another la institution, but only so/so (it may only appeal to those of us who grew up with it as a weekend treat.)

                  sawtelle/sepulveda (don't know the name - but it's on the second or third floor) - for cheap and pretty good conveyer belt sushi.

                  father's office for the burger and sweet potato fries - i think the burger is $12 - but if you don't drink a lot it would still be w/in a student's budget.

                  king taco (there are a lot downtown) - asada and pastor tacos are really good and their red and green sauces are yummy.

                  1. re: dtud

                    $12 for a HAMBURGER is on a student's budget? And yes, it is supposed to be a smashing burger, but a $12 hamburger is not cheap.
                    Maybe worth it, but not cheap.

              2. Papa Cristo's for Greek food on Pico and Normandie, Sanamluang for Thai on Hollywood Blvd near Normandie, Chichen Itza in the Mercado just east of you (Exposition east of the 110). Jitlada on Sunset in Hollywood. Taco trucks and joints on York in Highland Park.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hpcat

                  Ooh! Pappa Christo's! Great for there Big Fat Greek Feast on Thursdays!

                2. homegirl cafe. they were located in boyle heights, but i know they were looking to move so call before you go.

                  1. Ever been to Dino's? They are close by on the N/W corner of Pico and Berendo, two blocks west of Vermont. Their crazy chicken special is half of a small bird, marinated in an amazing vinegar/garlic/turmeric sauce and fire-grilled, served on a bed of fries with cole slaw and tortillas for under five bucks. They also do a good carne asada plate, a huge pastrami sandwich, and burgers.

                    For tacos or burritos, try La Parian on Pico near Hoover or El Taurino a bit further north on Hoover. Both serve huge portions of carne asada or other meats at dirt-cheap prices -- cheaper, bigger, and much better than La Taquiza. Or a bit further north, hit the Carnitas Michaocan on North Broadway above Chinatown at 19th. My favorite. Good carne asada, better al pastor from a spit, and the best salsa roja in town.

                    If you've been to Phillippe's once for the atmosphere and history, that's enough. Decent sandwiches, the pork or lamb is better than the beef, but chintzy. Even two won't satisfy most student appetites, and they're now over $5 each. Far better is the Eastside Deli. And while their famous pastrami sandwich is over $10, you gotta get to Langer's and try one. Well deserved rep for perhaps the best in the country.

                    Papa Christo's, also known as C & K, is nearby on Pico at Normandie and has excellent Greek food and an interesting market. Always reasonable, but I think they still do a family-style dinner once a week (Thursdays?) that is a feast, reasonably priced, and a lot of fun. Give them a call.

                    On your way to or from the airport? Stop at Porky's, on the north side of Manchester west of the Forum and before La Brea, for my favorite BBQ in L.A. Definitely try the pulled pork, and the St. Louis pork ribs and links are also good. Big portions, very good value for BBQ, and their website has some amazing coupon offers that make it a downright steal.

                    If you get a group together on a weekend late morning, drive to the SGV for dim sum. Look up any of the threads on this board. If you avoid the handful of special items such as duck and stick to the dumplings and buns, you can eat more than you need for around $10 per person. I would go to a cart-service place your first couple of times.

                    A drive, but again if you haven't been you have to get up to Hollywood Blvd. near Western late on a weekend night and hit Palm Thai. I like the food there, but what makes it unique is the Thai Elvis.

                    Good luck, happy graduation, job search, chowing, etc. Report back.