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Jun 20, 2001 05:15 PM

What's your really cheap guilty pleasure?

  • c

I operate on quite a budget so many of the places I would really like to eat tend to be out of my range. Consequently, I am quite fond of Empanadas Place in Venice, where my boyfriend and I can share four empanadas and a drink for under $10.00.

I have to admit, though, that when money is really tight, I will frequent the lunch counter at Ikea where, for a mere $5.00 (including tax!) I get a large drink (usually the lingonberry punch), 10 swedish meatballs, 2 new potatoes, gravy, lingonberries, salad, and a roll with butter. Now I'm the first to admit that it ain't gourmet, but that is an awful lot of food for $5.00.

I'd like to know if there are other places where I can get palatable food for so little money. And Norm's doesn't count!

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    1. re: zeke

      I too have guiltily partaken of the meatball-and-lingonberry meal -- and if you're really broke, you can even put it on an easily-gotten Ikea card and pay (much) later...

      here's five more cheap eats:

      1) Feta sandwiches at Porto's bakery in Glendale -- simple cheese and fresh tomatoes in crunchy bread with nice olive oil, less than $3.

      2) Plain slice of pizza from Vito's, across from LA City College -- thin-crust, straight-outa-Brooklyn pie. Tho steer clear the mushrooms -- they're from a can.

      3) A coupla fish tacos from El Siete Mares, various locations -- battered, fried fish with crisp cabbage and a nice creamy sauce, not more than $6 for a big heaping plate...

      4) Dim sum at Empress Pavillion -- you get stuffed here and not spend more than $10 per head...

      5) The special Saturday tamales at Yuccas in Los Feliz -- pork and fresh salsa, steamed in banana leaves.

      1. re: nibblehead
        Carolyn Tillie

        Thanks for the reply -- All your suggestions sound quite reasonable (moreso than Chowderhead's...)

        1. re: nibblehead

          I love the flavor of canned mushrooms on really good pizza.

          1. re: 2chez mike

            I'm sorry. that's just wrong.

            1. re: 2chez mike

              My ex-mother-in-law, knowing that I was a "gourmet", used to open a can of mushrooms (store brand, no doubt), add a little unseasoned tomato sauce, and set it at my place at the table for a treat.


              Funny the assumptions people make about you when they hear you like good food.

            2. re: nibblehead
              Michael Robertson Moore

              Damn right about El 7 Mares. Was on jury duty a couple of years back, had a very long lunch break, headed right over to Silver Lake for the fish tacos. Just gross enough to be a total pleasure.

              Then the DA peremptorily challenged me 'cause he thought I didn't like cops. Fool.

          2. How about finding yourself a new boyfriend?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chowderhead
              Carolyn Tillie

              Ah, so the "Chowderhead" mantle really fits, huh?

            2. You have to keep this a secret from the rest of the world but the best, cheapest food is at a stand on Lincoln Blvd. called La Playita. It is on the West side of the street just North of Rose Ave. in Santa Monica. Get the Tostada Mixta...about 4 pounds of mixed seafood ceviche and a fistfull of tortillas for $3.00. Tacos are a good deal but the Tortas (I like the Al Pastor) at $1.50 are a steal. A plate of beans and rice is $.50. It is right next door to Lincoln Discount Tire. I have eaten there dozens of times and have never had a problem with the food. Usually they have an A or B rating.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Larry

                The "secret" is out if one takes note of the line-in-front-of-the-sidewalk at all hours of the day. Great place though.

                My "guilty pleasure" favorite? Tito's Taco's on Washington Pl., Culver City. Another "outed secret" but you can't get away from there without eating at least 4 tacos.

                1. re: cagey

                  When I was in Westchester High School, we used to go to Titos all the time.
                  I swear I saw a horse being led into the kitchen.

                  1. re: Bob Barnett

                    I wouldn't be surprised, but if it's true, it's damn fine horse meat.

                    Over at Daily Diner there are constant disagreements about Titos. I think it's a love it or hate it kind of place, no in between.

                    1. re: muhlyssa

                      Horsemeat is rather good when cooked correctly. I had a "Steack de Cheval" at L'Auberge des Chapelletiers in Brussels and it was quite decent. Only thing that marred the meal was my dining companions' impassioned Mr. Ed impression.

                      I do not, however, believe that this delicacy is available at Tito's...

              2. Costco for a polish dog and a coke for a buck fifty.

                1. 1. An all-pork burrito the size of your head at Chabelita (Western at 10 fwy).
                  2. Of course, the polish dog & drink at Costco.
                  3. Almost anything at Grand Central Market (see recent thread). Try the whopping fish tacos (I think under $2) at the stand on the east end near the tortilla production line -- which is also a pretty good place to stand while horfing them.