Best lunches/dinners that won't break the bank...
for lunch, i'd go to shamshiri grill in westwood for persian food (on westwood blvd north of santa monica blvd.)
they offer a HUGE, varied 'lunch special' menu with terrific prices, high quality food, and large portions.
personally, i have them substitute adas polo for their basmati rice (there is a small upcharge for this). they are even willing to make the adas polo with brown rice if you so request.
their dolmas are stuffed with a delicious lentil mixture instead of the more conventional oily rice and they are served warm.
If you are going to be in the hollywood/west hollywood area you should try out M Cafe on La Brea & Melrose. It's super healthy and yummy.
Another good lunch spot is Joan's on 3rd (3rd & Sweetzer). Joan's has tons of delicious sandwiches, salads and sweet treats.
In Santa Monica, you could always stop by Bay Cities Deli (Lincoln & Broadway) for an awesome sandwich (it's also a great Italian grocery), but be prepared for long lines at lunch.
Hope this helps!
For dinner I highly recommend Musha on Wilshire between 4th and 5th in Santa Monica. A hip izakaya (Japanese pub food) spot... no sushi but great sashimi plus unique and wonderful cooked dishes in small portions... think Japanese tapas.... It's by no means cheap but the food is amazing and my favorite spot when I'm looking to spend under $50 (that will get you about three or four dishes plus a drink, tax and tip) for a fun, WONDERFUL meal. The more people you go with the better the value/experience seems because you can all share many dishes.
The Torrance location is equally good; some say better.
Sorry, but they're closed for lunch.
Make a reservation in advance!
424 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401-1410
Phone: (310) 576-6330
If you're willing to drive out to San Gabriel Valley for a good Chinese meal, that probably has the best value of any cuisine. Try Din Tai Fung in Arcadia for dumplings. Or Lucious Dumpling, where you can get an amazing lunch combo for $6.