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Cheap Eats - Downtown LA

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  • dtud Oct 19, 2008 01:53 PM
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will be downtown fairly often over the next year with a group of people and we're trying to compile a "to do" list of places to eat on a lunch budget ($5-15 pp give or take a few bucks). we can go anywhere around downtown and places accessible by subway or short drive (but would prefer not to drive). so far, this is my contribution to the list.

any comments, additions, advice to skip (or advice on must orders) much appreciated.

Senor Fish – Alameda and First
Fish Tacos
Wood Spoon - 107 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Brazilian
Allegria - 3510 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Mexican
Pollo a la Brasa - 764 S Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA
Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken
El Parian -1528 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Mexican; carne asada taco
La Serenata de Garibaldi - 1842 E 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Mexican Seafood in Boyle Heights
Chicken Itza Restaurant - 2501 W Sixth St., Los Angeles, CA 90057
Yucatecan
Grand Central Market - 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Various Food Stalls (Best: Ana Maria's or Roast to Go)
King Taco - 1951 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90011
Tacos and spicy salsa

Langer’s - 704 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, CA
Pastrami Sandwich
Phillipe’s - 1001 N Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA
French Dip
Cole’s - 118 E 6th St., Los Angeles, CA - (Re-Opens in Nov.)
French Dip
Nick’s Café - 1300 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
American
Tiara Café - 127 E 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
American-ish

St. Vincent Court - 699 S Hill St, Los Angeles CA 90014
Persian, Lebanese, Greek and Armenian food stalls
Papa Cristo's Catering & Greek Taverna - 2771 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Greek
Carousel Restaurant - 5112 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Lebanese, Armenian, Greek

Bar-B-Kosher - 113 E 9th St, Los Angeles, CA
BBQ? and Middle Eastern
Spring Street Smokehouse - 640 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
BBQ

Fisherman’s Outlet - 529 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA
Fish market and restaurant
Sushi Gen - 422 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Lunch Special (have to go early)
Frying Fish Restaurant - Japanese Village Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Conveyor belt sushi

Sanamluang Café - 5176 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Thai
Vim - 5132 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Thai
Spicy BBQ, 5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA (8 blocks from Vermont/SM metro)
Thai

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  1. I'll add a few of my favorites:

    Dino's -- N/W corner of Pico at Berendo, two blocks west of Vermont. The crazy chicken special -- half marinated bird, flame grilled, served on a huge bed of fries, with coleslaw and tortillas. Also good burgers, carne asada, and pastrami, but the chicken rules. About $5.

    Carnitas Michaocan -- on North Broadway above Chinatown on the N/W corner of 19th, right where the 5 freeway goes under. Good carne asada, better al pastor cut from a rotisserie spit. Best hot sauce/salsa roja in SoCal -- brickred, thin, smoky, complex, hot, spicy, absolutely addicting. Parking in back, order at front window, pick up on the side, covered patio seating.

    Eastside Deli -- on the west side of Chinatown off Figueroa. Huge sandwiches, the hot ones (meatball, sausage, roastbeef, pastrami) are the drippy best. Much better food and value than Phillipe's.

    Zankou Chicken -- N/E corner of Sunset at Normandie -- This branch is owned by different family members than all the others. I think the best item and value there is the half-chicken, which you can tear off and place on the pita along with the amazing garlic paste. Those who diss Zankou usually just order the white meat, which admittedly can be dry and needs the moisture from the dark meat and the textural contrast and spice from the skin.

    Chinatown -- If you have at least a small group, I love Yang Chow. If you can't get in there, Chinese Friends is up near the north end of Chinatown on the east side of Broadway, and items are a buck or two less. Neither has inexpensive lunch combos, so you really need at least a few people so you can share dishes. There are a few hole-in-the-wall places for very cheap Chinese lunches but ownership and chefs tend to come and go, so search the board for current suggestions.

    The DWP cafeteria, just south of Temple on Grand(?) -- a couple of blocks west of Hill and east of Fig. Open to the public, but parking is impossible so you need to walk. Cafeteria is surprisingly good and nice, on the lower level, with indoor and outdoor seating. A number of food stations -- the most popular is the salad station and maybe the grill, they also have a make-your-own sandwich (sold by weight), a Mexican counter, and my personal favorite are the blueplate specials which change daily.

    Curry House -- in a plaza in Little Tokyo -- Good, consistent fried cutlets served with rice and ladles of brown, gloppy brown curry sauce. They say you can ask for the heat level, but it is never nearly hot enough for me. They also serve Japanese spaghetti. Limited menu, fast service, about $10.

    Note: Common mistake, but it is Chichen Itza.

    Enjoy, report back, tell us of your successes, disappointments, and new finds.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      thanks! will definitely check out eastside deli and carnitas michaocan.

      i thought i had read that dino's had gone downhill. . .? unsure.

      i love curry house, but go there too much already - but i am going to add it b/c someone else may not have.

      and had no idea re "chichen". interesting.

      thanks again.

      1. re: dtud

        "Chichen Itza" is the name of some famous ancient ruins located in the Yucatan. That's what the restaurant is named for. So yeah, "Chicken Itza" is a bit comical :)

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          Comical, yes. But I also thought it was Chicken Itza from misreading the posts and reviews for the better part of a year until I realized I was mistaken. Luckily I didn't embarrass myself in public, until now. Chichen Itza is missing a big opportunity if they don't put a "chicken itza" dish on the menu and register the trademark. ;-)

    2. dtud:

      You've compiled a pretty comprehensive list. You may also want to check out some of the options at the mall located at 333 S. Alameda street. One of my go to cheap sushi stops is Sushi Go 55. They have a really nice sushi lunch option at $10.00. The fish quality is good, not great, but a tough deal to pass up when Sushi Gen is too busy.

      1. Some others to consider:

        Yum Cha Cafe in Chinatown

        Spitz Doner Kebab in Little Tokyo

        Arda's Cafe in Pershing Sq.

        Homegirl Cafe near outskirts of Chinatown

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Spitz isn't open yet...can't wait though. They say a couple of weeks.

        2. I'll suggest SUEHIRO CAFE on the north side of 1st Street in Little Tokyo. Good noodle dishes, soba and udon. Pretty good for sushi too if you're just choosing sushi basics. Place is not fancy but the prices are right and the service is friendly too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jimmyodonnell

            Second Suehiro.

            Inside the Bonaventure, adjacent to the pool deck, "Olive Branch". Individual pizzas with salad, also he does chicken/rice and fish/rice specials, and Mediterranean salad combos.

            Downstairs in the LA Mall food court, Leon's for soup, salad & sandwich.

            Upstairs, near the City Hall end, the Frenchified place ...can't remember the name.

          2. dtud, you have a very comprehensive list, but i didn't see any vietnamese places, so i'll suggest PHO 87 on broadway on the north end of chinatown. the pho is addictive (though i think it's because they use MSG) and cheap. it's a place popular with both downtown office workers and vietnamese.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mstringert

              Equally addictive is the pho ga at Hoan Kiem, 727 N. Broadway. The same building houses at least one other Vietnamese resto. About 1/2 block south is Buu Dien, mainly a bahn mi place.
              At about 830 N. Broadway on the east side is an arched outdoor entrance to a large Asian marketplace complex. The Vietnamese bakery at the entrance usually serves freshly baked/fried snacks and IIRC bahn mi.
              Between 800 and 1000 N. Broadway are several Chinese bakeries that make savory snacks and sandwiches. I especially like the one at the entrance to old Chinatown (I think it's Wonder Bakery).
              Pho Hoa and Pagolac on Spring St. are also good for pho. On the same block of Spring a Vietnamese catering truck usually parks.
              All are withing walking distance of the Chinatown Gold Line station or near DASH route B.

              1. re: mstringert

                thanks! i am just not into pho or ramen, but love vietnamese spring rolls (not fried) and bahn mi. but i couldn't find any vietnamese places downtown that focused on sandwiches. do you know if pho 87 has non-pho items?

                also - one friend in the group suggested Orochon in the weller court that allows you to order ramen on a spicy scale. so, we're making it our goal to try to get to the spiciest level!! if there is spicy in the name - i'm there . . . .even if ramen isn't that exciting to me!!

                1. re: dtud

                  PLEASE report back on the spicy ramen, especially if you eat the most spicy one!

              2. Izayoi: Little Tokyo. Decent sushi/sashimi/combo lunch specials for $10-15. Hear Sushi-Gen's nigiri lunch is better than Izayoi's for only a few bucks more.

                Joymart: Japanese Village in Little Tokyo. Very filling 2 & 3 item combos for $7-10. Large selection of bowls, salads, noodles & some sushi to choose from.

                http://www.littletokyorestaurant.com/

                Tot: 2nd St in Little Tokyo. Slightly more creative new Japanese than Joymart (same parent company). Lunch around $8-15+.

                http://www.littletokyorestaurant.com/

                Daikokuya: 1st St in Little Tokyo. Well-known and always crowded ramen joint. $6-10+ ala carte or ramen combos. My favorite dish is actually their pork bowl.

                Koraku: 2nd St in Little Tokyo. Cheapish ramen and other things. Better than Suehiro's IMO.

                HK Korean BBQ: 1st St in Little Tokyo. Good, not great BBQ. Large portions. $7-10+ entrees/lunch.

                Curry House To-Go: Weller Court 1st floor. Fast food scaled-down version of the upstairs restaurant. Maybe $5-10. Decent enough when you're in the mood for Japanese-style curry. I usually get a few curry pans (deep fried panko-battered dough w/ curry filling) too.

                Eastside Deli: As above, great huge sandwiches for ridiculous low prices ($7-8). It's packed during lunch for a reason.

                http://www.esmdeli.com/