Tasty, affordable meals for out of towners
Ah, the economy. I've been out of work for a couple months, but we have some friends from the Mid-West coming into town for the weekend. Normally I would mix in some budget with some Mozza/Angelini/AOC fare, but I'd like to give them some great LA food that won't make me broker/brokest.
I have some samples here, but I'd love suggestions for more. Especially Mexican since I only do Cactus or taco trucks usually. We're in WeHo.
-Farmer's Market (Loterria, etc)
-The Counter/Father's Office
-Angeli Caffe (though I would prefer a cheaper, better Italian option that does probably not exist)
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Not sure how adventurous your friends are, but there's some *great*, tasty food to be had that won't break the bank. You might consider some ethnic eateries such as:
* Sea Harbour (for Brunch / Lunch): Excellent (arguably the best) Dim Sum in the San Gabriel Valley. Small Plates of various dishes of Beef, Chicken, Pork, Seafood, Vegetables, etc. Do a search on these boards for more info. My Dim Sum Hounds and I usually average about ~$13 - 18 per person (including tax and tip) depending on how much you order and which dishes.
* Noodle House (Mian Hsiang Yuan): This is a simple hole-in-the-wall that while lacking in ambiance (just simple white dry-wall, a couple pictures hanging) produces some wonderful made-fresh-to-order, made-from-scratch Steamed Buns (Baozi) and Dumplings (Boiled (favorite), Steamed, etc.). With a variety of great fillings. We average about ~$7.50 per person (including tax and tip)! Ridiculously cheap for the quality you get. :)
* If you can keep Alcohol consumption in check, Izakayas are a great choice as well for some fun "Japanese Small Plates / Tapas" or a Yakitori (Roasted Chicken / Vegetable Skewers) restaurant. Some choices to consider would be:
* Musha - Modern Japanese Pub Food. Tasty dishes in a fun environment. There's a Torrance and Santa Monica location. With no alcohol, you could probably average about ~$20 - 25 per person (including tax and tip) (maybe less depending on what you order).
* Izakaya Bincho - Wonderful food made with care from a husband and wife team. Do a search for more info. :) You can average about ~$20 per person (including tax and tip) for some great, fresh made-from-scratch items.
* Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori - SSG focuses on Roasted Skewers of Chicken, Pork and Seafood and Vegetables, in a very lively setting. :) Skewers range in price from ~$1.75 - $3.50, so it's all about how many skewers you order and how hungry you are. :) Fun, tasty food; great party setting. (Locations in Torrance and Fountain Valley.)
1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
18315 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA
Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori
21605 S Western Ave C, Torrance, CA
Noodle House (Mian Hsiang Yuan)
958 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755
112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
If you're willing to make the drive out to the San Gabriel Valley, then exilekiss is on the right track. The QPR (Quality/Price Ratio) of great Chinese cuisine in this particular area is nearly impossible to beat. You and your guests (let's assume four eaters) can go to Sea Harbour or Elite, eat like royalty, and still have enough change left from your C-note to stop by another place and get some great frozen dumplings to take home for dinner (I think Dumpling 10053 would be my first choice for frozen). Steam or pan-fry them in your kitchen, settle in with a nice Gewurztraminer or Albarino, and have a nice "Chinese tapas" night...
Agree that the Farmer's Market (maybe Loteria?) is great for out-of-towners...inexpensive, pretty good food, and eatery and tourist destination in one. Also agree with exilekiss' suggestion to go with ethnic food, and he gave a number of great suggestions. Not that the Musha location in Torrance has better food and a longer menu, but the Santa Monica location is right near the 3rd St Promenade and other touristy stuff. In addition to the Asian suggestions, you might consider Monte Alban for Oaxacan mexican (exilekiss actually recently wrote a great review of this place).
Another great option is to go to nice restaurants for lunch or brunch rather than dinner. I like to take people to Joe's in Venice for brunch because it has a very nice patio and good food and you get 2 courses for around $15 (whereas dinner is expensive, and in my opinion, not worth it). Next door, Lily's also has a very nice patio and a $10 2-course lunch special. And then you can walk around and check out the shops in Abbott Kinney after lunch if they are into that.
What about Vivoli for your Italian option? Vito's Pizza also has yummy, affordable pasta dishes (in addition to awesome pizza as I'm sure you know living in WeHo).
In keeping with the Izakayas reco, I would suggest Ronin (which is on La Cienega): http://www.roninizakaya.com/
For Mexican in WeHo, I like Pinches Tacos on Sunset and it's BYOB.
My go-to-on-a-budget restaurant is Cobras and Matadors, I still, after seven or so years, absolutely love it. Tapas, so you can order as much or as little as the table can eat, also, BYOB, so that cuts down a lot on cost. The only downside is that it's VERY loud. Beverly/Curson
Cobras and Matadors is also in Los Feliz on Hollywood Blvd. between Vermont and Sunset ... I agree with the recommendation, although you have to be careful with your ordering bot to let the bill run up.
Across the street from the Los Feliz C&M is one of two branches of Yuca's, the award-winning Mexican street food stand (the original branch is less than a mile away on Hillhurst).
2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Cobras and Matadors
7615 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Cobras & Matadors
4655 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027