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My Favorite Meals, Under $20, in these Recessionary Times

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Fab's Dogs, Reseda
Chili Coney Dog, tater tots

Pita Pocket, Northridge
Shwarma pocket, with hot sauce.

Mom's BBQ, Van Nuys
BBQ ribs or catfish, or gumbo, coconut cake, or yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Auntie Em's, Eagle Rock
red velvet cupcakes.

Langer's Deli, Macarthur Park area
pastrami sandwich

Eastside Deli, Downtown Los Angeles
meatball subs

Italia Deli, Granada Hills
Eggplant parmigian heroes.

Pina's Bistro, Tustin
meatball subs, eggplant parm subs, tiramisu, rum walnut cake, cannoli

Pie n Burger, Pasadena
cheeseburger, strawberry pie, peach pie, butterscotch pie

Apple Pan, Westwood
cheeseburger, pecan pie, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie.

Europane Bakery, Pasadena
pumpkin squares, cupcakes, blueberry brown butter tart

Casa Bianca Pizza PIe, Eagle Rock
pizza, tiramisu

The Oinkster, Eagle Rock
pastrami sandwich

Din Tai Fung, Arcadia
dumplings, sauteed vegetables

Bolini's Pizzeria, Monterey Park
pizza

Attari Sandwiches, Westwood
cutlet sandwiches, sausage sandwiches

Joe's Pizza, Santa Monica
pizza

Fish Grill, various locations
grilled fish

Sanamluang Cafe, Hollywood
pad kee mao

Nate n Al's, Beverly Hills
Triple Decker pastrami

Zankou chicken, Westwood
rotisserie chicken

Reddi-Chick, Brentwood
rotisserie chicken

Let's Be Frank, Culver City
grass fed beef dogs

What's a few of yours?

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  1. Daniels's Tacos, Sun Valley
    good after 9 pm, when they have free fried onions w/ anything you get

    La Taquiza, LA
    mulitas, chicken salad

    Los Jarritos, Pomona
    enchiladas w/ green sauce, and rice and beans (best rice and beans!)

    Mario's Peruvian, LA (?), Melrose and Rossmore/Vine
    I usually get seafood saltado; some days it's made better than others

    Cafe Brasil near Palms neighborhood, on Venice
    lunch special is a steal

    2 Replies
    1. re: tenxtone76

      Mario's Peruvian Food is soooooooooooooo good. You will get full in an instance with their big portions and inexpensive prices.

      1. I'll play:

        Porky's BBQ, on Manchester just west of the Forum
        pulled pork sandwich with side (mac'n'cheese), $6.99 last I saw.
        note: 2-for-one on dinner specials (meat with two sides) on Tuesdays

        Hu's Szechwan, on National in Rancho Park
        lunch combo -- kung pao chicken or twice cooked pork w/ soup & salad ($6.95)

        Hungry Pocket, Pico across from Santa Monica College
        lamb shwarma pita ($5) or falafel pita ($3.50) with hot sauce

        Big Mike's, I go the the location on Main in El Segundo
        12-inch philly cheesesteak with onions and both kinds of peppers, rings, drink
        eat half sandwich, onion rings, and coke there, bring other half home -- just over $10

        Zankou Chicken, Westwood
        whole rotisserie chicken, pita, and garlic paste -- $9.99
        (share with a friend or eat half there, take home half -- a halfbird is $6.99)

        Dino's, Pico and Berendo (two blocks west of Vermont)
        crazy chicken special -- half-bird grilled, fries, slaw, tortillas (about $5)

        Carnitas Michaocan, No. Broadway at 19th, above Chinatown
        al pastor burrito (no beans) requested sliced from the rotisserie (about $5)
        plus one to bring home and a 4 oz cup of their superlative hot salsa roja

        Diddy Riese, Broxton in Westwood Village
        3 choc chip cookies w/o nuts, $1 (any time I see a parking spot or walk by)
        they are pretty soft when fresh -- better and crispier after the fridge

        Philly West, Westwood Blvd. south of Santa Monica Blvd.
        half-pound cheeseburger, drippy juicy, flame-grilled ($6 and change)

        Bay Cities Deli, Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica
        large Godmother, meatball sub, turkey and cheese ($7 or so)
        (big hint -- a couple of their extraordinary ficelle rolls, 30 or 40 cents each)

        Daily Grill, I go to the Brentwood branch on San Vicente
        happy hour, 4-7 weekdays -- pot pie, sliders, other bar food ($3.95 or $2.95)

        Lamonica's Pizza, Gayley in Westwood Village
        2-topping pizzas now close to $20, but 2 for 1 on Mondays

        kevin, you big spender -- all of mine under $10 or good for a meal and a snack!

        4 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          i'll second your hungry pocket recommendation and raise you any of the lunch specials at shamshiri grill and the combination plate at samosa house which is served all day.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Can only call, not raise you back, westsidegal. Shamshiri's lunch specials are just under $10 (last time I ordered one) and gotta admit, with the generous serving of beef koobideh or chicken shawarma, the huge mound of rice, the vegies, bread, and refreshing shirazi salad, it is one of those rare meals I usually can't finish. And along with Lamonica's, they are the only place I listed that will deliver to my door.

          2. re: nosh

            I"ll second your Diddy Riese but I prefer the scoop of ice cream in the middle of two cookies. Used to be $1.00. I'd also vote for Versaille in Culver City or any of their 4 or 5 other locations...Famous Pollo Versaille ($9.95) with sweet plantains, rice and beans.

            1. re: nosh

              The Half Chicken Plate at Dino's Burgers is one of my favorite meals at any price!

            2. Sevan Chicken, Chatsworth
              1/4 chicken lunch special with rice and hummus

              Los Tres Hermanos, North Hills
              soft chicken tacos, crispy chicken tacos, or taquitos. Plus guacamole.

              Melody's or Las Fuentes, Reseda?
              crispy tacos, salpicon tostada, chicken and rice

              Mulberry St. Pizza, Encino
              slice of cheese or sausage & mushroom pizza, slice of cake

              Sandwich Express, Reseda
              Bhan Mi

              Panino's, Woodland Hills
              salami & brie sandwich

              guilty pleasure: Carney's, Studio City
              chili cheeseburger & fries

              6 Replies
              1. re: brandygirl

                Downtown! Downtown!! Downtown!!! ( that is, Downtown LA of course )
                Tons of hole-in-the-walls.
                Typical breakfast ( huevos rancheros / mexicanos / con chorizo &etc ) $4.00
                Typical lonche ( too long to list... ) $ 6.00

                1. re: brandygirl

                  I forgot Carney's. But I'll replace yours with three chili dogs and an extra large (not wimpy large) size coke to wash it all down.

                  1. re: kevin

                    I used to get Carney's chili cheese dogs--they were the best! But on my last two visits, the skin was so tough I couldn't chew it. Have you been recently? Should I give the dogs another shot?

                    I also forgot one of my favorite places:
                    My Hero, Northridge, for Roast Beef & Cheese sub sandwich.

                    1. re: brandygirl

                      Give it one more try. You are right though, I think once in a while the casings are just too much and/or the dogs weren't steamed properly so it's just not juicy either.

                      In my list, I also mentioned Fab's Dogs. The hot dogs over there are superb. And they have coney chili dogs. But these are way different than Carney's. For some reason, these feel like more of a gourmet dog, with a chili that you might actually want to eat with a spoon rather than the cornstarchy though still quite good Chili at Carney's and other places such as Tommy's.

                      there's another issue to think about too. Do you go to the Studio City Carney's or the Sunset Strip Carney's. I did have an off dog once at least at the S.C. location but not at the Sunset location.

                      1. re: kevin

                        Interesting. I've been going to the Studio City Carney's, and it never occured to me the quality might be different. Since you say the problem is a once-in-a-while issue, I will give it another try. Their chili dogs are so good it's worth risking a dud once in a while.

                        I have been to Fab's. Their hot dogs are fabulous, but I don't care much for their chili. If I go to Fab's, it's just a plain dog w/mustard for me.

                        1. re: brandygirl

                          Interesting, I like the chili at Fab's but it is completely different from the notion of chili employed at Carney's, and if you only like the Carney's style, than I guess Fab's wouldn't work. Maybe because Fab's is more like heavily spiced ground beef, almost like a sloppy joe sauce (for lack of a better term) than a full-on chili.

                2. SGV edition...

                  Rudy's, Monrovia
                  Full (and good) rib-eye steak dinner for around $13. (rice, beans, and salad instead of potatoes) plus a ton of Mexican dishes under $10. $2.50 gets you a margarita and an all-you-can eat appetizer bar during happy hour Monday - Thursday

                  Jakes, Azusa
                  bacon wrapped dogs

                  Aruffo's, Claremont
                  Many Italian entres under $20

                  Petrillo's, San Gabriel & Glendora
                  Pizza & delicious bread

                  The Hat, many locations including Alhambra, Temple City, & Glendora
                  Pastrami, burgers, & tons of fries

                  In 'n Out, All over but especially Baldwin Park headquarters location
                  Double-Double with money left over to buy a souvenir in their store

                  Warehouse Pizza, La Verne

                  Back Abbey, Claremont
                  The Abbey Burger

                  Lucky Baldwins, Sierra Madre
                  Mussels & beer

                  Guacamoles, El Monte
                  Good, sit-down mariscos & tacos

                  1. Monte Alban

                    Mario's Peruvian - second this

                    Greenleaf Chop Shop - what can I say, I like to design my own salad and the fresh ingreidents including chopped hard boiled egg whites

                    Beverliz Cafe - omelettes, gyros

                    Eat Well - buddha bowl w/ egg whites

                    Ed's Coffee Shop (on Robertson) - omelettes

                    Gilbert's El Indio

                    Il Forno - power lunch specials

                    Babalu - grilled veg salad

                    3rd stop

                    Bread and Porridge - breakfast fare esp omelettes

                    Carnival in Sherman Oaks

                    Pita Kitchen in Sherman Oaks

                    Gaby's

                    California Fresh - that eggplant salad

                    Eduardo's - chicken and salsa

                    Hugo's

                    Puro Sabor

                    Simon's Cafe

                    ...and so on...

                    ...and the list continues

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Emme

                      where's the beverliz cafe for gyros.

                      and also gilbert's il indio.

                      1. re: kevin

                        beverliz cafe is on s. beverly dr. just south of gregory on the east side of the street

                        gilbert's is at 2526 pico blvd in samo