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What are your favorite dives and cheap eats WORTH THE DRIVE?

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I have some time on my hands and want to revisit favorite oldies and explore new cheap eats in and around L.A. I've already checked past Chowhound posts and have come up with the following list:

MEXICAN: Tacos Por Favor, Tito's Taco's, Yucca's, Babita's, Lares, Monte Alban
DONUTS: Primo, Donut Man
ICE CREAM: Fosselman's
PIZZA: Tomato Pie, Masa's (Chicago pizza)
BURGERS: Apple Pan, Umami Burger, Billy's Grill
ASIAN: Jitlada
DELI: Langers
FRIED CHICKEN: Pann's
PUBS: Ye Olde King's Head, Lucky Baldwin
ROAST CHICKEN: Rustic Canyon (thanks, exilekiss), Versailles

So, what do you think? Any additions you would suggest? Any places I should remove from the list? Please keep in mind I'm looking for places good enough that it's worth taking the time to drive.

-----
Ye Olde King's Head
116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Jitlada
5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Monte Alban
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

Donut Man
915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

Tito's Tacos
11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

Lucky Baldwins
17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

Tacos Por Favor
1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Billy's Grill
5162 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Masa Restaurant
2063 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

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  1. drop tito's like a bad habit, replace with RFT or MTC
    asian - dean sin world

    We did some pizza tasting this week and gotta say...Tomato Pie Grandma > Bronx Pizza (SD) > Vito's

    33 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      Okay, I'll take Tito's off my list.

      What are RFT and MTC?

      1. re: brandygirl

        I'll hazard a guess that RFT is Ricky's Fish Tacos but I haven't a clue about MTC (except to guess that it might be Mexicatessen, but that doesn't make sense because it's actually Cacao Mexicatessen (and Cacao is a great place that should definitely make your list no matter what ns1 meant).

        One more great place for Mexican food is Teresitas in ELA.

        -----
        Teresitas
        3826 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063

        Ricky's Fish Tacos
        1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

        Cacao Mexicatessen
        1576 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

        1. re: Servorg

          A friend told me about Teresitas quite a while back, and I had forgotten all about it. Thanks for the reminder, Servorg!

          1. re: brandygirl

            You are more than welcome. You've gotten a lot of really great recommendations here. I'm excited to hear which new ones you end up choosing and to read your reports on them as they occur.

        2. re: brandygirl

          Al Watan for the Lunch or Dinner Special. Great blending of flavors and food for so little money. Top bet for me..

          -----
          Al Watan
          13619 Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

          1. re: Foodandwine

            Good to know. I'll check it out.

            1. re: Foodandwine

              Al Watan is so worth the drive for haleem, biriyani and tandoori. Still have to try Al Noor though.

              -----
              Al Watan
              13619 Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

              Al Noor
              15112 Inglewood Ave, Lawndale, CA 90260

            2. re: brandygirl

              RFT = Ricky's Fish Tacos
              MTC = Mexicali Taco Co

              -----
              Mexicali Taco & Co
              1820 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

              Ricky's Fish Tacos
              1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

              1. re: ns1

                Ah, thank you for the clarification. Both of these are new to me.

              2. re: brandygirl

                Don't take Tito's off your list. Just stick with the tacos and the bean and cheese burritos, and of course the salsa (red and green both necessary).

                1. re: swimfin

                  Maybe it's me, but I just don't get that place. The beef in the tacos tasted like steamed beef, nothing else. Salsa was pureed and cold. It was so bland, I think the cardboard box it came in had more flavor.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    not just you

                    1. re: ns1

                      I think there are a number of folks whose first experience with Mexican cuisine was a taco at the school cafeteria. I suspect Tito's replicates that experience which, for them, was pleasant. Personally, I'd rather eat the wrapper but that's just me.

                      1. re: Steve2 in LA

                        +1

                        Some of it is nostalgia from the UCLA students when that was one of the few late night places. But the tacos are disgusting. Grey mystery meat. My reaction was "What the $%^ is in here?"

                        1. re: Steve2 in LA

                          I actually find the .99c tacos at Jack in the Box to be far superior to Tito's if I'm looking for mystery taco meat tacos.

                          1. re: ns1

                            I have never had Tito's Tacos but after having to remove the filling of a Jack in the Box taco so someone could have a "vegetarian" taco when I was 19 years old (working at a Jack in the Box) I doubt Tito's tacos could be any worse. I could never eat those (Jack in the Box) tacos again.

                            -----
                            Tito's Tacos
                            11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

                            1. re: ns1

                              "I actually find the .99c tacos at Jack in the Box to be far superior to Tito's if I'm looking for mystery taco meat tacos."

                              Wow, ns1. I had no idea you could get a taco for less than a penny at Jack!

                            2. re: Steve2 in LA

                              Steve, don't be a snob, give in and embrace Tito's in a warm loving hug.

                            3. re: ns1

                              And not just you, or you either! And I live just around the block. Tito's gives Taco Bell a good name!.

                              1. re: fkingford

                                That's what I was thinking, they make taco bell look yummy.

                            4. re: Phurstluv

                              phurstluv, imho, the reason you don't "get" that place is that the food they serve is just this side of yuck.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                imho It's even worse than that....I think its the other side

                                1. re: sdv231

                                  However one reacts to the "Tito's Tacos" litmus test the fact remains that it holds an iconic place in the lore of Los Angeles food, and as such it will always be a place that the uninitiated will want to try in order to make up their own minds about it...

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    I agree....my taste,or lack of, are not posted to deter anyone from trying anything. There are many who have very differant opionions of what good food is. Just look at Olive Garden, usualy a line to get in :)

                                    1. re: sdv231

                                      and cheesecake...and BJ's....

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        You and sdv are comparing it to the "dreaded chain" experience. I offer the perspective that it is precisely because it is anything but a cookie cutter approach that partly accounts for the mystique, and hence, popularity of Tito's. The same can be said for Pink's or the Apple Pan (among others).

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Servorg, I really wasnt comparing it to a "dreaded chain" experience , but rather just a comparision of "bad food". I hope you enjoy every bite with a smile on your face, I'm just in that crowd that just doesnt get it.

                                          1. re: sdv231

                                            there's more than one way for food to make you feel glad to be alive (or wish you were dead).

                                    2. re: Servorg

                                      Exactly, which is what I did. What I don't "get" is that there are lines for that food. But I like Pinks, which most think is horrible too, so there ya go.

                                2. re: Phurstluv

                                  Can't agree with most of you; while Tito's tacos are indeed boring, I love the chile con carne. Yes, it's old school mexi-american, but I really like their braised chuck in the secret mole sauce, and I'd even try to make it at home if I knew how they did it. So thumbs down on Tito's tacos, thumbs up on Tito's all-meat burritos. And I like the salsa, which is in fact, pureed pico de gallo. It's salty with a minimal amount of heat and goes great with fresh chips. Not great salsa by any means, but a very good accompaniment to their burrito.

                                  -----
                                  Tito's Tacos
                                  11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

                            5. re: ns1

                              I think Vito's fresh mozzarella pie is worth the drive within a 60 mile radius.........

                              1. re: Schweinhaxen

                                I've had Vito's pizza and you are right--worth a drive.

                              2. re: ns1

                                Good idea

                              3. Eastside Italian market and deli - just west of chinatown - great italian sandwiches especially the # 7.
                                http://www.esmdeli.com/

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: malibumike

                                  Thanks for this suggestion and the website link. The #7 sandwich sounds great!

                                2. I'm probably one of the few people on this board that thinks Umami is terrible, so would drop that for sure and replace with Big Mike's

                                  -----
                                  Big Mike's
                                  17845 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Ernie

                                    I don't think it's terrible, but in no way would I consider it worth a drive.

                                    1. re: Ernie

                                      I tried Big Mike's in Belllower afer seeing Ernie's recommendation several times on this board. I was disappointed with Big Mike's though. The burger was huge but dry -- I watched the cook smash it down several times -- thus squeezing all the juices out of it. The hot link was also overcooked and the bun was dry and cracked into pieces halfway through. I had a much better Cheeseburger with a Hot Link at Hawkins House of Burgers in Watts.

                                      -----
                                      Hawkins House of Burgers
                                      11603 Slater St, Los Angeles, CA 90059

                                      1. re: Norm Man

                                        I've never heard of Big Mike's before.
                                        Is Hawkins the place known for the biggest hamburger in the world with everything including the kitchen sink thrown in?

                                        -----
                                        Big Mike's
                                        17845 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706

                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                          The "Hawkins Special" may not be the world's biggest burger but it is seriously big. The "Hawkins Special" consists of three 1 lb. Burger Patties, Pastrami, Hot Link, 2 Fried Eggs, Chili, Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Pickles, Mustard and Mayo.

                                          Pictures of the "Hawkins Special:'

                                          http://foodbeast.com/content/wp-conte...

                                          http://static.px.yelp.com/bphoto/ouGx...

                                          1. re: Norm Man

                                            Yep, that's the one. Good to know their regular hamburgers are good.

                                        2. re: Norm Man

                                          I agree with Norm about Big Mike's... a HUGE burger but dry and flavorless. Very disappointing and I will not return considering the long drive. In fact, I'd say I was surprised that Big Mike was in business still after tasting the burger. However, Big Mike is a really nice guy and very generous with his portions and offerings.

                                          Keep Umami on your list... terrible it is not and it is certainly worthy of being on the list. You might want to add the Hellman Burger at Pete's Cafe and Bar downtown as well as the York Burger at The York in Highland park.

                                          I have a fondness for Tito's but I can see how some may not like it. Either way, it's worth giving a taste considering you haven't tried it and may find it tasty.

                                          -----
                                          Big Mike's
                                          17845 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706

                                          1. re: Norm Man

                                            Any place that smashes a burger down on a griddle where juices are leaking out is a disgrace to burger making. Umami maybe overrated but one thing it is not is dry, or incompetent in the kitchen.

                                          2. re: Ernie

                                            Agreed. Umami is 90% hype and the food quality isn't worth it.

                                          3. Pann's for that great Patty Melt.
                                            http://www.panns.com/

                                            Portillo's for Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago hot dogs.
                                            http://www.portillos.com/

                                            Bay Cities Italian Deli for sandwiches. I just love that just baked bread.
                                            http://www.baycitiesitaliandeli.com/

                                            and Sweet Rose Creamery for ice cream.
                                            http://www.sweetrosecreamery.com/

                                            -----
                                            Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                            6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                            Portillo's Hot Dogs
                                            8390 La Palma Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620

                                            Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
                                            1517 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                            Sweet Rose Creamery
                                            225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                            31 Replies
                                            1. re: wienermobile

                                              And my guilty pleasure The Hat.
                                              http://www.thehat.com/

                                              -----
                                              The Hat
                                              491 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                              1. re: wienermobile

                                                Make sure to get a Chocolate Cake Shake if you are heading to Portillo's...

                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                  I'm gonna say Pann's for everything, unless it's the "waffles" part of chicken & waffles that gets you going; I'm no waffle connoisseur, but I find these bland to the max. But for everything from a mere burger to their Daily Special to a full dinner, these guys have everything except enough salt on their vegetables. And we know how to deal with that.

                                                  Less worth a long drive but not bad if you're 20 minutes away is Harry's 24-Hour Family Restaurant in Burbank, on San Fernando just north of Burbank Blvd. Similar bill of fare to Pann's, cheaper, not quite as well executed but generally delicious. Friday's soup du jour is chicken tortilla, and it's simple but the best I've ever had. Korean-owned, Latinos in the kitchen, the people synergize very well. CF Steak is really good, but get it as breakfast (served anytime, of course!), because their hash browns are good but the mashed potatoes suck swampwater.

                                                  -----
                                                  Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                  6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    I usually go to Porto's or Bob's Big Boy when I'm in Burbank, as those are the only places I know. I'll check out Harry's next time. Thanks.

                                                    1. re: brandygirl

                                                      A recent Burbank discovery for me is Pinocchio's, the restaurant that shares space with the Monte Carlo Deli. It's a few blocks east of Porto's, on the north side of Magnolia. Our Alfa club met at Autobooks a few weeks ago; when that was a block from Porto's we'd walk over there for lunch, but now it's at the corner of Catalina, so we moved our lunch as well. Good choice - hot and cold sandwiches, pastas and other entrées, reasonably-priced bottles of wine they'll open for you. I had a dish of macaroni in sauce with a grilled sausage that was pretty good, and a $6 half-bottle of adequate vino. The food came with a decent salad and lots of good bread, I believe for about $9. That's fifteen bucks for a hot lunch with wine. The sandwiches looked good, too, and the deli is more comprehensive than most, with fresh meat in the case along with the usual charcuterie.

                                                      3103 W. Magnolia is the address, which puts it right at five blocks east of Porto's.

                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                        They have gelato there too. I also got veal shank there.

                                                    2. re: Will Owen

                                                      completely agree with Will Owen about the waffles at Panns.
                                                      you can get comparable or better waffles from the frozen food section at any grocery store for less money and less driving.

                                                      For waffles, i seem to recall that John O'Groats had some good ones. . . .

                                                      -----
                                                      Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                      6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                      John O'Groats
                                                      10516 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                        I often meet friends at John O'Groats. I'll try their waffles next time.

                                                        -----
                                                        John O'Groats
                                                        10516 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                          They have exceptional fish & chips and fish tacos, IMHO.

                                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                                          Uncle Bills Pancake House in Manhattan Beach has a good rendition for the round medium thin kind of waffle.. ( depending on your budget it may not be considered cheap )

                                                          1. re: Foodandwine

                                                            Uncle Bill's has a great cheddar & bacon waffle. Sounds strange tastes wonderful.

                                                            -----
                                                            Uncle Bill's Pancake House
                                                            1305 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                                                            1. re: wienermobile

                                                              as wonderful as their cheddar and bacon waffle is, imho, after you've tried their cheddar and bacon french toast, you are unlikely to go back to the waffle.

                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                I will definitely try Uncle Bill's Cheddar Bacon French Toast. Thanks
                                                                http://www.unclebills.net/

                                                            2. re: Foodandwine

                                                              Perfect! I've only driven through Manhattan Beach once and have been meaning to go back for some shopping--now I have a perfect excuse. Thanks.

                                                              1. re: brandygirl

                                                                When in Manhattan Beach you also might want to try the incredible Kahlua Pig Monte Cristo Egg Rolls at North End Cafe. You're in for a real porky, crispy and cheesy deep fried treat.
                                                                http://www.northendcaffe.net/

                                                                -----
                                                                North End Cafe
                                                                3713 Highland Ave Ste 1, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                                  OMG, their menus looks truly fabulous, both breakfast and lunch. If their food is as good as it sounds, I may move in.

                                                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                                                    I just watched Guy go there on DDD and they had those Egg Rolls and I put it on my list to try. Thanks for the rec!

                                                            3. re: Will Owen

                                                              When is the last time you had a waffle at Pann's, Will? It seems to me that they have revamped their waffles (had a couple of bites of my wife's two weeks ago when last we dined there) for the better.

                                                              -----
                                                              Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                              6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                Could very well be. They made some detail changes a couple of years back, and I've been there only twice since then, always by myself. And I don't order waffles for myself.

                                                            4. re: wienermobile

                                                              I completely forgot about Bay Cities! I've heard about their special Godmother or Godfather sandwich. The ice cream flavors at Sweet Rose Creamery look amazing--Raspberry Linzer Cookie, Blood Orange Sorbet... And The Hat looks like a perfect place for lunch before hitting Donut Man for dessert. Thanks!

                                                              -----
                                                              Donut Man
                                                              915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                              Sweet Rose Creamery
                                                              225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                                              1. re: brandygirl

                                                                GODMOTHER genoa salami, mortadella coppacola, ham, prosciutto, provolone with THE WORKS - mayo, mustard (yellow, honey or dijon), onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing & mild or hot pepper salad on freshly made Italian bread.

                                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                                  It's a good sub, but not worth the drive if you don't live on the Westside, not to mention the wait for parking. It's people like you from the eastside that make it hard for us westsiders to park there!!! (JK, LOL)

                                                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                    disagree........the Godmother is the best sandwich in all of L.A. worth the drive from ANYWHERE

                                                                    1. re: sdv231

                                                                      Their bread at Bay Cities is just so good. I always buy and extra hot loaf to go with my sandwiches,

                                                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                                                        So do I. I just don't think I'd make the drive from the other side of town.

                                                                      2. re: sdv231

                                                                        The Godmother is the most overrated sandwich in LA. The idea of tainting fine cured Italian meats with mustard, mayo and pickles... really???? Yes, the bread is good but you've got to let the cold cuts shine and not bury the flavor with all sorts of greasy condiments.

                                                                        1. re: JeMange

                                                                          Do you eat hamburgers without accoutrements too?

                                                                          If you want a purist sandwich go to Roma's.

                                                                          FWIW I hate the bread the Godmother's on. It breaks my teeth. After 3 Godmothers, I'm also in the "overrated" camp.

                                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                                            And then there are those who think the bread used on the GM is "limp and spongy" http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4657... lol

                                                                            1. re: ns1

                                                                              1) There's a difference between a burger and a sandwich loaded up with cured meat.

                                                                              2) IMO, the bread is the best thing about the Godmother, as it's got a chew to it.

                                                                              3) A little oil and a splash of vinegar is fine but mayo, mustard etc, they're just antithetical to the kind East Coast, Italian deli cold cut sandwich the Godmother is attempting to ape.

                                                                              Keep it simple. Let the signature ingredients (not mayo out of an industrial tub and mustard from a squeeze bottle) dictate the flavor profile.

                                                                              It's all a matter of preference, obviously but my taste runs towards bold flavors based on simple ingredients. For example, the idea of more than two toppings on a pizza (something pioneered by gross chains like Pizza Hut) is anathema to me for the same reason.

                                                                              1. re: JeMange

                                                                                They aren't "aping" anything, and we aren't on the East Coast.

                                                                  2. re: wienermobile

                                                                    Bay Cities is AMAZING. The Godmother sandwich with every salami known to man. The hot meatball sandwich with provalone and pepperoncini.And, while you're waiting in the very long line, you can buy great Italian wines, fresh, hot bread and cheese with truffles.

                                                                  3. I would add my favorite cheap eats -- the half chicken plate at Dino's Burgers

                                                                    Dino's Burgers
                                                                    2575 Pico Blvd
                                                                    Los Angeles
                                                                    (213) 380-3554

                                                                    http://www.DinosChickenandBurgers.com

                                                                    Other locations in Azusa and Pomona

                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Norm Man

                                                                      Dino's on Main Street is way better than the Pico location.
                                                                      2817 N Main St, Los Angeles

                                                                      1. re: monku

                                                                        If only I felt the same way as that location is so much closer to my work but, I'll make the drive to KT every time.

                                                                        1. re: monku

                                                                          Main better than Pico? Bizarre claim.

                                                                          Perhaps you're talking about the burgers, which I've never had.

                                                                          If you want the chicken plate, the Magic Orange Sauce at Main doesn't hold a candle to the manna on Pico.

                                                                          1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                                                            I have to agree. I've only been to the Main St. location once and found the marinade not as compelling in terms of tickling my taste buds as at the Pico version.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Main St Cafe
                                                                            450 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

                                                                            1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                                                              Not to mention the difference in fries.

                                                                          2. re: Norm Man

                                                                            I may have to add this to my list. But their website does not list one on Main St..

                                                                            1. re: brandygirl

                                                                              Believe the Azusa and Pomona locations are run by the daughter of the Pico location owner.
                                                                              The Main Street location is run by the brother of the Pico location.

                                                                            2. re: Norm Man

                                                                              AMEN! I go to the Azusa location. Delicious!

                                                                            3. Drop Titos Tacos add Philippe's

                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mlgb

                                                                                after 2 visits I have re-affirmed that Philippes is worth neither the drive nor the money. Dig their potato salad though. Friends who came up from OC agree.

                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                  "I have re-affirmed that Philippes is worth neither the drive nor the money. " To itch his own, but the lamb dip cannot be gotten anywhere else, nor can the mustard, both of which should be declared National Treasures. And #1 on the potato salad.

                                                                                  Maybe I'm blasé, having only to come down from Pasadena rather than up from OC.

                                                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                    I don't really see that as a bad thing re: lamb dip cannot be found anywhere else. I mean the lamb was good (infinitely better than the beef) but no au jus on the side (pointing to some "policy") makes for soggy bread with lamb.

                                                                                    mustard wasn't special, I get equally nose blasting mustard from dim sum houses.

                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                      Not cheap and none of the mustard but Westside Tavern does an excellent lamb dip sandwich and will gladly provide an extra bowl of au jus for more dipping pleasure.

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Westside Tavern
                                                                                      10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                      1. re: New Trial

                                                                                        All this talk about Philippes has got me craving a good French dip. I'll try to check out Westside Tavern's--I'm all about the extra dip.

                                                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                          Houston's prime rib dip leaves the lamb dip at Westside Tavern in the dust (and I like Westside Tavern).

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            but it doesn't qualify as cheap eats. =)

                                                                                            for that, i offer the beef dip at busy bee market.

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Busy Bee Market
                                                                                            2413 S Walker Ave, San Pedro, CA 90731

                                                                                        2. re: New Trial

                                                                                          they certainly do, like it better than Philippes, and no wait.

                                                                                      2. re: ns1

                                                                                        I gotta disagree. I think Philippes is definitely worth the drive. I didn't include it on my list because I've been there so many times. Next time I go I'll have to try their potato salad.

                                                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                          I'm with you . . .

                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                            Me too...We were in LA area in June & I wanted to try Philippe's.
                                                                                            We were staying in Santa Monica and it was a drive to get there & had other stops. I mention this because my husband was moaning the whole way,"Do you really want to do this?" He went in & got my sandwich & ate his inside while I stayed in the car since our dogs were with us. When he came with my sandwich, he let fly a few expletives and said,"That was one of the top ten BEST things I've ever had in my mouth! The meat was tender (we had the beef), moist & deliciously seasoned. We had the"Double Dipped" and it was just the right mix of crunchy bun & saturated bun, so I don't understand the "soggy" comment above, unless they ordered theirs "Wet". I am usually "all about the dip" too and, I have to say, I didn't miss the side bowl of dip. For me, that says a lot. Also, we both found their potato salad & cole slaw to be fresh as a daisy & a delicious foil to the sandwich. My husband also enjoyed the old-fashioned ambience. Our son is starting his first job out of college and he'll be working in Santa Monica, so I gave him a Philippe's gift card. He acted as our "scout" and tried P.'s when he was interning last summer. He also raved...I'll tell him about the Westside Tavern...

                                                                                      3. re: mlgb

                                                                                        Tito's is horrible. With you on that. Nix.

                                                                                      4. I love El Tepyeac, love their machaca. Go to Mom's in compon for hamburgers or Hawkins. I like tito's, more for nostalgia. Johnny's pastrami, the hat don't forget to get their onion rings.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: paprkutr

                                                                                          Yes, El Tepyeac is a 'must' to add to my list--yet another one I forgot. Thanks.

                                                                                        2. Pie and Burger (for best of both)

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: miwine

                                                                                            This is one place I've heard of and was curious about. Wasn't sure if it was woth the drive, but I think I can add it to my list now. Thanks.

                                                                                            1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                              Don't bother, it's filthy and not worth any drive, and I lived there.

                                                                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                Massive disagreement with the above. P&B is NOT filthy, it just smells like they've been cooking burgers for fifty-some years. That to me is the smell of comfort, not filth. If I walk into a place and can't smell what they cooked last week, I don't expect much. The burger is flat-grilled, as they're supposed to be, and crowned (if you get cheese, as you should) with a slice of American cheese food, plus a good wad of iceberg lettuce, some pickles, and a slice of sad tomato that they really should just forget until July. It is not the best burger in LA County, but it's solidly in the running. I like the fries just fine, but then I'm not as picky about those as most. The potato salad, however, is far superior to anyone's except Philippe's and mine. If you want something besides a burger, the tuna salad sandwich is a stunner. And the pies kill.

                                                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                  I know it's a local favorite. But when I lived by CalTech, my DH & I could not figure out what the attraction of the place was. We went, sat at the counter, and stared at the filthy floors, dirty counters, etc. For the first time in ages, I cannot remember what we ate there, b/c all we could think about was how dirty the place was. But. to each his own.

                                                                                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                    I don't mind Pie N Burger but anyone who thinks thats the "best burger in LA"(which LA Mag, rag that it is, ordained it) need their noggin examined.

                                                                                                    1. re: blackbookali

                                                                                                      Pie n Burger is extremely mediocre IMHO. Don't get that one.

                                                                                                      1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                                                        cf. the "Most Divisive Restaurants" thread. :)

                                                                                          2. Hi,

                                                                                            A few of our favorites, worth the drive:

                                                                                            Mexican: Tijuana Tacos, in Pomona
                                                                                            Pizza: Zelo, in Arcadia
                                                                                            Deli: Billy's
                                                                                            Thai: Renu Nakorn
                                                                                            General and best pie ever: Bake & Broil

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Michelle

                                                                                              Billys? Really? I mean they are very sweet. The waitresses are old school. Overall, very decent. But I might put Brents or Langers ahead of them.

                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                We love Billy's and have been going for years. Brent's is very good (love that black pastrami!) but is quite far away from us, so we hardly go there. It's also a lot more crowded. Have to admit, never been to Langer's but hoping to remedy that soon! Again, worth the drive for us. Of the delis we have been to, Billy's has the best chopped chicken liver...

                                                                                                1. re: Michelle

                                                                                                  I will give you that - Billy's is traditional, yet relaxing as it is not horrifically crowded.

                                                                                                  I will also confess that when we first moved to this area from Pico Robertson, I gave huge HUGE thanks for Billy's salami and eggs. It saved me many a time.

                                                                                                  I just don't know that I would drive for it : )

                                                                                              2. re: Michelle

                                                                                                Thanks--all of these are new to me. Where are Billy's and Bake & Broil?

                                                                                                1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                  Billy's is in Glendale, Bake and Broil, Long Beach I believe...

                                                                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                    You believe? Yes it's in Long Beach. But, no it isn't worth the drive, and particularly not for "general".

                                                                                                    If driving to Long Beach I would suggest El Pollo Imperial for Peruvian.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    El Pollo Imperial
                                                                                                    5991 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805

                                                                                                    1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                      We all have our opinions. In my opinion, it is worth the drive and we head there from the Pasadena area at least once a month.

                                                                                                      1. re: Michelle

                                                                                                        I live around the corner and don't think it's worth the drive for anything other than some takeout desserts. Which I would just as soon do from several other options on Atlantic.

                                                                                                  2. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                    Billy's is at 216 N. Orange in Glendale. Bake & Broil is at 3697 Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach. Enjoy!

                                                                                                  3. re: Michelle

                                                                                                    I second Zelo and Renu Nakorn.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Renu Nakorn Restaurant
                                                                                                    13019 Rosecrans Ave, Norwalk, CA 90650

                                                                                                  4. This is my personal list of cheap eats (at least mostly cheap) that are worth the drive:

                                                                                                    Dino’s Chicken and Burgers ($5 half-grilled chicken + French fry plate)
                                                                                                    2575 West Pico Boulevard (2 blocks west of Vermont)

                                                                                                    Papa Cristo’s (gyro sandwich)
                                                                                                    2771 West Pico Boulevard (at Normandie)

                                                                                                    El Taurino (carne asade & al pastor tacos)
                                                                                                    2306 West 11th Street (1 block south of Olympic just east of Hoover)

                                                                                                    Langers (1/4 pound pastrami or pastrami sandwich)
                                                                                                    7th and Alvarado

                                                                                                    Bahn Mi My Dung (Bahn Mi: Vietnamese sandwich)
                                                                                                    314 Ord Street---closes at 3:30 pm
                                                                                                    (213) 617-7094

                                                                                                    Buu Dien (Bahn Mi: Vietnamese sandwich)
                                                                                                    642 N Broadway (just south of Ord)

                                                                                                    El Atacor (crispy potato tacos)
                                                                                                    3520 North Figueroa Street (exit 26b on 110)

                                                                                                    Huarache Azteca (huarache [flat, hard taco] with al pastor)
                                                                                                    5225 York Boulevard

                                                                                                    Galco’s Soda Pop Shop (rare sodas)
                                                                                                    5702 York Boulevard

                                                                                                    Casa Bianca Pizza (sausage + eggplant pizza or pepperoni pizza)
                                                                                                    1650 Colorado Boulevard (323) 256-9617—opens at 4pm, closed Sunday and Monday

                                                                                                    Elena’s Greek Armenian Cuisine (falafel)
                                                                                                    1000 South Glendale Avenue (just north Chevy Chase)

                                                                                                    Porto’s (guava cheese strudel, cheese strudel, coconut strudel)
                                                                                                    315 North Brand Boulevard (just south of the134)—Sunday closes at 4pm, other days at 7pm

                                                                                                    Sapp Coffee Shop (Thai boat noodles)
                                                                                                    5183 Hollywood Boulevard (just west of Normandie)

                                                                                                    Sahag’s Basturma (soujouk [Armenian sausage] sandwich)
                                                                                                    5183 Sunset Blvd. (just west of Normandie)

                                                                                                    Bhan Kanom Thai (Thai desserts)
                                                                                                    5271 Hollywood Blvd (just west of Normandie)

                                                                                                    China Express (taro boba drink)
                                                                                                    1907 N Hillhurst Ave (at Franklin)

                                                                                                    Zankou (tarna [chicken schwarma] sandwich, extra-crispy bread with extra garlic sauce
                                                                                                    and mutabbal [baba ghanoush])
                                                                                                    Assorted locations

                                                                                                    Skooby’s (barbecue-spiced Fries with Red Pepper Aioli)
                                                                                                    6654 Hollywood Blvd. (east of Highland)

                                                                                                    Lucky Devil’s (chocolate cake shake)
                                                                                                    6613 Hollywood Blvd (between Cahuenga and Highland)

                                                                                                    Animal (Poutine with Oxtail Gravy and Cheddar Curds)
                                                                                                    435 N. Fairfax Ave (a few blocks north of Beverly)—323 782-9225—opens at 6pm (sitdown)

                                                                                                    El Chato Taco Truck (al pastor and carne asada tacos)
                                                                                                    Southwest Corner of Olympic and La Brea (Mon-Thurs: 9pm-1am; Fri-Sat: 9pm-3am)

                                                                                                    Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles (fried chicken and waffles)
                                                                                                    Sunset & Gower or Pico just west of La Brea

                                                                                                    Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken (biscuit and fried chicken)
                                                                                                    9537 Culver Boulevard (a few blocks west of Robertson)

                                                                                                    Cemita Truck (milanese cemita [Mexican sandwich] with papalo)
                                                                                                    In front of Smart & Final at 10113 Venice Blvd just west of Clarington (near Overland) closes at 2pm

                                                                                                    Spudnuts (potato-flour donuts)
                                                                                                    11285 Venice Blvd (Sepulveda)
                                                                                                    or 3001 South Figueroa Street (above Jefferson)

                                                                                                    Bludso’s BBQ (brisket and ribs)
                                                                                                    811 South Long Beach Boulevard, Compton, CA 90221 (310) 637-1342
                                                                                                    Open Tue-Thu 11am-8pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 12:30pm-7pm

                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: film_score

                                                                                                      Good list film score!

                                                                                                      1. re: film_score

                                                                                                        Darn fine list! You've got me beat.

                                                                                                        Portos has impressed very picky out of towners, as well as making me happy on a weekly basis : )

                                                                                                        I used to get spudnuts when I worked in Culver City oh so many years ago - they ARE good!

                                                                                                        Love Galcos's and Elena's? Very good food, but I'd go back just for their fries. Yum.

                                                                                                        1. re: film_score

                                                                                                          Wow, that is a great list! I've been to a few and completely agree--Roscoe's I visited a couple weeks ago, great as ever. I've been craving fried chicken recently, so I must add Honey's Kettle to my list.

                                                                                                          If I make it to Galco's Soda's (great suggestion, by the way), any particular soda I must buy?

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Honey's Kettle
                                                                                                          2600 E Alondra Blvd, Compton, CA 90221

                                                                                                          1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                            No particular soda you need to buy at Galcos. The supply is limitless. Definitely talk to one of the workers over there and they can help guide you to something unique that you might like. Honestly, most of the fun is just trying something new and different (even if, I'll concede, it might not be the best tasting soda or something). Also, make sure to check out the regional/old-fashioned candies they have too...

                                                                                                            mike

                                                                                                            1. re: film_score

                                                                                                              Mrs. O went a little crazy last time we were in Galco's and bought two of each flavor of a line of FLOWER-flavored sodas, from Florida I think. Maybe five different flavors, all strangely delicious. They also have an equally amazing variety of beers, including lots of Asian and Latin-American ones.

                                                                                                            2. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                              DH loves the Plantation Mint Julep soda. We get a case at a time. You can buy just one bottle, so can make up a case of whatever you like. It's a fun place. We also like Bundaberg Ginger Beer (from Australia) and they have that, as well as a new peach flavor I hadn't heard of before, which was very good.

                                                                                                              1. re: Michelle

                                                                                                                How good is Galcos's? My husband likes cream soda. They had 70 different kinds. 70. I just had to close my eyes and pick.

                                                                                                                And their wine selection is interesting too.

                                                                                                              2. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                I love all the sodas by Hot Lips. The only ingredients are the fruit, lemon, and sugar. The color is just amazing and the taste is very pure and concentrated. I also like the Jamaican Ginger Beer "Hot! Hot! Hot!" which is really not all that hot, but what makes it special is the use of real ginger oil. I also like the Rhubarb soda by Dry.

                                                                                                                1. re: maiweezy

                                                                                                                  Good to know. I love making Moscow Mules, so I'm always looking for a good ginger beer.

                                                                                                            3. similar to the best meals under $10 thread, no?

                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                              Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery
                                                                                                              14520 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                                                                                              Delicieuse
                                                                                                              2503 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278

                                                                                                              Jim Dandy Fried Chicken
                                                                                                              11328 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90044

                                                                                                              Ricky's Fish Tacos
                                                                                                              1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                                              Bludso's BBQ
                                                                                                              811 S Long Beach Blvd, Compton, CA 90221

                                                                                                              Soul Burgers
                                                                                                              1035 S Prairie Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: raizans

                                                                                                                Thanks for this list. I've only heard of Jim Dandy, the rest are new to me. It's been a long time since I've had a good Banh Mi!

                                                                                                              2. Sam Woo BBQ- Alhambra or Monterey Park.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Sam Woo Cafe
                                                                                                                727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                                                                  Do they also have one in Van Nuys or somewhere else in the San Fernando Valley?

                                                                                                                  1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                    Don't know if it's the same owners but there's a Sam Woo Bar-B-Q in Van Nuys at 6450 Sepulveda Blvd at the corner of Victory and Sepulveda. (818) 988-6813. Tucks right between an Office Depot and the 99 Ranch Market. Can't attest to the dinners, I've only had the take-out barbecue which was fit t'eat.

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    99 Ranch
                                                                                                                    17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                                                                                                                    1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                      Sam Woo's are mostly individual franchise owners. As such, the quality varies from location to location. But the Van Nuys one seems to get a general thumbs up from this board.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Sam Woo Cafe
                                                                                                                      727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                                                                  2. MEXICAN: Tito's Taco's, El Parian, El Abajeno
                                                                                                                    PIZZA: village pizza
                                                                                                                    BURGERS: Apple Pan, Astro Burger, Capitol Burger

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    Apple Pan
                                                                                                                    10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                                                    Tito's Tacos
                                                                                                                    11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

                                                                                                                    El Abajeno
                                                                                                                    4513 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                                                                                                                    Capitol Burgers
                                                                                                                    4301 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                                                                                                      Years ago I worked down the street from Village Pizza--yes, that is one of the best I've had. Definitely worth the drive, with the added bonus of walking Larchmont Village! I've never heard of Capitol Burgers or El Abajeno, and I'm always looking for great Mexican/South American. Where is El Abajeno?

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      El Abajeno
                                                                                                                      4513 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                                                                                                                      Capitol Burgers
                                                                                                                      4301 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                                                                                                                      1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                        I guess Chowhound answered my location question!

                                                                                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                          Love VIllage PIzza. It's a drive for me now, so I make do - quite well - with Brownstones and Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock.

                                                                                                                          1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                            I would take a pass on El Abajeno. I used to love and recommend it. I took my wife and MIL last wednesday. It was crap. The oil that they used to cook the flautas was many days old. None of us wanted to eat even one. Their gaucamole is not guacamole. It's that running snot looking stuff that's made from a powder. Carl's Jr has better guac and that's not saying much. The cheese (I assume it was cheese) on top of the refried beans had that tart, bad cheese flavor. My Carne Asada burrito did not have carne asada inside it. It was some cheap shredded beef that was also old. The menu says it's steak...well, it's not chicken. I guess it might have been a steak at some point long ago...
                                                                                                                            I live in the IE, much better food out here. I had no idea that the food at El Abajeno had lost so much of it's quality. We were there on 3/31 at 1:30pm. No one was in there except for us and a couiple of other diners. It was a ghost town. What a waste of time and money. Thankfully, Randy's Donuts didn't disappoint!

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Randy's Donuts
                                                                                                                            805 West Manchester Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301

                                                                                                                            El Abajeno
                                                                                                                            4513 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                                                                                                                            1. re: ITry

                                                                                                                              That really sounds disgusting, Thanks for the heads up.

                                                                                                                        2. Well, you can tell I am a carb girl by what I'm about to list.

                                                                                                                          Diamond Bakery on Fairfax for their challah. Call ahead to reserve one. Their corn rye is also excellent and, they are one of the few places left that makes pumpernickel/raisin bread. Have a slice cold with cream cheese or toasted with butter - divine.

                                                                                                                          Bea's Bakery in the valley for the coconut bars or their russian tea biscuits. Rare treats done exceptionally well.

                                                                                                                          Scoops on Heliotrope! Bring a cooler and ice packs. Enjoy some there and then get some packed to take home. Unusual, flavorful and surprisingly light.

                                                                                                                          And I second the Fosselman's recs. Love that place. Not too sweet, intense, creamy ice cream.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Bea's Bakery
                                                                                                                          18450 Clark St, Tarzana, CA 91356

                                                                                                                          Diamond Bakery
                                                                                                                          335 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                            I hear you about the carbs--love them! Someone in our house stops by Bea's for their bread on a regular basis. I'll have to try their Russian tea biscuits next time. Every time I go to Canters, I think about stopping at Diamond Bakery after, but I can't seem to leave Canters without stoppiing at their own in-house bakery counter. It's like a super magnet that just sucks me in.

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Diamond Bakery
                                                                                                                            335 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                            1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                              Oh the russian tea biscuits.... Love them. Oddly enough, they are not too sweet - and thus highly addictive. You slice off a chunk to have with coffee. Just a little. Then another. Then another. And then your mate is looking at you, also wanting some tea biscuit, and asking where they have all gone?!

                                                                                                                              I confess, I have not been in Canters Bakery for years. I know it is fun, and a fab experience, but the quality of Diamond's challah and raisin pumpernickel make it impossible for me to stray.

                                                                                                                              And I used to be able to rec. Fred's Bakery on Robertson for challah and coconut bars, but the last time I went there, it felt like it had changed.

                                                                                                                              Happy hunting to you!

                                                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                Speaking of Russian baked goods, we enjoy two bakeries at Fairfax and Santa Monica. To the north a few doors west of Whole Foods is Stolichnaya Bakery and across Santa Monica is Tbilisi i Yerevan (respective capitals of Georgia and Armenia). We especially like the borodinsky bread at Stolichnaya: a dark "rye" flavored with coriander instead of caraway. This bread actually commemorates the battle at Borodino outside Moscow in the War of 1812 where Kutuzov fought Napoleon to a draw and set the war's terrible end game in motion.

                                                                                                                                The only problem with these bakeries is their "rye" breads seem to be diluted with a lot of wheat, and aren't made with the intensive sourdough process that you can find in Russia. It only takes a couple hours to make yeast bread; a really good sourdough probably takes at least a whole day.

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                Stolichnaya Bakery
                                                                                                                                7875 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                                1. re: LADave

                                                                                                                                  I heard that Trader Joe's carries a pure rye sourdough that is dense and tasty. Might be worth checking out!

                                                                                                                              2. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                Bea's also has the best delcos and black-and-white cookies in the city.

                                                                                                                                Tacos: Tacos La Fonda or King Taco. I also drive to the North Hollywood El Taco Llama, though will go to the one closer to my house at times.

                                                                                                                                Hot Dog: Fab (also for the tater tots)

                                                                                                                                Dim sum: Elite or Family Pastry

                                                                                                                                Ice Cream: Fosselman's (but I don't make this drive much). I was disappointed in Scoops.

                                                                                                                                Buffalo Wings: Ribs U.S.A. (the ribs are terrible, but the spicy wings are some of my favorites)

                                                                                                                                1. re: Jwsel

                                                                                                                                  Fosselman's rocks!

                                                                                                                            2. This list is a great idea, but "worth the drive" is a slippery concept. I like what Roadfood used to do: "how far would you drive to go to X restaurant". In LA that needs to be translated into time rather than distance. So I'd ask something like: What are your favorite dives and cheap eats WORTH DRIVING HALF AN HOUR OR LONGER FOR. [Caps to reflect OPs title.] Otherwise you may end up with more suggestions that you wanted!

                                                                                                                              With that criterion in mind, I'd add (in addition to previous suggestions):

                                                                                                                              PIZZA: Vito's, Joe's
                                                                                                                              CEMITAS/TORTAS: Cemitas Poblanas Don Adrian (Van Nuys), Cook's Tortas, Pal Cabron
                                                                                                                              HOT DOGS: Fab Dogs
                                                                                                                              BURGERS: Father's Office, 26 Beach
                                                                                                                              COFFEE: Intelligentsia
                                                                                                                              BAOZI/JIAOZI: Noodle House (Rowland Heights)
                                                                                                                              CURRY RICE, TERIYAKI BEEF: Foo Foo Tei
                                                                                                                              FRIED CHICKEN: Kyochon Chicken (K-Town location)
                                                                                                                              RAMEN: Santouka
                                                                                                                              TOFU (soondubu): So Kong Dong
                                                                                                                              DIM SUM: Sea Harbour, Elite
                                                                                                                              FALAFEL: Falafel Arax
                                                                                                                              VIETNAMESE: Vien Dong (Garden Grove)
                                                                                                                              MEXICAN: Cacao Mexicatessen

                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                Half an hour from where? I like everyone's list without that rule, since everyone's starting point is different.

                                                                                                                                I would add
                                                                                                                                Stan's donuts in Westwood,
                                                                                                                                Poquito Mas for their carne asada burrito (!),
                                                                                                                                New Moon for the Shelby Chicken
                                                                                                                                Sweet Rose Creamery for ice cream
                                                                                                                                The Yard for a good pub
                                                                                                                                and wherever the Greasy Wiener truck is, for a hot dog.

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                New Moon
                                                                                                                                112 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                                                                                                                                1. re: yogachik

                                                                                                                                  > Half an hour from where?

                                                                                                                                  Half an hour "from wherever". In other words, is the restaurant worth driving for half an hour to get to. To be clear, "half an hour" is just an arbitrary suggestion. You could make it more or less to make the list more or less exclusive.

                                                                                                                                  > I like everyone's list without that rule, since everyone's starting point is different

                                                                                                                                  Hmm. I'd have to add places like Slaw Dogs, Dog Haus, Ricks Drive-In, and Lucky Boy Drive-In to the list. These are five minutes away from me, so are "worth the drive" . . . for me. I certainly wouldn't want to drive more than 15 minutes to get to any of these. I can't be sure, but don't think this is what the OP had in mind. My suggestion is to make it independent of starting point.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: yogachik

                                                                                                                                    I'm lucky to have Poquito Mas just a few minutes from home. For me, it's carnitas anything! I've never heard of New Moon. Thanks for the rec. I'll check it out.

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    New Moon
                                                                                                                                    112 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                    You make a good point, but given free time (which I have plenty of at the moment), I would drive hours for a good meal. So, since time is not a factor for me, I decided to limit it to the greater L.A. area.

                                                                                                                                    I've been to Father's Office, and agree--definitely worth the drive. Fab's has terrific hotdogs, and I would consider it worth the drive if not for their chili. I know I'm in the minority, but I much prefer Carney's chili.

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                                    1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                                    1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                      I agree, it's difficult to normalize driving time.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                        I'll say. The night before last we headed off to Feast from East. Now that can be a 7 minute drive without traffic. Or it can be a 30 minute drive. Well, Pico was a parking lot. I pulled over across the street from SF Saloon and parked at a meter and we walked across the (jammed) traffic. We had burgers (mine with bleu cheese and grilled onions and sauteed mushrooms and my wife's with bacon and guacamole). Finished dinner. Walked back across Pico (traffic still jammed going east bound) and went the 20 feet along the curb to the little turn to take Gateway (Ocean Park Blvd. by any other name) back west bound to our house. Love that LA traffic! NOT

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                          in that neighborhood, also worthy imho, is Tlapazola.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                            I love SF Saloon's bleu cheese burger AND the bacon guacamole ---> OINK!!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                              SF Saloon's wings are actually pretty decent also. I've always been happy catching a game there with friends, ordering a burger and wings. They'll also give you blue cheese dressing instead of ranch. You have to ask for it but at least you can get it.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                          With $4/gallon gas and a car that will rarely go more than 18 miles on that much, I do not drive half an hour JUST to eat anywhere. Meet someone for lunch, attend a meeting or other function, gotta be near there for some other reason, sure. That's why I loved my real-estate appraisal photo gig while it lasted. Agoura Hills or Thousand Oaks? YAY, lunch at Agoura Deli! LAX area? YAY, lunch at Pann's or Second City! My growing list of good places in Burbank (20 minutes) is thanks largely to my one and only client's being there, though trips to IKEA are another good excuse.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                            The Tuesday $2.49 meatball special at Ikea! Cheap and fun.

                                                                                                                                        3. How do you define "cheap"?

                                                                                                                                          Babita's is not cheap in terms of $$, neither is Apple Pan or Umami when it comes to burgers. Rustic Canyon is not cheap (unless you're a sheik) when it comes to roast chicken.

                                                                                                                                          And really, Donut Man is not cheap when it comes to donuts. At close to $3 for a fruit donut, that's a banh mi plus a drink at most Vietnamese joints.

                                                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                            Good point. You are absolutely right about Rustic Canyon. I probably shouldn't have listed it on this post, but it was the one more expensive restaurant that is on my list to try within the next couple of weeks. I've been to Apple Pan, although it's been years. While there are certainly cheaper burgers out their, I don't remember Apple Pan as costing a lot of money. I would definitely consider it in the "dive/cheap eats" category. I've never been to nor looked at the menu prices for Babita's and Umami (or most of the others on my list), but I assumed they were pretty cheap (or at least reasonable) for what you get--maybe not? And as for Donut Man's $3 donut, while that may be very expensive for a donut, $3 is not a lot of money to spend for breakfast or dessert, so I would include it in the cheap eats category.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            Apple Pan
                                                                                                                                            10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                                                                            Donut Man
                                                                                                                                            915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                                                                                                            1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                              "Cheap" to me is $10/head or under. "Cheap enough to make this list" I'd say is $15-20 each. Almost every place we like in the SGV is CHEAP. A good lunch at Pann's might run you $20, especially if you tip adequately.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                I've averaged about $50/person at Babita (before tax and tip). Unless you just hit the Lotto, I don't think that counts as cheap.

                                                                                                                                                You can see the prices for Umami here http://umamiburger.com/menu/#2Santa_M... , and as the price list suggest every burger is 10+. While that's not expensive, it certainly isn't cheap considering I can get a larger (and better) burger at Morton's Steakhouse for $15. And places like Father's Office and Golden State (better than Umami in my opinion) have cheaper burgers at 12 and 10, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                Again, not saying either Babita or Umami are bad (in fact I like Babita quite a bit), but to categorize them as "cheap eats" is simply inapt.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the heads up. Babita definitely does not belong on the list at $50 per person, although it is a place I will have to try sometime. I agree with Will Owen, $20 or less would make the list. Looking at your link, Umami is borderline, as you would have to order carefully to get out of there for $20

                                                                                                                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                i wouldn't spend $3 for a doughnut when, for about $3.50, you can get a terrific almond croissant at most of the high end bakeries in town.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                  Bingo!

                                                                                                                                                  That's my point about Donut Man. It's good, but it's not your typical cheap drive-thru corner lot donut shop.

                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                  Donut Man
                                                                                                                                                  915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                    WOW 3.50 for a donut? I'll take my .85c Dad's donuts!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                      I believe it's actually 2.75 for a strawberry donut.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                        for $2.65 you can get one of those divine almond/banana/chocolate triangular-shaped croissant-like things at almondine.

                                                                                                                                                        i'd take one those instead of a doughnut any time. . .. .

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                          westsidegal,

                                                                                                                                                          Have you ever actually tried a donut man strawberry donut? If you haven't I think you should refrain from making suppositions about how well it might measure up to other pastries.

                                                                                                                                                          When I raised the issue of the donut's price, it was just to point out that it is not "cheap" ... but that said, even at 2.75, it still tastes pretty darn f!cking good.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                            Agree, those donuts are cramed with fine fresh strawberries from the field next door, in a light handmade glaze. They are huge and delicious and unique.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                        I actually had the donut man donut after posting this and i totally understand why it costs so much. And it's so worth it.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                      Have you ever had a fresh strawberry donut from the Donut Man?

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      Donut Man
                                                                                                                                                      915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                        The peach-filled donut is really good as well.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                          Well worth the price.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                            Huge disappointment today from the Donut Man.
                                                                                                                                                            Ready to dig in and I could barely get the fork into the strawberry.....very far from ripe all of them.

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            Donut Man
                                                                                                                                                            915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                              Call and tell Jim.

                                                                                                                                                              He's given me refunds before.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                Jim was standing there when I asked the kid to pack me one to go (separate the donut and strawberry's) and he didn't. They knew they weren't anywhere near ripe.
                                                                                                                                                                I'll let it slide this time.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                  Stopped by the Donut Man today and complained to the kid who sold me the strawberry donut a couple weeks ago. He apologized and said the strawberries that week were picked early because of the rain and weather. I bought another one today ($2.90) and the strawberries were ripe.
                                                                                                                                                                  My new thing there is the bear claw ($1.90), truly a work of art and the size of a real bears claw.

                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                  Donut Man
                                                                                                                                                                  915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                                    They won't do you wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                                      Looks more like the size of a bear "paw" rather than a claw!

                                                                                                                                                      2. Vinh Loi Tofu in Reseda is a drive from LA, but always worth it for the delicious fresh tofu and vegan Vietnamese dishes.

                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                        Vinh Loi Tofu
                                                                                                                                                        18625 Sherman Way Ste 101, Reseda, CA 91335

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bugg Superstar

                                                                                                                                                          Yes! Great creative stuff!

                                                                                                                                                          And it's a way simple dish, but I LOVE their "ham" spring rolls with peanut sauce.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bugg Superstar

                                                                                                                                                            Since I'm in Northridge, I will definitely have to check it out. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Here is my list for cheap eats and dives.

                                                                                                                                                            Mexican: Antojitos Carmen in ELA; El Atacor #11 in Cypress Park
                                                                                                                                                            Pizza: Corner Pizzeria in Eagle Rock
                                                                                                                                                            Sandwiches: Pasadena Sandwich Co. in Pasadena; Fresh Cutt in Sherman Oaks
                                                                                                                                                            Eastside Italian Deli in L.A. on the fringe of Chinatown
                                                                                                                                                            Ice Cream: Scoops near LACC & WLA
                                                                                                                                                            Bakery: Porto’s in Burbank & Glendale
                                                                                                                                                            Fish & Seafood: Seafood Outlet in L.A. Skid Row
                                                                                                                                                            Burgers: The Fix Burger on Hyperion in Silverlake
                                                                                                                                                            Pub/Diner: Chowder Barge at Leeward Bay Marina in Wilmington
                                                                                                                                                            Chicken: Dino’s on Pico in L.A.
                                                                                                                                                            Asian: Sapp’s in E. Hollywood; Hoan Kiem in Chinatown

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            Pasadena Sandwich Co
                                                                                                                                                            259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                                                                                                                                            Hoan Kiem
                                                                                                                                                            727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                                                                                                            Chowder Barge
                                                                                                                                                            611 N Henry Ford Ave, Wilmington, CA 90744

                                                                                                                                                            Antojitos Carmen
                                                                                                                                                            2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                                                                              Sam, sorry to burst your bubble, but Fresh Cutt bit the dust a few months ago.

                                                                                                                                                              Other than their yummy and crispy french fries, I found their food to be "meh".

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                                                                                Nice list. Chowder Barge sounds like an interesting place! Seeing numerous recs for Eastside Italian Deli, Scoops, and Dino's, I am definitely adding them to my list. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                Chowder Barge
                                                                                                                                                                611 N Henry Ford Ave, Wilmington, CA 90744

                                                                                                                                                              2. Pho So 1 (Reseda) duck curry with rice

                                                                                                                                                                Ambala Dhaba (Little India) the lunch specials espeically the goat curry

                                                                                                                                                                Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se (also Little India) Vegitarian Mumbai street food

                                                                                                                                                                Full House Seafoodin the food court(Arcadia) cheap dim sum to go

                                                                                                                                                                Food Court at President's Square (Arcadia)This is the same as Full Hoause Seafood take out. I haven't had a bad thing from any of the stalls.. In particular check out R.J. Pastire [sp?] wonderul, beautiful French Chinses fusion pasteries many for under $5.00.

                                                                                                                                                                Younnan's Mediterrean Garden (La Habra) Not a drive for me but it would be for others. Excellent Middle Eastern food at a great price. If they have their meat with either green beans or okra try it. They also offer a complimentary appetizer of olive oil infused with zattar and pita.

                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                Ambala Dhaba
                                                                                                                                                                1781 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                                                                                                                                                Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se
                                                                                                                                                                17705 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SeaCook

                                                                                                                                                                  Since we're posting, these are on my "regular" SF Valley list:

                                                                                                                                                                  Don Adrian's for Cemitas Poblanos
                                                                                                                                                                  Lola's Pollo A La Brasa for Roast Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                  Leaning Tower for damned fine 'Za
                                                                                                                                                                  Artisan Cheese Gallery for a Duck Confit, Fig Preserve and Cheese Panini (@ $10, maybe a little pricey but SO worth it)
                                                                                                                                                                  Versailles (Encino) for Garlic Chicken, Pork and Cristianos y Moros
                                                                                                                                                                  Mom's B.B.Q. House for Fried Chicken, Greens n' things
                                                                                                                                                                  Pita Kitchen for Babaganoush, Shawarma and Lula kabobs
                                                                                                                                                                  Costco for a surprisingly terrific Hot Dog

                                                                                                                                                                  elsewhere:
                                                                                                                                                                  Jitlada for the Lady Jazz . . . AND Southern Thai
                                                                                                                                                                  Portos for cheese and guava pastry, in particular
                                                                                                                                                                  Yucca's for Tacos and Burritos

                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                  Jitlada
                                                                                                                                                                  5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                                                                                                  Artisan Cheese Gallery
                                                                                                                                                                  12023 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA

                                                                                                                                                                  Pita Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                  14500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve2 in LA

                                                                                                                                                                    Being a valley girl, I have been to a few of these. I love Versailles' chicken, and Pita Kitchen is always a favorite. I have to try the fried chicken at Mom's. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                    Pita Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                    14500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: SeaCook

                                                                                                                                                                    Pho So 1 isn't too far from me, as I'm in the valley, and I think I've read other posts about this one. I've never had Pho, so I guess now's the time. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                      As the weather gets warmer, you might also want to try "Bun" which is a chilled rice noodle salad. Tasty, light and refreshing, and generally well priced.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                        pho 999 > pho so 1

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: SeaCook

                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry that should have been Younan Mediterranean Terrace. It was friday and I was tired. Didn't realize it till I got to Younan to pick up dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                        Younan Mediterranean Terrace
                                                                                                                                                                        1920 W Whittier Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631

                                                                                                                                                                      3. So far I've been to Masa's in Echo Park, Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica, and Primo Donuts and Apple Pan in West L.A.

                                                                                                                                                                        Masa's: we started with a green salad to share (it was huge). The lettuce was fresh, but did not have enough dressing. After asking for extra, the salad was just okay. We ordered their "Traditional" Chicago-style pizza, which comes with sausage and mushrooms. Rather than crumbling sausage over the pizza, they apparently made a large thin sausage patty and placed it over the pizza. Although the quality of the sausage was good, it had a bit more fennel than I like. However, the amound of the sausage on the pizza overpowered all else, in my opinion. I couldn't taste the mushrooms or the crust. On the other hand, my dining companion loved the pizza and thought the sausage was outstanding. I hope to go back and try one with just cheese and tomato.

                                                                                                                                                                        Tacos Por Favor: I tried three tacos--carne asada, carnitas, and chorizo and cheese. The chorizo and cheese was my favorite of the three, followed by the carne asada and, far last, the carnitas. While I usually love carnitas, they had a seasoning in it I didn't care for--sorry I can't be more specific. Overall, I would stop by if I was hungry and in the neighborhood, but it isn't worth a drive.

                                                                                                                                                                        Primo: I tried their cherry donut and their glazed donut. The cherry donut was excellent--a perfect cake donut with just the right amount of cherry frosting. The glazed donut didn't really do it for me. While I appreciated the thin coating of glaze, the donut was just too doughy for me. As good as the cherry donut was, I don't see myself driving out there just for that. But it's great if you are in the area.

                                                                                                                                                                        Apple Pan: Hickory burger with cheese, fries, and apple pie. While there are certainly better burgers in L.A., I still love the hickory flavor mixed with their red sauce. The fries were tasteless, so I didn't eat much of them. The apple pie filling was very good, not overly sweet nor syrupy. But the crust was overdone. Overall, Apple Pan is definitely worth the drive, not just for the food but for the whole atmosphere--sitting at the counter, drinking out of those strange paper cone cups. Also great for people watching.

                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                        Apple Pan
                                                                                                                                                                        10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                                                                                                        Tacos Por Favor
                                                                                                                                                                        1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                                                                                                                                                                        Masa Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                        2063 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                                                                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                          Here is where CH really comes in to help you home in on the best of the available choices at new (to you) places. Primo's is best known (and revered) for it's buttermilk bars. You can select from glazed, plain, cinnamon sugar coated or even chocolate dipped. I am there each Saturday, without fail. All of the buttermilk bars are sublime, but I favor the chocolate dipped ones. When warm, chocolate dipped buttermilk bars meet my lips there is generally much moaning and lip smacking and other even more embarrassing sounds emanating from my general vicinity. I try to eat these in the parking lot, away from the stares of the shocked onlookers... ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                            CHCOLATE DIPPED buttermilk bars?

                                                                                                                                                                            I had no idea such a thing existed!

                                                                                                                                                                            Great, now I have the explain the new realities to my thighs...

                                                                                                                                                                            (Not that you need to know that.)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                              Even if there aren't any in the display case because (red faced coughing here) someone has purchased them all, you only have to ask and Frank (the smaller gentleman who is normally making doughnuts right behind the glass window inside) will dip one for you right there and then.

                                                                                                                                                                              "Primo's - Making Los Angeleno's Doughnut Shaped for over 50 Years!" ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                Now you tell me :) I drove from Northridge all the way to Primo's this morning just for their buttermilk bar. I was actually hoping for the cinnamon one, but they only had plain and glazed--and I had to wait 10 minutes for those. Servorg, you are so right. I had the glazed. I am no buttermilk bar expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I was astounded by how light and fluffy it was, while the outside had the perfect crunch. I was getting full by the time I was half way through the buttermilk bar, as I had to try another cherry donut while I waited for the buttermilk bar. But I could not stop eating it. This is definitely worth the trip!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                  I favor the cinnamon ones as well - they're just sweet enough if you want something more than a plain one (which are amazing as well). In my eyes, this cinnamon mini-beast trumps the churro for sweet cinnamon-y starchy fatted goodness.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                              Wow, you are really good at this. You now have me dying to drive out there for a buttermilk bar!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                Just finished my chocolate dipped buttermilk bar. Dough & Chocolate Nirvana.

                                                                                                                                                                                All hounds please say a little prayer for Ralph Primo. Or send him a good thought if you aren't into the prayer thing. He has been at UCLA Hospital for the last couple of weeks. Get well, Ralph. All your customers miss you (I hope Mrs. Primo smuggles him that good cup of coffee and a fresh doughnut as Ralph requested of her...I know that would make me feel better).

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                              What did you think of the pricing for Apple Pan? Since there's been a lot of talk lately if they should be considered cheap eats or not.

                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                              Apple Pan
                                                                                                                                                                              10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jase

                                                                                                                                                                                My recollection is that the Hickory Burger was about $7, the fries maybe $3. I think the bill, with a soda and tax, was about $13.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the reply. It's been a year or two since I last made it there and some threads have made it sound like they're increasing the prices drastically every year but so far no firm confirmation. $7 for their base burger doesn't sound particularly outrageous.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                                                                                                                                    The Apple Pan and Tito's are the whipping boys of this board. Given any opportunity, they get kicked, demeaned, and piled on. For those of us who have any substantial history with either, at worst it's a once-in-a-while touchstone with our past. At best, regardless of how hounds feel, the statistics trump this board's opinions; i.e., they're laughing all the way to the bank.

                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                    Apple Pan
                                                                                                                                                                                    10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                                      "At best, regardless of how hounds feel, the statistics trump this board's opinions; i.e., they're laughing all the way to the bank."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Can't argue with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                        By that criterion we should all be going to McDs. My theory is that Titos was in the right place at the right time..in the locational comfort zone of pot smoking Westsiders who couldn't find anything else open late at night. Not that I would know anything about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's not even about late at night options for most. It starts much earlier in the years - usually during childhood, and that is why many have a strong affinity with Tito's and Apple Pan. I will be the first to admit that neither place is the best at what they do - far from it. The average bar for LA cuisine has become so elevated since the 60s and 70s, yet these places don't change their formula because for them and most importantly for their customers, it's what they want. If J. Gold has some unexplained affinity with Tito's tacos (he grew up in Westdale - a straight shot up Sepulveda), then it really needs no further explaining or debate in my eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                          Apple Pan
                                                                                                                                                                                          10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                          ns1:
                                                                                                                                                                                          sure you can argue with that.
                                                                                                                                                                                          del taco makes money, so what? doesn't have anything to do with the food tasting paticularly good.
                                                                                                                                                                                          they are selling price, uniformity, service, consistency, and convenience to those who don't really care too much about taste. once dated a guy like that. lasted 2 dates.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                            hey now, I love del taco on thursday nights. chicken soft taco night!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Jase

                                                                                                                                                                                    I enjoy a meal at Apple Pan, and the individual prices don't seem that bad on the menu, but when I take the family out for lunch on the weekend and go to pay the bill, it seems like I'm peeling off 20's like I'm at a decent restaurant in Beverly Hills.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Al & Bea's burritos.
                                                                                                                                                                                  J&S burritos.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Carnitas Mihoacan burritos

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Chroni's chili dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                    Chronis
                                                                                                                                                                                    5825 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monku

                                                                                                                                                                                      Glad you brought up hot dogs. My favorite cheap hot dog is the one sold by Pablo who has a hot dog cart near the parking lot of B&B Hardware in Culver City or is it, West L.A.? He's there during the day Monday through Saturday. I thought he left at 4pm, but once he told me he was there until 6pm. Better to come before he gets close to shutting down. He probably adjusts his shut down versus the business he's getting. Lovely bacon wrapped dog with fresh guacamole, cooked onions and bits of cooked jalepeno. He also throws on a bit of ketchup and mayo. Of course you can ask for modifications to the everything on it version. Only $3 and he also carries some cold drinks (including some Mexican sourced sodas).

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Feed_me

                                                                                                                                                                                        Anything in the 90066 (where B&B resides) is Mar Vista (Los Angeles by another - more attractive - name). I keep forgetting about this option. What time does he "open" for business?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure when Pablo opens up his hot dog cart (or exactly when he shuts down for that matter. I assume he's up and running by 11am. He is never there on Sundays. If I remember, the next time I partake one of his hot dogs I'll ask. I'm prefacing the "if I remember..." because like a shark tasting blood, I go into a feeding frenzy and sort of lose track of my train of thought (other than feeding myself silly).

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Feed_me

                                                                                                                                                                                          His guac is really, really good. The couple of times he's run out early, I've been really bummed. His dog is a great excuse for me to visit B&B to pick up stuff for the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. We love that place too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        For us, worth a drive from the westside to east la for Antojitos Carmen.

                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                        Antojitos Carmen
                                                                                                                                                                                        2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Zamzam market. Still can't believe more people don't know it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          11028 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232-3901

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rcompton

                                                                                                                                                                                            I tried Zamzam once I was there late in the day and the styro packages were lined up on the counter. Chicken Byraini ( sp ) and gosh it packed some heat. A very big portion too for less than $7 IIRC. Total Find..

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Burrito Express in Pasadena is SO much better than Al & Bea's
                                                                                                                                                                                            Zon Bagette in Tustin, the #12 w/vanilla iced coffee $5.00
                                                                                                                                                                                            Villa del Torito, Casa de la Barbacoa on Holt in Ontario. Best Lamb & other tacos. $1.25 each.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Mustard on any Italian meat sandwich is a sin. I'll walk out of any place that prepares it with mayo/must. Save the mustard for a New York deli sandwich. With that said, Roma Deli on N. Lake or any Claro's for Italian. Langer's is great, but not cheap. This is also true of Phillipe's or Cole's.

                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                            Burrito Express
                                                                                                                                                                                            1597 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkyd9

                                                                                                                                                                                              Claro's sandwiches = great value. Big sandwich for $4, gigantic sandwich for $5. Downside is tired greenery and gummy-soft bread. Roma Deli = fabulous sandwich, perfect bread, $5.50. Downside, if you want to call it that: gotta wait for Rosario to take care of whoever's in front of you, then build and wrap your sandwich. And there's no menu; you take what he gives you, and it's just bread, olive oil, meat and cheese, no vegetation. And it's glorious!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                                                                                Totally agree with Will Owen. Jersey Mike's on S Lake & else where is pretty good, at least "Mike's way" is w/o mayo/must. & they fresh hand slice the mid-range quality meats for each order. Not that I'd drive outta the way for it, like say, Little Johnny's in WLA for Pastrami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                Jersey Mike's
                                                                                                                                                                                                423 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkyd9

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jersey Mike's "Original Italian" sub "Mike's Way" is much better than I expected. I'm originally from Boston, and the only decent "spuckie" I've found in LA is the Godmother (without mayo!). Jersey Mike's isn't great, but it's does scratch the itch better than anything else I've found besides the Godmother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  With respect to this thread, though, I wouldn't drive more than 5-10 minutes to go to Mikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: alkyd9

                                                                                                                                                                                                > Burrito Express in Pasadena is SO much better than Al & Bea's

                                                                                                                                                                                                Really? The bean and cheese burrito I had at Burrito Express was a flabby, overfilled bag of fairly bland bean and cheese puree. I haven't been to Al & Bea's yet, but I can't believe theirs isn't better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have never been to Al & Bea's (it's on my to do list) but a few weeks ago I went to Burrito Express for breakfast and both my husband and I were impressed with the beans. Mild yes, but very flavorful and then the house made salsa dribbled on to it and eaten with a chip? I'd drive for that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Burrito Express
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1597 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's true, the salsa was very good. I would get the B&C burrito again, but for me it's definitely a guilty pleasure and not a destination.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. A couple of spots I didn't see, worth a drive IMHO. Cheap, divey and sometimes dirty but always pretty good and I don't have to break the bank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sando's (Manhattan Beach) - Hot THC (it might be over hyped but its still pretty good)
                                                                                                                                                                                                My Taco (Highland Park) - Birria anything, Cabeza Tacos
                                                                                                                                                                                                Hae Jang Chong (KTown) - AYCE Korean BBQ (not super cheap but @ 16.99 not bad)
                                                                                                                                                                                                El Flamin Taco (KTown) - Carne Asada and Al Pastor tacos
                                                                                                                                                                                                Cole's (Downtown) - French Dip (Phillipe's gets most of the buzz but Happy Hour at Cole's is pretty killer, Half Dip and fries is 5 bucks. Not bad)
                                                                                                                                                                                                The Standing Room (Redondo Beach) - Burgers, Thai Crab Sandwich (must have)
                                                                                                                                                                                                Sanamluang (Pomona, although there are locations in LA, North Hollywood) - Tom Yum Kai, Pork ( I know there are plenty of good Thai spots, but for a dive and cheap, I try to pass through once in a while when I visit friends. C rating last time I was there FYI, can't get more divey than that)
                                                                                                                                                                                                Casey's Irish (Downtown) - My go to Pub (although OB's in Manhattan Beach pours a perfect Guiness everytime I've gone)
                                                                                                                                                                                                Handel's (Redondo Beach) - Apple Pie Ice Cream
                                                                                                                                                                                                Pollo Ala Brasa (KTown) - Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, antichucos
                                                                                                                                                                                                Orochon (Little Tokyo) - Spicy Pork Ramen

                                                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                My Taco Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                6300 York Blvd Ste 4, Los Angeles, CA 90042

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Pizzeria Mozza is amazing for pizza and italian at Osteria Mozza next door.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  For Asian, I swear by Nobu and Mr. Chow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nobu
                                                                                                                                                                                                  11357 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pizzeria Mozza
                                                                                                                                                                                                  641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr. Chow
                                                                                                                                                                                                  344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Osteria Mozza
                                                                                                                                                                                                  6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LAfoodie27

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cheap eats?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                      haha sorry!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ok cheap:
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lilys Cafe in Malibu has the best real mexican food!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes it may in Malibu, but it really is super cheap!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ice cream sandwiches: D.D. Reese in Westwood

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think the pizza @ Mozza is particularly expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Thank you, chowhounders, you have given me some great ideas. The last few days I've tried a few that were recommended--Bay Cities Italian Deli, Sweet Rose Creamery, and Teresita's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bay Cities: Had to try the Godmother. The bread was fresh, crusty, chewy, delicious. The quality of the meat was excellent. However, I didn't care for the pepper salad in the sandwich. If you like the pepper salad, I can see why this would be a destination. The market was a great find. While I wouldn't drive there from Northridge just for the sandwich, I would for that market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sweet Rose Creamery: When I got there, they were out of many of their unique flavors. I had the mint chip ice cream. It was different from any other ice cream I've had. Not as sweet or creamy. You can taste the actual mint leaves. I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think it's something I'll go back for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Teresita's: They have the best carnitas. Not deep fried, but tender and flavorful. I would go back just for that. I was not impressed with their salsas. The green salsa they serve with their chips didn't have enought flavor, and the other salsa (it was kind of a yellowish color) had a bitter taste I didn't care for. Neither one seemed to have much heat. Their guacamole was okay--I've had worse and I've had better. The rice and beans were just okay,. But those carnitas...wow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sweet Rose Creamery
                                                                                                                                                                                                      225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Steak House - Che Jay in Venice

                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Steak House
                                                                                                                                                                                                        2933 Rolling Hills Rd, Torrance, CA 90505

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Ok, my list:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Mainly, but not entirely, about the food, and entirely, unabashedly subjective!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Westside and beyond: Jasmine Market, El Sazon Oaxaquena, Tacomiendo, Leo's (Lawndale), Neptune's Net (not cheap, but certainly a dive).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          K-town/Hollywood/Central: Pollo a la Brasa (Western so. of Wilshire), the stall in that Korean superstore across Western from Pollo a la Brasa (name??), Ruen Pair, BBQ Unlimited #2 (Melrose), Philippe's, Woody's bbq, Farmer's mkt (several places therein).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          SGV: I live here now, so it's hard to think of these!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Disclaimer: Of course, location is everything - you couldn't pay me to drive to Westwood for a cheap lunch, but obviously, if you live there, there are a bunch of great little places. So, these are just the ones that I keep coming back to when working all over the city, driving a bit out of my way to get to. With so many great options in so many neighborhoods, it's hard to see driving across town for a dive!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I'm going to go out on a limb here and subject myself to some bashing, but depending on my mood and where I am in LA County, I would definitely go out of my way to get some Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries, topped with onions and fresh tomatoes from The Hat (only $6 for an order the size of a regulation NFL football).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Call me crazy, but there are times when a 'Hound just craves neon-orange chili oil, and will fight Friday evening rush hour traffic on the 405 to get 'em.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                              i'd do it too...in the right state of mind. they really do have some good CCF's

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My arteries are clogging just reading this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ipse, are the Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries off-menu? I don't recall seeing them at the Pasadena location, and they're not on the website menu:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.thehat.com/menu.htm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You ask for an order of Chili Cheese Fries, and then ask them to add some pastrami. Last time I did it, it was I think 0.95 extra.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Hat actually makes a very good chili cheese burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think Pharo's in Alhambra has much better chili cheese fries (no pastrami) than The Hat. Somehow the food at The Hat manages to be greasy yet bland

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's a new one for me. I gotta try Pharo's out and compare the two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Had the pastrami chili cheese fries at The Hat in Monterey Park last week. They still knock it out of the park (or maybe that's just my diet being knocked out).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. A few more to report on. I've recently been to Billy's Grill in Sherman Oaks, Antojitos Carmen, and Lares.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Billy's Grill: I wasn't interested in having an exotic burger, so I had a regular cheeseburger. When I first bit into it, the burger was mighty tasty and I thought I found a new fave. However, I quickly realized the meat was rather tough and chewy, not something I'm used to with ground beef. I also had to spit out a couple pieces of gristle. If you're interested in exotic burgers, such as buffalo, this may be a place to visit. However, based on the tough beef burgers, I don't think I'll be going back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Antojitos Carmen: This place was worth driving just for their salsas. Their green salsa was the best. I had a sope with carnitas and a cheese enchilada with mole sauce. The sope was delicious, but I prefer Teresita's carnitas. The cheese enchilada was also very good. Next time I'll try the enchiladas with the red sauce and the green sauce--I think those will be outstanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lares: I've been to Lares many times for their chips, margaritas, and chicken tostadas. This time I tried their tacos--a chicken and a beef. The beef was my favorite. I know this may sound like a strange complaint, but the chicken tacos had too much meat in them. I would have prefered a bit less chicken and a bit more lettuce and cheese. Also, I wish they had seasoned their chicken to give it more flavor. Their chips, which are usually the best in town, were a little disappointing. They were a tad overcooked. I still managed to eat too many, however! And, as usual, their margaritas were nice and strong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Billy's Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5162 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Antojitos Carmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I just want to say thank you for coming back and letting us know where you've been and how you've found the food. Even if I don't reply you can be sure that I am reading every update you provide and enjoying them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Why, thank you, and it's my pleasure!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ask for the Salsa de Semillas the next time that you're at Antojitos Carmen if you don't see it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Antojitos Carmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2510 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The man serving me gave me a salsa that had sesame seeds. He said it was featured in L.A. Weekly, I believe. It was far from a traditional salsa. It was more like a sesame seed paste, very thick, with a bitter taste. Is that the one you're writing about? It was very interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, that's it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Everyone has their own opinions, but I have to say that I'm surprised that Al and Bea's has not been mentioned yet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Their cheese and green chili is by far the best bean and cheese burrito I've ever had and I will routinely make the (hour?) drive in rush hour traffic to get to it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Al and Bea's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2025 E 1st St
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90033

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm also shocked about the Pann's love here. Maybe I just got there on a bad day, but the chicken was super dry and chewy. When I'm craving fried chicken I usually go to Golden Bird on Crenshaw. They have the crispiest juiciest chicken I've ever had, and their spicy mac and cheese is amazing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Golden Bird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2847 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A few others:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Siam Sunset for the spicy basil, and hainan chicken rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Siam Sunset
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5265 W Sunset Blvd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Elite in Monterey Park for dim sum. Not really a dive, but worth the drive.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            700 S Atlantic Blvd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chago Ahogadas for a torta ahogada.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6426 Whittier Blvd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Coles French Dip for the chocolate pie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            118 E 6th St
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90014

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bay Cities for a sandwich. I choose the salsalito turkey, but that's just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Siam Sunset
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5265 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Butter Fight

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have never had either dry or chewy (?) fried chicken at Pann's. Was this a one time experience? Almost every time that we go of late my wife has the wings and waffle combo and I get the patty melt (one of the best patty melt's I've had in LA without a doubt) so I get at least one of my wife's wings. Always great wings. I've had the half fried chicken dinner multiple times over the years and it's always been hot, juicy and crispy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Agree with everything Servog said about Pann's (especially that Patty Melt).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The wings were a one time experience, so I'm definitely willing to go back again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But I've been there more than once and nothing that anyone ordered really stood above average diner fare. I really want to like the place, but out of the three times I've been there I've never been impressed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've never tried the patty melt though. Maybe that will turn me around?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Butter Fight

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  butter fight,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i probably think even less of Pann's food than do you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ordered three items the first time i went, ALL three were losers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  no need to go again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agreed, Pann's popularity is inexplicable. (I love it when we agree!) but have u ever been to Serving Spoon? It's amazing buttery greatness, and wonderful people watching!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Versailles, for the roast pork. They recently raised their prices a bit, but they're still cheap!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Teriyaki House on 1st Street, near Vermont & Bimini Place. Located across the street from Virgil Middle School in Koreatown, it's the ultimate dive. It's a long counter and you pick up your soda from an old-fashioned coke cooler. Great teriyaki burger, teriyaki beef sticks and fried rice combos. Run by an older Japanese lady, it's been there for years. I live on the Westside, but I drive by once in awhile and it's worth it. Don't judge a book by the cover. It's an old building in a mixed ethnic neighborhood with only street parking. Inside, it looks like the place should be shut down by the Health Dept. I'm not kidding. The food is the bomb!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Ahhh, food that transports me in more ways than one...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Places I have driven over a half-hour and the corresponding dish under $10:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chichen Itza---(Mercado La Paloma, near USC) the hypnotic Cochinita Pibil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Vito's Pizza---couple o' slices

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bulgarini Gelato---scoops of olive oil & sea salt gelato

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Love this question & all the great answers - I'd second:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        uncle bill's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        pie 'n burger
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        portos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        john 'o grotes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        roscoe's

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and if you love a dive up PCH or are on the way to Santa Barbara, this one's right off the beach:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mrs Olson's Coffee Hut
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        117 Los Altos Street, Oxnard, CA 93035-3935

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. MEXICAN: King Taco, Don Cuco, El Tepeyac
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DONUTS: Randy's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PIZZA: Vito's, Verrazano's Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BURGERS: Cassell's, Russell's, Clearman's Boat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DELI: Nate n Al's, Cantors
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          FRIED CHICKEN: Dinah's, Mrs Knott's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PUBS: Casey's, Red Lion, Buchanan's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ROAST CHICKEN: Juan Pollo, Zankou
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ITALIAN: Eatalian Cafe, Cube Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ASIAN: Bruddah's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SANDWICHES: Bay Cities Deli, Santoro's, The Original Rinaldi’s

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bruddah's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1033 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Original Rinaldi's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          323 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mrs Knott's Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          El Tepeyac Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          385 E Mill St Ste 4, San Bernardino, CA 92408

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Don Cuco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          214 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Verrazano's Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          612 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Clearman's Restaurants
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          540 N Azusa Ave, Covina, CA 91722

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Eatalian Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15500 S. Broadway St., Gardena, CA 90248

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scottca075

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            hey Scott075...isnt Verrazano's pizza long gone? i photographed the first and last pie i ever had there and, as i focused on the unmelted circles of cheese, one of the owners came over and said i was making him nervous...damn, he should have thought of that before serving such awful crap...anyone remember Cora's on Ocean before it was turned into another $15 breakfast joint? id go with a couple of carnitas tacos at Tacomiendo for a great,cheap joint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tacomiendo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4502 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lapizzamaven

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Verrazano's Pizza on La Brea had a fire about a year and a half ago. I was hoping the owners would reopen there or else where.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Verrazano's Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              612 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: scottca075

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Don Cuco is not good. Not good. Yet I still have a fondness for the milanesa, but its still a dump.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Don Cuco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              214 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blackbookali

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don Cuco is a dive, not a dump. Old school LA Mexican and not trying to be anything beyond that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Cook's Tortas (Monterey Pk)- BBQ pulled pork & shrimp po' boy tortas are tops for me
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ciro's (ELA) for their avocado salsa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              101 Noodle (Alhambra) for a beef roll fix
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Troy's (ELA) has tasty big fat bfast burritos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cook's Tortas
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1944 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Musha for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Musha
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sushigirlie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i have difficulty defining musha as cheap (ie cannot walk out of there spending less than $10)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't disagree, but the OP's list contains many restaurants that are at least as expensive as Musha. (e.g., Jitlada and Rustic Canyon (a real head-scratcher)). And I think Musha is a terrific value.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jitlada
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Musha
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sushigirlie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      fair enough, but I never leave an izakaya without spending at least 30pp (musha included). just want to set context here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. The Norms chain is variable but the one on Lincoln in Santa Monica must be about the best for food and ambience. We think they make soup from scratch and do their own butchering. Their steaks vary from so-so to excellent, depending on the animal I guess. When we want family-style American food at around $10 a head or under, that's where we go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Surprised no one has mentioned the al pastor at Taco Tamix near Pico and Vermont. I've always found al pastor to be an overrated meat -- good in conception, but always dry and lacking any punchy flavor. My stance instantly changed after coming here. The pork is well-spiced, incredibly juicy, and tender. Feels like a distant Mexican 3rd cousin to Langer's pastrami in a way. I haven't been to Leo's on the westside, but I hear this is comparable / possibly better. I only recommend you come on a Friday or Saturday evening though when they bring out the spit. Whoever mans it there knows what's he's doing, a god damn maestro I tells ya. I usually order 5 tacos at a time and only put salsa on 2 of them, relishing in the pure pastor flavor on the rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also chiming in to say Chimu is worth a lunch drive out. Loved the lamb belly and pork belly dishes. Think they ran somewhere between $7-10 when I last went. And you get to brown bag some beers in the food court while looking at the Angel Flight and thinking of John Fante. What more could you want?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: troublemaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here was a recent review on CH by Jase for the Pico-Union Taco Tamix truck which parks in the car wash lot at Pico and Westmoreland (just E of Vermont): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/774961

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The "Great Taco Hunt" blog has an excellent review with photos: http://www.greattacohunt.com/2010/11/... and there is a second truck (for lack of a better name) called Tacos Tamix #2 which locates at 1940 S Hoover Street and again the "Great Taco Hunt" blog has a great review here: http://www.greattacohunt.com/2011/05/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: troublemaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I did tamix vs leo's on the same night and found leo's superior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          From what I'm seeing, there are a lot of different definitions for "cheap." I'd have to say that a meal for less than $10.00 is cheap, more than that, especially for lunch, makes me think I'm eating upscale. I will drive for exceptional food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The 6740 Bar in Whittier has a BLT w/ fries and a drink for $5.00 that is hard to beat. You have to tell them you want your bread toasted "dark" if thats the way you like toast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          D'Elias on University Ave (between the 91 and the 60) in Riverside hasn't disappointed me since the mid-70's. We'll sometimes ride out for lunch (from OC), because the bread is that good, crispy crust with light and airy crumb. I think they've been there since 1953.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Original Pizza (now with two locations) in Newport Beach. Only the Newport pier location has slices. Whole pizzas do not fall into the cheap category, but it's the best New York style pizza we've found.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Original Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2121 W Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. El Flaming Taco truck in Echo Park has the best tacos al pastor I've ever eaten. I first had them this past summer. I went to Mexico shortly after and the tacos were comparable to Flaming Taco. I think they're open from 7:30pm to 4am. I live in Chicago now and I miss the tacos do much!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. They also have a really amazing salsa bar. http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-flamin-tac...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. PAKI
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Al Watan, Al Noor, Zam Zam
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          MEXICAN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My Taco for barbacoa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          CHINESE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dean Sin World, Chung King, Taste of Szechuan, Luscious Dumplings
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BREAKFAST
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Serving Spoon, Pepys for chilaquiles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PIZZA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bollinis, Stella Rossa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          GREEK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Papa Cristo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          MIDDLE EASTERN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kabab Grill, Elena's

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Am feeling a lot of love for Dolce Isola
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://theivyrestaurant.com/images/DO...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Food is fraction of the cost of Ivy. Same delicious crab cakes and corn chowder. About 5 tables and a few rickety chairs. They open at 0800 for breakfast. Check website for breakfast menu. Someone told me that their lunchtime swordfish tacos are insanely good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have heard good things about Elenas in Glendale.. What do you like there?? I agree with the spots I know of on your list echoparkdirt :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Foodandwine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I haven't been there in a few years but I've got to say - their french fries. OMG, their french fries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Home made and made well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I had a friend who would drive in from Larchmont village for them. The rest of the food is very nice. Really. But the fries. Oh, the fries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Man, it seems to come up in every thread:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Banh Mi My Tho, the #8. $2.75 and out of this world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Or, head to Little Saigon for a foodie adventure. Get some delicious Pate Chaud at either Gala Bakery or Boulangerie Pierre... or some Banh Mi at Top Baguette. That beef with lemongrass is somethin' else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For tacos, make it to the La Fonda truck at Vanowen and Vineland, up in the SFV. Or, close to downtown, make it to El Parian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Glad to see Jitlada on the list. Goodness... the Coco-Mango Salad and Fried Fish w/ Crispy Basil are two of the greatest dishes I've ever had anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mikeinla10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Did not find the La Fonda truck worth the 2 mile drive from my house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Okay, so keeping score here... Jack In The Box tacos... and Del Taco... good. But, La Fonda... bad?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seriously?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What did you order? And did you get an agua fresca?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mikeinla10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's been a while but my standard order for a new-to-me taco stand is 2 carne asada + 2 al pastor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was not impressed by anything, including the "home made tortillas".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I find Daniel's Tacos down the street to be far superior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay, I'm not going to argue with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now to be fair, I haven't been there in a couple years now. However, if the logic is "Jack In The Box = good, Del Taco = good... La Fonda = bad," we'll simply have to agree to disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      La Fonda's tacos are very flavorful. Their agua frescas are great. I just don't get it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mikeinla10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't consider JITB/Del Taco to be real competitors to la fonda. JITB/DT = stoner food hard shell tacos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        La Fonda = street tacos, and I've been to enough taco carts to know what I like and what I don't like and La Fonda wasn't it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why are you bringing up JITB/DelTaco? I wouldn't drive for JITB/Del Taco either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        if we're talking about street tacos in the NoHo area, Manzano + Daniel's > La Fonda (IMHO).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, if you've been to La Fonda lately and it's still good (to you), I'll give it another shot cuz I believe in trying everything at least twice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Road trip in from Montreal. First time. Narrowed it down to:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Philippe - I like the history and "institution" aspect
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Umami or Father's Office - No idea how I am going to decide between the two
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ricky's Fish Taco - probably over hyped, but I am very tempted
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pink's - again i like the history, but might be a fool for going to this one
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pang - decided this over Roscoe based on the Pulp Fiction nod
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dino or Zankou - can't decide

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am considering Langer, as an aside, I encourage their biggest fans to come to Schwartz's in Montreal for smoked meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I hear the Korean and Thai foods are fantastic in LA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Will any of these selections be "omg that was amazing" ? We shall see. I will report back after the visit. Chowhound has been a fantastic resource!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: benila

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes you are a fool for going to Pinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Park's BBQ for korean. Also going to Pinks and not Langers is culinary stupidity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe you can compare Langers to Schwartz Meats for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, Zankou is not a culinary destination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My USD$0.02 (which is on par with $0.02 in Canada these days)...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My friends visiting from elsewhere have all enjoyed the "institution"-ness of Philippe's also. Add Langer's. Definitely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    FO over Umami. Go the the FO Helms location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Enjoy L.A.!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: benila

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pang? I think you mean Pann's. Pann's is good if you order right (see other threads), and the architecture is amazing. Contrary to popular belief, the Tim Roth/Amanda Plummer robbery scene in Pulp fiction was filmed at the (now demolished) Hawthorne Grill, not at Pann's, although both were classic Googie diners. http://www.movie-locations.com/movies...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you want to go to the non tourist-trap equivalent of Pinks, I'd suggest Carney's on Sunset Strip (8351 W Sunset Blvd). They have a better chili dog, and you will eat with locals rather than stand in line with tourists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: benila

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We never made it to LA!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      we travelled South from SF as far as Morros Bay. Went surfing for the first time, cooked up a chicken in a skillet on the fire just off the beach.. the next day we headed east towards Williams Arizona, with a late night stop at In-N-Out. We had a lot of fun reading about the secret menu there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. We always make time for The Kansas City BBQ Company in North Hollywood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.thekansascitybbqcompany.co...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We generally prefer pulled pork on a bun for a good bbq sandwich, but since that's not an option here we get sliced pork (which comes on white sandwich bread) and have never been disappointed. The beans are a must try (extremely porky) and although they only serve thick cut steak fries they are always insanely crispy and hot. Prices and portions are both fairly robust. Don't be deterred by the somewhat sketchy location. Spicier sauce available upon request if that's your game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Devour and enjoy, and bring me your leftovers if you have any.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mygirlbakes AL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I prefer the spicy sauce. BBQ beans here are the best I've had. I prefer the burnt end sandwich over everything else on the menu...location really isn't sketchy at all. No more skechy than Langers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can hit up portos/warner bros studio tour while you're at it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. For LA and West side, I think Porto Bakery should be up there, cheap yet good pastries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Portos, my faves re guava and guava and cheese from $0.70-$.75 each

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't live anywhere near downtown or west ho, so I'd stick with cheap local eats like:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Taco del Rio on Azusa in La Puente, great for carne asada/el pastor ($5 bucks), better than Albertos IMHO
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Molcasalsa in Fullerton (Imperial and Harbor), best Adobada and Super Fries. ($5-7), the only place I ever found Adobada burrito.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - 85C for Asian/French fusion bread, better quality than other deli/bakery in the area, my faves are red bean mochi, brioche, raisin bread, taro and choco chip (from $1-$1.85)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Seafood Village (to go only area), in Rowland Heights, cheap dim sum and take out Chinese food from $1.75 to $3.50 each, choices are limited though. I know there are cheaper dim sum places in Rosemed, Monterey Park etc but this one is decent quality.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Eastern Express Cafe, Rowland Heights, good for cheap cold dish chinese food 3 item plus boba for $5. I can't even buy the ingredients for the price.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Asian Garden food court in Westminster for cheap Viet food.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Tampopo in Buena Park for cheap Sashimi Don and Ramen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Golden Wall, a small hole in the wall in La Mirada, good for lunch special, Kung pao and eggplant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Kim Tar in Industry for the roast duck. Better than Seafood Village's or Sam Woo's.A

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And many more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gotta be Petrillo's Pizza in San Gabriel (San Gabriel exit off the 10 freeway). The Petrillo's Special can't be beat. They have their own sausage and pepperoni made just for them. Plenty of cheese, very thinly sliced onions and bell pepper. Fresh garlic. (I prefer it without the mushrooms).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jgilbert1000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            +1 for Petrillo's Special. It is Godly!!! Make sure to order extra because the leftovers are even better the next day...even cold right out of the fridge!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Yuca's on Hilhurst in Los Feliz for their cochinita pibil burritos (Yucatan style pork). Very tasty! The place is a little hut in a parking lot, and you need to go to the store next door for drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jgilbert1000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I live about a block from Yuca's and don't consider it worth the walk. Clearly I'm in the minority because there are always lines. I'd much rather drive to Chichen Itza for cochinita pibil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When I first moved to LA over ten years ago, I thought Yuca's was great. Then, after trying a couple of the better taco trucks - Taco Zone clearly comes to mind - I found no reason to return for tacos. Now, the burgers are something else entirely. Cooked on the flattop alongside the carne asada... yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Portos's -Media Noche, potato balls, guava cheese pastry and awesome coffee.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            La Estrella Taco Truck- Lengua and cabeza tacos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Phillipes Downtown- Lamb Double Dip with swiss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scoops in HP-EVERYTHING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My Taco HP- Goat Stew
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vitos-Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jinya-Ramen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Petrillo's Pizza for the Petrillo's Special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Its just off the 10 Freeway and easily accessible from LA. You can get it to go or eat in. Leftovers the next day are even better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              833 E Valley Blvd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              San Gabriel, CA 91776