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your top five cheap restaurants in northeast LA/glendale/pasadena?

  • s

leaving out chain restaurants and heavily franchised fast food, although that's not to denigrate such places in any way. cheap = dinner for under $12 and lunch for under $8 and breakfast specials for under $6. more or less.

i'm new to LA and i really like this part of town!

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  1. Tonny's (Pasadean: mexican)

    Connal's (Pasadena: burger, shakes))

    Lebanese Kitchen (Pasadena: lebanese, armenian)

    Wolfe Burger (Pasadena: burgers, burritos)

    QQ (Temple City: taiwanese street food)

    SinBaLa (Arcadia: taiwanese, pork chops, sausages)

    6 Replies
    1. re: ipse dixit

      Tonny's is indeed very good! I noticed that Jonathan Gold has a write-up of that place in the current Weekly.

      1. re: s/c

        I will have to give that place a try when i want some mexican food in the area. Can you tell me what's good there?
        thanks. :)

        1. re: slbear

          Cochinita pibil, for sure! Some of the best I've had anywhere - better, and much more of it than at El Portal, and about 2/3 the price. Good chiles rellenos, too, and my wife loves their goat. AND the carnitas, which I believe Mr. Gold is mentioning this week. Servings are large - 4 of those plates just barely fit on a table.

          What their menu lists as "Aguas Frescas" are drinks juiced to order from fresh fruits and vegetables. The usual Mex-resto aguas frescas are referred to there as "Aguas de Sabor", and are made from commercial mixes and rather watery.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Definitely the carnitas ....

        2. Polka in Glendale at York and Verdugo. Wonderful, home cooked food at inexpensive prices (and you get a lot of food, as well as some of the best soup in LA and salad.)

          6 Replies
          1. re: Tom P

            polka is awesome!!!

            1. re: Tom P

              I agree, Polka is wonderful. Good food, good portions and good people running the place. Very nice. Good prices, too!

              1. re: Tom P

                YEA for POLKA!

                1. re: Tom P

                  polka's OK, but where i grew up (with a predominantly eastern european immigrant population) back in ohio (drew carey's theme song called "moon over parma" refers to a suburb kinda known for the ethnicity), i could get a plate of homemade pierogis sauted in butter and served with sour cream & onions for only $1.35 and then go into a blissful food coma for the rest of the afternoon...

                    1. re: barry

                      and let me guess - rent for a biz there is 10 cents/sf vs. $4/sf in glendale

                  1. 1. Conrads in Glendale and Pasadena (i know lousy coffee shop) -but- has awesome FRIED CHICKEN dinner for $7.99 includes salad (or soup) coleslaw and baked potato.

                    2. Eat Well in Glendale for Breakfast.

                    3. on Glenoaks right where Burbank turns into Glendale is a Kebab place called Cafe Bravo. Not much to look at but really good food.

                    4. I am not a fan but most people like Zankou Chicken (do a directory search)

                    5. Villa Carona on Glendale Bl east of 5fwy great breakfast burritos.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: joea

                      the half fried chicken was an even better deal when it was $5 at conrad's.

                      1. re: barry

                        its still 5 bucks on mondays and wednesdays... i get the chicken everyday. - note: glendale Conrad's

                      2. re: joea

                        Last time I had Conrad's, we ordered the fried chicken and it came out extremely undercooked - never went back after that.

                        1. re: joea

                          I like the potato burritos (with or without egg) at Villa Corona, a tiny little restaurant with a few counter stools, a grill, prep area and fridge.

                        2. I guess it's technically a chain, but I would not leave out the King Taco on Cypress Ave is in your general vicinity. Some of the best carne asada, very good pastor, and a smokey salsa rojo that is to die for. Highland Park is nearby too; there are a slew of Mexican restaurants on York. The link below is to a Jonathan Gold article about

                          King Taco
                          1118 Cypress Ave.
                          Los Angeles, Ca 90065

                          Link: http://www.laweekly.com/eat+drink/cou...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jess

                            Yes! Their salsa rojo is killer!!! When I go, I always order it as a side ($0.49) which comes in a lager container and take the unused portion home. The stuff is awesome on eggs and pizza...

                          2. Pasadena-Gerlach's Grill, great fish plates

                            Eagle Rock-Dave's Grillin & Chillin, delicious sandwiches, especially tuna salad

                            Senor Fish-fish tacos. Also in S. Pasadena

                            Glendale, Pasadena-Zankou chicken

                            Glendale-Lola's Peruvian

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Alan
                              Das Ubergeek

                              A note about Lola's -- while it's pretty tasty (especially the salmon salad they have at lunch), the service is UNBELIEVABLY slow, so you should budget an hour to an hour and a half for lunch.

                              I live in NoHo and have other, better, closer Peruvian places at my disposal, but Lola's isn't bad.

                              1. re: Alan

                                Ditto the sentiment on Gerlach's, but it really isn't "cheap" (at least not per the OP parameters, i.e. dinner for under 12).

                                1. re: ipse dixit

                                  Well ID, given the meal you had at La Cabanita last week, dinner under $12 at Gerlach's might be tough ;)

                                  Each fish plate is around $10 and it's plenty of food for me and I'm 6', 200 lbs. And they usually throw in an extra soup or hummus too. The kebabs are in the $8-10 range I believe. The fish plates are very cheap considering at any other restaurant, it would be double the price and half the size.

                              2. d
                                Das Ubergeek

                                Shamshiri (Persian), Brand and Stocker, Glendale.
                                La Cabanita (Mexican), Verdugo and Broadview, Glendale.
                                Divina Cucina (Italian - lunch specials), Verdugo and Honolulu, Montrose.
                                Manila Good-Ha (Filipino, esp. breakfast), Colorado E of Glendale Bl, Glendale

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  I like the Shamshiri in Glendale too, much better than the WLA location.

                                  I would like to ad La Cubana for Cuban as well. Excellent lechon.

                                  1. re: Macdonald

                                    Where is La Cubana? Love Cuban food and am always looking for new places, thanks!

                                    1. re: Michelle

                                      La Cubana is on Colorado St not too far from the Galleria. Call before you go because they have very limited hours and days. It is a family-run place since the early 70s.

                                      Link: http://www.lacubanarestaurant.com/

                                  2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    mmm... Shamshiri...thats where i'll have my lunch today- thanks!!!

                                    1. re: jms_5150

                                      have you been to Raffi's on Brand and Broadway in Glendale? That's hands down the best chelokabob in L.A.

                                      1. re: amandine

                                        ohh yeah the best- but Shamshiri is a good CHEAP eat.

                                  3. El Huarache Azteca at 5225 York Blvd. in Highland Park has excellent food and rock bottom prices.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Maria

                                      Antojitos Guerrero on York Blvd in Highland Park is awesome. I usually get the barbacoa on weekends.

                                      Antojitos Guerrero: 5623 York Blvd., (323) 254-6118

                                    2. Sahara, on Colorado (near Allen) in east Pasadena, is a good spot for kebabs & such, and I'm pretty sure that all of the kebab plates (which include rice, hummous and salad) are all under $12.

                                      Lupita's is a little Mexican joint in a mini-mall on the NW corner of Colorado & Sierra Madre Blvd. (Pasadena). They do a nice job with things like burritos & tacos, and they also have quite a few mariscos. The large shrimp cocktail, for $10, will feed a couple of people.

                                      I think the fish & chips at Brit's (Pasadena, on Colorado just West of Allen) is less than $12. It's a damned fine plate of fish & chips.

                                      That's only three places (not five), but it's what I can think of right now (other than places that have already been mentioned).

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Jack Flash

                                        the food at the place near washington & hill is much better than sahara IMO.

                                        and while i'm here i'll plug gerlach's grill (fair oaks & glenarm in pasadena) for lunch & dinner (takeout).

                                        and there's the all-you-can-stomach lunch buffet at joselito's in montrose for $7.

                                        if you do zankou, go to glendale instead of pasadena.

                                        1. re: barry

                                          Sahara is better for the chicken kebabs and their falafel, and their service. And hours.

                                          Lebanese Kitchen has the best tabbouleh anywhere, but their service and hours suck!

                                          Basically, their meze is what make waiting around at a table worthwhile. That, and the fact that Vartan's, Aladdin Nuthouse, and Family Produce are right down the street.

                                          1. re: ttriche

                                            Update: had the Meze Delight at Lebanese Kitchen today and they knocked it out of the park. The falafel arrived piping hot and lighter than air, the tabbouleh was fantastic as always, and the babaghanouj was intensely smoky with a blizzard of aleppo pepper on top. Best meal I have had at Lebanese Kitchen and easily on a par with the best meals we have had at Caroussel.

                                            I guess they're just not terribly consistent. But when they're good, like today, it's clear that they can turn out amazing food.

                                      2. Crunchy deep-fried potato tacos at El Atacor Taqueria #11 (2622 N Figueroa, in Cypress Park, a block from the 110 Figueroa St. offramps, slightly north of Ave 26), four of them on a bed of chopped lettuce and tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole on top, a handful of chips on the side -- $2.78. Tip: ask for one container each of both the red and green salsa they hide behind the counter. Also, get these tacos "for here" and eat them immediately, because if you try to take them home by the time you get there they'll have lost their crunchiness and you'll be missing the point.

                                        I'll go on the public record at this point and say that the potato tacos at Atacor 11 stubbornly remain near the top of my list of favorite food things in Los Angeles.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: ladelfa

                                          I feel vindicated (?) -- Jonathan Gold lauds these same tacos in the latest LA Weekly.


                                          Hope this won't cause them to tinker with the recipe.

                                          1. re: ladelfa

                                            I finally made it to Atacor this weekend and was pretty blown away by the potato tacos and chile rellenos (name me another top notch Mexican hole-in-the-wall where you can split two amazing dishes with your vegetarian wife). The potato tacos were smooth as advertized and the red salsa (didn't know to ask for the green, dang) was unique and about as good as they come. The chile rellenos smacked of smoky poblanos and not oily reheated breading, also among the best in LA. All in all, definitely in my new Northeast LA top 5, and the interior looks a lot better after a couple of negro modelos (did I mention they serve beer?). Great discovery ladelfa!

                                            1. re: sbudick

                                              So what do you think? They put cloves in their red sauce, don't they? I swear that's what I'm tasting in there.

                                              I actually went off the reservation here a couple visits ago and got something other than the quatro-tacos-de-papas, in this instance a burrito-sin-carne, which was definitely among the better versions of this I've had in the area. I have yet to try the chile relleno, but I will put it into rotation due to your recommendation.

                                              Oh, and the other local hole-in-the-wall-for-two around here would be El Metate on Figueroa in Highland Park (across the street from the green-and-gold lions). You'll have a veggie burrito and an order of cheese enchiladas.

                                          2. re: ladelfa

                                            My god these things are like crack. SO GOOD. Thank you for pointing me to Atacor.

                                          3. I like Los Tacos in Pasadena, on the corner of California and Fair Oaks in that little shopping area with the Antique stores.

                                            1. Hanashima(Alhambra)
                                              Sushi of Naples (Pasadena)

                                              1. I like Green Street Taqueria at Green & Oak Knoll in Pasadena. But only open till 5 pm.
                                                Europane on Colorado East of Lake has very good sandwiches (I particularly like the turkey) but it's at the limit of your budget.
                                                You might also try Green Street East (on Shopper's Lane sorta behind/East of Lake) for breakfasts, salads, sandwiches. Gets crowded weekends.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                  it's not advertised, but you can order a half sandwich at Europane. i think it's generally about $4.50-$5 and the perfect size for 1. then you have money leftover for a bite sized eclair or profiterole.

                                                2. Here's a few more:

                                                  Fred 62 - Los Feliz hipsters
                                                  Senor Fish - Glendale
                                                  El Buen Gusto - Atwater Village pupuseria
                                                  Shiraz - GLendale Iranian

                                                  1. Glendale: Cafe Bravo is a gem and very reasonable. In Montrose (north Glendale) La Cabanita has lunch specials for $5-6, which includes a soft drink).

                                                    Pasadena: Lebanese Kitchen. Great mom and pop joint. Slow service. Gerlach's Grill. All to go food, no dining area. For the money, the freshest seafood you can find. His Seafood soup and house salad are divine. Burrito Express on Washington Blvd. is another long time establishment that you can't go wrong with.

                                                    1. Short and Sweet (some have been mentioned):

                                                      Golden Deli (Vietnamese, San Gabriel)
                                                      Huarache Azteca
                                                      La Arca (Salvadorian, Highland Park)

                                                      PresidentTwo (Pasadena)
                                                      El Pique taco truck (Highland Park)
                                                      Maria's Greek and Armenian (Glendale)
                                                      Roscoe's Chicken and Waffle (Pasadena)

                                                      1. "Maria's Greek and Armenian (Glendale)"

                                                        Did you mean Elena's Greek & Armenian on Glendale Ave?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. A great bunch of suggestions. I gotta go along w/ others recommending Gerlach's Grill 1075 S.Fair Oaks adjoining a liquor store in Pasadena. As mentioned- it's strictly take away, but if you like a nice large portion of fresh fish(swordfish, halibut, tuna, salmon, etc) you gotta try it. If you can make it before 5:30 you can still get lunch w/ the large piece of fish, rice, soup or salad, cooked cabbage, hummus, pickled turnips onions&tomatoes, pita bread for 7 bucks + a delicious "tarter sauce". Their fish tacos are exclnt 2. Dinner price IS under $12.
                                                          In Eagle Rock (between Glendale & Pasadena) on Colorado blvd you can find 1 of LA's best pizza's (I know that's not sayn much) but Casa Bianca is really good. Also for breakfast or lunch Petite Beaujolais, also Eagle Rock-Colorado Blvd, though very limited in keeping within your price range.
                                                          If you're in Pasadena weekdays, for lunch LoveBird's, Colorado Blvd just E of Lake, has THE best sandwiches (they bake their own bread-good variety +pastries/cookies)) & tasty salads.
                                                          For Thai in Pasadena- A Taste of Bangkok on Colorado Blvd, Saladang on S Fair Oaks (pushin the $12 Limit)and Chandra on S. Arroyo Pkwy.
                                                          For Mexican I like La Nuevo Posado
                                                          2835 E Foothill - good food, friendly comfortable place, family friendly.
                                                          For Burgers- Wolfe's is good w/ a build your burger bar for the condiments. Good Burgers also at Lucky Boy, S Arroyo Pkwy and Rick's, Walnut & Los Robles.
                                                          Above all, check out Porto's Bakery in Glendale-S Brand Ave & Burbank. Cubano sandwiches and an amazing bakery

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: ilikefood

                                                            Saladang is horrible and overpriced, at least in my opinion (having been to Thailand and Laos and plenty of places in between). Krua Thai, Sanamluang, or Renu Nakorn blow it away at a fraction of the price. Nice digs I guess, but that place is an expense-account restaurant.

                                                            Pattaya Cafe on Colorado near Hill is cheaper and (IMO) better food if you want local Thai.

                                                            1. re: ttriche

                                                              We chow at Saladang on occasion for the atmosphere as opposed to the chow or prices, but are always surprised at the many Asians that patronize the joint, which would suggest the chow has at least a modicum of authenticity or desirability, n'est ce pas?

                                                              1. re: bernardo

                                                                My theory is that most of the daytime patrons of Saladang work nearby and like the atmosphere too. It is a nice place to sit and have lunch, and the food is certainly passable enough; I just feel like it's a crappy value proposition if you don't work nearby. (Also, 'many Asians' is not the same as 'gobs of Thai families' per Krua Thai or similar places... I'm not certain that, say, a Taiwanese guy is necessarily better able to judge a Thai place than a regular old gwailo like myself. But, that's a minor point.)

                                                          2. No one has mentioned Pie 'n Burger yet! Very good hamburgers and summer is the time when fresh peach and, if you time it right, ollalaberry, are available. Great cinnamon rolls at breakfast, too. And hand-stirred fountain drinks -- the Coke is great.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                              It wasn't mentioned because of the price restriction.

                                                              1. re: oro3030

                                                                You can get out of P&B for under $12. Especially if you eat only one piece of pie!

                                                                1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                  I typically think of Pie and Burger as a lunch place but even for dinner you'd be stiffing them for the tip at $12 if you had cheeseburger, fries and a drink much less a slice of pie.

                                                                  1. re: oro3030

                                                                    When peach is in season, I don't think there's any better food in Pasadena at any price than the fresh peach at P&B. I never order fries at P&B. If I'm still hungry, I'll have a second piece of pie.

                                                                  2. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                    If you're talking about getting the food you go there for- a burger, fries and a piece of pie- you're def over the $12 w/drink & tip. Very good burger- but last 1 I had there totally* fell apart about 1/2 into it- *the burger and the bun, had to finish w/ a fork-no way to eat a burger. Fries are good -freshly made per order and pie's pretty good too- peach & ollaberries all I know.

                                                              2. A little bit out of the way, but try Dumpling 10053 in El Monte. 10053 Valley Blvd. Sublime! Under $15 for 2!

                                                                1. GREEN STREET in Pasadena. Hands down the best place for the best salads and sandwiches. They're best known for their delicious zucchini bread, which I buy like 3 or 4 loaves to take home everytime I visit. Also try their Dianne Salad with their own, special dressing. it's so damn delicious. trust me!!!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: makalive45

                                                                    Green Street' very good but def not cheap nor in price guidelines.

                                                                  2. Lucky Boy burger's on FairOaks in Pasadena. Order the Pastrami Burger.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: MalibuAly

                                                                      They also have the best breakfast burrito in town.

                                                                    2. And, this isn't really in the area you mentioned, but it's one of my favorite little indulgences: Up in Oxnard, on Channel Islands Boulevard .... just where the PCH starts to go south... there's a grocery store called Anwar Market (or something like that). There's a lady who sells homemade tamales out of a cooler inside the store. If you're ever in this neck of the woods...DO NOT MISS and stock up for on them for your freezer. And, speaking of killer Mexican food: there's a chain of grocery stores in the Valley called "Vallarta." Amazing meats, pre marinated Carne Asada. Plethora 'o avos or limes for nothing. Inexpensive groceries. A GREAT warm food counter. Killer chips.

                                                                      1. Amigo's in Pasadena on Colorado and Wilson.

                                                                        great margaritas, excellent carne asada burrito plate that comes with rice and beans for $6.95, and in fact most of their meals come with beans and rice and are around $7-$8. we live in silverlake but we drive up there at least once a week and everyone we have taken there loves it. i suggested it to a customer at my work and she liked it so much she wrote a letter to MY company to thank me for steering her there.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: easytoread

                                                                          I've seen some serious dissing of Amigo's on this forum, but we love it for the friendly service (especially if Aurelia's on duty), pleasant atmosphere and killer margs. The food, in our estimation, is mostly just OK, but ALWAYS at least adequate. And they have the best jukebox in town! It's not where we go for great cheap Mexican, but it's where we go to relax and eat Mexican...

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            Oh, yeah - and no %$$#$#$% mariachis, either!

                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                              I have been to Amigo's far too often - it's the only bar in walking distance from my home. But to even suggestthe food is decent is a major stretch. Nor are the prices of of the drinks particularly cheap for the dive that it is. The only reason to go IMO is if it's close and you want to walk home after drinking too many margaritas. Or if you have some sort of nostalgia for gabacho-(gringo)-Mexican food made with almost no care.
                                                                              I would eat at Tonny's and then drink at Amigos.

                                                                          2. re: easytoread

                                                                            When I read your rave about Amigo's, I thought this surely couldn't be the same dump that I can hardly stand to have a drink at, much less to dine at. I haven't been there in a few years and for good reason. I use to go there with my in-laws because their good friend was the manager and they tolerated the food. I dreaded their food and the establishment. I honestly can't fathom how anyone could think this place is even remotely good. I apologize if I’ve e offended anyone but I am a little shocked to read people actually like the food @ Amigo's. I would much rather drive to Montrose to eat @ La Cabanita anyday. Hell, I would much rather drive a few blocks and eat at Del Taco before I’d eat at Amigo’s.

                                                                            On a side note: I've driven by Tony’s a million times and haven't thought twice to stop and eat. Obviously, you can't always judge a book by its cover and I think I need to hit Tony’s real soon.

                                                                            1. re: Joe

                                                                              You won't regret going to Tonny's. Not only is the food great (homemade tortillas) but it is open 24 hours, damned cheap, and you can get fresh squeezed juices and shakes. Just don't get the al pastor. But the carnitas, pollo, and asada are great as are the chille rellenos, chile verde, sincronizada, etc.

                                                                              1. re: Joe

                                                                                Well, you might read my piece there and notice that is emphatically NOT a rave, thank you oh so much. It is a mildly favorable appreciation of a place whose food and atmosphere we like well enough to eat at frequently. We have brought several other people there, and they have all been taken by its modest appeal. Perhaps your sensibilities are much more tender than ours; perhaps nothing but the most rigorously authentic regional Mexican cooking will do for you; I don't know. The mole is admittedly sweet, the machaca is admittedly dry, the camarones in mojo de ajo taste strongly neither of shrimp nor of garlic, but they're dammit OK. And we LOVE the margaritas. If Tonny's had a more generous space and a booze license, we'd probably never go back to Amigo's, but that ain't the case.

                                                                            2. Dish for bkfst in La Canada Flintridge
                                                                              Marsten's for lunch in Pasadena
                                                                              La Cabinita for Mexican in Montrose/Glendale
                                                                              La Cucina Divina for superb Italian in Montrose

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: MarkofMB

                                                                                Marsten's? For lunch? For under $12?

                                                                                You jest.

                                                                              2. Very pushing the envelope price-wise but Saladang (Thai Food) on Fair Oaks in Pasadena is good, and portions are hearty. Saladang Song (its sister restaurant across the parking lot) is a bit more authentic but also a bit pricier (by a dollar or two).

                                                                                1. Zankou's qualifies for good cheap eats w/i price limits mentioned. Xclnt rotisserie Chicken (may deserve criticism of being dry) but delish &cheap. Other mid-eastern fast food goodies too, and that garlic spread w/ pita bread has to be tried.

                                                                                  1. Dish in La Canada if you use the coupon in the yellow pages...well not the real yellow pages but that fake book that comes out once a year and looks like the yellow pages and has coupons, I forget what it's called.

                                                                                    Also like the sandwiches on fresh-baked sourdough at Frank's Famous in Glendale/Montrose.
                                                                                    And Frank's Peanut Butter & Jelly muffin is the stuff that morning dreams are made of. Wish he had them every day.


                                                                                    1. Zankou
                                                                                      Chozan Mama
                                                                                      Niko Niko

                                                                                      1. I second Dave's Chillin and Grillin - on colorado - great sandwiches....and you'll get a few good stories while he's building your sandwich.
                                                                                        Spitz - on colorado, also good sandwiches.
                                                                                        La Cabanita - Mexican in Montrose area
                                                                                        Porto's Bakery - Brand Ave. good pastries to go - and the meat patties are pretty tasty.
                                                                                        Kim's Kitchen - near Verdugo/Colorado- Korean - can be a little greasy, but the soon tofu soup is good.
                                                                                        Blue Hen - not great, but good- and I like their spritzers.
                                                                                        The coffee table - also not great, but I like their "eggs from Hell" for breakfast - and the coffee is good too.

                                                                                        1. Don't forget Yucca on Hillhurst. Not a restaurant per se. But great cheap eats. And, as most Hounds know, winner of a James Beard award a year or so ago. Family run. Very good.

                                                                                          1. Dinah's Fried Chicken on San Fernando Road near Los Feliz, and Sandwiches by Connal's in Pasadena near Washington and Hill (sands & burgers but I go for the fries and shakes. Be sure to go inside to check out the ENTIRE shake menu or check it out online...its not listed at the order window).

                                                                                            1. In Eagle Rock:

                                                                                              Taco Spot

                                                                                              1. GLENDALE:
                                                                                                1. fish king. great fish market with prepared food/restaurant section that serves signature "crunch fish" and chips, salads, sides, soups, stews, etc.
                                                                                                2. sevan chicken on glenoaks at kenilworth for rotisserie chicken far superior to zankou.
                                                                                                3. portos. the medianoche preparada sandwich is fantastic. great mousse cakes. beef empanadas, potato balls, fresh fruit danish, fruit tart, chocolate croissant all good.
                                                                                                4. kozy korner. very unassuming little thai place on wilson near central. staff are really friendly and the food just tastes great, and not run of the mill.

                                                                                                1. azeen's afghani restaurant. hard to beat the karzai-family triumvarate the helmand in SF, Cambridge, MA and Baltimore, MD but this place is pretty darn good. try the kadu (pumpkin).
                                                                                                2. all india cafe. good indian and there aren't too many around these parts.

                                                                                                1. el huarache azteca in highland park. oval-shaped tortilla grilled and stuffed with refried beans, topped with meat of choice, onions, cilantro and as much as you want of three salsas: green chile, red chile or avocado. delicious aguas frescas, made the original way with fresh fruit, water, sugar and ice.
                                                                                                2. frances bakery in little tokyo will seriously surprise you and leave you with a habit. amazing croissants.
                                                                                                3. blair's in silver lake for $5 delectable appetizers during happy hour. crab cakes, calamari, salads, etc.

                                                                                                agree with others who enjoy la cabañita; blue hen - good soda chanh, bun and pho decent but not authentic per se and expensive relatively speaking; polka; i prefer mamita to lola's for peruvian, also in glendale.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: takecake

                                                                                                  I lied about the $5 apps at Blair's...it's just down the road at the Edendale Grill.

                                                                                                2. La Abeja (Highland Park) - Figueroa at Avenue 26. Open for breakfast and lunch only. They make the best machaca ANYWHERE! Order it "con chile."

                                                                                                  Folliero's Pizza (Highland Park) - Figueroa at Avenue 56. Little family-owned Italian-joint, often overlooked due to the hype about Casa Bianca. Great pizza, especially their sausage. But we like to order the vegetarian with anchovies. You won't believe how cheap they are!

                                                                                                  All India Cafe (Old Town Pasadena) has great lunch specials for about $8. As does Twin Palms (Old Town Pasadena - Green at DeLacey), which has an express lunch combo for $8.

                                                                                                  If there are three of you, you can go to Robin's Restaurant in Pasadena (Hastings Ranch - 395 N. Rosemead) and order the "garbage can lid platter" for dinner. It's a great bbq combo -- ribs, chicken, links -- PLENTY for three people and it's about $28 as I recall.

                                                                                                  Speaking of lunch specials, authentic Chinese restaurants are notorious for dirt cheap lunch. The closest to Pasadena is probably Hop Woo, (Alhambra - Garfield at Main), a good ol' fashioned Cantonese restaurant in the middle of downtown Alhambra. Parking is a problem in this area and the easiest free parking is across the street in the Alhambra Edwards Renaissance Theater complex garage.

                                                                                                  Welcome to the neighborhood!

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Reeter1

                                                                                                    Robin's was terrible the one time my wife and I ate there. The ribs tasted like they had in fact been retrieved from the garbage (where they mostly returned). It was truly wretched.

                                                                                                    Zeke's is the closest good barbecue we have found; Phillips is probably the closest real barbecue; and the best I've ever had was in a 105-degree shack in De Valls Bluff, Arkansas, which, while quite cheap, is probably a bit too far to drive for lunch.

                                                                                                    But I will never eat at Robin's again, and have cautioned others likewise. It was *that bad*.

                                                                                                    1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                      Second Robin's as the worst bbc I've ever had. Driest most inedible drivel. For BBQ, Phillips is good, but I favor Woody's around the corner on Slauson by Crenshaw. New philly cheesesteak place called Fredo's Philly is delish and Oinkster is beginning to get its act together.

                                                                                                  2. Welcome to the L.A. area!
                                                                                                    CBS downtown L.A. in Chinatown, the lunch take out, NOT the restaurant. Parking is free in the lot. The fried pork chop and the crab stuffed shrimp dim sum are da bomb.

                                                                                                    Ditto on King Taco. In my neighborhood they're serving it up 24/7. Try the lengua (marinated beef tongue) if you are daring enough. Or go for the carne asada.

                                                                                                    And you gotta try Porto's either Glendale or Burbank. Parking in the back in Glendale, don't forget change for the parking meter. Love those plantain chips!

                                                                                                    A So. Cal. tradition, the pastrami dip, is served up best at The Hat, on Lake & Villa in Pasadena. Their chili cheese fries are killer.

                                                                                                    Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles in Pasadena. The greens and mac&cheese are amazing.

                                                                                                    New Delhi Palace has a $6.95 all-you-can-chow weekday lunch buffet in Pasadena, located on Colorado. Gets really crowded, be patient, parking in the back. Located upstairs above a strip mall. The freshly made Indian bread is worth the trip.
                                                                                                    Bienvenidos and enjoy the food!

                                                                                                    1. Europane on Colorado & Lake in Pas - great sandwiches and baked goods. Best egg salad sandwich EVER!

                                                                                                      1. For lunch, Gene's Grinders in Monroiva just a couple offramps east of pasadena (North on Myrtle) has some incredible sandwiches! Really good homemade bread he bakes every morning himself!
                                                                                                        You can find more here: rantsnravesnreviews.blogspot.com

                                                                                                        1. Go to El Tepeyac in East LA on Evergreen for cheap and delicious Mexican food. It will not disappoint.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: rantsnravesnreviews

                                                                                                              Oh, for Pete's sake. Lock your windows and pray you don't get into any kind of accident. We used to go there before the parking lot was built and the old woman who lived in the house there used to throw up her cane in the air and tell us to get the hell out of the street in front of her property! The first time we went there was in 1968!!!

                                                                                                              1. re: Kaisgraham

                                                                                                                El Tepeyac really is an experience... for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to order the 'Educator' burrito for lunch the first time I went there. It was indeed quite an education regarding their portion sizes.

                                                                                                          1. Mario's in Glendale for deli sandwiches
                                                                                                            Sushi on a budget at Fuji's in Pasadena
                                                                                                            Old Schooling it at Green St. Cafe in Pasadena
                                                                                                            For Mexican I ilke Amigo's in Pasadena
                                                                                                            Pizza at Georgee's in La Canada (they also serve a $4 picture of beer around lunch time as a special too...nice!)

                                                                                                            Remember this is based on eating on a tight budget

                                                                                                            1. Tonny's
                                                                                                              Lebanese Kitchen (slow service, can be outstanding food though)
                                                                                                              Golden Deli (although to call it near Pasadena is pushing the envelope)
                                                                                                              Macau Street (again, it is somewhat dishonest to claim this is in NE LA)

                                                                                                              Provided you don't drink booze with your meal you can eat gloriously at any of these for $12.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                Revisions to bring everything into my neck of the woods (and no major chains):

                                                                                                                Senor Fish
                                                                                                                Fredo's Cheesesteak

                                                                                                                Lebanese Kitchen got kicked out for being too salty, the SGV places weren't really NE LA, and I haven't lived in Atwater/Los Feliz for so long that I can't remember all the good places between there and MacArthur Park (plus I don't know if you can consider that NE LA either).

                                                                                                                But that's five, and I dare anyone to break the bank or have a truly crappy meal at them. Not coincidentally, we eat at these places a lot. (Yuca's, less so, cause I only really like the tamales, and so we only go there when we visit my parents on a weekend)

                                                                                                              2. 1. La Abeja - Carne Adobada
                                                                                                                2. Dino's Burgers - Chicken Plate (fries only)
                                                                                                                3. Rick's Drive-in - Spudurito
                                                                                                                4. Polka - Bigos (Polish Hunter Stew)
                                                                                                                5. Koraku - just cuz it's bright and orange inside.

                                                                                                                1. - Tropical Carribbean Cafe in the South Lake District - really good homemade latin food hole in the wall
                                                                                                                  - Pie N' Burger (Lake and California in Pasadena) - really good burgers and pancakes
                                                                                                                  - Daikokuya (Ramen - 1st St. Downtown LA) - best ramen in the area
                                                                                                                  - El Buen Gusto (Salvadorean) Atwater and Highland Park
                                                                                                                  - Mijare's - (Mexican food - on St. John St and Bellefontaine (?) - Pasadena) great margarita's

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. Highland Park: El Huarache Azteca and My Taco, both on York
                                                                                                                    Pasadena: Zankou Chicken on Colorado

                                                                                                                    I know that's only three places, but those are my go-to places for cheap and tasty!

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. no one's mentioned lee's hoagie house in pasadena for lunch. there's almost always at least one police car parked in the parking lot around lunch time. i vote for the chicken hoagie, to be scarfed down with all the complimentary pickles (cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radishes) & peppers you can stand. go there once and shahan will more likely than not remember your name the next time you show up.

                                                                                                                      1. chaep go tp:
                                                                                                                        Indian Sweets and Spices : Venice Blvd in Culver City
                                                                                                                        and there are several take out on Venice that are under $10 on Venice Blvd- they are Indian food and some Cuban delis

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: miffy

                                                                                                                          When did Culver City get relocated to Northeast LA?

                                                                                                                          If you shoehorn Atwater Village into Glendale, though, then for sure ISS on Los Feliz is quite tasty. So I shan't take issue with your suggestion at the heart of it -- just the chosen location :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                            oops-- sorry- I did not read that - my mistake...

                                                                                                                        2. Had the double cheeseburger at PETE'S BLUE CHIP BURGERS on Colorado in Eagle Rock th' other day. One word: Wow. My current fave...

                                                                                                                          1. Ok my number one is Joselito's Mexican Food in Tujunga for their 99cent tacos and enchiladas during lunch

                                                                                                                            2nd is Golden Palace chinese for lunch. Huge lunch portions

                                                                                                                            3rd has got to be Wolfe Burger. Mmmmmm mouth watering...

                                                                                                                            4th this italian deli on colorado in Glendale just east of Glendale Blvd. I forget the name but they are always packed and delicious

                                                                                                                            5th my old stand by King Taco

                                                                                                                            1. There is also Big Mama's BBQ way up Lake in Pasadena. Good BBQ and soul food.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: mochi9999

                                                                                                                                Big Mama's is okay, but it's not really cheap. If you want the same kind of food at the price point described by the OP, there is a guy who runs a BBQ stand on N. Lake Avenue on weekend afternoons that might fit the bill.

                                                                                                                              2. 1. pacos bill on victory between sonora and western ($4 for bbq sandwiches, just meat, GREAT sauce, and bun). the ribs on the weekends (RSVP only) are great!
                                                                                                                                2. al wazir on glendale ave between chevy chase and los feliz ($8-$9 for almost any kebob plate)
                                                                                                                                3. corner cottage on victory between olive and verdugo ( THE BEST BREAKFAST BURRITOS EVER, $4) - i go for the sausage, extra cheese, and hot sauce.
                                                                                                                                4. el baracoa cafe on glendale ave below san fernando (atwater village) $6 chicken and yellow rice can't be beat.
                                                                                                                                5. i want to say zankou but many others have mentioned it here so i'll do el sauz on san fernando and chevy chase (el tapatio is no contest)

                                                                                                                                bon apetit -A