Downtown without a car or $$$
I'm on foot in downtown LA for two weeks (E. 6th & S. Main).
I'm short on dough, but eat just about anything.
Can someone point me in the direction of the tastiest places in the vicinity?
I wandered Grand Central Market earlier today, but couldn't get a clear read. A lot of the fresh food on sale didn't look too fresh. There was a good crowd at China Cafe around 10am, which made me curious.
Any thoughts/suggestions much appreciated.
Also, are there Chowmeets in LA?
Yum, thank you all for these suggestions.
Roast to Go
Shish Kebab & More
I particularly love pastrami, and the food photos for Suehiro look great. Someone else recommended Mexicali Taco to me as well, so will make sure to hit all of those.
2nd Mexicali Taco. Phillipe's is also worth checking out if you don't get your french dip fill at Cole's.
In Chinatown the $10 lobster at Zen Mei bistro is a poor man's luxury. Banh Mi at Buu Dien or Lien Hoa are also extremely affordable.
It's on the other side of downtown but the anytime happy hour at Drago Centro is one of the best deals I know. Really good $5 cocktails plus a bar menu of small plates between $4-$6. The best thing is the mussel, chorizo and bechamel pizza.
You're steps away from Cole's, where they have a M-F lunch special: $5 Manhattan with the purchase of any French dip. :) You're also close to the Nickel Diner, which has good comfort food. Less than a mile away, Aburiya Toranoko has fantastic sushi lunch specials for $10-$15.
I like the bus and rail suggestions from other posters! The closest rail station is about half a mile away at 7th and Flower, and it's called the 7th St / Metro Center Station. Get the HopStop app on your phone or something similar to navigate the public transit system. Right by the Metro station is Octopus, which offers cheap Americanized sushi, if you're into that sort of gluttony.
Have a great time in LA!
Try the new pasta place, Maccheroni Republic, which is adjacent to Grand Central Market. Good, inexpensive pasta at 332 S. Broadway.
I'd also suggest a meal at Umamicatessen at 852 S. Broadway. Crispy pork rinds, great burgers, craft beers, cured hams, donuts fried to order.
There's good Japanese within walking distance also, like Daikokuya Ramen at 327 E. First. Wander around Little Tokyo for everything from sushi to baked goods.
Wurstküche at 800 E. Third has some fantastic sausages, great belgian fries and a killer beer selection.
Nick & Stef's steakhouse certainly isn't cheap, but their happy hour deals on drinks and burgers won't hit your wallet too badly. 330 S. Hope St.
All of the places listed, with the exception of Nick & Stef's during non-happy hours, are in the $ or $$ category. None of them will set you back too much dough.
So I am trying to figure out if you are only in DTLA for Lunch only or if you are staying there for the two weeks you're in town.
Grand Central Market is about to go through a reboot and we hope on the other end of it it will become a much better place.
I will say that public transit (Metro/Dash/etc) will expand your horizons tremendously. For example if you hop on the red/Purple line and get off 10 minutes later at Macarthur Park You can find what is arguably one of the best Pastrami on earth at Langer's
If you hop on the Expo Line and head down to the Jefferson BL stop, you can walk a couple of blocks to Mercado De Paloma where you can get really good Yucatecan Food at Chichen Itza.
Dash-A Bus Will get you most of the way to HomeGirl Cafe just outside the Gold Line station at Chinatown I'd go there for Breakfast.
Last rec is for DTLA is Wood Spoon at 9th and Main for well prepared Brazilian food which is reasonably priced.
At GCM, I'm partial to Ana Maria's (as well as its brother establishment, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas) for burritos and tortas. Good stuff, cheap, and very filling. Also, the hard shell tacos at Roast to Go. The Asian foods are to be avoided, in my experience.
Try a French Dip sandwich at Cole's (6th near Main).
re: Jack Flash
Good tips. The tacos at Tomas are very good, Like the chicken best (tacos $2.50). Tomas is on the So. wall of GCM about half way between Hill and Broadway. The Chinese take out place, across the way from Tomas, has a recent change in ownership and it's as good as any I frequent in Chinatown. Maria's Roast To Go has a nice fish taco if you get there at lunch time ($2.50)
The north side of GCM has a butcher. Opposite the butcher is a stand with a number of good items. The sit down Chinese place is popular. Haven't eaten there but it looks like their popularity, at least in part, is due to the availability of beer with your meal.
There is a very pleasant outdoor eating area on the Hill Street side of GCM.
The produce at GCM is really questionable except for root vegetables.
I've assumed that your $$$ really meant $. If you can spend $10 to $13 for lunch you're surrounded by good choices. Mendocino Farms has delicious sandwiches - there are two MF's close to you; 7th & Fig and the Water Court @ about 300 Grand Ave.
Enjoy the New Downtown L.A.
Head over to the Jewelry and/or Fashion District. Some good eats there like Farid, Shish Kebab and More, Masis, and Sultan Kitchen.
There are plenty of good and cheap eats in Little Tokyo as well, e.g. Aoi, Suehiro, etc.
Definitely cheap eats in Chinatown, but the grub there is so rough and basic, not sure there's much bang for the buck.
Also around Jewelry/Fashion district is Nabeeya on Santee Street between 7th and 8th. Very good value for good, fresh sushi. The place is tiny and don't expect fast service if you go during lunch peak time. They seem to do a lot of carry-out business and when I went there were two people in the kitchen, one of whom was also the waitress.
I totally agree with IPSEDIXIT... the downtown Chinatown is awful!!!
Some of my recommendations: "Colori" on Figueroa (I think they're lunch only; inexpensive, good-quality Italian); definitely Little Tokyo ("TOT"); and "Fresh Faire" on 7th St for healthy, tasty lunchtime sandwiches (ahi tuna wraps are great).