26 Best Cheap Eats in L.A.
Dive into the best tacos, burgers and affordable bites in Los Angeles.
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Cheap Eats in Southern California
Los Angeles is one of the best cities in the world for eating well on a budget. It’s a city of immigrants from every corner of the globe who have brought the flavors of their cultures with them to sunny Southern California. Pair the international array of cuisines with the region’s incredible produce, and exceptional flavors ensue. Though there are plenty of fine-dining treasures in town, top-notch cheap eats make feasting in Los Angeles accessible, fun and, of course, delicious. Here are 26 favorite finds for $10 or less in the City of Angels.
Noodle Bowls at LASA
Crispy Taco at Tito’s Tacos
Tito’s Tacos has been serving the unique LA-style crispy taco since 1959. Its reputation keeps the lines forming at its Culver City location year after year. Tacos start at just $2.30 without cheese, but it’d be insane to get just one. Don’t miss a small, medium or large side of Tito’s guacamole, delicately spiced with a propriety blend of herbs and spices.
Quarter Bird at Howlin' Ray's
It’s not the easiest task to get a meal at Howlin’ Rays. The ever-present line is a formidable foe, and can deter casual visitors from the Far East Plaza staple. But the chicken is well worth the wait. Between the sweet and fiery flavors and the perfect, densely crunchy texture, it could be the best fried chicken outside of Nashville. At $9, the Quarter Bird presents a massive hunk of golden-skinned chicken (either a breast and wing, or a leg and thigh) on a slice of white bread to soak up the spicy juices. The pickles on the side add refreshing, briny freshness between bites.
Go to: Howlin' Rays
Fried Chicken Honey Breakfast Sandwich at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
If you’re looking to start your day with a bang, head to Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken for the epic fried chicken honey breakfast sandwich. For $5.75, the fry-centric shop serves a fried chicken breast with hot sauce and honey butter on your choice of a savory doughnut, potato roll or cheddar biscuit. The combination is served until 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday (and all day Sunday).
Beef on Weck at Top Round Roast Beef
Top Round Roast Beef is the brainchild of Chef Steven Fretz, an idea born from a drive to make chef-driven fast food using all-natural ingredients, with nothing on the menu topping $10. The Beef on Weck ($6.49) features the restaurant’s hand-trimmed, slow roasted beef that cooks for a whopping 10 hours in-house, atop a caraway and sea salt bun with atomic horseradish. Don’t forget an order of the hand-cut fries.
Go to: Top Round
Nong Lá Banh Mi at Nong Lá Vietnamese Cafe
Pupusa at Sarita’s Pupuseria
Long before Grand Central Market was as hip and social-media famous as it is today, Sarita’s Pupuseria was turning out its handmade Salvadoran pupusas using the owner’s family recipes. Start with a Kola Champagne —a Salvadoran orange cream soda — and the pupusa revuelta ($4), with pork, beans and plenty of cheese.
Go to: Sarita's Pupuseria
Chocolate Chip Cookie at Diddy Riese
Lorenza at Sonoratown
Classic 1/3-Pound Hamburger at The Oinkster
The Oinkster is an LA burger institution, and one of the first places in town to offer creative burger combos like the Bacon Crispinator ($10.50), with triple bacon, American cheese, crispy fried onions, chipotle ketchup and mayo. Stick with the $7.25 classic, a 1/3-pound burger made with Nebraska-sourced Angus beef, house-made thousand island dressing, dill pickles, onions, tomato and lettuce. For a buck more, customers can add American or sharp cheddar cheese.
Go to: The Oinkster
Tostada at Guerrilla Tacos
With a new brick-and-mortar space opening in Los Angeles, Guerilla Tacos’ famous uni tostada is easier to access than ever before. The famed dish brings together the best flavors of the ocean, delivered via yellowtail tuna and sea urchin, atop a crispy corn tostada. For those feeling ambitious, pick up Chef Wes Avila’s cookbook and recreate the iconic street food at home.
Go to: Guerrilla Tacos
Chili Dog at Pink's Hot Dogs
Open since 1939, Pink's Hot Dogs is an adorable, beloved, greasy and cheap fixture of Fairfax. The family-owned institution has won over guests from around the world with its tasty, affordable dogs and colorful signage. While you're at one of the oldest hot dog stands in the country, try the $4.50 chili dog, garnished with chili and onion.
Go to: Pink's Hot Dogs
Dan Dan Noodles at Pine & Crane
The East Side's hottest Taiwanese restaurant is surprisingly comfortable and approachable. Pine & Crane's menu is full of Taiwanese classics like scallion pancakes ($4.50) and pork dumplings ($6), but a favorite is the dan dan noodles ($7.50), with sesame-peanut sauce, chile oil, cucumbers and peanuts. A cold Taiwan Beer goes great on the side.
Falafel at Dune
Combo #2 at India Sweets & Spices
India Sweets & Spices is a solid pick when you want a lot of variety for not a lot of money. Combo #2 ($6.50) gets you two curries of the day, basmati rice, chapati or puri, a vegetarian samosa, pickles, salad and a soda. The restaurant opened in 1984, and has since spread throughout Los Angeles County, per owner Kumar Jawa's life dream. If you don't save room for dessert, take some of Indian sweets, like gulab jamun, home with you for later.
Audie Cornish Sandwich at Wax Paper
Ramen at Slurpin' Ramen
Slurpin’ Ramen in Koreatown offers value without sacrificing quality. For $10, you get a whopping 16 ounces of rich tonkotsu pork broth with green onion, garlic, dried seaweed, black garlic oil, noodles and your pick of meat like fatty pork, chicken or tofu. Go full vegetarian for the same price. If you’re not hungry enough for the generous portion, the still-satisfying eight-ounce portion is $8.
Go to: Slurpin' Ramen
Gyro at Papa Cristo’s
Come for the Greek food, stay for the owner’s incredible mustache at Papa Cristo’s. The jovial Chrys “Papa Cristo” Chrys owns and operates the restaurant and importing business with his daughter, Annie Chrys, serving traditional, home-style Greek cuisine. Order the chicken or lamb gyro ($8.99) for a comforting and substantial lunch or dinner. Follow it up with a from-scratch pastry from Papa Cristo’s bakery, like baklava or kataifi.
Go to: Papa Cristo's
Biscuit Sandwiches at Division 3
Wildberry Toaster Pastries at The Front Yard
Fish Taco at Ricky's Fish Tacos
Savor the flavors of Baja in Los Feliz at Ricky's Fish Tacos, a legendary seafood taco institution. The menu here is short and sweet, showcasing just three items: the fish taco ($3), the shrimp taco ($3.25) and the Ricky Special, a combo of both fish and shrimp for $4. It may be one of the few places in Los Angeles where you can go crazy and order the whole menu without too much financial or physical pain.
Go to: Ricky's Fish Tacos
Cruffin at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse took over San Francisco back in 2014, but Southern Californians joined the pastry party in 2016, when the Instagram-famous bakery opened up in Highland Park. News of the Cruffin, a cream-filled half-croissant half-muffin, spread fast, drawing lines of enthusiastic pastry-seekers. With rotating flavors, the Cruffin ($4.50) offers plenty of reasons for repeat visits.
Go to: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Chicken Leg and Waffle at Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles
You don’t have to travel too far in LA to find Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles’ namesake dish. Now with seven locations, Southern California’s world-famous fried chicken is conveniently located for most locals. Opt for either a leg or a thigh and a waffle for under $9.
King Steam Dumplings at Myung In Dumplings
There's something about the dumpling that makes it delicious, seemingly no matter where they're eaten or when. Korean mandu is no exception. At Myung In Dumplings in L.A.'s Koreatown, the king steam dumplings ($8) with pork and vegetables are bulbous and hearty. Where Korean restaurants really shine in the value department comes on the side. Banchan are the little, often-pickled dishes that come along with your meal. At Myung In, guests receive infinite servings of kimchi, both spicy and regular, and a bowl of soup to complement the dumpling goodness.
Nacho Raised Donut at Trejo's Coffee and Donuts
Danny Trejo is one of the most-beloved names in Hollywood, thanks to his iconic mustache and knack for playing the bad guy, but he also does something else magical in Los Angeles that has nothing to do with the big screen: make doughnuts. At Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts — Trejo’s new addition to his growing restaurant empire — you’ll find some of the city’s most-interesting and tasty doughnuts. One winner is the Nacho Raised Donut ($3), with jalapeño, chives, Trejo’s hot sauce and melted cheddar cheese.