The Best Cheap Eats in Los Angeles
More so now than ever before, some of L.A.’s best food is also its most affordable. As fine dining continues to go out of fashion, more incredibly delicious and accessible restos are cropping up all over the City of Angels. From newer spots like di Alba, chef Nina Clemente and The Smile’s Roman-style focacceria in the Arts District, to the legendary strip mall Thai restaurant Ruen Pair, these are some of our current favorite places for affordable bites in L.A.
① Tacos at Salazar, Frogtown
It’s not hard to find a good taco in this town, but few places do them like Salazar in Frogtown. House-made tortillas get filled one of four options ($3.75 each), ranging from veggie with chanterelles and pickled shiitakes to al pastor with avocado, red onions and pineapple. You can’t go wrong.
② Focaccia at di Alba, Arts District
NYC's The Smile opened di Alba, its first L.A. outpost, with chef Nina Clemente earlier this year. The casual counter and takeaway spot in the Arts District has seasonal, fresh salads, but the highlight is the Roman-style focaccia. There are four on the main menu, but one of our favorites remains the sprouts spelt focaccia ($6), topped with Brussels sprouts, red onions and mint.
③ Salty Egg and Turnip Omelet at Ruen Pair, Thai Town
Nestled in a strip mall, Ruen Pair (open until 3 a.m., cash only) is worth seeking out amid its neighboring Thai restaurants. Though the expansive (but affordable!) menu is packed with excellent soups and noodle dishes, the salty egg and turnip omelet ($9) should not be missed. Trust us.
④ Tofu Soup at Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant, Koreatown
The tofu is so good, even tofu haters have changed their tune after dining here. Try the original bibimbap ($10), which is served with an assortment of vegetables, meat and a fried egg over rice, or the Soon tofu soup ($10), made with your choice of meat, seafood and fresh veggies, cooked to your preferred spice level.
⑤ Ricotta Toast at Sqirl, Silver Lake
Sqirl, one of the L.A. food scene’s most praised restaurants these days, also happens to be quite affordable. Go for breakfast and order one of Jessica Koslow’s signature dishes, like the Famed Ricotta Toast ($8) on brioche bread with the house ricotta and seasonal jam.
⑥ Bibimbob Lunch Special at Chosun Galbee, Mid-Wilshire/Hancock Park
In the realm of Korean barbecue, Chosun Galbee is an upscale, pricey joint. But if you go on a weekday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can eat for just $10, thanks to a great lunch special that changes daily. Go on Friday for its bibimbob with rice, beef, assorted veggies and red pepper sauce.
⑦ Avocado Confit at Destroyer, Culver City
The food at chef Jordan Kahn’s Scandi breakfast and lunch spot in Culver City is minimalist and abstract. Though these small, beautiful dishes could add up quickly, you can still dine on a budget if you commit to one item, like the avocado confit with toasted country bread ($7). Think: deconstructed avo toast with a kick. Credit cards only (no cash).
⑧ Matzo Ball Soup at Canter’s Deli, Fairfax
This no-frills L.A. institution, around since 1931, remains a favorite local, late-night spot. The pro move at this classic Jewish deli that's open 24 hours a day? The matzo ball soup ($7.50).
⑨ Fish Tacos at Ricky’s Fish Tacos, Los Feliz
As its name indicates, this Los Feliz food truck makes legendary Baja-style fish tacos ($3 each). Ricky Piña’s crispy fish tacos are served on warm flour tortillas with pico de gallo and chopped cabbage. Don’t forget to add some creamy white sauce and his red and green salsas on top.
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