Los Angeles is a city rich with multicultural diversity, which translates into the fact the that L.A. is also full of wonderful—and affordable—things to eat.
The Best Cheap Eats in Los Angeles
Here’s a guide to 10 of L.A.’s best cheap eats.
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The best cheap eats in Los Angeles are on lively Olvera Street, a historic and colorful marketplace themed around Mexican culture. For just un poquito de dinero, you can buy hot churros, authentic burritos, or fresh guacamole.
Your best bet, though, is to start off with taquitos from Cielito Lindo, a walk-up stand that has been serving the stuffed, fried tortilla rolls since 1934. They come topped with avocado sauce, and their faithful long line of customers swear that these are the best taquitos north of the border.
One of the most beloved places to get cheap eats in Los Angeles is Langer’s Deli, started in 1947 by Russian Jewish immigrants. The classic thing to order here is a hot pastrami sandwich, stuffed to the brim with hand-cut meat, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw on double-baked rye.
But if you feel like having a hearty chicken noodle soup, matzo brei, or a bagel and lox, you can do that too, without busting your food budget.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles
With seven locations throughout the city, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is well-established as the king of cheap eats in L.A. The soul food chain was started in 1975 by Herb Hudson, a Harlem native with entertainment industry connections. Today, his quick-eat restaurants remain a celebrity favorite and pop up in pop culture often.
The menu is full of affordable options—order the $10 “Obama special” to get three fried chicken wings, a butter-topped waffle, and French fries or potato salad.
As far as cheap eats in Los Angeles go, you won’t get any cheaper than Diddy Riese, in Westwood near UCLA. The long lines here attest not only to how delicious these scratch-baked treats are, but also to their insanely low prices: 50-cent cookies (choose from 10 flavors), 75-cent fudge brownies, $2 Hawaiian shave ice, and $2.50 ice cream sandwiches.
No wonder college students and tourists get their sweet fix at this family-owned establishment, named after a beloved grandmother.
In Los Angeles, places that are edgy and trendy are usually not cheap—except Pink Taco, which is all three, and also has yummy Mexican food. Offerings include cheap tacos and burritos, plus a full bar, a stellar location on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, and, of course, a food truck.
Pink’s Hot Dogs
Not to be confused with Pink Taco (see above), Pink’s Hot Dogs is one of the most famous cheap-eat spots in L.A. This beloved hot dog stand opened in 1939 on La Brea Avenue in the Fairfax neighborhood, though it now has spots in Inglewood, Universal CityWalk, and elsewhere. It also makes appearances at county fairs in the region.
People flock here ‘til the wee hours for delicious and affordable sloppy hot dogs, burgers, and nacho cheese chili fries.
Dodger Stadium is full of many of the best cheap eats in Los Angeles, and is gracious about selling fun, delicious snacks for prices that aren’t overly inflated for its captive audience of MLB fans.
While you watch the Blue Crew play, you can munch on reasonably priced poke bowls, garlic tater tots, elote loco (roasted corn swathed in seasonings), meatball sandwiches—and, of course, the world-famous Dodger Dogs, with their outsized meat that ridiculously pokes out of the bun on either side.
Many Californians claim that the burgers In-N-Out are literally addictive. And for many who move away from California, this is their very first stop when they get back to the Golden State.
To be sure, this is fast food at fast-food prices, which places In-N-Out Burgers firmly among the best cheap eats in Los Angeles. But unlike most other fast-food joints, the offerings that this family-owned chain has been selling since 1948 are consistently fresh and tasty, thanks to the fact that nothing here is frozen or microwaved, and everything is cooked fresh to order over an open flame.
Grand Central Market
Those in search of the best cheap eats in L.A. would do well to explore Grand Market, a 100-year-old food hall in the heart of downtown, where vendors and stands serve up a multicultural melee of flavors, including Mexican fare, burgers, Japanese food, curry, boiled Chinese noodles, fresh-baked bread, and more. For a pittance, you can also buy spices, cheese, coffee—even jewelry.
Tsurumaru Udon Honpo
L.A. is blessed to have a fantastic range of Japanese food, from places that many consider to be the city’s finest restaurants to holes-in-the-wall that are definitely among the most delicious cheap eats in Los Angeles.
Downtown’s Tsurumaru Udon Honpo falls into the latter category, peddling its excellent namesake udon, tasty tempura, flavorful curries, and hot seaweed soup from a no-frills, third-floor joint in the Little Tokyo Galleria shopping center.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Los Angeles Travel Guide
- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in Los Angeles
- 10 Best Los Angeles Beach Hotels
- 10 Best Los Angeles Luxury Hotels
- 10 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles
- 10 Popular Los Angeles Restaurants for Celebrity Sightings
- 9 Fun Things To Do in Los Angeles
- 10 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles
- 9 Must-See Los Angeles Attractions
- What to Pack for Los Angeles
- What to Wear in Los Angeles
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– Original reporting by Avital Andrews