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25 Essential Cheap Eats Right Now (2018 Edition)

From taco and burger joints to sushi and bowls, there is a great mix of cheap but quality restaurants from around the world in Los Angeles. New restaurants are popping up around the urban sprawl offering exciting new eats to guests, filling the city with tons of cheap, good food. Here are our picks for dining on the cheap in LA.
il romanista - verified JAR
(credit: Luigi Roditis)

Il Romanista
El Segundo
Il Romanista is the typical style of pizzeria you would find in Rome. Pizzas here are made from dough that has been allowed to mature and ferment for 48-72 hours through cold fermentation. Forget the normal triangular slices - at Il Romanista's, pies are cut into rectangles with large shears. Choose from a selection of 7-15 options, including vegan pizzas, and a selection of pizze ripiene (stuffed pizzas) and salads.

Maurys - verified JAR
(credit: @maurys_losangeles)

Silver Lake
Maury's is a tiny bagel and lox pop-up from owner/operation Jason Kaplan, formerly of the Westside's GTA and Gjusta. Currently being sold at Dinosaur Coffee Saturday's and at the Hollywood Farmers' Market, Kaplan serves chewy bagels with a thin, crispy crust and a deeply satisfying flavor. Look for Maury's to open the doors on its Silver Lake bakery in the spring of 2018.

Boos Philly Cheesesteaks - verified JAR
(credit: @losangeles_eats)

Boo's Philly Cheesesteaks and Hoagies
Silver Lake
Andrew Ahn's father's aha moment for creating Boo's Philly Cheesesteaks and Hoagies came from the desire to have a legit real cheesesteak in LA. Served on an imported Amoroso roll with a choice of cheese, American, cheese whiz, or provolone, Boo's Philly Cheesesteaks and Hoagies serves guests a selection of six types of cheesesteaks, which can be substituted to chicken, six hoagies and an assortment of sides. One of their more popular items is the Mushroom Pepper Steak with Cheese Whiz with option of adding fries, cheese fries, pizza fries and their butterscotch cupcakes.

The Dolly Llama - verified JAR
(credit: The Dolly Llama)

The Dolly Llama
The bubble waffle or egg waffle street food trend, which originated in Hong Kong has arrived in LA. The Dolly Llama makes their waffles, which are usually thought of as a breakfast food, with a unique pillowy and custardy texture and tops them with a generous scoop of ice cream tucked inside and dressed with toppings. With three simple steps, select one of three waffle types, a myriad of sauce and a seemingly endless selection of toppings, the possibilities are endless. Order 'The Dolly Llama' or 'The Cookie Snob' and pair it with a hot-chata, hot chocolate or hot vanilla topped with marshmallows.

The Chori-Man - verified JAR
(credit: The Chori-Man)

The Chori-Man
San Pedro
The Chori-Man was started by Humberto Raygoza in 2013 making his family chorizo recipes and selling them by the pound along with tacos and burritos in San Pedro and the Flower District Farmers Market. In 2017, he partnered with longtime customer Mandy Barton and opened their first brick and mortar in July 2017, producing over 500 pounds of chorizo in their shop featuring three different types of chorizos. Based on Humberto's family recipe in Zacatecas, Mexico, they use a guajillo chili and paprika spice blend in their chorizo by the pound, tacos, quesadillas and the popular chori-man breakfast burrito.

Palikao - verified JAR
(credit: Palikao)

Palikao recently opened in the heart of DTLA serving a modern take on traditional couscous. Named after a small town in North Africa where the chef/owner's grandmother Marcelle Tordjman was born in 1910, the fast-casual restaurant offers a couscous bar where each customer starts by selecting a grain, they have over six options, a protein, veggies, toppings and Lionel's secret broth, mild, spicy or 'spiiicy', on top. Serving farm-to-fresh ingredients that are cooked daily, Palikao also offers salads, desserts and homemade grocery products. Pricing for their bowls start at $8 for regular and up to only $13 for the large protein bowls.

Uncle Paulies Deli - verified JAR
(credit: uncle Paulies)

Uncle Paulie's Deli
Beverly Grove
The NYC-inspired Italian deli on Beverly Blvd and Orlando offers the best in classic Italian cured meats, local produce, fresh-pressed olive oils, and imported cheeses. Uncle Paulie's is the authentic neighborhood breakfast and lunch sandwich spot bringing staples like the Italian combo, the prosciutto sandwich, or the artichoke caprese to LA. Run by Queens native Uncle Paulie, their mozzarella is made in-house daily and they source their fresh bread from Normandie Bakery's Chef Josette.

Da Kikokiko - verified JAR
(credit: Ryan Tanaka)

Da Kikokiko
Playa Vista
Da Kikokiko is an affordable fast-casual Hawaiian concept by "Top Chef" Season 14 Winner Brooke Williamson and her husband and Co-Chef Nick Roberts. The restaurant, whose name means "the spot" in Hawaiian, features fresh island street foods like poke with a variety of base mixes, proteins, sauces, and toppings, musubi, the popular snack and lunch food in Hawaii composed of a slice of grilled Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori, and Hawaiian shave ice.

by CHLOE - verified JAR
(credit: by CHLOE)

by CHLOE. is a fast-casual plant-based vegan restaurant that opened it's first Los Angeles location May of 2016 in Silver Lake. Along with their popular Smashed Avocado Toast, their filling sandwiches and salads are a must. But, you can also get small or large pasta dishes and delectable sides and pastries for under $5.

Sumo Dog - verified JAR
(credit: Wonho Frank Lee)

Sumo Dog
Sumo Dog opened its first brick and mortar location in January 2017 in the heart of LA's historic Koreatown. Sumo Dog, which was created by chef/founder Jeffrey Lunak, formerly of "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto's team, aims to redefine the American classic hot dog, using Asian-inspired flavors and ingredients to create unique and colorful combinations. Their menu consists of Asian Inspired Hot Dogs ranging in price from $7-$9, as well as sides from $3-$6 like the popular sumo dog and bacon banh mi.

Veggie Grill - verified JAR
(credit: Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter/Veggie Grill)

Veggie Grill
Multiple Locations
Veggie Grill has disrupted the fast-casual landscape by creating craveable, innovative, chef-inspired food that is 100% plant-based at their 12 locations across the Greater Los Angeles area. Their seasonal menus celebrate veggies at the center of their plate, with current menu highlights being the meatballs + polenta bowl, lucky star burger along with classics like their buffalo wings and the new wunderbrat made with Beyond Sausage™. All items are under $15 and the Wunderbrat is currently only available at the Hollywood and El Segundo locations.

Dune - verified JAR
(credit: Jakob N Lyman)

Multiple locations
Dune started in 2015 as a mom and pop style falafel working with local and small farmers, bakers, coffee roasters insuring they use high-quality ingredients. Serving Middle Eastern street-food, Dune uses traditional spices and techniques coupled with local California ingredients throughout their menu. Recent expansions in 2017 into DTLA and Venice Beach, where they also serve food and wine, has brought their popular herb falafel sandwich served on house made flat bread $9.50 to those communities.

Pitfire - verified JAR
(credit: Pitfire Pizza)

Pitfire Pizza
Multiple Locations
Offering guests a wide selection of pizza options including vegan cheese and gluten free crust options, this Westwood hot spot also features tasty small plates, salads, sandwiches, pastas, dessert, beer/wine and a kids menu. The artisanal pizza shop, with seven locations across the greater Los Angeles Area, features unique pies like their popular hail kale! pizza and other menu items like their roasted chicken meatballs and shaved kale salad, all under $13. Try their seasonal Farmers Market plate for $13 which includes their shaved Brussel sprouts salad, roasted carrots and winter ratatouille.

Hummus Republic - verified JAR
(credit: @chownow)

Hummus Republic
Multiple Locations
Hummus Republic is a growing fast casual Mediterranean food chain specializing in flavorful and healthy customizable meals, made fresh and served quickly using organic, sustainable, and locally grown ingredients whenever possible. Served in a modern setting for those on-the-go, Hummus Republic brings the flavors of authentic Mediterranean cooking with a simple menu and assembly line approach. In less than four minutes, customers make their order and get access to healthy and primarily plant-based meals with most items, like the popular earth burger and build your own bowls.

Sari Sari Store - verified JAR
(credit: Marianna Jamadi/Sari Sari Store)

Sari Sari Store
Grand Central Market
The Filipino concept from James Beard nominated chef Margarita Manzke along with business partner and husband Walter Manzke, is a staple since arriving at Grand Central Market. In Filipino sari sari translates to 'whatever' and is used to describe small stores that sell everything from candy to skewers, like their menu which is pulled from Margaritas' Pinoy heritage. Sari Sari Store's menu is based around savory rice bowls or 'silog', fried rice as well as a few sweet items like halo halo.

Badmaash - verified JAR
(credit: Badmaash)

At Badmaash, chef Pawan Mahendro prepares modern takes on many Indian classics with the help of his sons Nakul and Arjun. Badmaash, which means naughty in Hindi, is displayed by the pop-art décor and twists on traditional dishes served by Mahendros. The menu offers street food staples such as appetizers starting, traditional Indian dishes, along with more diverse offerings called "#BadmaashLA favorites".

Philippe the Original - verified JAR
(credit: Philippe the Original)

Philippe the Original
Philippe Mathieu opened one of L.A.'s most historic restaurants Philippe The Original (known as Philippe's) in October of 1908, but it wasn't until 1918 when true history happened. While making a sandwich for a customer, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced French roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. And, so was born the French dip sandwich. Their menu consists of French dips (either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey, ham or New York pastrami) all under $10, along with popular sides such as house made macaroni salad, potato salad and coleslaw, soups and chili, desserts and craft beer and wine as well as 45-cent coffee, 65-cent iced tea and 75-cent lemonade. Try the popular beef double-dip which patrons like to top with their famous hot mustard which is also available for purchase by the bottle at the restaurant and on their site.

Burgerim - verified JAR
(credit: Burgerim)

Multiple Locations
Burgerim serves customizable, sensible-sized burgers in packages of one, two, three, eight or sixteen, boasting hundreds of flavor profiles. With eleven different patty options, including chorizo, Wagyu beef, salmon, veggie, lamb, turkey and more; alongside gourmet toppings such as sautéed mushrooms, pineapple and sunny-side up eggs, Burgerim embodies the customization element and playfulness of the brand. Their sensibly sized gourmet 2.8oz patties, are the perfect indulgence for the health conscious and making portion control easy.

Burgers Say Never Die - verified JAR
(credit: Gary Winterboer)

Burgers Say Never Die
Burgers Never Say Die built its following as a secret East Hollywood food stand backyard pop-up, and since then has stealthily established itself as one of the best burgers in the city. Their basic cheeseburgers are two smashed patties served on a soft buttery bun, and topped with American cheese, onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard. They invite guests to "always order two", which is their motto and are poised to soon announced their next pop-up location.

Sonoratown - verified JAR
(credit: @lafoodieguy)

Sonoratown serves tacos in the style of Northern Mexico, where many people prefer flour tortillas to corn and meat is grilled over mesquite charcoal flame. Coming from a humble town in Mexico, Teo Diaz uses short rib to stuff his handmade flour tortillas for only $2. No single item on our menu is over $5 and $10 is the average price of lunch at the taqueria.

Hache LA - verified JAR
(credit: HACHÉ LA)

Silver Lake
HACHÉ. French for Ground Steak is a new age burger stand in Silver Lake featuring 100% Angus steak grilled medium burgers on bun No. 19. Enjoy six selections of burgers from $6.95-$9.50 like the karma burger and add sides like bacon, caramelized onions, eggs and more to pair with the freshness and quality of the meat. Add on a side like the mick's triple cooked fries along with one of their homemade drinks like the purple palmer for a satisfying and tasty meal.

The FLATS - verified JAR
(credit: acuna-hansen)

Beverly Hills
Michelin starred executive chef Paul Shoemaker highlights fresh, local and sustainable ingredients, produce, meat and seafood at The FLATS. Serving a range of flatbreads from $12-$15 like their Hawaiian and fennel sausage selections, they also serve burgers and sandwiches which are paired with playful craft cocktails. Stop by for happy hour weekdays 4-7pm for small plats, flats, sliders and specially priced cocktails and liquor.

CAVA - verified JAR
(credit: CAVA)

Multiple Locations
CAVA is a growing fast-casual restaurant featuring modern Mediterranean cuisine, characterized by its highly-customizable grain bowls, salads, and fresh pitas, with ingredients prepared from scratch in-house every day. Chef and founder Dimitri Moshovitis blends flavors from his family recipes into the seasonally-inspired menu with signature items like crazy feta, Border Springs spicy lamb meatballs, and cauliflower quinoa tabbouleh, made from scratch in-house every day.

Sweetfin - verified JAR
(credit: Sweetfin)

Multiple Locations
Sweetfin reimagines Hawaii's traditional soul food with its healthful and colorful poké bowls. With five locations across Los Angeles and more upcoming, the fast-casual restaurant serves customizable and signature bowls from a menu created by chef Dakota Weiss. With prices varying between $8-13, they focus on vegetable-forward and vegan friendly options as well as serving the highest quality sustainable fish.

Gus Fried Chicken
(credit: Flora H./yelp)

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken
Multiple Locations
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken is a southern-oriented, family friendly, no frills chicken joint, with locations in Mid-City and Burbank, that serves up some of the best fried chicken in Los Angeles. Using a recipe that dates back over 50 years to its founding in Mason, Tennessee, guests can enjoy a serving of delicious, hot and spicy fried chicken with accompanying sides, all served by an efficient and friendly staff.

Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who covers restaurants, bars, travel, sports and other lifestyle topics. View his work at, or connect with him on Twitter: @JaroneAsh.
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