When Eater LA put together their list of "14 Restaurants to Take Out-Of-Towners To" last month, I felt a strange disconnect. While they were all fine selections to show off L.A.'s wide range of exquisite dining options, they were also a bit on the pricey side. In other words, they're perfect if your parents or well-off uncle are in town and offering to pick up the tab, less so if your barely-employed friend from out of town is crashing on your air mattress for a week. (I care for these friends because I, alas, am one of them.)
In those instances, you may need some less expensive options for the budget-minded, which is where this list comes in handy. At every one of the following places, you should be able to get a decent meal for $10 or less.
In no specific order:
You could make a case this entire list exists simply to, once again, give a plug to one of our favorite late night taco trucks, and you wouldn't be laughed out of the room. The fact is, Taco Zone never lets your taste buds down and, after the bars close, always offers a visual feast for the people-watchers out there.
It's obligatory, when discussing any of the wings of L.A.'s Homeboy Industries, to at least mention their goal of taking gang members off the streets and helping them become productive members of society. (For example, they perform roughly 745 tattoo removal treatments each month.) Which is great and all, and definitely worth applauding. But the main reason they're on this list is that their food is great.
Kogi BBQ Truck
Maybe the ever-roaming Kogi BBQ Truck wasn't the first food truck, and maybe it's not the best. But it was definitely The One that took the food truck landscape from small fad and turned it into a revolution, along with the help of over 114,000 Twitter followers.
Western Doma Noodles
Every dish I've had at Western Doma is amazing, but the best part of any meal comes before you even order, when a server brings out the banchan, nine or so small dishes full of things like kimchi, potato salad, and radishes.
Boo's Philly Cheesesteaks
While the exterior of Boo's in Silver Lake doesn't make it look like much more than your average burger joint, the interior of the cheesesteaks and hoagies prove otherwise. Do yourself a favor and get an order of pizza fries while you're there.
If you're not in the mood for sausage, here's a pro-tip: Go out, pick up whatever food you want, take a quick detour to Berlin Currywurst and get yourself an order of "fritten," their delicious homemade fries.
At this point, there's nothing surprising about Senor Fish. They have the same basic Mexican seafood menu that a whole bunch of other places scattered throughout L.A. It's just, they have the best bang for your buck.
Taco Zone gets so much love around here that sometimes it feels as though other taco trucks get neglected. Tacos Arizas, just a few blocks down, parked nightly at the corner of Logan and Sunset right near Walgreens, deserves better. At the very least, they're a perfectly apt replacement when Taco Zone's line is too long/annoying.
Kien Giang Bakery
While the bakery's main business is cakes and treats, what makes this a hidden gem of Echo Park is their lunch special: a banh mi sandwich on freshly baked bread, a drink, and a dessert for right around $7.
There are two Yuca's offering the same food, owned by the same people, in roughly the same neighborhood. One has indoor seating, one does not because the whole kitchen is in a tiny hut! My suggestion of which one to go to should be obvious by my italics.
That place on Sunset with no sign you see jam-packed with a crowd of hipsters waiting outside? That's Pho Cafe. It's cash only, and it's worth it.
When you have a free afternoon to get lost in an Internet wormhole, Google "Zankou Chicken Murders" and have at it. When you want some quick, delicious, and cheap Middle Eastern cuisine, just go to Zankou Chicken.
I mean, c'mon folks. In-N-Out is a beloved California institution for a reason.
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