Los Angeles has earned a reputation as one of the top eating destinations in the world, and it's not just the fine dining that makes it a foodie's paradise. You definitely don't need a reservation or an expense account to enjoy some of this town's most remarkable meals--most of which won't set you back more than $15. Here are the top ten:
Leo's Tacos. Need a late night taco fix? Head over to Eagle Rock Blvd. and look for the truck with lion. The expertly marinated carne asada is the star here, but the tasty veggie tacos and burritos aren't an afterthought. The quesadilla, drizzled with avocado salsa, is a must. 4300 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Nickel Diner. Bacon donuts? No, you're not dreaming! Downtown's Nickel Diner puts its unique spin on greasy spoon standards with such signature dishes as Smac and Cheese and the NiteClub sandwich. Added bonus: breakfast is served all day. 524 S. Main St.
Abbot's Pizza Co. A good slice is hard to find, but this westside favorite does it with gusto. The bagel crust might scare away traditionalists, but it's hard to resist fresh gourmet toppings, like shitake mushrooms and tequila lime chicken. 1407 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice; 1811 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica.
Tacos Baja Ensenada. Fish taco aficionados know that this Whittier Blvd. spot is the place. Fried yet delicate with a satisfying crunch, these authentic baja-style tacos are finished with a tangy crema. Try the ceviche, too--they serve 6 different kinds. 5385 Whittier Boulevard.
Loteria Grill. The Conchinita Pibil alone is worth braving the Farmer's Market parking lot. You can get any filling, from carnitas to nopales, in burrito, sope, taco or tostada form. Standouts include potato tacos, tortilla soup, and the very decadent queso fundido. 6333 West 3rd Street.
Malibu Seafood. This proper roadside seafood shack serves up steamed mussels, ahi burgers, fish tacos and fried fish sandwiches so good that people risk their lives running across the PCH just to get to it. If you can snag a table on their patio, you're in for a real treat. 25653 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu.
The Oinkster. Draft beer and good pulled pork at a hamburger stand? The Oinkster in Eagle Rock makes it possible. The burger is one of the best, and fans rave about the piggy fries, house-cured pastrami, and chipotle ketchup. 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock.
Golden Deli. You will wait in line, but you won't regret it. Most devotees insist on the Cha Gio--crispy golden egg rolls served with lettuce, cilantro and basil. Beyond that, you can't go wrong with any of the generously-portioned pho and bun soups. 815 West Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel.
Claro's Italian Market. Open since 1948, this neighborhood Italian Market is the real deal. Don't miss out on a sub with imported spicy Salami Casalingo or extra sharp provolone. There's also pizza, meatballs, and lasagna. Finish with a fresh-baked Italian cookie...or three. 1003 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel.
Al Wazir. There are lots of worthy contenders for the best hummus in LA, but Al Wazir wins the prize for the smoothest. Their shawarma and kabobs are top notch and the roasted chicken is beyond juicy. Top it all off with the highly addictive garlic sauce. 6051 Hollywood Blvd., Suite #104, Hollywood.