Some people (especially non-Angelinos) seem to think that restaurants in LA all serve fancy dishes with small servings and outrageously high prices. But that’s not true at all. In fact, even just $10 can get a tasty and satisfying meal in the City of Angels. Here are the LA restaurants where such meals are actually possible:
Burritos La Palma. For most burrito fans, the rather small burritos at El Monte’s Burritos La Palma may not be quite a pleasant surprise. But one bite is all it’ll take to change your mind. These are all carefully and lovingly prepared, and these taco-sized burrito is an ode to high quality ingredients and disciplined preparation. Order 4 of the burritos and you’re all set. You really should try the especial plate on your next visit, with melted cheese and chili sauce smothering the burritos.
Beijing Pie House. This Monterey Park restaurant is famous for its xian bing, which are the dumplings you must try at least once in your life. It offers a loose patty veggies and meat within a broth that’s just boiling-hot. How you eat it is up to you, but you just have to be very careful. These pan-fried lamb and green onion “meat pies” are utterly divine. They’re juicy and crispy, and chances are you’ll get hooked on them. You just add a drizzle of black vinegar and several drops of chili oil.
Mariscos Jalisco. If you’re into fried shrimp tacos, this is where you get it from. It’s fried until it’s golden-crispy, and then it’s coated with buttery slices of avocado and sharp red salsa. If you’re really feeling hungry, then you need to satisfy your craving with the Poseidon tostada. It’s a combo of ceviche, octopus, and shrimp aguachile that’s simply divine.
Phillippe the Original. This claims to be where the French dip sandwich was born. Entering this place is like going into a time machine back into the past, and it’s no surprise that it’s been around for more than a century. This is the epitome of vintage LA. The food is astonishingly affordable here, so there’s going to be a line. Order your sandwich and they’ll carve it in front of you. Your best bet is to get the double-dipped lamb, with perhaps a pickled egg on the side.
RiceBar. Some dives are metaphorically called holes in the wall, but for RiceBar that’s a very literal description. You have a tiny kitchen with a window, and the whole place measures about 275 square feet. Here the focus is on Filipino rice bowls with many different flavors. There are 4 big steamers with each one offering a different type of rice. Try the slightly nutty and sweet rice from the Kalinga terrace fields which goes great with the soy-marinated, pan-seared, tender beef called bistek tagalog. Another option is the black rice topped with small fried anchovies, marinated grape tomatoes, crisp radish, and creamy avocado. Then there’s also the pork longganisa, which is matched with pickled vegetables. Add some fried egg, and you’ve got yourself a meal.
Sapp Coffee Shop. This is one of the most popular and most welcoming diners in Thai Town, and its patrons are legion. However, they’re mostly divided into two camps. One faction believes that the best dish on the menu is the Thai boat noodles. This is an exotic-tasting spicy-sour soup with meatballs, little pieces of pork skin, and chopped herbs along with the unusual cubes of coagulated blood. However, its rival group insists that the best here is the dry jade noodles. You have bouncy strands of noodle to go along with shredded crab, roasted pork, crushed chili, peanuts, and a small bit of white sugar. Of course, you may just go for the krapow pork, with basil and a wok-fried egg. Other dissenters just ask for the Thai-style menudo.
Tacos los Poblanos Estilo Tijuana. Here the Tijuana-style tacos makes lining up worth your while, as you get proper carne asada on handmade tortillas. Then you get a scoop of thick creamy guacamole, a little bit of chopped onions, and a touch of smoky salsa. After they’ve been wrapped in wax paper, they look like huge ice cream cones instead of tacos. Sometimes on the weekends, a truck pulls up and offers mango slices for those waiting in line.
These are just a few of the LA places that remain budget friendly. For those without the money, there are still heavenly options in this City of Angels.