Cheap Eats in LA: Best bang-for-your-buck meals for $20 or less

Meals that are delicious, filling and a bargain? Check out the top spots for cheap eats in LA that will set you back only $20 or less.

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  • Photograph: Eric Shin

    Cheap eats in LA: all-you-can-eat fried chicken picnic at A-Frame

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: bacon cheeseburger at Bill & Hiroko's

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: Thai spaghetti at Bua Siam

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: Pollo Maniaco at Dino's Chicken & Burgers

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: tostada mixtiada at El Mar Azul

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: quail plate at Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: chicken lule at Karabagh Meat Market and Deli

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Cheap eats in LA: tomato and burrata pizza, glass of wine, butterscotch buddino at Pizzeria Mozza

  • Photograph: Victor Leung

    Cheap eats in LA: congee with sweet potatoes at Lu's Garden

  • Photograph: Victor Leung

    Cheap eats in LA: Lu's Garden

Photograph: Eric Shin

Cheap eats in LA: all-you-can-eat fried chicken picnic at A-Frame


In a sprawling city with literally thousands of dining options, an inexpensive meal isn't hard to find. With a multitude of cuisines and neighborhoods, bargain-hunters can find cheap eats that are tasty, affordable and filling. We've rounded up the best value-packed meals that packs as much flavor as it does value—none setting you back more than $20.


RECOMMENDED: See more Best restaurants in Los Angeles.

A-Frame's all-you-can-eat fried chicken picnic

Roy Choi isn’t known for restraint in his cooking, and his all-you-can-eat weekend lunch fried chicken feast is no exception. The $18 per person picnic includes crispy, thin-crust, buttermilk-brined dark meat alongside chile and garlic dipping sauces, sweet potato salad with pickled shallots and whole grain mustard vinaigrette, and an enlightening zucchini and cabbage cole slaw. Grab a seat at the communal table and throw in an extra $10 for bottomless pitchers of Hite lager.

  1. Venice
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Bill & Hiroko's bacon cheeseburger

This weekday-only retro burger counter has been serving the Valley since 1965. Husband-and-wife team Bill and Hiroko grill every burger (on a well-seasoned flattop) to order and their bacon cheeseburger ($5.30) could easily be the pin-up as the ultimate classic: A nicely seared patty, mayo, tomato, lettuce, crisp bacon strips and American cheese sandwiched between griddled buns, served with ridged potato chips on the side. Regulars drop in for lunch at the counter or back patio, and veterans know to add grilled onions to their orders.

  1. Van Nuys
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Lu's Garden congee combo

Lu's Garden is SGV's go-to spot for Taiwanese cooking on the quick and cheap. Start with a rice—choose steamed or gruel-like congee, loaded with chunks of sweet potato. Then pick (or rather, point) and choose three to four items from the glass-display counter. Vegetable, fish and meat options are aplenty, such as sliced Chinese sausage, pickled mustard greens, spicy string beans with mushrooms and black beans, stewed tofu skin and crunchy radishes set ablaze with red chiles, seeds and all. Come by weekdays 11:30am to 4pm when $7.75 gets you three items and $9.75 upgrades you to four, with free refills on rice or congee for both. It's a hangover cure-all at its best.

  1. San Gabriel
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Pizzeria Mozza's pizza + dessert + wine special

Stop in for weekday lunch (Mon-Fri noon-5pm) and late-night dinner (Mon-Thu 10pm-midnight) at Pizzeria Mozza when the city's pizza juggernaut offers a can't-be-beat special at the bar: $20 scores each diner a choice of any pizza, any dessert and a glass of house red or white. The offer extends to the beloved squash blossom, tomato and burrata pizza that normally runs $24, and dolci including the famed butterscotch budino, which usually runs $10.

  1. Mid-City West
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Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine quail plate

This Glendale mom-and-pop joint has been serving some of the best comfort food in Los Angeles—namely its flame-licked kebabs—since the ’70s. The wood grill imparts a glorious, smoky quality to any of its meat dishes, from lamb chops to lule (ground meat kebab). Each meal is under $15, but the best value is undoubtedly the quail. California’s state bird, which normally commands a premium at trendier restaurants, costs only $8.25 for a pair at Elena’s. The juicy whole birds come with toasted pita with garlic butter, a heaping pile of rice, grilled pepper and tomato, pickled vegetables and a bowl of hearty lentil soup or house salad.

  1. Glendale
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1 comments
Dan
Dan

You should add The Humus Bar in Tarzana to your list. Their "Salad Assortment" is all you can eat for under $10 per person and includes fresh baked lafa bread. It's delicious, healthy, and can be vegetarian if you skip the chicken liver and the egg salad (I don't skip them, they are really good).