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10 of the best L.A. food finds under $10

Save your big bills for another day. We have you covered with a few of L.A.’s best cheap eats that won't break the bank.

By Erin Kuschner and Stephanie Breijo |
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Leo's Taco Truck
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Rents may be going up and Disneyland ticket prices have soared, but Los Angeles is still a city where you can find great food without breaking the bank—and we’re not just talking about a Double-Double at In-N-Out. From shish kebab in Glendale to tacos in West L.A., here are 10 cheap eats that cost less than $10.

Discover more affordable restaurants with our checklist of the 50 best cheap food joints in L.A.

Get your spare change ready: The 10 best cheap eats in L.A.

1
Al pastor tacos at Tacos Leo
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Trucks

Al pastor taco at Leo’s Taco Truck

icon-location-pin Mid City

There are countless affordable taco trucks in L.A.—hell, that’s pretty much what we live on—but the $2.50 al pastor at Leo’s is the budget taco at its best. The small tortillas come with pork carved straight off the trompo along with a sliver of pineapple, and if you stop by the trucks after dark, you’ll also be getting dinner and a show for that price, while the taqueros slice and toss pork and pineapple into their tortilla-packed palms. One tacos won’t be enough, but you’ll have change to spare. $2.50.

2
Bacon Egg and Cheese sandwich at Buddy's Restaurant DTLA
Photograph: Courtesy Buddy's
Restaurants, American

Bacon, egg and cheese sandwich combo at Buddy’s

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

Retro is king at Buddy’s, the casual all-day, ’70s-inspired burger and stoner-food spot from the Bernadette’s team. The prices aren’t 1970s-level cheap, but in today’s economy, they feel like they are: Just about everything on the menu is under $10, including combo meals. Our favorite? The classic bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich—here available all day long—served on a Martin’s potato roll and oozing yolk. It’s only $5, but what really makes it a steal is that you can add a cup of Birch Coffee for only a dollar more. Breakfast for dinner never tasted so good. $5, or $6 with coffee.

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3
Thousand Layer Pancake sandwich at Joy on York in Highland Park Los Angeles
Photograph: Jesse Hsu
Restaurants, Thai

Thousand-layer–pancake sandwich at Joy on York

icon-location-pin Highland Park

“Budget-friendly” describes every item at chef Vivian Ku’s Highland Park staple, where Taiwanese noodle bowls, scallion-bread sandwiches and wontons all ring in at around $7 apiece. It’s impossible to go wrong with anything here, but the thousand-layer sandwich is undeniably one of the restaurant’s best—and at $8 for the works, it’s a deal. Egg, cheese and purple basil mingle with hot sauce at the center, while a warm thousand-layer pancake folds around them for a handheld lunch or dinner that’s filling, nostalgic and totally unique. $5 for plain pancake; $7 with egg only; $6 with cheese only; $8 with egg, cheese, basil and hot sauce.

4
Ramen from Shinsen Gumi
Restaurants, Japanese

Hakata ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi

icon-location-pin Little Tokyo

Ramen usually starts as an inexpensive dish, but when the egg, extra soup, wontons and chashu get added, the price can climb well above $10. At Shin-Sen-Gumi, the Hakata ramen starts at $7.75 and comes with chashu, green onions, sesame and red ginger in a rich pork broth, enough for a complete meal on its own, even as a half order. Add-ons start at $1.50, so even if you tack on extra noodles, you’ll still come out under 10 bucks. $7.75 per half order, $9.50 per full order.

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5
Pollo maciaco with cole slaw, tortillas, and fries at Dino's Burgers #2
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, American

Dino’s famous chicken dinner at Dino’s Chicken & Burgers

icon-location-pin Central LA

It’s not called famous for nothing: This dish is a bona fide steal for those craving finger-licking poultry. A half plate of chicken arrives with two massive, charbroiled pieces of meat along with your choice of two sides: We’re partial to the fresh-cut fries and beans, but other options include slaw, rice, salad and tortillas. You’ll need plenty of napkins, but it’s worth getting messy for. $7.95–$8.75, depending on sides choice.

6
<p>Chorizo burrito and cold brew Stumptown coffee.</p>
Restaurants, Coffee shops

Veggie burrito at Cofax Coffee Shop

icon-location-pin Fairfax District

Cofax bills itself as a coffee shop, which is true—you can get great brew from Stumptown here, along with doughnuts and pastries overseen by award-winner baker Nicole Rucker (whose bakery, Fiona, down the block, is also worth a visit). But the main draw at this Fairfax stalwart might just be its breakfast burrito, particularly the veggie option: Onions, peppers, cheese, eggs and perfectly smoked potatoes are stuffed inside a freshly grilled tortilla, accompanied by tangy red and green sauces for a hefty breakfast that’ll have you rolling out the door—no regrets. $8.25.

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7
Fish and chips from Malibu Seafood
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Seafood

Fish and chips at Malibu Seafood

icon-location-pin Malibu

Where else can you eat some of L.A.’s freshest seafood with a view of the ocean for under $10? A local icon since its launch in 1972, Malibu Seafood is one of PCH’s top meal meccas for locals and visitors alike. Half market, half restaurant, the tiny shack serves steamed, grilled and deep-fried shellfish, salmon, squid and more, and you can always expect stellar quality (it is owned by commercial fishemen, after all). You can snag fried oyster, shrimp or fish sandwiches for only $6.95, but our order will always be the crispy, rectangular battered-and-fried white fish on a bed of thick fries, with a seat on the top deck for the best view in the house. $8.50 for a one-piece meal.

8
French dip sandwich at Philippe the Original
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Sandwich shops

French dip sandwich at Philippe the Original

icon-location-pin Chinatown

Sometimes you have to pick a side, but when it comes to all-around cost efficiency, we have to give it to Philippe’s over Cole’s in the French dip war. The iconic sandwich shop has been selling beautiful, meaty French dips at its current location since 1951, where you can still snag the iconic roast beef served on a French roll dipped in au jus. Add your choice of cheese or a side of pickled egg and your meal still makes the under-$10 cut. Of course we wouldn’t fault you for going over budget with a slice of their famous pie, either. $8.50.

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9
Sapp Coffee Shop
Photoshop: Courtesy Yelp/Andrew K. 
Restaurants, Thai

Jade noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop

icon-location-pin Thai Town

Tucked into an East Hollywood strip mall, Sapp Coffee Shop offers no-frills dining with some seriously good Thai-style eats. The jade noodles are a cult favorite: a soupless bowl (though you can also order it with soup) filled with BBQ pork, roast duck, crab meat and thick noodles that never seem to end. Want a nice kick? Order it medium spicy. $9.95, cash only.

10
Chicken shish kebab at Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Greek

Chicken shish kebab at Elena’s Greek Armenian Cuisine

icon-location-pin Glendale

There’s a smattering of kebabs to choose from at this Glendale staple—all drool-inducing in their own right, and a few under $10—but the chicken shish kebab is a serious star. Did we mention that it’s huge? The hearty dish features thick, juicy cuts of marinated chicken, a mound of pilaf rice, onion slivers, a blistered tomato and a poblano pepper. $9.99.

Want more cheap eats?

Sweet potato at Guerrilla Tacos
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants

Best tacos

Check out some of the best—and affordable!—tacos in the city.

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