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 (though that is a pretty sweet steal). From shish kebab in Glendale to tacos in West L.A., here are 10 cheap food finds that cost less than $10.
Discover more affordable restaurants with our checklist of the 50 best cheap food joints in L.A.
L.A.'s 10 best cheap food options
There are countless affordable taco trucks in L.A.—hell, that's pretty much what we live on—but the $1.25 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. One won't be enough, but you'll have change to spare. $1.25, cash only
There's a smattering of kebabs to choose from at this Glendale staple—all drool-inducing in their own right—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
Sometimes you have to pick a side—and in the battle between Philippe's and Cole's, we choose Philippe's. The iconic café has been selling beautiful, meaty French dip sandwiches at its original location since 1951, where you can still snag the roast beef staple served on a French roll dipped in au jus. $7.60
Tucked into an East Hollywood strip mall, Sapp Coffee Shop offers no-frills dining with some seriously good 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. $8.50, cash only
Dining at Grand Central Market isn't as affordable as it used to be, which is why we're stoked about Belcampo's Fast burger, made with three ounces of the best meat in town. Garnished with American cheese, house sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion, it's a complete—and completely satisfying—lunch option that you can find at GCM or the West 3rd Street location. $6
Cofax bills itself as a coffee shop, which is true—you can get great brew from Stumptown here, along with house-made doughnuts and pastries. But the main draw at this Fairfax locale is 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. $6.50
Even on a chilly afternoon, the line for Diddy Riese can stretch around the block. It's no wonder: At just $2, the massive ice cream sandwiches here are a serious steal. Choose any two freshly baked cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter...you name it), then add a scoop of ice cream, with flavors ranging from vanilla bean to strawberry cheesecake chunk. Just remember: it's cash only.
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 teh fresh-cut fries and beans. You'll need plenty of napkins, but it's worth getting messy for. $7
Ramen usually starts as a cheap dish, but when the egg, extra soup, wontons and chashu (pork) are added, the price can climb well above $10. At Shin-Sen-Gumi, the Hakata ramen starts at $6.95 and comes with chashu, green onions and red ginger in a rich pork broth, enough for a complete meal on its own. Add-ons start at $1, so even if you tack on extra noodles and a couple of others, you'll still come out under 10 bucks. $6.95
We live for dirt (a.k.a. danger) dogs in L.A., those bacon-wrapped street dogs grilled on a cart that seem particularly enjoyable at 2am, when we're three sheets to the wind. The brick-and-mortar Dirt Dog, near USC, serves up an option just as decadent as any cart offering, with onions, bell peppers and house-made Thousand Island bacon sauce, topped with ketchup, mustard, mayo and bacon bits. Yeah, more bacon. $5.95