So much of Los Angeles can be enjoyed without spending a dime — seriously, you don’t need healing crystals to feel at peace here — but food and drinks can be expensive. We’re looking at you, $16 coffee at Blue Bottle. Your quest for cheap eats does not have to conclude at In-N-Out. Here are our picks for seriously delicious, legitimately affordable spots all around town.
Shaka Shack Burgers — Hawaiian cheap eats in Santa Monica
You can spend a day’s wages at some of the restaurants on the Santa Monica piers, or you can say aloha to some island grub at Shaka Shack before heading to the beach. Dress things up with wasabi mayo, pineapple slaw, and other unique ingredients — and if grass-fed Angus isn’t enough, you can swing for the Kobe beef, salmon, and other fun options.
Pizzanista! — Post-hipster pizza by the Arts District
Downtown has no shortage of cheap eats, but if you want something besides a food cart hot dog you should head toward the river and check out the skater punk vibe at Pizzanista. Overloaded slices like the “Meat Jesus” are a full meal for just a few bucks. And, if you’re lucky to be there on a Tuesday, you can save even more with $2 slices and $2 beers! Gluten-free crusts and vegan toppings are available, but this isn’t a fussy hipster joint. Be prepared for authentically industrial surroundings just a few blocks from Skid Row.
Mission Cantina — Affordable Mexican gourmet in Hollywood
When you get hungry after walking around Hollywood — or hangry after trying to park for half an hour — it’s hard to find affordable food without resorting to fast food. Mission Cantina keeps things simple with taco plates, burritos, and more for under $10. The house margarita is legit, and daily specials plus a generous happy hour (4 to 8 p.m.) make this rustic cantina a no-brainer.
Harajuku Crepe — East-West fusion in Beverly Hills
It doesn’t get more fusion than this; there’s mochi powder in the crepe batter. Perfect for a lite bite or grab-and-walk, Harajuku Crepe fills you up with wholesome crepes for around $7 or less, like the chicken and avocado or the butter cinnamon sugar. Cool it down with Japanese-style ice cream flavors like black sesame or wash it down with a boba tea.
By CHLOE — Fast, real vegan food in Silver Lake
Get in on the plant-based goodness Los Angeles is famous for without breaking the bank at Crossroads Kitchen. You won’t find soy burgers or chik’n at By CHLOE. Instead, expect bright and flavorful dishes like the shroomy pesto meatball sub or quinoa taco salad.
The chef, SoCal native Chloe Coscarelli, made her name on Cupcake Wars and gave a facelift to the NYC vegan scene when she opened the first By CHLOE in 2015 with Co-Founder and Creative Director, Samantha Wasser. Now Silver Lake has its own.
Bonus: By CHLOE is attached to the no-frills Whole Foods 365 grocery store where you can pick up gourmet prepared foods and cheap biodynamic wine to take home.
Where would you spend your last five bucks on an empty stomach in Los Angeles? Share your hidden gems below!