Great, Cheap Dining in L.A.

Eating Right in Los Angeles


As a lifetime Angeleno I have heard every complaint from friends – particularly New Yorkers – about Los Angeles’ great, cheap dining options. They rave about their city’s hot dogs and pizza on every corner, or the Philly cheese stake place just across the street. I suppose proximity sometimes equals delicious.

I’ll admit there is more work getting into the car and dealing with L. A.’s notorious traffic. However, with over 160 languages spoken in Los Angeles, there are no shortage of great food – especially traditional eats from every part of the world – even though L. A.’s Pinks, perhaps the most famous hot dog stand on earth, has incredible dogs with lines of customers waiting in zigzags out into the street, a testament to the stand’s deliciousness.

But it is not just the dogs. The following is a list of some of my personal favorite eateries in Los Angeles. And as a travel writer I cannot resist focusing on an international theme.

Thai Patio in Thai Town

In Thai Town, on Hollywood east of Western, Thai Patio sits on the corner of the Thai Plaza shopping center, which is just a congested horseshoe of parking and multiple Thai traditional eateries. Of the group, Thai Patio is my favorite. It was the red curry that made me fall in love but I recommend ordering a half dozen entrees and go family style with friends.

East L.A.’s Chalio

ChaliosChalio, beyond a long history and four restaurants featuring Mexican classic cuisine. The East L.A. restaurant (one of four in the U.S.) first opened in 1987 with only one item on its menu, birria, goat stew. The restaurant is now is challenging younger eaters to get reacquainted to traditional Central Mexico with its new takes on old classics.

Café Du Liban

Café Du Liban is “on the other side of the hill”, in the valley. This may be a cultural turn-off for some but the Lebanese cuisine is first rate. Like its traditional flat-bread baked on a traditional dome-shaped, cast iron grill. Also, all of the cold appetizers (hummus, labneh, baba ghanouj, etc) are delicious — I think I enjoyed everything on the menu during my last visit.

Get it Farm Fresh

And finally, perhaps my favorite food secret in Los Angeles, the 18th Street Farmer’s Market, which happens every Thursday from 2:30-7:30PM. Local growers, bakers, and caterers offer an abundance of delicious. However, the reason why I truly love this weekly event is for the papusas. Papusas are the official El Salvadoran must-have food and the best I have had is by Ana. I have been practicing Spanish and enjoying her homemade papusas for several years now and they are the best in the city.

And all of these restaurant options are in Los Angeles and tend to be budget, aesthetically meh but with fantastic food. The only problem is that Los Angeles sprawls across a huge chunk of land. So hoofing it is not an option for visitors looking enjoy a day of tasting. However, touring (renting a car) is the best way to explore Los Angeles. FYI, Enterprise is an excellent choice for getting around in the City of Angels, and Enterprise now rents cars in Europe and this summer save 10% off car rentals. Bon appetite wherever in the world you go!

Enterprise Rent-a-car are advertisers but they did not have any input into this post

Author: Devin Galaudet

Before being Editor-in-Chief of In The Know Traveler and In The Know Traveler USA, Devin has had stints in antiques, construction, film and as a professional card player. Devin Galaudet has now found his niche combining his passion for travel and writing. Devin still freelances for a popular trade publication and honors this path as a labor of love. When he is not writing Devin enjoys his pixie-like thirteen-year-old daughter and reading confusing esoteric books. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

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  1. So cool. I’m nuts about farmer’s market lunches when on the road – great tip!

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  2. Thanks Eileen,

    Visiting farmer’s markets is also a nice way to support local growers and communities.

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  3. Great tips. Thanks for sharing it

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