L.A.’s Most Mouth-Watering Cheap Eats

In the follow up to our wildly popular roundup of L.A.’s 10 best cheap eats, we’ve gone ahead and asked Natalie James from the blog Fashion Intel to dish on the yummiest—and most economical—eats in Los Angeles. From melting Cuban sandwiches, to must-try Chinese burritos, to the ultimate Italian sub that has lines around the block daily, we’re sharing our SoCal hit list of the most wallet-friendly and unexpectedly delicious foodie gems you need to eat now.
Natalie James blogs at Fashion Intel. Tweet her @fashionintel
1 of 10
Kyochon
Nestled in a Koreatown strip mall, this chicken mecca delivers some of the crispiest and most flavorful wings in Los Angeles (not to mention meaty, too). Although beer is no longer served at this spot, Kyochon makes for the perfect grub stop post-barhopping in downtown L.A. The honey BBQ wings are our top menu pick, but most patrons blow a gasket when they taste the soy garlic sauce. But who needs to pick one--why not try them all?
Must try: Spicy wings, if not just to test your capacity for heat.
Kyochon, 3833 West 6th Street (at South Serrano Avenue); 213-739-9292.

2 of 10
Portos
Where to begin gushing about the greatness of Portos? This family-owned Cuban hotspot serves up an insanely delish media noche for under $5, offers a wide array of traditional Cuban pastries, and did we mention the croquettes, aka heavenly, fried potato balls? Even more delightful than the fare is the price, which will barely leave a scratch on your wallet. Unless, of course, you're like us and can't leave without a to-go box.
Must Try: Ham croquettes
Portos, 315 North Brand Boulevard (at 3rd Street); 818-956-5996.
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3 of 10
Natraliart
Great Jamaican food is hard to come by in this city, especially if you have no idea what you're looking for--and don't know what you're missing out on. To ameliorate your palette depression, we offer you Natraliart, where just one glass of the non-alcoholic ginger and pineapple beer will wake your somnambulist senses. We suggest ordering up the saucy jerk chicken, or the traditional oxtail, neither of which ever disappoint. We're speaking from experience.
Must Try: Non-alcoholic ginger and pineapple beer
Natraliart, 3426 West Washington Boulevard (at 5th Avenue); 323-737-9277.

photo via Yelp.
4 of 10
Bay Cities Italian Deli
Did someone say Italian deli? Any time we find ourselves in Santa Monica, we make it a priority to stop by Bay Cities and go for the Godmother. The lines, although hellacious, don't scare us, and neither does waiting for a seat--this staple on Lincoln lives up to all its hype. After tasting this local deli's delights, you, too, will question anyone who opts for a sandwich chain over a delicious hero made with quality ingredients for under $8. Utterly mind-boggling.
Must Try: The Godmother sandwich and Happy Hippos candy at the checkout.
Bay Cities Italian Deli, 1517 Lincoln Boulevard (at Broadway); 310-395-8279.

5 of 10
Bhanu Indian Grocery & Cuisine
When we heard the owners of Veer's Groceries in Alhambra were finally opening up their own restaurant and market in San Gabriel, we literally squealed with joy. Even better, this largely unknown gem is one of the few spots you can find fresh and inexpensive Indian cuisine at any time of the day. Forget the à la carte menu, which at most places might charge you an arm and a leg, and opt for their $6.99 vegetarian combo, or $7.99 chicken combo. We promise that Bhanu's fragrant flavors will temporarily whisk you away to a curry wonderland.
Must Try: Mango Lassi
Bhanu Indian Grocery & Cuisine, 7246 Rosemead Boulevard (at Danbridge Street); 626-291-2101.

6 of 10
Auntie Em's Kitchen
Eagle Rock has been a cool pocket of Los Angeles for quite some time, but there are still so many who haven't discovered it. One of this quietly hip communities' staples is Auntie Em's, a place that reminds us of the cafe your tree-hugging, DIY-savvy friends dreamed of opening in college. Auntie Em's knows what the people want to eat. Here, you'll find delicious sandwiches on artisanal breads, freshly baked goods (try their cupcakes, asap!), and salads chock-full of bacon. This cozy little hideout devoid of pretension will make you wonder why you never moved to Chiapas to farm organic soybeans.
Must Try: Red velvet cupcake
Auntie Em’s Kitchen, 4616 Eagle Rock Boulevard (at Corliss Street); 323-255-0800.

7 of 10
101 Noodle Express
Ever heard of a Chinese burrito? That's what 101 Noodle Express' cult fanatics have unofficially named the beef roll at this foodie favorite in Alhambra. Named one of Jonathan Gold's 99 Essential Restaurants, we take pride in knowing that we live in a city full of culinary delights just a bike ride away. The refreshing cucumber salad might be one of our favorite dishes in the world, so don't pass that one up on the menu. Come with some friends and $10 and you'll no doubt be eating like royalty.
Must Try: Beef roll
101 Noodle Express, 1408 East Valley Boulevard (at North New Avenue); 626-300-8654.

Photo via christinawong.com

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8 of 10
Pita Bar & Grill
We stumbled upon this priceless discovery just down the street from Cinefamily, and as soon as the Middle Eastern watermelon agua fresca hit my tongue, we knew it was true love. This magical beverage coupled with one of the best condiment bars we've ever seen, packed with pickled cabbage, radishes, carrots and all the tahini and garlic sauce you can imagine, makes for the perfect lunch stop mid-city. Have no clue what to do for dinner? Order some shawerma and shakshuka to go. Your evening just became a lot more flavorful.
Must Try: Condiment bar and Mediterranean agua frescas
Pita Bar and Grill, 519 North Fairfax Avenue (at Rosewood Avenue); 323-653-9024.

Photo via www.quarrygirl.com.
9 of 10
El Huarache Azteca Restaurante
After spending an afternoon in Highland Park, we always make sure to stop at two local establishments; 1.) Galco's Soda Pop Shop, and 2.) El Huarache Azteca. And it certainly doesn't hurt that they are both on the same street, either. As foodies who are endlessly searching for Mexican fare that doesn't take the form of a taco or burrito (snore), we're comforted knowing we can sit down with a sandal-shaped (hence Huarache) meal topped with flavorful carne asada and queso fresco.
Must Try: Carne Asada Huarache with a Mexican Coke
El Huarache Azteca Restaurante, 5225 York Boulevard (at North Avenue 52); 323-478-9572.

Photo via exilekiss.blogspot.com
10 of 10
Al Wazir
We're aware that Zankou owns sizable chunks of real estate in locals' hearts already, but there's a spot known as Al Wazir in Hollywood that dishes some incredible rotisserie chicken--and is open till midnight. Even better, unlike its competitors, your meal comes lying on a bed of fluffy rice, and for a few dollars less. This compact and cozy restaurant is located in a little strip-mall on the corner of Gower and Hollywood, but don't let that deter you--the best culinary treasures usually are difficult to get to! It's a place where vegetarians and omnivores can coexist in harmony, all the while being treated like family by the staff. And if hey really love you, you just might get a complimentary baklava. Score!
Must Try: Half chicken plate Al Wazir, 6051 Hollywood Blvd (at North Gower); 323-856-0660.

Photo via Yelp.
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