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There’s no free lunch (or dinner). That’s usually true, but these value meals are as close as we’re going to get. We’ve rounded up everything, from nouvelle Cali cuisine (brown rice and pesto) to classic Italian (pasta with red sauce) to Thai comfort food (Pho? Sure). What are you waiting for? Beat traffic and get there now.

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LA cheap eats list 1

Sqirl: Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl ($8.25)

This unlikely dish turned a little hole-in-the-wall into a must-visit for foodies touring L.A. It’s the most delish hot mess you’ll ever eat: brown rice flavored with sorrel pesto—not your usual pesto, since it’s nut-free and gets its flavor from the tangy, herbal taste of sorrel. It’s also got preserved lemon and lacto-fermented hot sauce all set off by a ribboned watermelon radish and a scoop of sheep’s-milk feta cheese. Oh, and a poached egg on top that makes the whole thing creamy.

720 Virgil Ave., #4; 323-284-8147 or

LA cheap eats list 2

HiHo: Cheeseburger & Fries ($9.75)

True, L.A. is the land of great burgers. But at this newly opened Santa Monica spot, you’re getting a fancified version: two patties of grass-fed Wagyu beef, cheddar, onion jam, lettuce and tomatoes, all of which is served alongside twice-fried potatoes.

1320 Second St. Ste. B, Santa Monica; 310-469-7250 or

LA cheap eats list 3

Holbox: Octopus Tacos ($10)

Clean seafood served without fuss: At this new order-at-the-counter joint, you’re smart to order the pair of wood-grilled octopus tacos served on homemade corn tortillas with a squid-ink intensive onion puree. 

3655 S. Grand Ave.; 213-986-9972 or

LA cheap eats list 4

BäcoShop: Grilled Steak Baco ($9.50)

Award-winning chef Josef Centeno opens a sandwich joint in Culver City devoted to his innovation, the “baco”: a flatbread into which he rolls all manner of proteins and fixins like a taco. So treat yourself to one filled with coffee-rubbed grilled steak, mild red chiles, almonds, charred scallions and crema.

9552 Washington Ave., Culver City; 424-258-6301 or

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Eggslut: Fairfax Egg Sandwich ($7)

You might wait in line at this stand in Grand Central Market (there are locations in Venice and Glendale now, too) for over an hour on weekends. That’s because everyone wants to feast on possibly the world’s best egg sandwich, which is what we’re calling the Fairfax. It has cage-free, über-fluffy scrambled eggs; chives; caramelized onions; cheddar cheese; and Sriracha mayo served on a warm brioche bun.

In Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Stall D1; 213-625-0292 or

LA cheap eats list 6

Dough Box Pizza and Bread: The Alameda ($10)

You’re having pizza, damn it, so you may as well spring for deep-dish (relatively hard to come by in this land of carb phobia). And eat a whole pie while you’re at it: You have your choice of 14 varieties of cheesey, saucy six-inch pies here, all for $10. (We love the mozzarella, house-made ricotta, fresh spinach and garlic pie, named The Alameda, the most.)

2734 N. Eastern Ave.; 323-346-6811 or

LA cheap eats list 7

Dune: The Organic Green Herb Falafel ($9.50)

This hip little Atwater Village storefront turns out next-level falafels thanks to the care it puts into every element: the house-made flatbread, creamy hummus, house-made pickles, zesty marinated cabbage and onions, tahini sauce and crispy shoestring potatoes. The Organic Green Herb Falafel is a handful of a sandwich that will spoil every other dried, bland street cart falafel for you forever.

3143 Glendale Blvd.; 323-486-7073 or

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Pho Thai Town: Rare Steak Pho ($4)

Angelenos’ favorite wellness broth isn’t chicken noodle soup but pho, with its fragrant steam of shredded Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapeño and a squirt of lime. Here it’s priced rock-bottom—the small goes for $4—and swimming with rare beef. Your wallet will be feeling as healthy as you will.

5136 Hollywood Blvd.,Hollywood; 323-667-0934

LA cheap eats list 9

Kogi Taqueria: Short Rib Tacos ($2.50 each)

These meaty and flavorful little flavor bombs are the inventive and rich cornerstone from which chef Roy Choi built his current empire of fast-fusion deliciousness. The special sauce? Pungent kimchi. Still savory after all these years.

3500 Overland Ave., #100; 424-326-3031 or

LA cheap eats list 10

Andre’s Italian: Small Half-and-Half Plate ($6.75)

You want a light meal? Go somewhere else. You want an old-school (est. 1963) Italian meal that oozes authenticity (and red sauce)? Come to Andre’s. You can make an entire meal out of the small half-and-half (spaghetti and ravioli) plate. It’s a great place for kids, because what tyke doesn’t quiet down with a belly full of pasta?

6332 W. Third St.; 323-935-1246 or

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