Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood is essentially a small college town, home to UCLA and complete with budget restaurants ranging from modern, casual diners to traditional taco stands. Whether you’re living on a student budget or simply looking for cheap eats, check out these great spots to get a cheap meal in Westwood.
Courtesy of 800 Degrees
800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzeria
Affectionately referred to as ‘800’ by local UCLA students, this spot is anything but a classic pizza joint. Marked by high ceilings, white marble counter tops, and an elaborate chandelier dangling above the dining space, 800 Degrees is ideal for a quick bite with friends or an evening date. The menu features several pre-constructed pizzas, as well as the option to build your own pizza from a variety of fresh ingredients. Each pie is ready in minutes, cooked in a wood-burning oven, appropriately heated to exactly 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Try the classic Margherita or the decadent Tartufo with truffle cheese, arugula, and roasted garlic.
TLT has built its reputation by delivering gourmet fast food to Westwood locals. The restaurant began as The Lime Truck, but after winning The Great Food Truck Race, it was rewarded with a storefront on Westwood Boulevard. TLT’s daily menu features taquería dishes with a Pan-Asian twist, such as Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos and the Beef Short Rib Quesadilla. For the salad lover, TLT offers the Señor Waldorf Salad, a modern Mexican interpretation of the classic with kale and queso fresco.
Gushi offers traditional Korean cuisine as well as teriyaki dishes and udon. The portions are generous, making it perfect for students or anyone looking to get quality food at a reasonable price. Try the Kimchi Fried Rice with an egg on top or the Kalbi plate with steamed rice, kimchi, and a drink. Gushi is designed to accommodate to-go orders, but there is limited outdoor seating. Be sure to bring cash, as Gushi does not accept credit cards.
In-N-Out belongs on any list of budget eats in Los Angeles. The Westwood location is architecturally distinct from most In-N-Out locations in California, with a notably retro feel and two intertwined palm trees out front. With a simple, classic menu of hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes, In-N-Out fulfills all cravings for fast food with fresh ingredients. In-N-Out’s ‘secret menu’ is anything but, and patrons are often heard asking for ‘animal style’ fries or burgers, which include cheese, grilled onions, and special sauce. For a healthier option, In-N-Out offers ‘protein style’, a hamburger wrapped in lettuce, as well as a grilled cheese sandwich.
Bella Pita is a casual, family-owned Middle Eastern restaurant and the perfect spot to grab late night falafel, as the restaurant stays open until 2am. The menu offers fresh, made-to-order ‘Wowshis’ and pita sandwiches, as well as salads and side orders such as falafel and fried cauliflower. Each order is customizable at the salad bar, which is stocked with vegetables, garnishes, and delicious sauces. A UCLA computer science professor and his son founded Bella Pita in 2007, fulfilling their dream of bringing delicious Mediterranean food to Westwood. Bella Pita offers limited indoor seating, but most diners opt for take-out.
Fat Sal’s is a laid-back sandwich joint where college students stand at the counter while they enjoy their mouth-watering sandwiches. Perfect for late-night carb binges, Fat Sal’s menu offers sandwiches like the Fat Anthony (chicken fingers, mozzerella sticks, French fries, and marinara, on an Italiano roll) and classics like the pastrami reuben and the tuna melt. Three friends started Fat Sal’s when they moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, including Jerry Ferrara, who played Turtle on HBO’s Entourage. Fat Sal’s also has a location in Hollywood.
Tomodachi Sushi is a casual sushi bar that always impresses with its fresh, high-quality fish. The menu features nearly every roll imaginable, including baked, fresh, and tempura rolls. While Tomodachi’s prices are reasonable to begin with, it also has lunch specials. The restaurant offers sushi bar seating, providing the opportunity to converse with the friendly sushi chefs, as well as tables throughout. In addition to an extensive sushi menu, Tomodachi also offers Korean food.
With a perpetual line of patrons streaming from its doors, Diddy Riese is an iconic symbol of Westwood. College students and visitors alike line up to enjoy a few of the classic cookies or an ice cream sandwich. Chocolate chip cookies are a popular pick, as are the candy cookies with colorful M&Ms. Diddy Riese is perfect for a college budget; each cookie costs only 50 cents, and ice cream sandwiches are $2. The prices have increased slightly over the years, but remain reasonable. Cookies can also be purchased by the dozen, a classic dessert to share with friends.
Located on UCLA’s campus, this recent addition elevated the campus culinary scene. Wolfgang Puck offers healthier and tastier options than many other restaurants in Ackerman Union. Gather at Wolfgang during lunchtime to enjoy a fresh sandwich, pizza, or hearty pasta dish and wash your meal down with a drink from the bar (the only place that sells alcohol on UCLA’s campus). While it is more formal than other restaurants in the student union, Wolfgang Puck Express maintains a casual and inviting atmosphere, with lively staff and televisions. Get comfortable in a cozy booth or opt for the pleasant balcony seating.