With budget options like the much-loved In-N-Out Burger and health-conscious Everytable, there’s no need to splash the cash when eating out in LA. Explore the city’s best cheap restaurants with the help of Culture Trip’s guide.
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.
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.
Forage is a simple, stripped-down market cafe with locally sourced dishes. The farm-to-table offerings change often, ranging from organic, free-range roasted chicken to salmon belly tacos. On the budget side of things are light sandwiches, salads, and hearty sides, including mac n’ cheese and soups. Choose the build-your-own-plate option to help you stay within budget while sampling a variety of best-selling items. Insider tip: Diners can swap homegrown fruits and vegetables for restaurant credit by making an appointment to meet with the chef on Sundays.
This Los Angeles-based initiative believes “healthy food is a human right.” Their mission is to help those who don’t have access to affordable, nutritious food, foregoing sticker shock for prices that align with the average income of the neighborhood it feeds. For example, a dish in Santa Monica may cost $8, but the same meal in Compton is only $5. The menu is divided into salads, bowls and soups, including options like Jamaican jerk chicken, spaghetti squash and meatballs, and citrus pecan salads. The budget-friendly choices change with the season and what is available at local farmers markets.
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
Restaurant, Japanese, Sushi, Ramen
With a bowl of Hakata ramen going for less than seven dollars and the option of adding unlimited toppings, Shin-Sen-Gumi provides students at nearby UCLA and Mount St. Mary’s University with an affordable option among the gourmet ramen shops in the area. The toppings vary from the traditional corn and bamboo shoot options to more interesting flavors like bacon and mozzarella cheese. Because Shin-Sen-Gumi is open every day, even on holidays, it’s also a very dependable choice for those in search of a good bowl of ramen.
Reigning supreme in LA authentic taco land, King Taco is a must-try for a simple but masterful Mexican bite. Originating in Northeast LA, the fast food restaurant holds court throughout the East LA neighborhood, in eastern LA county suburbs and parts of neighboring Inland Empire. The chain’s massive following is justified by its consistent deliciousness within the tortillas and corn meal husks.