Food

50 places to eat for $5 or less

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Dining out for $5 or less may seem like a fantasy, but Southern California has much to offer for those on a tight budget. For affordable Vietnamese fare, for example, venture to Garden Grove or Westminster. Or look to food trucks for unique, inexpensive eats. Even some pricier restaurants offer a selection of cheap eats during happy hours.

Our list covers a wide range of tastes. We've highlighted some items for you to try, but many of these eateries offer a variety of choices priced $5 or less.

LATIN AMERICAN

Chicken gumbo soup with corn bread from Cha Cha Chicken

Neighborhood: Santa Monica

Type: Caribbean

1906 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica

(310) 581-1684, chachachicken.com

Open 11 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9:20 p.m. Sunday.

$3.50

Cha Cha Chicken is a small, colorful beach shack in Santa Monica with countless loyal fans of its Jamaican jerk-rubbed Cha Cha Chicken and coconut fried chicken, but the love doesn't stop there. This Caribbean, Latin fusion restaurant offers a Spanish style chicken gumbo soup with a fresh corn bread muffin for a light, flavorful meal under $5.

—JH

La Arca

Neighborhood: Highland Park

Type: Salvadoran

5570 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles

(323) 340-8528

Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$1.99

This Salvadoran restaurant with a "Happy Days"-feel has 10 different types of pupusas (stuffed corn tortillas) for about $2. They're sizable, so two should fill you up. Varieties include cheese with pork, chicken, cactus, beans or squash. Other items for $5 or less include tamales ($1.90), empanadas (3 for $4) and shrimp tostada ($4.99).

—JL

Tropicana Bakery & Cuban Café

Neighborhood: Downey

Type: Cuban, bakery

10218 Paramount Blvd., Downey

(562) 806-8343, tropicanabakeryandcubancafe.com

Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

$1.65

Tropicana Bakery opened in 1999 and is owned and operated by the Madrazo family. Melvyn Madrazo Sr., patriarch of the family, received inspiration for the bakery from his childhood in Cuba, where he watched his father bake Cuban bread and pastries. The bakery sells a number of pastries, sides and soups for $5 or less. For $1.65, you can get an empanada. For $1.19, you can get a Cuban potato ball (mashed potatoes filled with ground beef). $4.99 buys a bowl of albondigas soup (meatballs, rice and vegetables).

—JL

Cubano sandwich from Porto's bakery

Neighborhood: Glendale

Type: Cuban, bakery

315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 956-5996‎, portosbakery.com

Open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

$4.85

The bakery may be known best for its sweet treats and long lines, but it's also a go-to place for a traditional Cubano sandwich. This menu favorite comes with slow roasted pork, topped with salty ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. Everything is piled high on a crispy Cuban bread roll, with a hefty dose of special butter, mustard and mayonnaise-based creamy spread.

—JH

Los Cinco Puntos

Neighborhood: Boyle Heights

Type: Mexican

3300 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles

(323) 261-4084

$1.25

Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Wednesday.

Los Cinco Puntos is part meat market, part deli and part convenience store. You can order a few pounds of prepared meat or a taco (an asada taco is $1.25). Their tortillas, which you can order by the dozen, are made by hand on a large black stove right behind the counter. Tamales and tortas are about $2.

—JL

Campos Famous Burritos

Neighborhood: Culver City

Type: Mexican

10352 Venice Blvd., Culver City (other locations in Santa Monica and Culver City)

(310) 836-2680, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Campos-Famous-Burritos/292986670516

Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$1

You can attempt to stuff yourself with 10 mini tacos for $10 at Campos, but you're probably better off splitting the taco deal with a friend (conveniently bringing the price to $5 apiece). They also dish out burritos, combination plates and many other meals that hover around or fall below $5.

—MR

My Taco

Neighborhood: Highland Park

Type: Mexican

6300 York Blvd., Suite 4, Los Angeles

(323) 256-2698, my-taco.com

Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4.75

If you're craving meat, try My Taco's all-meat burrito ($4.75 for a small). If you're craving starch, try the potato taco, which is a hard shell stuffed with mashed potatoes ($1.70). Most of their tacos, burritos, taquitos and quesadillas are also priced for less than $5.

—JL

El Huarachito Restaurant

Neighborhood: Lincoln Heights

Type: Mexican

3010 1/2 N. Broadway, Los Angeles

(323) 223-0476

Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4.99

Inexpensive Mexican restaurants line North Broadway in Lincoln Heights, but El Huarachito Restaurant is one of the area's more quaint eateries. Its colorful interior is decorated with Mexican hats, rugs and paintings. Its broad menu includes seafood dishes, breakfast items and several specialties, but stay under $5 by ordering a taco ($1.25), torta ($4.99) or burrito (most are $4.99).

—JL

Breakfast burrito from Frank's restaurant

Neighborhood: Miracle Mile

Type: Mexican

363 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles

(323) 655-5277

Open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

$4.95

The breakfast burrito at Frank's is a must-have as a hangover cure or for any time you are in need of a burrito (they serve it all day). It's filled with melted cheese, potatoes, scrambled eggs and your choice of sausage or bacon. The burrito comes with homemade chips and red or green salsa. The green salsa offers a mighty kick and a welcome tang.

—JH

Pastor taco from Tacos Leo truck

Neighborhood: Los Angeles

Type: Mexican

Parking lot of the 76 gas station on the northwest corner of Venice Boulevard and La Brea Avenue

Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

$1

On a bustling Friday night a quiet man making the al pastor sets up the spit of glistening meat outside his truck. After an order is placed, he quickly wields his large knife, shaving off chunks of meat into a warm corn tortilla. Then, with lightning speed he tops the taco with a chunk of pineapple that he shaves from atop the spit. After the show, you can top the taco with a choice of salsa and radishes from the complimentary condiment bar.

—JH

Tacos Chapilita

Neighborhood: Lincoln Heights

Type: Mexican

2929 1/2 N. Broadway, Los Angeles

(323) 222-4751

Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$3.99

A few years ago, you could get four tacos and a can of soda here for $4.99. The same special now costs a buck less. Maybe someone forgot to tell them you're supposed to raise prices over the years. One taco goes for 99 cents. They're a little small, so think of them as taco sliders.

—JL

Tamales from Guisados

Neighborhood: Boyle Heights

Type: Mexican

2100 E. Cesar Chavez Ave., Los Angeles

(323) 264-7201

Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5p.m. Sunday.

$1.50

At a bustling corner in Boyle Heights, the restaurant serves up tacos and tamales with its namesake filling: guisados (stewed and simmered meats). The restaurant sometimes runs out of items on the chalkboard menu around mid afternoon so plan on going early. The tamales are stuffed with a variety of the guisados, but the mole poblano with chicken in a deep, sweet spicy mole sauce is a must try. For a sweeter treat, try the shredded coconut and pineapple tamale.

—JH

El Ranchero

Neighborhood: Alhambra

Type: Mexican

511 S. Garfield Ave., Alhambra

(626) 281-3452

Special available 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday.

$.50

Alhambra, a haven for inexpensive Chinese food, is not quite known for Mexican, but you'll be hard-pressed to find cheaper tacos elsewhere. El Ranchero's tacos are on the small side, so you may need four or five to fill up, but fortunately, you can get 10 for $5. Options include chicken, beef or pork.

—JL

MIDDLE EASTERN

Shish kebab sandwich from Cafe Bravo

Neighborhood: Glendale

Type: Middle Eastern

1135 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale

(818) 500-4005, http://www.bravokabob.com

Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

$5

Both the Glendale and Silver Lake locations of this casual cafe are frequently busy with patrons looking for traditional Middle Eastern fare. Popular items include the hot kebab sandwiches. For $5 you can get a chicken kebab, beef lule kebab (ground beef) or chicken lule kebab (ground chicken) sandwich served with cilantro, tomatoes and garlic sauce on the restaurant's fresh baked Armenian bread (soft, chewy roll).

—JH

Rotisserie chicken from Kosher Chapa Grill

Neighborhood: Sherman Oaks

Type: Israeli

14845 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks

(818) 782-8995, http://www.chapagrill.net/

Open 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

$4.90

Tucked away in the San Fernando Valley, Chapa Grill is a small restaurant serving budget-friendly kosher, Israeli-inspired food. For less than $5, you can get 3 pieces of their golden, juicy rotisserie chicken, pita bread and tangy garlic sauce.

—JH

Halluomi pita wrap from Shanto's bakery

Neighborhood: La Crescenta

Type: Middle Eastern

3747 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta

(818) 330-9835, shantosbakery.com/

Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

$3.49

The pita wraps at Shanto's are fresh, satisfying and definitely budget-friendly. The Halluomi pita wrap is filled with golden grilled halloumi cheese, (which the restaurant describes as a mild goat and sheep milk cheese similar in texture to mozzarella) fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and mint. The wraps make for the perfect snack or a light lunch on the go.

—JH

Black Bean Wowshi from Bella Pita

Neighborhood: Westwood

Type: Middle Eastern

960 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles

(310) 475-4070, bellapita.com

Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

$4.89

This small, no-frills Middle Eastern restaurant is a favorite among hungry Bruins on a budget. The Black Bean Wowshi features black beans, onions and spices stuffed into pita bread and then baked. Top with vegetables from the complimentary condiment bar for a filling meal on the go.

—JH

ASIAN

Noodle soup from Wat Dong Moon Lek restaurant

Neighborhood: Thai Town

Type: Thai

4356 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles

(323) 666-5993 http://www.watdongmoonlek.com

Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$3.99

Located in a Silver Lake shopping center, Wat Dong Moon is a small joint with chalk drawings of celebrities on the walls. The food is traditional Thai cuisine; the star dishes are the noodle soups. For less than $5 you can get a small bowl of either the beef or pork wat dong moon lek noodle soup with your choice of noodles, bean sprouts, scallions and either braised pork or beef. The soup broth is rich in flavor and definitely slurp-worthy.

—JH

Vegan crispy nuggets from Charm Vegan restaurant

Neighborhood: South Pasadena

Type: Vegan Thai

711 No. K Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 441-2484, charmvegan.com

Open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

$4.95

Eating vegan on a budget can be difficult, with restaurants often charging extra for specialty ingredients and meat substitutes, but not at Charm Vegan. Their crispy nuggets are tender pieces of soy "chicken" fried to a golden brown and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

—JH

Phnom Penh Noodle Restaurant

Neighborhood: Long Beach

Type: Cambodian

1644 Cherry Ave., Long Beach

(562) 433-0032

Open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday.

$5

On the outside, Phnom Penh looks like a house. On the inside, it looks like your Asian mom's kitchen. In short, this isn't a typical restaurant. The Spartan menu consists of noodle soups (beef and meatball, seafood, Phnom Penh and beef stew), rice porridge soups (chicken, pork and fish) and stir-fried noodles. If you want to sample soups, buy a child-size serving ($3.50). Their regular serving ($5) is enough for a meal.

—JL

Mini ramen bowl from Shin Sen Gumi

Neighborhood: Little Tokyo

Type: Japanese

132 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles

(213) 687-7108, http://www.shinsengumigroup.com

Open 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4.75

Prepare for a loud greeting and a meal filled with call-outs from the staff as they respectfully greet and thank each patron. At Shin Sen Gumi in Little Tokyo (the restaurant has other locations that specialize in other items such as yakitori), ramen is king, and the restaurant lets you dress yours up any way you like. The mini ramen bowl is satisfying and just the right size for lunch. Choose your ramen broth, the hardness of your noodles, and how strong you want your soup base. The traditional mini hakata ramen comes topped with green onions, pickled ginger and slices of barbecue pork.

—JH

Jazz fries from Fukuburger

Neighborhood: Hollywood

Type: Japanese fusion

1634 Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles

(323) 464-3858, fukuburger.com

Open 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4

The Fukuburger food truck that originated in Las Vegas opened its first brick and mortar store in Hollywood. The menu includes Fukuburger's signature burgers and an order of fries that will leave you licking your fingers and craving more. The "jazz fries" are crispy garlic fries topped off with a rich brown gravy and the restaurant's signature "crack sauce" (a mysterious pink concoction that is the perfect combination of spicy, sweet and savory.)

—JH

Spicy lobster hand roll from Go Go Sushi

Neighborhood: Pasadena

Type: Japanese

2269 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 585-9990, http://www.gogosushipasadena.com

Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

$2.50

Go Go sushi restaurant is tucked into the corner of a small shopping center in Pasadena. The small restaurant features a revolving sushi bar and a couple of tables and a friendly staff. Most of the classic rolls on the menu are under $5, but the star is the spicy lobster hand roll. Chunks of sweet lobster are covered in tangy spicy mayo, then wrapped with cool cucumber slices in either traditional nori or soy paper.

—JH

Kogi Kimchi quesadilla from the Kogi truck

Neighborhood: Varies

Type: Korean

Location varies

(323) 315-0256, kogibbq.com

$5

Despite the other food trucks vying for a spot on Abbot Kinney Boulevard on most weekend nights, long lines are standards at this Korean fusion truck. It may be hard to imagine how pickled, fermented cabbage, cheddar cheese and a tortilla can go together, but it works. The spicy cabbage is covered in gooey melty cheese and encased in a crispy tortilla shell topped with chili sauce and toasted sesame seeds.

—JH

Roti Bakar from Simpang Asia restaurant and grocery store

Neighborhood: West Los Angeles

Type: Indonesian

10433 National Blvd. No. 2, West Los Angeles

(310) 815-9075, http://www.simpangasia.com

Open 11 a.m. to 12 am. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

$3.25

Simpang Asia offers items such as Roti Bakar, a sweet dish of traditional Indonesian grilled cheese bread served with condensed milk and chocolate for $3.25. Adjacent to the cafe is a store that sells Indonesian snacks and ingredients.

—JH

Old Country Café

Neighborhood: Alhambra

Type: Taiwanese

2 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 284-4610

Open 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

$3.50

This cozy mom and pop spot doubles as a bookshop. Eat inside the restaurant or amid the Chinese comic books and magazines in the adjacent room. Most of the dishes hover under the $5 mark. For $3.95, you get a small bowl of rice, mince meat, egg and vegetables.

—JL

Kang Kang Food Court

Neighborhood: Alhambra

Type: Taiwanese, Chinese

27 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra (other locations in Monterey Park and Temple City)

(626) 308-3898

Open 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4.50

There's a cafeteria-vibe to this place, but their offerings rise above fast food. Keep the bill below $5 by ordering from pre-made selections. Two items with soup and rice cost $4.50 ($3.50 for one item). Kang Kang also offers a wider menu with offerings from around China, and a few of those items are priced less than $5, including a fried pork chop ($4.28), fried chicken thigh ($4.28) and Chinese pie ($4.39).

—JL

Family Pastry

Neighborhood: Chinatown

Type: Chinese

715 N. Spring St., Los Angeles

(213) 622-5255

Open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$.90

If you want dim sum without the fanfare, go here. You'll find the same items for less than half of the price of typical dim sum restaurants. The majority cost under $1. They have staples including shumai, buns and tarts. Mornings here are busy, so be prepared to stand your ground against elderly Chinese men and women for a turn at the counter.

—JL

Banh Mi Che Cali

Neighborhood: San Gabriel

Type: Vietnamese

135 San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel (other locations in Alhambra, Rosemead, Monterey Park, Westminster and Garden Grove)

(626) 286-8728

Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$2.25

For $2.25, you can get a foot-long sandwich with chicken, barbecue pork, beef or luncheon meat. For another $2, you can get two milk teas with tapioca pearls (the tea is $2 each, but they're buy one, get one free). Speaking of free, some of the sandwiches are buy two get one free.

—JL

Nha Hang $1.99

Neighborhood: Westminster

Type: Vietnamese

7971 Westminster Blvd., Westminster (other locations in Fountain Valley and Garden Grove)

(714) 893-8364

Open 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Sunday.

$3.95

At one point, this restaurant was completely true to its name, but the price of its signature dish, half a Cornish game hen with fried rice and pickled cabbage, has been steadily rising through the years. Once $1.99, it now costs $3.95. That's almost double its original price, but it's still a bargain. A few dishes still cost $1.99. Spend wisely at this place, though. You get dinged $1 for water (no free tap here), $.75 for a take away container and $.25 for extra chicken sauce.

—JL

Buu Dien

Neighborhood: Chinatown

Type: Vietnamese

642 N. Broadway, Los Angeles

(213) 617-8355

Open 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$2.50

This small sandwich shop in Chinatown has kept its doors open through the years while similar shops nearby have closed. Since the 1990s, their prices haven't changed much either. For less than $3, you can still get sandwiches with either cold cuts, chicken, beef or pork. Spring rolls are $2 for two. The restaurant recently added more tables and chairs and expanded its menu to include two popular Vietnamese soups, pho and bun bo Hue (for slightly more than $5).

—JL

Pho Quang Trung 2

Neighborhood: Westminster

Type: Vietnamese

9211 Bolsa Ave. Suite 101-103, Westminster (other location in Garden Grove)

(714) 891-2800, phoquangtrung.com

Open 8:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4.70

At Pho Quang Trung 2, you can get 13 types of pho for under $5. Unless you order it plain, pho for this price is a rarity these days. Granted, you have to order the small bowl, but this small is filling and comparable to a standard serving at most Vietnamese restaurants. Options under $5 include pho with oxtail, beef balls, chicken or rare steak.

—JL

Banh Mi My Tho

Neighborhood: Alhambra

Type: Vietnamese

304 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 289-4160, www.banhmimytho.com

Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday.

$4

Besides its barbecue items, everything (nearly 50 items) at this small eatery is priced at $4.50 or less. Sandwiches hover around $2.75. Most of the noodle or rice combinations are $4. For instance, one $4 combination comes with rice, charbroiled chicken, salad and egg rolls, more than enough for a meal. Banh Mi My Tho doesn't have tables — it's takeout.

—JL

Van Restaurant

Neighborhood: Garden Grove

Type: Vietnamese

14122 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove

(714) 530-6858

Open 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday. Closed Wednesday.

$4.95

This restaurant serves food from across Vietnam, including staples such as pho and broken rice, though these dishes will cost you slightly more than $5. Fortunately, the more intriguing items on its menu hover under $5, including banh khot (small, crispy rice pancakes topped with shrimp, $4.95) and banh bot loc (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings, $4.95). Their banh xeo (savory crepe stuffed with shrimp and pork) is filling and costs $4.95.

—JL

SOUTH ASIAN

Indian food plate lunch or dinner from All Indian Sweets & Snacks

Neighborhood: South Bay

Type: Indian

20916 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance

(310) 370-5156, http://www.indiasnacknsweet.com

Open 11:20 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$3.99 for lunch, $4.99 for dinner

This Indian market sells fresh produce, spices and almost anything else you'll need for the makings of a traditional Indian meal. If you're not in the mood to make your own masala, the market features a fresh meal section where for lunch, you can grab a plate and fill up with any three vegetable dishes such as the saag paneer, Chana masala or yellow dal and chapati (whole wheat nan). For dinner, add some samosas and gulab jamun (Indian milk ball dessert) for dessert.

—JH

Aladin Sweets & Market

Neighborhood: Koreatown

Type: Bengali

139 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles

(213) 382-9592, http://www.aladinla.com

Open 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$3.99

This inexpensive restaurant and market serves food from the Bengal region of India and Bangladesh. Their food is halal (prepared in accordance with Islamic law), so it's made from scratch. Except for one item, everything on its 48-item menu costs $3.99 or less. Curries range from $2.99 to $3.99. Some kebab dishes are a buck. Portions are a little small, so you may need a few items for a meal.

—JL

EUROPEAN

White spinach slice from Richie Palmer's Pizzeria

Neighborhood: Glendale

Type: Italian

658 Americana Way, Glendale

(818) 240-4440, richiepalmerspizza.com

Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

$4.12

A single slice of pizza may not seem like much, but at Richie Palmer's Pizzeria stand at the Americana, the slices are beyond satisfying. You could always go for the plain cheese or pepperoni classics, but Richie Palmer's makes a great white spinach slice. The pizza features a thin New York-style crust, a gooey white Italian cheese blend and a hefty dose of ribbons of spinach.

—JH

Poor Boy sandwich from Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery

Neighborhood: Santa Monica

Type: Italian, deli

1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica

(310) 395-8279, http://www.baycitiesitaliandeli.com

Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

$4.85

Bay Cities has been a Los Angeles staple since 1925. Expect to take a number and wait in line. This place is packed every day its open. One of the best sandwiches on the menu is the Poor Boy with bologna, cotto salami, Swiss cheese and the works (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing and hot or mild peppers) all on one of Bay City's fresh rolls.

—JH

Folliero's Italian Food & Pizza

Neighborhood: Highland Park

Type: Italian

5566 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles

(323) 254-0505, (323) 254-0505, http://www.follieros.com

Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

$4.95

This Highland Park restaurant has been in business since 1968 and serves home-style Italian food. For $5, you can get anyone of its seven sandwiches, including pastrami, meatball, sausage and Italian cold cuts. The 10-inch cheese pizza is $4.95. Most of the pastas and other pizzas are also inexpensive, but they'll set you back about $6.

—JL

Spanakopita from Papa Cristo's Greek restaurant and market

Neighborhood: West of downtown Los Angeles

Type: Greek

2771 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles

(323) 737-2970, http://www.papacristos.com

Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

$1.99

Papa Cristo's has been a fixture in the Los Angeles dining scene since its opening in 1948. You can still frequently find Papa Cristo himself behind the counter taking orders. A traditional menu favorite is the spanakopita: light and crispy pockets of phyllo dough stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. One spanakopita is enough for a hearty snack; two make a fine-sized meal.

—JH

Large Greek salad from Mediterranean Café

Neighborhood: Pasadena

Type: Greek

Where: 273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844, http://www.kokosmediterraneancafe.com

Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3p.m. Saturday.

$5

Regardless of the time of day, there is always a line out the door at Mediterranean Cafe. One of the most popular dishes on the menu, the classic Greek salad, happens to be one of the most affordable as well. For $5 you get a large salad with fresh romaine, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, olives and lemon vinaigrette; all with a side of pita bread.

—JH

AMERICAN

Lanza Brothers Market

Neighborhood: Lincoln Heights

Type: American

1803 N. Main St., Los Angeles

Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

$5

Lanza Brothers Market in Lincoln Heights recalls a time long past. The market's neighborhood has seen better days, but after 85 years, you can still depend on this place for a hearty sandwich. Look past its liquor-store facade, and you'll find a wide range of sandwiches for $5 or less (16 out of 22 on its menu).

—JL

Portillo's

Neighborhood: Buena Park

Type: American

8390 La Palma Ave, Buena Park (other location in Moreno Valley)

(714) 220-6400, http://www.portillos.com/portillos

Open 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

$2.79

The list wouldn't be complete without a Chicago transplant's dream: Portillo's. With $5 in your pocket, you can walk in and get a couple of Vienna Beef Chicago dogs or an Italian beef sandwich. They also have a chocolate cake shake that's as good as it sounds.

—MR

Schodorf's Luncheonette

Neighborhood: Highland Park

Type: American

5051 York Blvd., Los Angeles

(323) 258-8040, http://www.schodorfs.com

Open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.

$4.95

This cozy eatery specializing in salads and sandwiches opened in Highland Park last February. Its owners, Highland Park locals, also run Cafe del Leche across the street. Half salads cost less than $5, and the portions are generous. One should satisfy you if you're not starving. Most of its sandwiches, which are served on a baguette or ciabatta bread, are filling too, and cost less than $5. Schodorf's also serves soup ($3.50 for small and $4.50 for large).

—JL

Fried chicken meal at Honey's Kettle chicken

Neighborhood: Culver City

Type: Southern

9537 Culver Blvd. Culver City

(310) 202-5453, honeyskettle.com

Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

or

2600 East Alondra Blvd., Compton

(310) 638-7871

Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

$3.75

This soul food restaurant is a neighborhood favorite in both locations. Ask patrons about Roscoe's and the response is typically "Roscoe's who?" As soon as you walk through the doors you can smell the aroma of freshly baked biscuits and pies. If you're in need of a fried chicken fix, you can get a golden brown, crispy chicken breast and a fluffy biscuit for $3.75. Whatever you do, don't forget the vinegar hot sauce.

—JH

Nine-inch stretch chili dog from Pink's Hot Dogs

Neighborhood: Los Angeles

Type: American

709 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles

(323) 931-4223, http://www.pinkshollywood.com/

Open 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

$3.90

It's a household name and an L.A. legend for a reason. So don't be discouraged if you see a line that wraps around and back past the parking lot — it's worth the wait. There are some pretty funky dogs on the menu, but you can't beat the classic chili dog. Sink your teeth into the nine-inch snappy stretch dog, smothered in Pink's famous tangy chili, cheese and onions.

—JH

HAPPY HOURS

Sliders from Nick & Stef's steakhouse

Neighborhood: Downtown Los Angeles

Type: Steakhouse

330 S. Hope St., Los Angeles

Open 3 to 9:30 p.m

(213) 680-0330, http://www.patinagroup.com/restaurant.php?restaurants_id=6

$2

Don't let the white tablecloths and fancy décor fool you. You can easily walk into Nick & Stef's with $5 and come away full, or at least temporarily satisfied. The happy hour (3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) includes sliders, and each mini burger includes a perfectly cooked, juicy patty, topped with Bibb lettuce, a slice of tomato and sharp, nutty, melted cheese on a buttered brioche bun.

—JH

Inside-out albacore roll from Chaya downtown

Neighborhood: Downtown Los Angeles

Type: Japanese

525 S. Flower St., Los Angeles

(213) 236-9577, http://www.thechaya.com/downtownLosAngeles/

Open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

$5

Chaya downtown features an excellent happy hour, offering a selection of special appetizer items as well as signature sushi and cocktails for a great price. From the sushi menu, get the inside out albacore roll with fresh albacore, cold cucumber, avocado and chives. Chaya tops the roll with a drizzle of sticky eel sauce for a sweet finish.

—JH

St. Felix

Neighborhood: West Hollywood

Type: American

Happy hour, 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday

8945 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

(310) 275-4428, saintfelix.net/

$5

Food in West Hollywood often doesn't come cheap, so happy hours are your best bet for affordable dining. From 5 to 8 p.m., you can get a slider (Ahi or Kobe beef) with sweet potato fries for $5. Other $5 items on the happy hour menu include Moroccan chicken cups (two), Cubano tacos (two) and a small chopped salad. Drinks are half-off during happy hour.

—JL

Cafe La Boheme

Neighborhood: West Hollywood

Type: American

Happy hour, 5 to 7:30 p.m. every day

8400 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

(323) 848-2360, boheme.globaldiningca.com/

$5

During happy hour at La Boheme, appetizers (called "fun bites") and sandwiches are half-off. For $5 or less, you can get items such as crispy fried calamari ($5), vegetable spring rolls ($4.50), spicy Boheme wings ($4.50) or a veggie grilled sandwich ($5). For happy hour prices, dine in the lounge.

—JL

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