Chaya's $2 skewers

Dining Out: 6 Foodie Finds Under $5

I love a fine fancy meal as much as the next person, but I have a hard time dropping $150 on a meal sometimes no matter how fabulous it is. Fortunately, being on a budget in LA doesn’t mean a life of bad fast food. I recently spilled the beans on some of my favorite cheap eats to the ladies at Broke Girl’s Guide, a free daily email that helps us live large while spending small.

25-Cent Burgers @ Rockefeller, Hermosa Beach
Every Monday in August from 5pm-10pm, this beachside gastropub is where you can get their new American hamburger for 25 cents! All you have to do is buy a drink. But be forewarned: The owner told me the line was out the door on opening night.

$1.50 Fish Taco @ Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, Los Feliz
This place lives up to its name with some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. They’re fried to order then topped with cabbage and your choice of salsa (I like the radish relish), cream and a squeeze of lime. It tastes even better with a glass of the $1 homemade horchata (a sweet milky Mexican rice drink). Order a few tacos and your entire meal will still cost less than a gallon of gas.

$1.95 Cream Puff @ Beard Papa’s – Multiple Locations
I’m a sucker for sweets. Aside from my penchant for dainty little (overpriced) French macaroons, I find it hard to resist Beard Papa’s absurdly delicious, giant-by-comparison cream puffs. What I love about them: Flaky outer crust and all-natural, not-too-sweet custard and cream filling. The original vanilla is great, but do yourself a favor and go when they have strawberry. OMG the fluffy puree filled with real pieces of strawberry is just divine. Also a must: The eclairs. Yum!!!

$2 Skewers @ Chaya Downtown, LA
Perhaps the best downtown summer deal right now is Chaya’s $2 skewers. They’ve turned the lovely outdoor patio into a Japanese beer garden with a yakitori grill and some hard-to-find Japanese brews. Offered Monday-Friday 5pm-close, the $2 skewers include bacon-wrapped dates, chicken (my fave), beef tongue (no thanks), short rib (my fiancé loves these), shrimp, shitake or shishito peppers ($1!). You can also order off the all-night happy hour menu. And don’t forget the four hours of free parking.

$2 Sushi @ Fat Fish – Koreatown
Okay, I know what you’re thinking because I thought it first. Cheap sushi = inevitable food poisoning. But had I not been to this K-town joint myself, I wouldn’t have believed that you could get such a tasty raw deal. Every day from 10:30am-3pm and 7pm-11pm everything on the conveyor belt is just $2. (Don’t worry—the food comes out covered.) That means spicy tuna on crispy rice, salmon nigiri, California rolls, even dessert. FYI: If you really want the freshest pick of the lot, sit near the kitchen where each item is prepared beforehand.

$3.50 Ban Ban Ji @ Asahi Ramen, West LA
Sawtelle Boulevard is full of delicious surprises and when I want to get full for less than $10, Asahi Ramen is my go-to for giant, piping hot bowls brimming with oodles of noodles that keep me fed for days. But it’s the ban ban ji–a mile-high mound of shredded, marinated chicken over a pile of julienned cucumbers–that I can’t get enough of. That and the complimentary dish of addictively spicy cucumbers. FYI, this place is cash only. Not that you’ll need a lot of it.

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