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.
Banh Mi My Tho
304 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
(626) 289-4160, www.banhmimytho.com
Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday.
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.
Neighborhood: Garden Grove
14122 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove
Open 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday. Closed Wednesday.
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.
Indian food plate lunch or dinner from All Indian Sweets & Snacks
Neighborhood: South Bay
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.
Aladin Sweets & Market
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.
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.
White spinach slice from Richie Palmer's Pizzeria
658 Americana Way, Glendale
(818) 240-4440, richiepalmerspizza.com
Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
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.
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.
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.
Folliero's Italian Food & Pizza
Neighborhood: Highland Park
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.
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.
Spanakopita from Papa Cristo's Greek restaurant and market
Neighborhood: West of downtown Los Angeles
2771 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles
(323) 737-2970, http://www.papacristos.com