The Best Cheap Tacos in the Bay Area
Bangladeshi: Bangla Bazar & Restaurant
Until Zam Zam Market reopens (please please please!!!), this is where we'll be going for spicy biryani and meat pies.
Belizean: Belizean Paradise
You've probably driven by the Relax Inn Motel on La Brea a million times, and maybe you even noticed it has a restaurant inside it, and maybe maybe you even thought to yourself "Who the hell eats at that place?" People who love Belizean food and don't want to drive to Gardena for it, that's who.
Canadian: Smoke's Poutinerie
If summing up an entire country's cuisine into cheese- and gravy-topped French fries is wrong, then we don't want to be right. Forget about all the gourmet versions of poutine popping up around town, and head to this Canadian chain's Hollywood location for a hangover buster like no other. Specialty toppings may not be “traditional,” but they include double-smoked bacon (!), Italian sausage (!!), and flat iron steak (!!!). So, kinda, who cares?
Chilean: Rincon Chileno
You haven't had the best empanada in LA until you've had one of the "grande" beef-, egg-, and olive-filled pies at this Hollywood takeout shop. While you're there you should probably grab one of its alfajores too, which are dulce de leche cookie sandwiches rolled in coconut... because, duh, dulce de leche cookie sandwiches rolled in coconut.
Chinese: Chengdu Taste
Take away the insane waits to get in and there's no better reason to make the trek east into San Gabriel Valley than this Sichuan restaurant. And now there's a second location to get down with some toothpick lamb and dumplings in chili oil (with a third noodle-heavy location on the way).
Cuban: La Caridad
We've got nothing against the garlic chicken at Versailles or the sandwiches and pastelitos from Porto's, but to really feel like you're in Cuba (or Miami) you need to head to this little restaurant on Sunset in Echo Park, preferably on a Wednesday or Saturday when it serves braised oxtails and morros that will have you moaning "ay papi." Or just, like, thinking it or something.
Danish: Copenhagen Pastry
The best Danish food is a danish, and the best danish can be found at this Culver City bakery. With a second branch in Pasadena, everybody is within striking distance of these flaky pastries with chocolate, custard, and almond paste.
Salvadoran: Sarita's Pupuseria
Maybe there's a better pupusa to be had in LA, but there's no better place to eat one than Grand Central Market. Plus where else are you going to be able to top your cheese- and pork-filled masa pancake with Thai papaya salad? Huh? WHERE??
English: The Pikey
If you don't know what Welsh rarebit is, this Hollywood gastropub is where you want to learn. And if you don’t like getting edumacated, don't worry: there's also outstanding fish & chips, too.
There’s basically no wrong choice on the small stretch of Fairfax that makes up Little Ethiopia, but our pick is Rosalind’s: fast, attentive service; unctuous, meat-filled gravy; and it never stops with the injera -- the spongey bread used as silverware that makes eating Ethiopian so fun.
French: Petit Trois
Snails drenched in butter and garlic? Check. Steak frites covered in creamy herb sauce? Check. The best omelette you've ever eaten? Check. An insanely tasty steak tartare? Check. Do we really need to keep checking?
Greek: Alexander's Greek Kitchen
There will always be a place in my baklava-clogged heart for Papa Cristo's, the classic Greek mess hall on Pico and Normandie. But for a real gyro, you need to head to Alexander's Greek in Vernon, where they're stacking thin slices of marinated pork shoulder onto the spit fresh every single day.
Indian: Surati Farsan Mart
If Aarti Sequeira from The Next Food Network Star says Surati Farsan Mart is the best Indian restaurant in LA, then Surati Farsan Mart is the best Indian restaurant in LA.
Indonesian: Simpang Asia
There's no better place in LA for a big pile of bakmi goreng noodles, gado-gado, or nasi rames -- the combo plate featuring a little bit of everything w/ rice.
Persian: Kabab Mahaleh
You can get kebabs, ghormeh sabzi, and Persian sandwiches at a lot of different places, but there are far fewer places for fresh baked sangak -- the surfboard sized flatbread that Kebab Mahaleh specializes in. Might as well get some kebabs and rotisserie chicken, too, while you're there.
Israeli: Hummus Bar/Hummus Bar Express
Israeli falafel is the best falafel, mostly because of their pillowy laffa bread. And this place makes the best of both. And if you go to their sit-down restaurant in Tarzana? All-you-can-eat salads!
Japanese: Aburiya Raku
You could easily replace this with your favorite sushi or ramen joint, but right now the best Japanese food in LA is happening at Aburiya Raku, the Vegas izakaya that just opened on La Cienega. Its skewers, green tea soba, fried chicken, and raw fish all taste great being washed down by tons of sake, plus there's tofu that's good enough to make you not hate tofu.
Every spot in Koreatown specializes in something, whether it's BBQ or chicken wings or noodles or pork belly. But to get it all at one table you'll need to go to Roy Choi's POT in the Line Hotel. The fancy cocktails and blaring hip-hop don't hurt either.
Forget about tacos and enchiladas. This Sinaloan place's gigantic grilled fish, ceviches, and smoked marlin tacos will impress all of your out-of-town friends, which is perfect because it's right by the airport. Have a good flight!
Peruvian: Mario's Peruvian
Ceviches and smoky rotisserie chicken is fine and all, but if you want saltado -- the Peruvian stir fry involving tomatoes, onions, and French fries -- nobody does it better than this Melrose + Vine institution. Its signature green sauce should be used with caution.
Ask your Filipino friend where to find the best pinoy food in LA and they will likely tell you "at my mom's house." But I can't imagine any of their moms cook as well as the dude behind RiceBar, the new Filipino rice counter in DTLA. Get the sweet and spicy longanisa sausage, and then thank us for not sending you to my mom. Because she’s Jewish. And probably doesn’t know what longanisa even is.
Swedish: Olson's Scandinavian Deli
When you're ready to graduate from IKEA’s meatballs, this little market on Pico has got you covered with its OWN Swedish meatballs, shrimp salad, herring, and house-made gravlax, which is served on a bagel or toasted brioche bun.
Taiwanese: Pine & Crane
Look, we’ll listen to your argument that there’s better Taiwanese food in the SGV… if you’ll have it with us, seriously, while eating Pine & Crane’s superlative dan dan noodles. Yeah. That’s what we thought.
Vietnamese: Golden Deli
You know what's better than a golden fried imperial roll from Golden Deli? A whole pile of golden fried imperial rolls from Golden Deli. Well worth the drive out to the SGV. And the long line. And the return visit.