The Best Places To Have Dinner For Around $30 In Echo Park
photo credit: Jakob Layman
When you want to eat a good dinner without spending an uncomfortable amount of money on the eastside, look to Echo Park. You can get some snacks at a bar overlooking Sunset Avenue or ingest 30 to 40 olives at Tilda next to a guy wearing a tailored blue linen blazer, but fortunately, these aren’t your only options. Echo Park has an overwhelming number of spots to have a very good dinner for about $30. Whether you want pizza, tacos, or pupusas, use this guide to find the best places to eat affordably in Echo Park.
Quarter Sheets combines two of life's simplest pleasures: incredible pizza and even better dessert. They run a fierce takeout operation—as evidenced by the long lines of diners picking up pre-orders—but it’s also a great place to have a relatively affordable sit-down meal. Quarter Sheet’s dining room feels like a cross between a funky natural wine bar and an old-school pizza parlor, and you can share one of their hefty pan pies with up to three friends. No dish on the menu costs more than $30, and you should never skip their weekly rotating dessert menu.
This casual Salvadoran spot has several locations around central LA, but the one on Temple Street is the best place for pupusas in Echo Park. It's a great spot to drop in on a random weeknight when you don’t want to spend more than $10 on dinner. Make sure to try their rice flour pupusas, which take on a similar color to the corn version, but with a distinctive chewiness we love. You can get your griddle cakes individually, as part of the double pupusa combo, or our favorite option: the desayuno típico.
Drive down Sunset on any given night, and you'll see a long line forming at this casual taco stand. It’s a serious sidewalk operation complete with al pastor on a spit and a respectable salsa bar. We’re huge fans of both the smoky grilled asada and the juicy al pastor with a flick of pineapple, and no matter what you order, you can easily spend less than $10 on dinner here. Take your tacos just up the hill to Everett Park and eat on the grass with great views of the DTLA skyline.
With all the madness happening in front of El Prado right next door, newcomers might not notice Sticky Rice at first. But if you’ve lived in the area for more than a couple years, you know that this Thai spot has a fantastic secret: it’s home to the best beef panang curry in the city. The rest of the menu is still quite good, but it’s this sweet, creamy, and scientifically perfect panang we keep coming back for. So the next time you want a meal that is inexpensive, but also pushes us into a dream-like state with every bite, head to Sticky Rice.
Set up right in front of the Walgreens on Sunset Blvd, El Ruso serves some of the best Sonoran-style tacos in LA. Each one is served on a warm, handmade flour tortilla and topped with options like beef birria, smoky chopped carne asada, and spicy chicharron en salsa roja. El Ruso’s tacos range from $3.25-$5 depending on what you order, and we usually get full with an order of two (especially after adding some stewed pintos, cabbage, and diced onion to create a hearty beast of a taco). They also serve a one-of-a-kind burrito wrapped in a giant, stretchy hubcap-sized Sonoran flour tortilla that’s well worth the $14 price tag, and will absolutely sustain you for several hours.
Triple Beam’s massive slices start at $7.50, and whole pizzas—which can serve up to four people—start at $26. It might not be as cheap at Little Caesars, but it’s the most affordable place to get pies topped with roasted fennel with goat cheese or potato, sage, and truffle. People have been debating about their favorite topping here for years, but it’s actually the crust that makes the pizza at Triple Beam special. Crunchy, flaky, and cut into big squares, their Roman-style pies have inch-high edges that snap under each bite.
From chicken enchiladas to a grilled fajita bowl, the bar food at Semi-Tropic is much more substantial than most other cocktail spots in Echo Park. And since nothing on the menu costs more than $15, you can get a bite and a drink without feeling like your credit card might decline. The kitchen here stays open until midnight on weekends, so take advantage of this fact the next time you need sustenance after shutting down the dancefloor at Los Globos.
If you haven’t picked up a half dozen tacos from Guisados and eaten them at Echo Park Lake, you simply haven’t lived. And even if you have, it’ll only cost you $9.50 to do it all over again. This LA staple has a sample platter of mini tacos that lets you try six all in one go, and from spicy chicken tinga to mole poblano, there truly isn’t one you shouldn’t order.