Downtown Budget Lunch 


Angélique Café. Owner Bruno Herve Commereuc and his wife, Florence, make their own charcuterie — excellent rillettes, jambon persillade, pâté, andouilette à l’ancienne. Angélique is open for traditional French breakfasts and for lunch, featuring a great selection of salads, hot entrées and vegetarian dishes. 840 S. Spring St., downtown; (213) 623-8698. Breakfast and lunch Mon.–Sat. 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $6.45–$8.95. French. MH ¢

Cole’s P.E. Buffet. Dank old Cole’s, which is the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles and looks every week of it, has the best French dip: roasted brisket or pastrami, carved to order, dipped and served on a crusty roll. 118 E. Sixth St., downtown; (213) 622-4090. Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–7:30 p.m. (bar until 10 p.m.). Full bar. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Sandwiches $5.29–$7.29. American. JG ¢

El Colmao. Start with the avocado salad — cool, ripe chunks garnished with thin slices of raw onion and dressed with splashes of vinegar and torrents of good Spanish olive oil; then a heaping plateful of thin, pounded circles of unripe plantains, fried crisp as potato chips and dusted with salt. Next, boiled yuca; a big plateful of moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians), a tasty miscegenation of black beans and rice fried with garlic and gobbets of fat pork; piles of fried fresh ham, pierna de puerco, crisp and brown on the outside and meltingly tender within, topped with an immoderate portion of caramelized onions. For dessert, good flan and torpor — and strong Cuban espresso. 2328 W. Pico Blvd.; (213) 386-6131. Lunch and dinner, 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. Food for two, $9–$28. MC, V. Cuban. JG ¢

Daikokuya. The hub of the ramen cult at the moment is Daikokuya, a long, narrow lunch counter that has been around for a couple of years but feels as if it’s going on 50, a center of steam, noise and garlic at the heart of Little Tokyo’s ­noodle-shop district. Daikokuya feels just like Japan. 327 E. First St., downtown; (213) 626-1680. Lunch Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m., dinner Mon.–Sat. 5 p.m.–midnight, Sun. noon–8 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Food for two, $13–$25. Japanese. JG ¢

Hong Kong Low Deli. Open in time for early breakfast, Chinatown’s Hong Kong Low Deli serves what dim sum used to be back when ­everybody called them “teacakes,” i.e., dumplings without the parboiled geoduck and jellyfish salad. 408 Bamboo Lane, Chinatown; (213) 680-9827. Lunch and dinner seven days 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout only. Cash only. Food for two, $3–$5. Chinese. JG ¢

Kim Chuy. The basic deal at this noodle shop is, of course, the noodles: slippery rice noodles or firmer, square-cut egg noodles, submerged in broth, garnished with things like boiled duck legs and sliced pork. At Kim Chuy, the special noodles include duck and shrimp, squid and cuttlefish, and four kinds of fish cake; also floppy, herb-spiked won ton. 727 N. Broadway, No. 103, Chinatown; (213) 687-7215. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Food for two, $8–$10. Cash or AE, MC, V. Chinese. JG ¢

La Luz del Día. The last place you’d expect to find a real Mexican joint is among the maraca vendors and befuddled German tourists of Olvera Street, but there it is (and has been for decades), La Luz del Día, serving cactus salad to the hordes. 1 W. Olvera St., downtown; (213) 628-7495. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer only. Lot parking. Cash only. Lunch for two, food only, $11–$12. Mexican. JG ¢

Mandarin Deli. The key to ordering noodle dishes here is to specify the handmade noodles, which means you’ll get wide, thick, square-cut noodles, something like fettuccine on steroids. The real reason to come to Mandarin Deli just may be the fish dumplings, airy, steamy things filled with a loose, fragrant mousse of whitefish and chopped greens that could serve as a $19 specialty at any high-priced Pacific Rim restaurant in town, except these are better. 727 N. Broadway, No. 109; (213) 623-6054. Lunch and dinner Fri.–Wed. 11 a.m.–7:30 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $15–$20. Cash only. Mandarin. JG ¢

El Parian. El Parian’s sweet, mild goat meat has crispy parts and stewy parts, just like carnitas. It clings to the tiny goat ribs, which you suck, then spit back into the bowl. The broth, basically amplified pan drippings, is rich essence of goat and the single best Mexican dish I’ve eaten in Los Angeles — it is the soul of Guadalajara. 1528 W. Pico Blvd.; (213) 386-7361. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch for two, food only, $7–$12. Beer. Cash only. Mexican. JG ¢

Philippe the Original. The place is so much a part of old Los Angeles that sometimes it feels as if it isn’t really a part of Los Angeles, as if it belongs to an older city without chrome. The French-dipped sandwiches of lamb or beef are wet and rich, with something of the gamy animal pungency of old-fashioned roast meat. 1001 N. Alameda St.; (213) 628-3781. Open daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. Cash only. Sandwiches $4.70–$5.20. American. JG ¢

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