Saving Money in LA: 5 Food Trucks Under $5

Los Angeles Food Truck Meals Under $5

You’re making progress on that big project, when suddenly 11 a.m. hits and hunger strikes.

You reach into your wallet (wait, you still carry cash?) but you’ve only got 5 bucks to spare and a tummy that’s beginning to rumble a little bit louder now.

If you’re in Los Angeles, the City of Dreams, it can be hard to imagine getting a cheap lunch. Luckily, the food truck trend has turned that ambition into a reality.

Here are five food trucks in L.A. with a variety of tastes and styles to get your grub on — for under $5:

1. La Estrella Mexican Food

Type: Mexican

Location: 1733 W. Adam Blvd. (Adams Normandie)

With an overall 5-star rating on Yelp, La Estrella Mexican Food satisfies cravings for nachos, burritos and even carne asada fries. Yelp users compare La Estrella’s quality with El Chato Taco Truck, which is highly rated but only serves in the evenings.

Open at noon on weekdays, the average price range for items at La Estrella is under $10, with many under $5, including tacos at $1.35 each, burritos starting at $2.79 and quesadillas at $3.99.

This small, family owned business also has a restaurant in the Lincoln Park area. Want lunch catered to your work office? They do that, too. You also can order ahead online for pickup to avoid standing in line for too long.

2. Mariscos Jalisco

Type: Seafood, Mexican

Location: E. 10th St. and Towne Ave. (Downtown)

Located in the Fashion District with lots of metered street parking nearby, Mariscos Jalisco is best known for its shrimp tacos (tacos de camaron), which cost $2.25 each.

Additional cheap menu items include ceviche and aguachile ($3.25-$3.75), which is fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, with aguachile kicking it up a notch with added chili pepper. Have an extra 50 cents to throw toward your lunch budget? A shrimp tostada (tostada camaron entero) is $5.50.

The food truck is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., for those who get hungry for lunch earlier in the day. Note that credit cards are not accepted; this place is cash only.

3. Kogi BBQ Truck Verde

Type: Barbecue, Korean

Location: Lankershim Blvd. and Valleyheart Drive (Universal)

Open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays for the work crowd, the Verde truck of Kogi BBQ (there are three, including Roja and Naranja) delivers with hot dogs, sliders, tacos, burritos and dessert.

About half the menu items are over $5, but you can still get tacos for $2.50 each (choice of short rib, spicy pork, chicken or tofu — jazz them up with a kimchi or extra meat upgrade for another 75 cents or $1.25), a calamari taco for $4, and other specials ranging from $4-$9.

The Blue Moon Mulita — chicken, melted cheese, grilled onions on two toasted corn tortillas, topped with Salsa Azul and crushed sesame seeds — is $4. If you’re still hungry or searching to satisfy a sweet tooth at lunch, you can choose from their $4 desserts of chocolate tres leches cake or a chocolatey-spicy Sriracha bar, for the brave.

4. Arroy Food Truck

Type: Asian Fusion, Thai

Location: Roams (Mid-Wilshire)

This truck prides itself on “good food, better music, OK service.” And OK, so we’re cheating a little here, but the cheapest meal you can get starts at $5 (though most everything is $10 and under).

Serving 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, sliders galore are $5 each, including beef brisket, pork belly, satay chicken and sweet and spicy pork. Garlic basil fries with peanut satay dipping sauce are just a dollar extra.

Hot day? A refreshing Thai iced tea will set you back $3, while Arroy occasionally has other fun drinks to try, like strawberry watermelon or pineapple lychee agua fresca, or acai pomegranate with chia seeds.

5. PattyWagon

Type: Burgers

Location: Roams (Vernon)

Locally sourced and all-organic, PattyWagon is like a Bob’s Burgers (but with less guilt) on wheels. You can order any number of mini-burger specials, such as “A Day at the Races” or “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” for usually $4 or less. The classic hamburger, meanwhile, is $3.25.

No vegetarian fare here. Its infamous sign, “Our Cows are Vegan So You Don’t Have to Be,” comically points to its 100-percent grass-fed beef. PattyWagon also loves supporting local farmers, and sells Kruegerman dill pickles, made at Kruegerman Pickles in East L.A. from locally grown cucumbers.

Bonus for the uber-cheap: you get a free combo on your birthday. The truck is open at 11:30 a.m. up to the late evening hours, so you can keep the party going.

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