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Los Angeles: the land of macrobiotic diets, turmeric smoothies, seaweed snacks and starving (literally and figuratively) Hollywood types, but those are just clichés. In truth, L.A. is a crazy good food city and the culinary epicenter of this madcap, sprawling melting pot is Downtown Los Angeles (aka DTLA), the city’s central business district and walkable inner core, which is home to more than 60,000 residents, a half million workers and a booming revitalization. Here is where you’ll find hipster hotels, highbrow museums, Art Deco icons, tucked-away speakeasies, late-night raves, a million bus and subway stops and a food scene that has become the envy of Southern California. Not all meals cost an arm and a leg; here are ten downtown lunches that won’t bust your bank.

RELATED: The 10 most beautiful spots in San Francisco

Amazebowls, Arts District, DTLA, Los Angeles, acai bowl, cheap eats

Amazebowls | Photo by Jason Heidemann

1. Amazebowls

This teeny super food and healthy treat outpost serves up smoothies and fruit bowls so yummy and addictive, you’ll swear they’re mixed with crack cocaine. Actually, they’re made with a smorgasbord of healthy ingredients like açai, hemp milk, pomegranate powder, turmeric and various fruits, and that’s just the base. They’re then topped with layers of granola, more fruit, chia and flax seeds, agave, coconut, date bits, hemp hearts and so much more. Are they really healthy? We have no idea, but they’re super delicious and perfectly priced at under $10.

2. Birdies

The cranes are flying high everywhere in DTLA and most of the action is happening in South Park, an area just south of the historic core. Good restaurants have yet to catch up, but at least there’s Birdies, a fast casual doughnut shop and chicken shack. The doughnuts are solid and each one is available for sample, but the birds are the best we’ve tasted in a long while. The breakfast sandwich ($8) is a real knockout, but since it’s lunchtime, go for either the Birdies Spicy ($10) with Ghost Pepper Mayo and Tillamook Cheddar or a leg and a thigh for a mere $7.

Clifton's Cafeteria, DTLA, Los Angeles, Cheap Eats

Clifton’s Cafeteria | Flickr CC: Paul Narvaez

3. Clifton’s Cafeteria

No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to Clifton’s, a combination cafeteria, cocktail bar, performance, space, cabinet of curiosities, family-friendly attraction, retro throwback and L.A. institution. Opened in 1932 and recently renovated (to the tune of several million dollars), the five level space includes eye-popping taxidermy, a faux redwood tree that punctuates the entire middle of the restaurant, and all kinds of rare treasures and oddities. It’s also still a cafeteria with a carving station, Jell-o molds and other familiar items. Prices are fair and nighttime lines (for the bar) are out the door.

eggslut, breakfast, los angeles, dtla, eggs

eggslut | Flickr CC: T. Tseng

4. eggslut

Despite the fact that L.A.’s Grand Central Market offers a smorgasbord of choices ranging in everything from ample bowls of vegetarian ramen to tasty scoops of legendary McConnell’s ice cream, it’s this egg-focused eatery that garners the longest lines—even at lunchtime. The menu is 90% breakfast sandwiches hovering around the $7-$8 range. We don’t understand all the fuss although we’ve yet to try the $10 Slut, a cage-free, coddled egg atop housemade potato purée, cooked in a glass jar sprinkled with gray salt and chives and served with slices of baguette.

Guisados, tacos, Los Angeles, DTLA

Guisados | Photo courtesy of Guisados

5. Guisados

Expect to find this taqueria ranked high on all those “Best tacos in America”-type lists that pop up occasionally in your social feeds. Born in Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood east of downtown that is slowly gentrifying, Guisados has replicated its neighborhood success with a downtown location on Spring Street that packs ’em in morning, noon and night. The fuss is over homestyle braises such as shredded chicken, flank steak and Mexican sausage. All tacos are priced at $3 or less, which means nothing on the menu will break your piggy bank.

ALSO: For super tasty savings, sign up for CheapTickets Rewards!

6. Nickel Diner
The name is appropriate; the Nickel is a cheap and cheerful downtown diner where a sit-down meal can be had for relatively little. Prices aren’t exactly turn of the century as the 5¢ moniker out front might imply, but there are nevertheless a ton of delectable menu items for under $10 like the spicy pulled pork sandwich and fries ($9.75), the big time cheddar sandwich ($8.50) and the turkey burger ($10). Granted, tax and tip will push you over the 10-buck mark for sure, but this is still a cheap eat (and desserts here rule!).

7. Okipoki

The poké craze is as widespread here as it is in any American city, so if you’ve got a hankering for some delicious treats of the sea plopped atop a bed of rice, hit up this quick serve restaurant across the street from the artsy bibliophile dream shop, the Last Bookstore. The pokés here don’t run cheap, only the veggie friendly “Straight Outta Tofu” and spicy “Baby Got Shrimp” are priced under $10, but the same tasty effects are achieved via Okipoki’s sushi burritos which are almost entirely priced under $10.

Pie Hole, DTLA, pies, Arts District

Pie Hole | Flickr CC: jennie-O

8. Pie Hole

An option that is both cheap and trendy, this Arts District entry serves up heaps of unbelievably good and Instagrammable pies, including lip-smacking (yes, these pies are so good that you may smack your lips together) options like Mexican Chocolate, Earl Grey Tea and Salted Carmel Pecan. But wait, you’re here for lunch, right? Not to worry, there’s a full menu of savory pies including Chicken ‘n’ Cornbread, Potato and Leek Pot Pie, and the most comforting of all—Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Every single one is priced below $8. Yum.

9. Villa Moreliana

Another Grand Central Market entry, this place is one of our favorite joints in all DTLA and perhaps the Market’s most affordable lunch option. Villa Moreliana specializes in one thing: slow-cooked pork as it is prepared in Michoacan, Mexico, and served as tacos. The meat is piled high (two will absolutely fill you up) and visitors have the option of choosing either meat only or meat in combination with the rest of the pig (skin, brains, gizzard, etc.). Add to it a bottled water and even with tax and a tip this authentic and exquisite lunch only clocks in at around $9.

Wurstküche, sausages, hot dogs, Arts District, foodie, Los Angeles, DTLA

Wurstküche | Photo courtesy of Wurstküche

10. Wurstküche

What sausage emporium Hot Doug’s (may it rest in peace) was to Chicagoans this joint is to Angelenos because it’s slammed all the time. It doesn’t hurt that it picked the Arts District (aka Little Brooklyn) for its downtown location. Between classic dogs like the standard brat and the vegetarian smoked apple sage (each $6.50), and more exotic fare including rattlesnake and rabbit with jalepeño peppers, there’s something to entice all palates. Plus, even with a small order of frites some combinations still come out at exactly $10.


Tagged: California, Food & drink, L.A.

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There’s nothing wrong with tradition, but everyone’s got one. This holiday season, feel free to sample the very best food traditions the holidays have to offer by checking out some of our favorite winter food festivals.

RELATED: These are America’s most underrated food cities

Downtown Holiday Market | Flickr CC: Elvert Barnes

Downtown Holiday Market | Flickr CC: Elvert Barnes

9. Downtown Holiday Market – Washington, DC

November 25–December 23, daily

Feast on hand-made Peruvian empanadas, warm churros dusted in powdered sugar and fresh-made doughnuts while walking the sidewalks of this street-style holiday market. Then shop for unique gifts from over 150 vendors while working up an appetite for traditional German holiday fare.

8. Winter Feast Holiday Bazaar –Seattle, WA

Sunday, December 11

This one-day food fair features 20 food trucks and over 100 local businesses coming together for a cavalcade of holiday street food. Munch on gourmet doughnuts and German-style pretzels, as well as Middle Eastern, Indian and Mexican favorites, all served up from the city’s best mobile restaurants.

7. Grand Holiday Bazaar – New York, NY

December 11–18

Sample some of New York’s best sugary treats at this annual indoor and outdoor holiday market. Savor chocolaty creations from the state’s finest confectioners, or lose yourself in brownies, waffles and hand-made macaroons. With over 100 artisan vendors and craftsmen, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to walk it off.

Latke Festival | Photo courtesy of Great Performances

Latke Festival | Photo courtesy of Great Performances

6.  8th Annual Latke Festival – Brooklyn, NY

December 19

Each year this one-day competition crowns New York’s best latke–but its really a chance to drown happily in a sea of the state’s finest potato pancakes. You can even help crown this year’s champion!

ALSO: Check out these flight deals for under $199

Palm Beach Wine and Food Festival | Photo courtesy of @licksnlove

Palm Beach Wine and Food Festival | Photo courtesy of @licksnlove

5. Palm Beach Food And Wine FestivalPalm Beach, FL

December 8–11

If you want to get away from the cold this holiday season, consider making this Florida food festival your destination. This year, 46 of the state’s best chefs and restaurateurs will be presenting unique food and wine pairings.

Indulge LA | Photo courtesy of @indulgelosangeles

Indulge LA | Photo courtesy of @indulgelosangeles

4. Indulge LALos Angeles, CA

January 8

In case you’re still craving the holiday spirit–and more sweets–after the New Year begins, be sure to check out this annual chocolate and pastry festival. Featuring mouth-watering desserts from celebrity pastry chefs and confectioners like Francois Payard, Kriss Harvey and Stephanie Treand.

Flickr CC: HarshLight

Flickr CC: HarshLight

3. Great Dickens Christmas FairDaly City , CA

November 19–December 18, on weekends

This Victorian-themed Christmas festival takes tradition to the next level. Groups of carolers in period dress will serenade you while you feast on British favorites like bangers, meat pies and of course fish ‘n’ chips–as well as fine European fare.

2. Christmas Luminaria Tour at the Enchanted ForestRed River, NM

A New Mexico Christmas tradition! Trek through famous Enchanted Forest ski country along a trail lined with hand-made paper lanterns. Then chow down on green chile stew, posole and seasonal desserts.

Chriskindlmarket | Flickr CC: Ben Miller

Chriskindlmarket | Flickr CC: Ben Miller

1. ChristkindlmarketChicago, IL

November 18–December 24, daily

Designed like authentic European Christmas market with vendors housed in small wooden huts, this German-style street fair is not only picturesque, but also the ultimate experience for foodies. Traditional German vendors offer sausages heaped with sauerkraut, fresh-baked Bavarian pretzels, over-flowing steins of beer, hot spicedd wine and mountains of piping hot strudel.



Tagged: California, City, Florida, Food & drink, Holidays, L.A.

Jesse Betend

Jesse Betend

Jesse is a writer and radio producer in Chicago. He is the Executive Producer for the embarrassing storytelling podcast "We Still Like You" and writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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Los Angeles gets back into the NFL with the return of the Rams franchise from St. Louis. While the team awaits the 2019 completion of its multibillion-dollar stadium a few miles from downtown L.A., its home games are taking place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, also home to the University of Southern California Trojans. If you’re set to check out either team and looking for a cheap bite to eat near Rams stadium, here are some delicious budget-friendly options.

RELATED: America’s most underrated food cities

Ahi Poki Bowl | Photo courtesy of @jessesanchez18

Ahi Poki Bowl | Photo courtesy of @jessesanchez18

AhiPoki Bowl 

Combine the choose-your-own-adventure type meal with trendy poke and you’ve got this neat little, fast-casual spot, with seafood at its core. Start with a base of rice, salad or both, add a main—two or three scoops of options, including tuna, octopus and salmon—add a side, sauce and toppings. The yellowfin ranks high, but all the fish is fresh, and thebowls come out colorful and flavorful. 3782 S Figueroa St, ahipokibowl.com

El Huero

Nothing tops $10 at this 24-hour Mexican favorite and, let’s face it, after a few beers at the football game, a loaded burrito fits in just fine. Make your meal out of finger food with the heaping $6.99 nachos with chicken, and try one of the aguas frescas, sort of like a drinkable sorbet. For the meat-and-potatoes types in your group, there are hamburgers, hot dogs and even a pastrami sandwich. 3000 S Figueroa St, elhuero.com

Lemonade LA | Photo courtesy of @mauianne

Lemonade LA | Photo courtesy of@mauianne


Here’s one for the healthy set. Known for its locally sourced ingredients in creative sandwiches and salads, this quick-gourmet lunch chain has a sunny California feel in a mod cafeteria-like setting. Nearly 20 mix-and-match salad selections include vegan and vegetarian choices—fig and black Tuscan kale, roasted broccoli and sesame marinated lo mein noodles, for example. If you’re overwhelmed, ask for samples. Keep costs under control by sticking to three salads or a made-to-order sandwich like the $6.95 Turkey El Tijuana with jicama slaw, queso fresco, avocado and jalapeño aioli. Honor the restaurant name with one of six different lemonades, including watermelon rosemary and cucumber mint. 3601 Trousdale Pkwy, lemonadela.com 

Chichen Itza Restaurant

In the Mercado La Paloma community market of indie shops and restaurants,this one stands out for its authentic Yucatan specialties by the father-son duo of Gilberto Cetina Sr. and Jr. The counter service, simple cement floor, exposed ductwork and Mexican tiled tables belie the top-notch cooking going on. At just under $12, the Poc Chuc platter is one of the pricier items, and one of the best, but its tender, marinated pork also shines in a $5.99 pair of tacos. 3655 S Grand Ave, chichenitzarestaurant.com

Nature's Brew

Photo courtesy of Nature’s Brew

Nature’s Brew

For day games, hit this rustically homey spot for a latte and an egg sandwich with housemade spread to fuel you up for maximum cheering energy. Lunch brings in tuna melts, 24-hour slow-roasted brisket sandwiches and quinoa salads. Gluten-free and vegan items don’t skimp, like the tofu scramble and gluten-free garlic ciabatta bread for those sammies. Or just grab a bag of maple bacon or flourless peanut butter chocolate cookies and a Green Goddess smoothie to go. 2316 S Union Ave, naturesbrewcafe.com

Study Hall

As the name suggests, this no-frills hidden gem caters to college coeds, so the vibe skews laid-back and young, and the home team heroes are the Trojans, rather than Rams. But the menu features better-than-average pub grub—burgers, flatbreads, pizzas, sandwiches—and prices rarely go above $12. The Fire Broccoli starter and maple-glazed pork belly sliders score for popularity. Snag a table on the outdoor patio for conversation-friendly dining. 2827 S Hoover St, studyhallla.com

Chilly | Photo courtesy of @rosaandricky

Figueroa Philly Cheese Steak | Photo courtesy of @rosaandricky

Figueroa Philly Cheese Steak

Owner and former comedian Danny Hizami does cheese steaks right with rolls from Amoroso bakery shipped direct from Philadelphia and juicy rib-eye steak for the inside. Accouterments vary—mushrooms, onion rings, pizza sauce—and there’s even a chicken version, but the price remains under $10. To go all out, get the Famous Figueroa Philly, topped with a choice of cheese, grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms. On the go? Order up at the drive-through. 3850 S Figueroa St, figueroaphilly.com

GoGo Girl | Photo courtesy of @dudeitsdom

Gogi Girl | Photo courtesy of @dudeitsdom

California Gogi Grill

Select a prep, a base, a filling and extras at this Korean-inspired, fast-casual restaurant, all for under 10 bucks. Kick up the heat and the health factor without losing flavor with a bowl of the popular vitamin- and probiotic-packed kimchi; or drop the spice levels and opt for a gogi wrap filled with K.F.C. (that’s Korean fried chicken) or pork bulgogi. 3742 S Figueroa St, californiagogi.com


Tagged: California, Food & drink, L.A., Sports

Elisa Drake

Elisa Drake

Elisa Drake

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Sometimes you get what you pay for. And sometimes you get more. Much more. To help travelers save a ho-ho-whole lot of money on holiday travel, CheapTickets.com® encourages anyone with travel plans to look beyond the stars and not rule out two- or three-star accommodations as they make lodging plans for the most wonderful time of the year.

CheapTickets.com found that while the majority of Americans tend to gravitate towards four- and five-star hotels, choosing a three-star property at this holiday season’s top destinations can save you up to 33% compared to a destination’s average daily hotel price.

“While two- and three-star properties may not have extensive onsite services or dining options, many offer a really great experience, some with charming settings and overall excellent service,” said Justine McDonald, a CheapTickets.com travel expert. “The key to finding these exceptional two- and three-star options is looking for hidden gems that are vetted and highly recommended by fellow travelers, ensuring high value and alleviating fear of the unknown.”

Finding these surprisingly beautiful, cheap and comfortable hidden gems is easier than ever on CheapTickets.com as customers can filter search results by properties’ star ratings and then sort by guest rating, resulting in a list of options that both fit their budget and come highly rated. In addition to reviews and comments, CheapTickets.com also lists a “recommended by” percentage, where travelers can see whether or not customers would recommend the property to a friend.


Great two and three star hotels


To make planning travel even easier (and cheaper!), here are CheapTickets.com editors’ top picks for awesome two- and three-star hotels in some of the holiday season’s top destinations.

Las Vegas: Excalibur
Sample average daily hotel price: $53
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 77%
This castle-like resort on the Las Vegas Strip has something for every member of the family to enjoy, including a casino, an arcade room, a full-service spa, an outdoor pool and poolside bar, seven restaurants, three bars/lounges and two cafes. Don’t miss the medieval joust dinner show!

Photo courtesy of The Redondo Beach Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Redondo Beach Hotel

Los Angeles: The Redondo Beach Hotel
Sample average daily hotel price: $182
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 95%
From complimentary Wi-Fi to free continental breakfast daily, The Redondo Beach Hotel is all about the little extras. Monday through Thursday evenings, visitors can even mingle at a hosted wine reception. The hotel boasts many rooms with marina views, and even has a bike rental station on-site for those who want to explore the nearby beaches like a true Southern Californian.

Photo courtesy of the Bay Club Hotel and Marina

Photo courtesy of the Bay Club Hotel and Marina

San Diego: Bay Club Hotel and Marina
Sample average daily hotel price: $117
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 90%
Located on Shelter Island, The Bay Club Hotel & Marina is a waterfront property just 4 miles from Old Town and 7 miles from the Gaslamp Quarter. This property offers stunning views of the San Diego Bay, downtown skyline, Point Loma, and of course, its private marina.

Photo courtesyof the Vagabond Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Vagabond Hotel

Miami: The Vagabond Hotel
Sample average daily hotel price: $176
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 95%
The chicly retro Vagabond Hotel is within the vicinity of Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Port of Miami and the Bal Harbour Shops. Hearkening back to a bygone era, the Art Deco-style property offers an outdoor pool (plus a poolside bar) and a top notch fitness center.

Photo courtesy of the Acme Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Acme Hotel

Chicago: Acme Hotel Company Chicago
Sample average daily hotel price: $88
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 100%
This hip boutique hotel close to the Magnificent Mile offers a gym, free morning coffee, funky modern rooms (think giant zipper murals on the walls and lip decals on the bathroom mirrors) and an on-site lounge serving craft cocktails.

Photo courtesy of the Point Orlando

Photo courtesy of the Point Orlando

Orlando: The Point Orlando
Sample average daily hotel price: $184
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 94%
Not only is The Point Orlando close to Universal Studios Florida, Wet ‘n Wild, and iFLY Orlando, it also has plenty of recreational opportunities on-site, including a spa tub, a tropical outdoor pool and bar, and a well-equipped fitness center. Relax over cocktails and freshly prepared pizzas and paninis at the chic new Evo Lounge & Tapas Bar on the property.

Photo courtesy of Cambria Hotel and Suites

Photo courtesy of Cambria Hotel and Suites

New York City: Cambria Hotel and Suites
Sample average daily hotel price: $229
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 99%
Cambria Hotel and Suites is a brand new, upscale boutique-style hotel located in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood within walking distance of the Empire State Building, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, and Madison Square Park. Guests can take in the view from the rooftop terrace, enjoy a satisfying meal at its socialCircle Restaurant, and enjoy a signature cocktail at one of the two hotel bars before hitting the town.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Abri

Photo courtesy of Hotel Abri

San Francisco: Hotel Abri – Union Square
Sample average daily hotel price: $141
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 100%
This romantic and sleek hotel is centrally-located and is modern, yet charming. Its lobby lounge offers cozy seating around a gas fireplace, while an adjacent Italian restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Amenities include a 24-hour business center and a “tech menu” that allows guests to borrow or buy electronic accessories.

Photo courtesy of La Casa Hotel

Photo courtesy of La Casa Hotel

Fort Lauderdale, FL: La Casa Hotel
Sample average daily hotel price: $154
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 91%
A part of North Beach Village, this tranquil and serene space offers guests easy access to Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale Mall. Guest rooms featurefour poster beds and classic design, and the beautiful pool and spa are surrounded with tropical greenery and Italian-style fountains, creating the ultimate oasis for guests looking to just get away.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Lombardy

Photo courtesy of Hotel Lombardy

Washington, DC: Hotel Lombardy
Sample average daily hotel price: $112
Percentage of customers who would recommend: 84%
Walking distance from the White House and the Foggy Bottom metro station, the HotelLombardy is a 1920s building with refined, classic rooms. Featured amenities include fitness facilities, free newspapers in the lobby, and in-room spa services available for a fee. Another fun fact: This property is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.


Tagged: Beach, California, City, Las Vegas, New York City