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Cheap Eats: Diners & American

Icon by Peter Hoey

Dino’s Chicken and Burgers
In any other instance we’d say soggy french fries are something to avoid. But at this roadside stand, flame-grilled chicken (half a bird) is drenched in a spicy, garlicky, iridescent orange sauce that drips—along with the chicken juices—onto a heavenly mound of salty, black pepper-dusted fries. Served with coleslaw for a grand total of $5.50, soggy is sublime. » 2575 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 213-380-3554. 

Nickel Diner
The pulled-pork sandwiches and maple-glazed bacon doughnuts at this new (and a tad too self-consciously retro) diner are already cult hits, for good reason. More surprising is the creativity behind the healthier options, like the avocado stuffed with quinoa, corn, squash, and red beans. If only we could persuade the hasty waiters to stop dropping off the check before we’ve ordered one of the decadent desserts. » 524 S. Main St., downtown, 213-623-8301.

The Park
With its checkerboard floors and bare-bones decor, this corner café has the hip-yet-casual feel of an Echo Park pied-à-terre. Seasonal upscale American comfort food is the focus, though dishes like grilled polenta with fennel and parsley-almond salsa, a cornmeal pancake with spiced shrimp, or Kurobuta pork belly don’t often come at these prices—or sizes (appetizers could pass for mains). » 1400 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213-482-9209.

The York
Though food may not be the main draw at this noisy gastro-pub (it’s beer—they’ve got 12 on tap and dozens more by the bottle), top-notch ingredients and sophisticated preparations mean this isn’t typical pub fare. The chalkboard menu of small plates and burgers rotates, but the luscious burrata and beet salad and hefty mac-and-cheese are staples. There’s no table service, but flagging down a bartender is a small price to pay for the pulled-pork Cuban sandwich. » 5018 York Blvd., Highland Park, 323-255-9675.