Tag Archives: Mexican

Uncover LA: Echo Park

By Tracy Castillo

When foreigners, or even non Southern Californianers, hear someone mouth the word “Los Angeles”, their immediate thoughts are probably overtaken with images of palm trees and the Hollywood Hills, but there is actually much more to Los Angeles than the  popular tourist attractions. Over the last decade, Los Angeles has created a large cultural hub that spans from countries and cities all over the world. There’s Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, and the list keeps going on and on. All of these hubs are filled with great cultural vibrancies consisting of great restaurants with native dishes, and stores stocked with the country’s native products. I am lucky enough to live in one of these cultural hubs just five miles north of campus, Echo Park.


Being in a situation in which I had to a find a home that did not require a one year lease, I ended having to look for housing outside the USC area and in the Echo Area area. Though I miss the convenience of living just a couple blocks from school, I enjoy living in this colorful neighborhood more. Echo Park is filled with taco trucks, coffee shops, and health food restaurants (seemingly on almost every corner). You may wonder what cultural category Echo Park falls into, but it doesn’t quite fir into any one box. I would say that it has a culture of its own, a Los Angeles culture where all walks of life have come together to respect and coexist within each other’s customs. For example, is it not uncommon to see a young artistic crowd patiently waiting to order authentic Mexican food from the taco truck camped out in front of the Ralphs’s, or a native Latino family walking into a vegan donut shop. These are instances that show how two very different sets of people are embracing each other’s customs.

So if you ever find yourself stumbling into Echo Park, here are some suggestions. If you want great inexpensive Mexican food, you must try the taco stand off of Alvarado St and Scott St. This stand is set up every evening in a vacant parking lot next to the Autozone. Here you will find a simple yet refined menu that can whip out anything from tacos to mulitas. If you’re curious to try an ever-popular vegan restaurant, Sage is the  perfect one. Sage is an all vegan restaurant that serves everything from Biscuits & Gravy to a Cauliflower Steak Dinner and a Brownie Sundae, but don’t let the word, “vegan” scare you, trust me, it is all very tasty!

And after dining at Sage, you can walk down to Echo Park Lake and rent a peddling boat and float around the lake or you can hang out by the grassy patches and read a book, listen to music, or simply gaze at the lake.

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A Guide to the USC Area’s Best Mexican Food

By Greg Lennon

Los Angeles is world famous for many things: its cinematic arts, its culture, its beaches, and of course the near perfect weather.  One thing that often goes unnoticed to many is the city’s authentic Mexican food.  One of the closest American cities to the border, Los Angeles offers some of the best, most genuine Mexican cuisine.  From Pupusas to Horchata, South Central’s selection of Mexican cuisine appeals to even the pickiest of palates.  In my two years here at USC, I like to think I have sampled a good majority of the University Park neighborhood’s local restaurants.  Here are my personal recommendations for some of the best Mexican food north of the border:

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Chano’s: How a Taco Stand Unites a Private University

By Vanessa Le

If you were to walk up and down Figueroa St., you would find a variety of foods from different cultures. Now I can’t vouch for every single restaurant down that street, but I can say that, by first impression, none of them look very appealing. After all, how can they? They’re located in South Central, an area in which USC’s beauty and affluence stands out like a sore thumb. However, there is at least one eatery that cannot be missed: Chano’s.

Well, actually the giant lighted sign in front of Chano’s heralds the names El Huero (due to a restaurant revamp that included a name change). However, names don’t fade from memory.  People continued to refer to their beloved taco stand by its former name, and the new generations of students continued the tradition, perhaps to show their upperclassman that they too know their taco history.

For years, this gem has been disguised as a rundown taco stand. Located at the corner of 32nd and Figueroa (across from Carl’s Jr. and the plaza with Spudnuts and Yoshinoya), you’ve probably seen it in passing while heading towards DTLA in your bus or Uber, and you probably dismissed it as just another rundown restaurant  with nothing to offer. Don’t let its appearance fool you; anything you order at Chano’s will be a thousand times better, fresher, and more authentic than the Taco Bell just two blocks away. Anyone who has driven by at midnight or in the aftermath of a football game will tell you that the building itself look like it’s falling apart, but the business is booming.

As one of the very few restaurants open 24/7 around campus, Chano’s is known as THE place to solve your midnight munchies. In fact, the earliest I’ve ever been to Chano’s is 11:00 PM. Expect to spend a mere $5 for a filling snack. My personal favorite is the soft carne asada taco, which boasts warm soft tortilla shells filled with bite-size pieces of steak, pico de gallo, and guacamole.  I always order two for just $2.50 each! Beyond tacos, they also offer other latin favorites such as burritos, quesadillas, taquitos, enchiladas, and more, all personalized to your liking.

Chano’s is adored by all students and even faculty alike. It has become a fixture of the USC culture, and there is really something for everyone. I can’t even say that I’m particularly fond of Mexican cuisine but I was introduced to Chano’s while visiting USC as a senior in high school, and now I’ve returned the favor to countless other newbies, all who will surely carry on the tradition as I have, For more information and even coupons (because let’s be real, what college student doesn’t love coupons?) you can visit their website at elhuero.com. If you’re ever there on a weekend midnight, there’s a good chance you’ll see me there too.

Vanni Le is a freshman studying Public Relations. She was born in Southern California but raised in Tampa, Florida, so she is glad to be back home as a Trojan. She is fluent in English and Vietnamese and is enthusiastic about learning about new cultures. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to all kinds of music or singing and playing her ukulele, piano, or guitar.