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.