One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is by taking a deep dive on Yelp and trying out as many food places as my bank account allows for. From frequenting late-night taco stands to celebrating the end of midterms with Korean BBQ, exploring the LA food scene has been a major highlight of my college experience. Since the start of my time at USC, I’ve been avidly documenting my favorite dining experiences in a list on my phone’s Notes app. I wanted to share a few highlights from this list:
Yeastie Boys Bagels: If you’re like me and you love grabbing a good old fashioned bagel for brunch, this place is for you. The bagel trucks are located on Sunset Blvd, Ventura Pl, and Melrose Pl between the hours of 8 A.M. and 2 P.M. I promise this one’s worth getting out of bed for. From what I’ve seen, the two most popular orders are the “Game Over” (consists of a cheddar bagel with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, and jalapeno spread), and my personal favorite, the “Lox Deluxe” (consists of a sesame bagel with smoked salmon, tomato, red onion, capers, and a scallion spread). Be sure to check out their Twitter for updates on hours and location!
Joan’s on Third: Although a bit far from campus, this family-owned space has a short rib sandwich that is to DIE for! I had been hearing about Joan’s for months before I stopped by, and let me just say that it truly lived up to my expectations. During the pandemic, Joan’s had a great to-go order system set up with plenty of outdoor seating as well. Besides the short rib sandwich, other popular items from their menu include the Chinese chicken salad and BLT.
As most USC students know, there are plenty of places to eat around the school area. Ethnic cuisine, fast food, and even some awesome dessert places are all located within a mile of our beautiful campus. However, USC students also have another great asset on hand – Downtown LA, where several fun restaurant atmospheres exist and are perfect for when you want to try something new. I spent last summer trying to discover new eateries in downtown so that I’d have new food choices during the school year. I found out that downtown has a multitude of cuisines for all different people, whether they are looking for something fast, formal, or even unique!
Wokcano (800 W. 7th Street) is a Japanese sushi and noodle restaurant located about 7-minutes away from the USC Campus (when driving). They provide premium sushi for a low cost, as well as an affordable happy hour. I would describe the environment as casual and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for small portions of Asian cuisine on any given night. I tried the Pad Thai and it was one of the best noodle dishes I’ve had since coming to USC.
Another excellent choice, for those of you looking for a quick meal or drink, is Sixth Street Tavern (630 W. 6th Street). It is a small bar with excellent appetizers and a relatively affordable happy hour menu. This restaurant caters primarily American dishes, with a few ethnic options mixed in as well. I have tried the Grilled Cheese at Sixth Street and I will definitely be going back for more!
I know what you’re thinking. Of course it is, food is essential to life. It tastes good, and it gives you energy to get through the day.
But it’s more than that to me. Growing up both American and Japenese, my mother made it a point to make sure I was exposed to a wide range of foods. I experienced all kinds of cultural foods from a young age and quickly developed a refined palate (for my age, at least) and a love for exploration and experimentation with cuisine.
One of my favorite things about being well-versed in food, aside consumption of the food itself, is that nearly anyone can talk about it,and everyone has a different experience to share. We all grow up eating different things, passed on to us by our parents, depending on their own upbringing and cultural backgrounds. Just like celebrating culture-specific holidays, the type of meal you eat for breakfast (in my case, cereal on American days and rice, fish, and soup on Japanese days) can shape your childhood and, by extension, your appreciation for other foreign food in adulthood.