Tag Archives: tacos

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.

Featured image from Wikipedia

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.

Los Angeles is… Roy Choi

By Maggie Deagon

To call one person the face of Los Angeles would be reductive. With its diverse cultural representations and geographic vastness, it seems disingenuous, if not impossible, to represent this city with a single face. But perhaps, I could suggest a single thing—specifically, a food truck. More specifically, the Kogi truck.

You may not have heard of Roy Choi, but certainly you’ve heard of his food. With vehicles catering the entire city, the Kogi truck is perhaps Choi’s most famous creation. Check the Kogi Twitter account (@kogibbq) for live updates on where they’ll be for the day; sometimes they stop at USC for a brief late-night dinner!  With all the other food truck options around USC (and in LA for that matter), you may wonder what makes Kogi so special. Well, for starters, the Kogi truck essentially launched the food truck revolution in Los Angeles, so you have them to thank for the gourmet offerings on Jefferson and McClintock. If that’s not enough to impress you, consider this: Roy Choi’s Kogi truck exemplifies the fusion that IS Los Angeles.

Photo by Vincent Diamante on Flickr

Spanish-speaking and Korean-speaking communities make up a significant portion of Los Angeles, particularly in the areas adjacent to USC. Bustling Koreatown is just a few miles away, and authentic tamales and pupusas are available for sale pretty much everywhere—even on our campus each Wednesday at the McCarthy Quad farmers’ market. Roy Choi was born in South Korea but grew up in Los Angeles, specifically South Central. The food he concocts for his Kogi trucks reflects the city in a bite, a effortless combination of two vastly different cultures. Thanks to Roy Choi, kimchi tacos are as popular as french fries. Well, maybe not quite, but more and more people becoming familiar with the combo and favor it as a go-to treat.

Fusion is a sticky subject among food lovers; it tends to stir up issues of authenticity. Roy Choi did grow up in a community where both authentic Korean and Latin flavors ruled, but does he have the right to repurpose the burrito—a staple of a culture not his own—to highlight Korean ingredients? The thing is, Roy Choi has always credited his creations to his community, emphasizing the role the city’s people have played in his flavor combinations. Though the burrito is not his own to repurpose, he sees his fusion as an expression of gratitude.

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