This Taco Costs as Much as a Car
3850 S Figueroa St
Forget Figueroa Philly’s proximity to the stadium; these cheesesteaks are some of the best you can find in LA, period (oftentimes voted No. 1 outright). You’ll find all the staples of great cheesesteaks, chicken melts, and even some burgers on the menu. Don’t fear for your wallet either -- everything here is under $10.
3742 S Figueroa St
Perfectly authentic Korean? Not really. Perfectly tasty and delicious Korean? Most definitely. CG is a build-your-own-bowl-or-wrap kind of place, where you can pick from a variety of Korean-style meats like bulgogi, spicy pork, and spicy chicken, and load them up with all kinds of banchan. And cheese, for some reason. That’s also an option.
3655 S Grand Ave
A family-owned Yucatanean spot, Chichen Itza has been a destination for USC kids (and a Jonathan Gold fave) for the past 15 years. You’ll find tons of Southeast Mexican flavors, like baked tamales with eggs and tomatoes, and (debatably the prize of Yucatanean cooking) cochinita pibil, aka citrus/achiote-marinated pork with spicy, pickled red onions.
2308 S Union Ave
If you want to elevate from the fast-food level, hit up BacaroLA. You can brunch it up before the game with plates like shakshuka and smoked chipotle cauliflower (with bottomless mimosas, of course), or some heartier fare like lamb-stuffed eggplant and seared scallops.
2314 S Union Ave
More of a Japanese comfort food shop than an actual sushi bar, Ebaes lets you get down on everything from tonkatsu ramen to yellow curry with crispy chicken to spicy tuna handrolls. You can also do a little combo meal during lunch, with one half-size ramen, one of the small plates, and a house salad for $9.50.
3782 S Figueroa
We were all about AhiPoki when it opened in Hollywood earlier this year, and now it has a brand-new spot at USC. Build your own fish bowl up as high as you want, because AhiPoki is one of the few spots that lets you put as many toppings as you can stuff in a bowl -- which includes free scoops of crab and avocado.
3742 S Flower St
Though sushi, shabu-shabu, and hookah isn’t your standard combination, Lotus lets you pregame and enjoy the everyday happy hour from 5-6:30pm (also 10pm-midnight on Wednesdays). You can load up on two-for-one sake, $3 Hites, $1 edamame, half-off rolls, and $15 hookah.
1101 W 23rd St
You’ll find an assortment of creative bowls at Everytable, all inspired by the flavors and cultures of LA. You can get stuff on the lighter side, like the Vietnamese chicken salad (lemongrass chicken, mung bean noodles, pickled carrots & cauliflower, kale, radish, mint, cucumber, and peanuts in a spicy chili-lime vinaigrette), or the heavier side, like the Jamaican jerk chicken bowl (smoked chicken, rice, beans, kale, carrots, yucca, plantains, and spicy jerk BBQ sauce), or just straight-up cure your post-Rams-loss hangover with posole.
2215 S Vermont Ave
Rotisserie-style Peruvian cooking is what’s going down at Caveman Kitchen. Grab some Peruvian standards like lomo saltado (rib-eye sauteed with onions, tomatoes, and fries) or grab a full-on rotisserie chicken with rice, black beans, and tortillas. Or just forego the Peruvian stuff and go with one of the signature burgers, all under 10 bucks.
2498 S Figueroa St
USC and non-USC folk alike flock to this all-day breakfast joint. The flapjacks are absolute heaven, with loads of different ways to do ‘em. You can go with favorites like the Aloha Boy (with pineapple puree, butter, toasted coconut, and powdered sugar), the WTF (with sweetened cream cheese, seasonal berries, and powdered sugar) or the Roo’s Favorite (chocolate chip ‘cakes with brown sugar butter, whipped cream, and -- you guessed it -- powdered sugar).
1. Figueroa Philly3850 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles
2. California Gogi Grill3742 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles
3. Chichen Itza3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles
4. Bacaro LA2308 S Union, Los Angeles
5. Ebaes2314 S Union Ave, Los Angeles
6. AhiPoki Bowl5553 W Sunset Blvd #108, Los Angeles
7. Lotus3742 S Flower St, Los Angeles
8. Everytable1101 West 23rd Street, Los Angeles
9. Caveman Kitchen2215 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
10. Jacks N Joe2498 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles
It should come as no surprise that this family-owned shop is the keeper of the best cheesesteak in LA: not only do they use ribeye meat instead of sirloin in their sandwiches (which, any Philly native will tell you, is a crucial difference), they ship actual Amoroso hero rolls in from Philadelphia every day to ensure authenticity. Each item on the extensive menu costs less than $10, which makes it a popular haunt for broke USC students or people seeking a solid lunch meal on a budget around the Colosseum.
California Gogi Grill puts a modern spin on classic Korean comfort food, with a fully customizable menu of wraps, bibimbap bowls, rice bowls, bento-esque "stacked" boxes. Guests can pick from an array of meats -- bulgogi chicken or beef, spicy pork, or tofu -- and pair it with their choice of rice, sauce (pro tip: try the Sriracha cream), and a slew of toppings ranging from cucumber kimchee to shredded cheese. The snug counter-service spot is a great addition to Exposition Park neighborhood, standing out from the throng of fast food options with its "slow food" approach that is both health-conscious and delicious.
Serving fast-casual Yucatan cuisine in a vibrantly colored, festive space, Chichen Itza is one of the best lunch options in Exposition Park. USC students and LA natives alike flock to this spot for its delicious cochinita pibil -- shredded pork tacos in a traditional citrus-achiote marinade, topped with piquant pickled red onions -- but the rest of the menu includes highlights like ceviche tostadas, panuchos, and talames. Whatever you ultimately select, we suggest you pair it with a homemade horchata for maximum refreshment.
A modern-minimalist sleeve with banquette seating and 12-15 rotating selections scrawled on a slate wall, Bacaro LA was started up by a man who's paid his vino dues: as a sommelier (at AOC), a retail employee (Silverlake Wine), and a wine-speakeasy founder (in the courtyard of a friend's apartment -- he's the one who buzzed you in).
There's a few reasons why Ebaes has such broad appeal. First, the food menu is expansive: you could opt for the tapas route, and feast on a selection of light fare like pork gyoza, edamame, wontons, sashimi, or traditional sushi rolls; or you could go for a heaping, wholly satisfying bowl of ramen (pro tip: regulars rave over the spicy pork tonkotsu) -- whatever you decide, the Japanese comfort food here is simply good. Second is the quirky ambience, which likely accounts for the varied clientele (USC students, or neighborhood locals who err on the hipster side), as the dining room boasts both traditional paper lanterns, a manga-esque wall mural of various animals amidst cherry blossom trees -- oh, and the bathrooms are decked out with Hello Kitty fliers and photos of Channing Tatum in the Magic Mike years. That too.
This Hollywood poké stop has a free parking lot in the middle of Hollywood, a large space, and even out-there seafood options like octopus and scallops. Along with fresh fish sourced from Japanese vendors, diners can customize their bowls with toppings like daikon sprouts, chili flakes, and jicama, and drizzle the whole thing with their signature sweet citrus sauce.
A solid sushi and shabu-shabu spot is already a precious find, but Lotus adds hookah into the mix for a relaxed and satisfying meal that won't break the bank. As USC students tend to flock to this low-lit, crimson colored Exposition Park spot for it's daily happy hour deal (half-off sushi rolls, two-for-one sake shots, and $15 hookah), weekends here tend to be crowded, so consider swinging by during the week for a more mellow experience.
Rarely does one find affordable take-away food that holds up as fresh and actually healthy, which is why Everytable is such a blessing. It's a new venture by Groceryships, a non-profit dedicated to making healthy food more easily accessible to low-income neighborhoods who often have no choice but to rely on over-processed fast food options. The kitchen draws inspiration from the variegated cultures of the South LA community, creating flavorsome salads like the California Cobb and Vietnamese chicken, as well as hot bowls like Jamaican Jerk Chicken over rice and the standout pozole rojo. While it's predominantly a grab-and-go option, the University Park spot boasts a minimalist, modern interior and a cozy seating area if you'd prefer to stay put.
This family-owned eatery stands in contrast against other fast food options in the University Park area, revered by USC students and LA natives alike for its bold, Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, massive burgers (all of which clock in at under $10), and lomo saltado ribeye. It's counter service, but the ample seating area boasts playful wall drawings, tribal masks, and bamboo window blinds, which make for a pleasant ambience even when you're grabbing a quick bite before heading to a game at the nearby Colosseum.
Jacks N Joe serves breakfast as it should be: an all-day affair of gravity-defying pancake stacks, thick-cut French toast, and loaded hash browns. USC students and LA natives alike frequent this brick-walled, contemporary eatery for its standout "Aloha Boy," a winning pancake combination of puréed pineapple, coconut, and powdered sugar, alongside other favorites like the "WTF," which captures the perfect ratio of cream cheese to seasonal berries. The University Park outpost closes at 2pm everyday, so we suggest getting there early to beat the horde of college students trying to cure their hangover.