Eating near the University of Southern California can seem bleak at times, considering the plethora of fast food surrounding the school. On-campus dining options have greatly improved in past years, with the introduction of Nekter Juice Bar and the Habit Burgers, along with staples Lemonade, Seeds Marketplace, and Moreton Fig. The Icon Plaza, right across Figueroa from Marshall Business School, has also given Figueroa’s fast food reputation a slight lift with the openings of Pizza Studio, Built, and Which Wich. Even better for the USC community, Downtown LA is undergoing a Renaissance with the openings of aesthetically appealing hotels, underground-trendy stores, and quality-based restaurants. I’ve compiled a list of my 12 favorite places to wine and dine right near USC’s campus as well as in DTLA.
Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference.
IN DIRECT VICINITY OF CAMPUS
1. Bacaro LA
The Kronfli brothers – Danny and Bobby – opened Bacaro LA in April 2008 with former partner Santos Uy, seeking to specialize in “cicchetti.” They continue to serve those Italian-inspired small plates with small production wines. My favorite dishes from Chef Lior Hillel are Noa’s Cauliflower, the Burrata di Gioia, and the Bacaro Burger with a fried egg.
2. La Barca
La Barca is ideal when it comes to dinner and pre-gaming before a night out, and perfect for when you’re in the mood for margaritas and Mexican food with friends. Their strawberry margaritas really hit the spot and their menu satisfies any Mexican craving.
If you tend to experience cravings for Indian food but wish to remain within the comfort of your own home, look no further. Manas delivers. You can’t go wrong with the Chicken Tikka Masala, and the Naan is another classic done right. Order minimum for delivery is $15. If you plan to eat in the restaurant, go from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm, when they feature a buffet.
Right next door to Bacaro LA is Nature’s Brew, which is the Kronfli brothers’ response to USC’s lack of organic, hipster breakfast/lunch/coffee spots. This is a great place to hang out and do work accompanied by pastries, fresh juices, and Intelligentsia coffee. I highly recommend the Egg Sandwich on a croissant and their pastries are generally to die for.