Lunch at or near USC
A lot depends on whether you are closer to the Figueroa or Vermont sides of campus. For me, La Taquiza is overrated and especially overpriced, unless you happen to be right across the street. If not, a short trip to King Taco, La Taurino, El Parian, or other local taquerias is a much better lunch. I'm sorry, I just end up feeling ripped off and underserved at La Taquiza.
On the Vermont side, my everyday choice would be Togo's. Pick your favorite sandwich -- I alternate between the hot pastrami and the #8 turkey, roast beef, and cheese. They are good value, made to order (I like the pepperoncini, though they need to be cut up so they don't squirt too much juice onto the sandwich).
If I have easy access to a car, my main destination would be Dino's, on the N/W corner of Pico and Berendo, two blocks west of Vermont. The chicken special is fantastic, a small half-bird marinated and fire-grilled with a garlicky/vinegary/turmeric sauce, served over excellent thin fries with cole slaw and tortillas for about $5. When I got tired of this I'd order their huge pastrami sandwich, maybe a burger, or their carne asada plate. Just a few short blocks west on the south side of the street is C & K Papa Christo's greek place for spanikopita or lamb chops or other yummy lunches for under $10.
Vermont and Pico isn't as close as some of these places, but Dino's Burgers serves up a mean flame broiled chicken plate with fries, slaw, and tortillas for under $10. When I had money, I'd usually hit Fatburger or Chano's, which is one reason I was about 45 lbs heavier back then, but when Mom n Dad came out, we'd at least go to El Cholo.
I wish we had Chipotle when I went there, if only for the sake of variety.
From my 3 years there, this is where I would go (not necessarily in this order)
- Chipotle - burrito bol with chips
- Chanos - carne asada nachos no beans, sour cream; mixup burger with egg (greasy death, but fantastic after beer)
- viztango (formerly bistango) - probably best italian food in the area
- la taquiza - search this board, it's pretty popular
- chichen itza in that uh place off the 101; never been but popular on this board
Unfortunately, around USC these are the only notable spots IMHO. If you're willing to drive, there's creole chef near baldwin hills mall, stuff near DTLA, little tokyo, ktown, etc. USC is a culinary wasteland, but there's TONS of good stuff around it.
I would drive up the street on Hoover to El Taurino, or on Alvarado/Pico to King Taco
Chichen Itza is in the Mercado La Paloma: http://www.mercadolapaloma.com/ . Taqueria Vista Hermosa is there too, and they make an excellent al pastor. (Good homemade tortillas too.)
3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Taqueria Vista Hermosa
3655 S Grand Ave Ste C5, Los Angeles, CA 90007