Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Apr 4, 2012 01:51 PM

Good markets, restaurants, etc. around Cal State LA?

I'm starting a nursing program this summer at Cal State LA. I live Mid-City/Miracle Mile, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore a part of the city and surroundings that I know next to nothing about. Any suggestions particularly for great local markets, restaurants or hidden gems would be most welcome - I'm a blank slate for the area!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For me, it would depend on how much time one could set aside exploring the adjacent areas. I'm most familiar visiting the general San Gabriel Valley area that is east of the campus. So many food-oriented places to explore in Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, etc. Everything that you have asked for is there - lots of markets, restaurants, and gems that are hidden as well as not so hidden (thanks to the SGV Hounds). The vast majority cater to the Chinese and Vietnamese communities. The drive from the campus to the areas rich with options would begin at least five minutes away, via Valley Blvd - Atlantic is where opportunities start to become more dense. You could also hop on the 10, which can be a crap shoot as far as traffic goes.

    If I were to pick one place that would be worth a reasonable drive from CSLA, it would be Banh Mi My Tho. Great (but tiny) mom & pop banh mi shop that is dense with other Vietnamese standard goodies. My favorite sandwich is the #8 - charbroiled pork sandwich. The meatballs are good as well, and their Vietnamese coffee (ca phe sua da) is very good. Unlike some of the chainy-type places who premix, they make it as it's ordered.

    No matter where you end up going around the SGV, I think for the most part, you'll find that it's a Chowhound Shangri-la.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bulavinaka

      Great requests about SGV. However, I did this commute for Four years while getting my Masters and sadly I found I would have to go further East for good Chinese food, so by year two I was skipping it completely as the last thing I wanted to do was go further east and THEN go all the way back west.

      Luckily though, Cal State L.A. has a lot going for on its westside too, especially since it's so freeway adjacent. My last years there I lived on:

      * Antojitos Carmen: I seriously owe them my degree... On the day of my Comps, I had Carmen in the morning, since they do breakfast and Carmen for dinner, since they are open late. It's a comfy place to eat in, they pack up food nicely for take away. Cheap enough for ANY college student

      * Guisados: I actually didn't get a chance to go to them because they opened up after I graduated. But their promixity to the freeway, nice clean space and awesome tacos. I would have hit them up regularly for sure.

      * Arts District: Wustkulche, Urth Cafe, Handsome Coffee Roasters, Pie Hole, there is a LOT there just a short detour off the freeway.

      Now, since I was taking late classes, my commute there was during rush hour. The ONLY way I retained my sanity, was by bypassing the 10 and taking Jefferson all the way to Central. On Central, I would often stop to do some grocery shopping:

      Fresh and Easy: Central and Adams... great for grab and go stuff.

      Superior Central and Washington... Great for fruit and produce.

      Best of luck with your Nursing program and GO GOLDEN EAGLES!


    2. If you like Mexican food then you'll be only a few miles from the best that Los Angeles has to offer. Mi India Bonita or Lilliana's or Teresitas or Moles La Tia or even that Los Angeles institution El Tepeyac (among many, many others) are all within easy striking distance of Cal State L.A. (and if you get to Mi India Bonita don't miss the albondigas soup. Outstanding.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Servorg

        Servorg - glad to see this more recent post about Moles La Tia. Going for a business dinner this week.. Any suggestions? Don't miss? Thanks!

        1. re: Louisiana Mouth

          I thought that the tricolor enchilada (Mexican flag mole) plate was really good. Their horchata is also a don't miss.

          1. re: Servorg

            Servorg, have you been there since Rocio Camacho left? (Jan 2010). I loved La Tia, but have been reluctant to go back since she left.

            (I still have to get to one of Rocio's new places in Sun Valley and Bell.)

            1. re: Peripatetic

              Read about that and want to go but need a place near La Tia. Will check it out and report back.

              1. re: Louisiana Mouth

                Gallos Grill has re-opened and is near La Tia... It's pretty nice for a business dinner and they serve Beer which Tia does not....


              2. re: Peripatetic

                I've been... I admit I love Rocio's new Mole place in Bell, I think Moles La Tia I think got better since she left. The soups are still amazing and the moles atill wonderful.


                1. re: Dommy

                  Thanks Dommy! Can't wait to try it again.

                2. re: Peripatetic

                  I've been to La Tia after Chef Camacho departed. The mole execution is nowhere as crafted as Rocio's, and the prices are higher.

                  Given both are equi-distance, I've not returned to La Tia. Their horchata is rather impotent and carries a sickening amount of sugar. The free pan dulce during breakfast is a nice touch, but that's worth at most $0.50 at panaderias nearby.

                  That stretch of CChavez carries a rather pathetic bunch of Mexican B&Ms.

          2. I'm a big fan of King Torta on Valley blvd. Freshly baked bread and very juicy meat within.

            7 Replies
            1. re: granadafan

              Yes good stuff. They make a nice carne asada torta and I like their red salsa

              1. re: Ernie

                I really like their red salsa as well.

                1. re: Ernie

                  My go to is the carnitas torta and sharing the guacamole fries.

                2. re: granadafan

                  Looking at the photos makes me want to get over there as fast as possible. Have you ever had their "super fries?" Photo courtesy of yelp: If I am ever in the mood for slamming my arteries shut this will be the first (and probably the last) thing I'll order... ;-D>

                  1. re: Servorg

                    I like their nachos with gauc and cheese better. The fries simply don't hold up to all that goop.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I do okay with Dino's "crazy chicken" fries so I may be okay with these. But just to make sure I'll need to sample both nachos and fries loaded up and see...

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Unless you are using a knife and fork, bring a bib and ask for extra napkins. Or heck, just wear something disposable.