City: Los Angeles, CA
Foodie: Adam Rose, All Things Trojan
Venue(s): Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles Sports Arena, Galen Center, and other USC athletic facilities. (Geography note: Somebody might tell you that the Staples Center and Dodger Stadium are "downtown" as well, but they're worlds apart from USC.)
Address: 3911 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90037
Team(s): University of Southern California and a large number of special events, including the Angel City Classic and international soccer matches.
It's hard to find decent fare inside USC's main venues and there's no real food "tradition" inside the gates. Same goes for on-campus eateries. If you're not tailgating (highly recommended), it's best to hit up the local establishments before and after. Remember that most are located immediately north of campus, which is a healthy walk from the Coliseum. At least you'll build up an appetite. Also, be warned ... the Coliseum banned alcohol a few years ago. No suds for you, unless you hoist 'em beforehand.
Avoid ducking into the generic fast food dumps that haunt the neighborhood. Sure, the greater USC area is considered a desert surrounded by the lush culinary landscape of Los Angeles (unless you ARE a lush, in which case greasy is good), but you can always find a tasty oasis.
All these venues are actually just off campus. Any USC alumnus who can't describe them probably went to the University of South Carolina by mistake.
901 Bar and Grill
Arguably the epicenter of USC nightlife, the Nine-Oh (as it's better known) is a popular hangout for the school's undergraduate population. It's located at the east end of Frat Row (28th Street), which is responsible for most of the evening clientele. During the day, in addition to a full bar, they serve traditional American fare. The pizza has won awards at local food festivals. Older Trojans won't recognize the place since a renovation over the summer of 2007, when it was transformed from a dirty dive bar into a true local's spot. During games, crowds of all ages can be found wearing beer soaked t-shirts or slacks and ties, so come as you are.
29th Street Cafe
Located on the west end of Frat Row, this pleasant cafe is a good place to bring the family and still enjoy a nice beer on tap. A diverse and hearty menu is sure to please all comers, and they feature indoor and outdoor seating. If you're visiting from a region where they don't serve sweet potato fries, make sure to try them out.
This place defines the word "grub." A glorified taco stand, Chanos is considered by some to be the ultimate in college dining. Serving up excellent carne asada at a price that can't be beat, they have extended hours and are good for a snack or meal before, after, or looooong after the game. For those in need of some serious grease, try the Special Quesadilla, featuring grilled onions, peppers, and pastrami. A vocal group of Trojans believes that Chanos pales in comparison to a strip-mall restaurant across the street called La Taquiza. Both are good, but Chanos has longer hours and is the one true local legend.
These spots are a little more of a hike, but offer a nice change of pace.
Only open for a couple years, this wine bar blends sophistication with comfort food. You won't find anywhere else around campus to enjoy a fine Italian wine along with a plate of sausage. Changing specials and various messages can be found scribbled in chalk on the wall. If you want to impress a date or feel a little more cultured, you can't miss here.
Legendary around USC for their $2 margarita happy hour on Tuesdays, this is also a good place to sit down and enjoy some good Mexican food with a large group of friends. Expect a wait on evenings and when the Trojans play in the Coliseum.
Overlooked by many at USC, Manas boasts authentic Indian cuisine. The school enrolls more foreign students than any other American university, and a large number of them miss the home cooking in India. Manas is their answer, and a treat for anybody who can find it hiding on the corner of Hoover and 29th Street.
Typically unlicensed, inevitably delicious. Eat at your own risk.
Bacon wrapped hot dogs
If you need a zillion calories of savory, meaty joy on a grease-slogged bun, take a deep whiff and wander towards this irresistible smell. Served off of street carts during games and frequently chased away by local law enforcement, you may be gambling with your health. You may also experience the most delicious thing ever.
Manhattan has the slice. Philly has the cheesesteak. Los Angeles has the taco truck. It's holy grail of Los Angeles food. Most of them have regular hours and locations, but they're subject to change like the bacon wrapped hot dog carts. Local permit enforcement has led to a "carne asada is not a crime" rallying cry. Unfortunately, they can be really hard to find on game day. If you see a "roach coach" while you're in town, odds are it's different from the kind you're used to. With an emphasis on Mexican food, it's the quintessential Los Angeles chow.
City: Los Angeles, CA