A College Student's Guide to LA Dining


College is a time of experimentation, growth, freedom, and knowledge. It is also a struggle to live on a shoestring budget. Attending college in Los Angeles brings a new level of hardship: traffic and big city prices! Do not fear—there is a plethora of cheap eats to fulfill those much needed study breaks without hurting your wallet. The following is a list of cheap eats that are conveniently organized by neighborhood, so that no matter where you are, you can find good food with a student-friendly vibe.

Westwood is the Mecca of college eats because of its convenient location next to the University of California, Los Angeles. USC fans beware because you will be in bruin territory, so be prepared for the barrage of UCLA clad students. While enjoying the quaint surroundings of Westwood, take care to stop by a UCLA staple, Diddy Riese. Sure to quench any sweet cravings, this create-your-own ice cream sandwich shop boasts a delectable custom-made dessert for only $1.50—now that’s a sweet deal. Gushi is another hotspot with its appetizing menu filled with Korean barbeque. This place is a great deal because the portions are huge-- enabling you to split with a friend. Yamato Restaurant is the place to go for cheap but tasty sushi in a swanky setting (make sure to try their garlic edamami—it makes for a great appetizer!). Sushi is half off during happy hour making it that much cheaper to enjoy. 

Westwood is also rife with cafés perfect for an afternoon study session, but two in particular stand apart from the rest. Espresso Profeta is the epitome of the traditional café and a refreshing breath of air from the usual coffee giants. It offers quality coffee in a cute setting and free wifi – priceless to college students. The brick exterior and picturesque patio café make you feel like your studying in a quaint garden, a nice change from the library. Located in the bustling center of Westwood, Boba Loca offers a satisfying alternative to coffee for a caffeine fix. Serving a variety of teas and boba, the café also offers free wifi and plenty of seating but make sure to get a seat early during midterms or finals because this place is a study hotspot. The almond milk tea is a personal favorite that never disappoints. With the variety of cafes available in Westwood, students have ample opportunity to break free from their dorms and get some fresh air while being productive.

On the USC side of Los Angeles, there are plenty of college eats to enjoy. For those late nights when good eats are few and far between, those in Trojan territory favor TG Express and Chano’s drive in. TG sates any late night hunger pains by offering tasty, cheap Thai cuisine until 4:00am. With orders over $10.00, a free Thai tea is included with the meal, which is always a nice bonus for delivery. Chano’s drive in is the perfect place to end a night out by indulging in some much needed Mexican food, especially their nachos.   

Bacaro LA Wine Bar is owned by a USC Alumni and boasts a nice happy hour special for the thirsty college student offered Monday through Thursday from 5:00pm until 7:00pm with $5 plates.  With a casual, cool vibe and delicious Italian-inspired menu, it is not surprise that USC students flock here. The Lab Gastropub is conveniently located just steps away from USC. Serving an array of beers that pair well with the “lab burger,” one of their appetizing American cuisine specialties, The Lab is a nice place to unwind after a particularly long day of lectures. 

Regardless of where your football loyalties lie, the first stop on any student’s must-eat list is Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. This place is an iconic Los Angeles hotspot best known for its delicious fried chicken and waffles. This is the ultimate hangover cure after a night out on the town, so the next time that you are hankering for something fried, come here to quench your craving. 

West Hollywood boasts some great options when you feel like leaving the college bubble and splurging. Millions of Milkshakes is a trendy place to visit for a sweet treat at a sweet price. Here you can customize your milkshake by choosing your base (ice cream, frozen yogurt, or vegan ice cream) and any toppings that you can possibly imagine. You might even spot a celebrity while enjoying your frozen treat. Always entertaining, Hamburger Mary’s is the place to munch on tasty burgers with their vast menu of creative toppings to fit any craving. In addition to their fine hamburgers, the dynamic atmosphere boasting drag queens, karaoke, and bingo on selected nights guaranteeing that you will always have a good time.  

Beverly Hills and Hollywood have some great breakfast/brunch spots to enjoy when the dorm brunch is simply not cutting it. Urth Café offers exclusively organic coffees and teas, and an extensive menu perfect for brunch. Griddle Café is the way to go for a hearty breakfast (the portions are huge) and a quality cup of Joe. Serving each order of coffee in a French press, a cup of coffee has never been so fresh! With a menu featuring an array of pancakes that will put any dorm breakfast to shame, this is the perfect excuse to procrastinate! 

Trying to eat out in Los Angeles on a student budget can be tricky, but follow this guide for cheap eats and you will never go hungry! 

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