One of the things I miss the most about high school and being home is eating dinner with my family. For 18 years of my life, I attended family dinner almost nightly. It was so important to me to come home and unwind over a shared meal, hearing about my sister and parent’s days and telling them about mine.

While I knew college would be the end of home-cooked meals and nightly family dinners, I wanted to somehow continue my tradition. Luckily, I found a great group of friends at USC, and we manage to squeeze in a few “family” dinners a week. On the weekends, I often caravan downtown with my friends and find a restaurant. When I am busy during the week, I am still sure to schedule a time to meet my friends at the dining hall, or sometimes we will even grab things at Trader Joe’s to eat while we are studying. These half-hour meals with my friends are often my favorite part of the day — it’s such a great stress reliever and a good way to keep up with all the cool things my friends are doing.

This summer, while studying abroad in Italy, I have been reminded of the importance of eating together. In Italy, people always enjoy the company of others while they eat. Walking into a restaurant alone is practically a sin: to eat means to be with people. Our program has fully embraced this, organizing potlucks and going out to dinner in smaller groups. Not surprisingly, many of my favorite memories from this program involve food and the people I shared it with.

As we approach a new school year, I encourage everyone not just to make time for meals, but to learn a little from the Italians, and to enjoy these with friends. To make this a little easier, here are some of my recommendations for the best “family meals” back at SC!

Restaurants near campus that my friends and I go to together:

Ebaes: Ebaes has super tasty ramen, sushi, and noodle bowls — all great things to eat family style. Pro-tip: go after 7:00 pm so you can take advantage of the free Lyft program USC provides.

Grand Central Market: Grand Central Market was founded in 1917 and has all sorts of food vendors, ranging from Eggslut, home of the best egg sandwich in LA, to Sticky Rice, a Thai street food stand. This is a great place to go with friends because there are so many different options — even picky eaters will be pleased.

Everytable: Everytable is the coolest restaurant concept in LA. Their mission is to make healthy food equitable, so they price their salad and grain bowls according to the average income of the surrounding neighborhood. At the location near USC, salads are only $4.50, and they are made with fresh, local ingredients. So if you want to save money, enjoy a healthy meal with friends, and help eliminate food deserts, head on over to Everytable!

Best Trader Joes Meals to Share with Friends:

Gnocchi alla Sozzentina: This Gnocchi has tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella for under $3! The microwaves in your USC dorm cook this pasta to perfection, so grab your best friends and enjoy!

Chocolate: If you have ever been to Trader Joe’s, you know they have the most comprehensive chocolate selection of basically any grocery store. My friends and I often share a bag of Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels or a box of Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups while studying (I know this is not a meal, and I am by no means suggesting chocolate should be a meal, but sometimes you have to treat yourself).

Dining Hall Meals:

Grilled Cheese at the Village Dining Hall: Sandwiches are definitely one of my top five favorite foods, and at the Village Dining Hall they will put any sandwich you make into the oven. I usually make a classic grilled cheese, but some of my friends go for a PB&J or a ham and cheese sandwich. It’s hard to go wrong!

Waffles at EVK: EVK is well-known for their waffles. You can make these yourself with a waffle-iron that imprints the letters USC into your waffle! This was a pre-football game staple for my friends and I. Highly recommend — there is no better way to get into the gameday spirit than with a USC waffle!

I am always on the hunt for new food in LA, so look out for future blogs on more places where you can share food with your friends!

Audrey Roberts

Audrey Roberts

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Denver, Colorado PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @audrey.roberts On campus, I lead outreach for the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, do materials research in the M.C. Gill Composites Center, and am the Academic Chair of my sorority.