If you ever get tired of USC’s Everybody’s Kitchen, Parkside Dining Hall, Tutor Campus Center, or McCarthy Dining Hall, do not even fret! Los Angeles’s street food, particularly its Latin American street food, will introduce your tastebuds to flavors and savory dishes of an unimaginable caliber. A common misconception is that you need to visit a gourmet restaurant to taste authentic meals of a particular culture, but in Los Angeles, this notion is reversed if you are in search of bona fide Latin American food.
Street food comes in many forms. You can find food trucks lining Figueroa Street or taco stands scattered across Los Angeles nightly. What my friends and I like to do is hunt for a new spot every so often, although we all have that one spot that we hold close to our heart – mine is Lasso Taco on Vermont and West 28th Street. We’ve found that late-night studying is best supplemented with something to snack on, whether it be three small soft tortilla tacos, a hearty burrito packed with everything you can imagine, or a small cinnamon horchata drink to sip on as we wrap up an essay. So we hop into my friend Ivan’s car and cruise around the neighboring Los Angeles areas until we spot a truck or stand that doesn’t look all too familiar, and then we stop and feast.
With all these adventures under our belt, we’ve all begun filling in a mental food map of USC’s surrounding areas. All these small explorations not only acquaint us with the general Los Angeles area but also set up a network of reliable, tasty alternatives for when we’re craving something a little more than USC’s dining halls. However, one night, my friends and I were craving more than a small trek – we wanted an expedition. So, we headed down to the South Union Avenue Food Market.
It was a Friday night, and the market was bustling, packed with customers from all over Los Angeles. Parents were there with their kids, couples drinking from shared cups, and all sorts of people looking to indulge in some scrumptious Latin American cuisines. At the food market, we found food from Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, and even some Peruvian food! Ultimately, I ended up having some birria quesatacos, which is shredded goat meat in cheese-lined tortillas with consomé on the side, a broth made from the juice and spices that the meat was cooked in. To drink, I had an agua de plátano, which literally means “banana water” but really means to say it’s banana juice. The foods that these vendors had to offer were incredible, and I wish I could try more, but that just means that I have to go back.
So, if you ever feel like expanding your palate a little more because McCarthy feels a little bland, don’t look any further down the street because Los Angeles has you covered for meals and meals to come.