Although I’m originally from Southern California, I never spent much time in LA growing up.

So, during my freshman year I tried to find some fun places to spend time with friends! Most of the time we’d go out and get food, and there are a bunch of areas close to campus that have some great restaurants! Here’s a list of some of my favorites: 

  1. Koreatown
    1. Ktown is only a quick drive away from campus, and is one of the best spots to get food in all of LA! I grew up eating a lot of types of Asian food, so it reminds me of home. My friends and I come here a lot to get dinner together after a packed day of classes and extracurriculars or after a long week of work. Some of our favorite places to go for food are Yupdduk LA, Coco Ichibanya, BBQ Chicken LA, and Slurpin’ Ramen. They also have great dessert places like Somisomi (I have one of these by my house so I went here all the time in high school!), Sul and Beans, Cafe Bora, and Oakobing. And if you ever want to pick up some cool groceries or fun Asian snacks, H Mart is right near the metro stop in Koreatown~
  2. Little Tokyo
    1. Little Tokyo is a great place to go get dinner when you’re in a big group! A lot of places take reservations, and if they have a waitlist instead there are plenty of places to kill some time before you eat! Some of my favorite places here are Sushi Enya, Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen, Kura Sushi, Bae & Co., and Mikawaya. The decorations in the main plaza are also great for getting some uber-instagrammable pics!
  3. Arts District
    1. Right next to Little Tokyo is the Arts District, and they’ve always got plenty going on! A couple of my favorite places are Wurstkuche, Urth Caffe, and the Pie Hole. They’ve got plenty of art galleries to walk around and look at, and Two-Bit Circus  (one of my favorite arcades) is super close by! It’s also right around the corner from little Tokyo so you can always grab lunch or dinner in one place and dessert at the other!
  4. Alhambra
    1. Alhambra is a little further away than most of these places, but there are some amazing Asian food options there! Some of my favorites are (the famous) Tokyo Fried Chicken Co, Sushi Me, and Thai Purple. And for dessert they have boba and ice cream-cookie sandwiches at 7 Leaves, Afters, and Tan-Cha! It’s so much fun to walk down Alhambra’s main street and look into all the small restaurants and dessert places when you want a night on the town with your friends but aren’t looking to do much other than eat.


I hope this list gives you an idea of the amazing places you can visit when you get a little ways off of USC campus. A lot of my favorite memories from freshman year were made in the places listed above, and I hope that if you end up in LA this list will give you some guidance!

Shannon Brownlee

Shannon Brownlee

MAJOR: Computer Science & Quantitative Biology YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: San Diego, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @shannon.mb144 On campus I'm involved with the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS++) and the Corpus Callosum arts + tech club! I also conduct neuroscience research within the Biomedical Engineering department. Outside of school, I enjoy singing, painting, gardening.