Over the past few years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I realized that there are so many things to do in Downtown LA other than barhopping. I started to make a list of places to go with my family and friends who would visit from overseas or out of state and now that list is three pages long!
Here are a few ideas for the next time you want to be a tourist in your own city.
Walk from Grand Central to The Broad
Grab a quick bite at the historical Grand Central Market. There are so many food vendors that you could choose from, including diverse options reflecting Los Angeles’ rich cultural variety like German, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, and so much more. I recommend DTLA Cheese or Eggslut. When you’re done eating, you can take the famous Angel’s Flight trolley on South Hill Street to start heading towards The Broad Museum.
Angel Flight is a railway that is 117 years old and costs $1.00 to get to the top in less than a minute. In the past, it connected the tenement communities of the city, and after being closed for awhile, it’s a can’t miss spot! Alternatively, you could take the never-ending stairs if you’re feeling like doing a mini workout.
When you get to the top, it will be a short walk to get to The Broad museum.
Make sure to reserve tickets online (it’s free) ahead of time to avoid a line! The Broad has some of the most influential modern art from artists like Ragnar Kjartansson (beautiful music installation), Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, and of course the instagram-worthy Robert Therrien & Yayoi Kusama.
Insider tip: If you take the glass elevator down to leave, go back up the stairs to get a sneak peek of where the museum stores their art! This place is called “the vault” and it’s pretty cool to look at.
Arts District and Little Tokyo
On the eastern edge of Downtown LA is the Arts District and Little Tokyo. These two locations are for those who truly love galleries and boutique stores. I love visiting this part of the city because there’s always something inspirational that you wouldn’t expect to find. The last time I visited, I went to Hauser & Wirth and was deeply moved by the works of Alexander Calder.
Nearby, there is also a cute store owned by a married couple called Poketo. This place is one of my favorite stores near Little Tokyo. They have cute stationery, accessories, and home items that are sensible and aesthetically pleasing.
If you’re feeling hungry, I recommend Wurstküche for German sausages and dessert at The Pie Hole in the Arts District. If you’re willing to wait in line, the ramen at Daikokuya is phenomenal and so is the matcha ice cream at Tea Master in Little Tokyo.
And for those of you over 21 and do want to go barhopping…
Here’s a list of a few favorites:
This week’s blog post will be an interview with a fellow Bruin and good friend, Maya. She is an English major and she is a second year at UCLA. She has been a vegan for 2 and a half years and stands strongly in support of it.
Why do you like food?
Maya: It is a human thing that we have to eat to survive, you know? It’s the most human thing, makes us human. The fact that we can choose what to put in our bodies is very interesting. It makes it a part of life. I have fun when I eat!
When did you choose to become a vegan?
Maya: I started 2 and a half years ago. I was vegetarian for 4 years before. I always knew I wanted to be a vegan, but I also didn’t know. I thought “I am a vegetarian — I could never be vegan”. I was one of those people who didn’t think I could do it. All of sudden, it was easy. “F**k this shit,” I told myself, “I am not eating anything”. The date was 7/7/17 when I first started.
Why are you a vegan?
Maya: I am a vegan for a couple of reasons. The first is because of love. Animals have heartbeats, veins, and eyes that speak things that words cannot. We have the ability to spend time and energy with animals and pets, so we should treat all of them with the same level of respect. We shouldn’t be judging which animals are better than others, letting some get killed and brutally consumed while protecting others.
There is also a health incentive for being vegan. It’s simply better for my body to not put animals inside of it; eating meat is proven to lead to heart disease and America is a great example of the consequences when a proper diet isn’t followed. So I stay as natural and green as possible for my mind, body, heart, and the hearts of other beings.
What places would you recommend for vegan food near UCLA?
Maya: Grocery stores! It is so fun to make your own food, and when you are a vegan the possibilities are endless. Any combination of beans, rice, vegetables, fruits, oats, and more can turn into a great meal. Experimenting with food and seeing what you can come up with, DIY-ing things on your own, is the best part about it.
When I do eat out, Thai and Indian restaurants are very accommodating to vegans and always have fantastic options.
Any last advice for your vegan/non-vegan fans out there?
It’s important to be aware of the fact that we have the ability to be socially conscious and spiritually progressive in many of our daily lifestyle decisions. We can understand that it is morally incorrect to be consuming living entities that have the capability to love. Our habits should reflect that understanding.
During spring break, you might have some time off. If you are thinking of traveling somewhere internationally, it could be nice to travel someone east or as Nick Young would ask, “What about us taking an adventure east?” in Crazy Rich Asians.
Reconnecting with your roots
If you are Chinese-American and you have not been to Asia in your life, it would be a great time to go to a Chinese country to experience it for yourself, such as modern Hong Kong. The weather is a little chilly and not too hot at this time of the year. There is the convenience, safety, culture, and food. Of course, it would be ideal if you can speak Cantonese and Mandarin, as those two languages are mainly spoken (but locals prefer to speak in Cantonese than Mandarin). People do speak English here and you can get an English menu if needed in some places. Hong Kong preserves its old buildings, but there are many new buildings as well. Walking through the streets will be charming itself, but having the opportunity to interact with the people will be cherry on top of the trip.
You can never get enough of food
In America, everything is far apart and there is a need for a car. Food is everywhere, but portions are huge and there is a need for doggy bags and that would probably be dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. In this sense, there are lesser opportunities to try different food in a period of time. However, this isn’t the case for Hong Kong. The portions are smaller and there is a huge food culture here. Instead of going to the movies at Westwood or Santa Monica for a beach day, people plan to go out for food. One day it could be Dim Sum (a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets) for lunch, then a famous Hong Kong style cafe like Mrs Tang Cafe for dinner. Then there is also the option for snacks like fried chicken and other small eats due to walking around a lot – starting at Goldfish Market to Sneaker Street and eventually, Lady’s Market could last for hours. The probability of getting hungry will be very high and when that happens, there are many food shops around to get yummy snacks from.
There is a lot of things to do
As I implied before, there is a lot of walking to do as everything is close to each other. The MTR (short for Mass Transit Railway) is very convenient for both locals and tourists. People barely drive in Hong Kong, even when they do have driver’s licenses. It is too expensive and unpractical to own a car in Hong Kong. So it isn’t a shocker when there are many things to do in Hong Kong. For instance, there is a lot of shopping to do. There are sneakers, imitated branded bags, goldfishes, and clothes to get from. There are a ton of varieties and when one is tired, there are plenty of beauty parlors to choose from as well. There is just an abundance of everything here. I would definitely recommend getting a massage when you are tired of walking and shopping. There is also the option to play darts for HKD 5 (about USD$0.64 at Joe’s Billards & Bar) at night or taking the ferry to see an amazing city view – filled with lights everywhere.
The Final Closer
The air ticket to Hong Kong ranges from USD$400-$700 during spring break and it is a round-trip ticket. It is not too expensive if you are planning to go on an international trip. The food and transportation will be affordable and living at hostels would be a great way to save some more money too! It’s an option, but I would definitely recommend a trip to Hong Kong and one week will be plenty of time to explore this beautiful island.
It seems like everyone living in Los Angeles has a favorite taco place. Located in historic South Central, Tire Shop Taqueria is hands down one of my favorite places to get traditional Tijuana-style tacos. Not only do they grill the juicy and perfectly seasoned meats in front of you, their tortillas are freshly handmade. This taco place is located in the parking lot of an old tire shop. When you first get here, you can smell the charcoal and see hardworking staff grilling in open flame under canopies.
You can’t get more authentic than this.
I remember the first day my friend brought me here five years ago when I was visiting Los Angeles. He’s a chef and he told me that he was going to take me to the best taco place in Los Angeles. When his car pulled into the area, I was honestly confused on why he would want to eat here. He drove around for a bit over ten minutes looking for parking and I remember telling him that I didn’t need to get tacos anymore. He reassured me that the neighborhood was safe and told me again that these tacos were amazing. When we finally did find parking, we had to wait twenty minutes in line. I was convinced that he was crazy.
But when I finally took my first bite, I fell in love. I remember I stood in line again just to get more. The meat was soft, rich, fatty, juicy, and perfectly seasoned. I’m honestly still amazed to this day every time I try it. I took my boyfriend on one of our first dates and now it became our little tradition where we come here at least once a month. I also take my friends who visit from out of state every now and then and every single one of them fall in love.
When you first walk up to order, you can see that everything is made from scratch. You can choose from carne asada, chorizo, al pastor, and cabeza. They also have quesadillas and vampiros. I’ve tried all of them and would recommend getting the carne asada and cabeza tacos. After they take your order, the ladies who are standing in front of a bowl of corn masa hand press the tortillas on the spot. You then walk over to the workers grilling the meat and these meats go on a cutting board. They will ask you if want toppings, trust me and ask for all toppings (onion, salsa roja, cilantro, guacamole).
Look at that juicy meat. And let me just say, I don’t know how they do it but their guacamole is unbelievable; fresh, creamy, and delicious. There is a self-serve section where you can get sides such as grilled onions, radish, beans, limes, and jalapenos. Lastly, their beverages include Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Water), Horchata, and Mexican sodas.
These tacos are set at a reasonable price for only $1.50.
After I took this photo, it was gone in seconds so I couldn’t take more.
Easily the best I had in Los Angeles, no question. Make sure to bring cash. They used to have a few communal tables five years ago but you might have to eat standing or in your car since they only have one now. Also, make sure to check their hours because they have irregular hours; usually open 6:00pm – 11:00pm. And they close Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And it’s a bit on the sketchy side of town.
But everyone is so friendly here. Maybe it’s the taco effect. I’ll probably go again in a few weeks! Totally worth it.
As a continuation of last week’s post on the best places for Bruins to brunch, this weeks blog will be focusing on more brunch spots. This bunch is a little farther away from UCLA, but it would be great for a day trip if you ever visit Koreatown, Downtown, or West Hollywood! Let’s get into brunching, shall we?
1. Taste on Melrose
8454 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Taste on Melrose is a beautiful restaurant with both indoor and outdoor areas with a very welcoming vibe. The food is very delicate and the brunch prices are relatively reasonable. However, the prices are much more expensive after brunch. The location is great for when you want to take a break during your shopping trips on Melrose!
2. Cafe Korobokgur
3464 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005
This spot is situated in Koreatown, and it is my favorite place to eat and study! Most of the customers that come here are there to study too, so it has good vibes to stay focused. Even though the name is “cafe”, it serves awesome fried rice and flavorful omelette rice. The flavors are all very strong and looks beautiful too. If you only want to stop for a beverage, they also have a wide variety of coffees. Personally, I think the best drink there would have to be the matcha latte, which is light but sweet and refreshing!
3. The Commissary
3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
The Commissary is now known as Openaire, an amazing brunch place located at the Line Hotel in the middle of Koreatown. This restaurant has beautiful lighting that shines through the greenhouse glass surrounding the seating area. There is an open bar and on certain days, there is a brunch buffet too. The Commissary is slightly on the pricier side (unsure if prices changed when the naming changed), but the portions are very large and flavorful as well. Altogether, the unique design of this glass house is definitely worth visiting!
4. Bottega Louie
700 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Located in Downtown LA, Bottega Louie is a huge restaurant with a lot of height and space that makes the entire eating experience feel more lavish and open at the same time. Upon entering the restaurant, there are hundreds of macarons greeting you. There are also a lot of pastries that you can choose from after you are seated. The menu ranges from small plates suitable for brunches, to larger plates like pizzas and spaghettis. All of the dishes I tried were very rich in flavor and were great for sharing. The taste and presentation are all very delicate and displayed aesthetically. This place is generally great for a nice day or night out with your friends for a celebration (since it is also on the pricier side).
There will be more restaurants coming up beyond the category of brunches! Stay tuned 🙂
When I came to UCLA I never would have anticipated that I would be going over to a stranger’s house with several other students for dinner. But let me tell you, participating in Dinner for 12 Strangers has become one of my favorite memories at UCLA! I know what you’re thinking… “Isn’t it awkward?” And the answer to that is no, not really. It was really funny because at the dinner me and the other students at the table were talking about how we heard about Dinner for 12 Strangers and our thoughts on going into it and all of us admitted to a fear of it being awkward. But really, let me tell you it wasn’t bad at all! If anything the experience left me feeling refreshed. It was nice getting to meet people that I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t signed up for the dinner. The conversations were also super interesting. I’m an English major and so I usually never meet any south campus majors so it was just nice to meet some biology and mathematics majors! One of the professors who attended the dinner spoke about her research and recent discoveries.
The dinner was filled with lots of food and lots of laughs. After we all finished eating dinner we moved on over to the living room and played guessing games where we all had to write either a phrase or object on a piece of paper while the person who chose the card would have to either act out or explain what’s on the card while everyone else tried to guess what was on the card. After that, we all went around in a circle and spoke about our majors and what we were interested in. This was really nice since during the literal dinner aspect, we all only really spoke to the people that were on our half of the table so it was nice to go around and connect with the people that sat at the opposite end of the table.
The evening was filled with really great vibes! Everyone was so wonderful and outgoing. I 10/10 recommend this experience. If you’re interested but are afraid that it’ll be awkward, don’t be! Everyone that participates in it signed up and wants to be there and meet new people. Another thing is that to participate in a dinner, it isn’t limited to alumni and students in Los Angeles, it’s global.
Unfortunately, for this school year the deadline is passed to sign up for a dinner but this is a UCLA tradition that the UCLA Alumni Association holds every year. Sign-ups open at the beginning of each year so if you’re interested in participating next year and making amazing memories and meeting new people I’d definitely give this a shot!
When the weekend comes around, it is the perfect time to explore Westwood and the greater Los Angeles area. And what better of a way to get to know the city than to get food? The best way to start your weekend off is with a great brunch, and there are numerous places in Los Angeles that offer a delicious selection. If you want to stay in Westwood or even branch out and take a drive down to Malibu, there are plenty of options for you.
Here are some great spots that you will definitely want to hit:
Urth Caffe (Locations in: Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica)
Urth Caffe is a very trendy cafe that every person who visits or lives in California should go to. They serve a variety of things such as sandwiches, salads, pizza, boba, and mac& cheese. They also have a good bakery selection with items such as bread pudding, scones, croissants, and muffins. Their fresh fruit is also a great addition to any meal you order.
If you have enough time in your schedule to make your way down to Malibu, definitely stop at Malibu Farm. Not only is the food great, but it is on a pier where you can take in the stunning views of the California Coast, as well as take some Instagram-worthy photos.
Le Pain Quotidien (Locations in: Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica)
Whether you want to stay in Westwood or explore other areas of LA, Le Pain Quotidien is a great spot to hit. It has a variety of staple breakfast foods, along with items such as avocado toast and smoothie bowls.
The Butcher’s Daughter (Location: Venice)
The Buther’s Daughter is commonly known as “a vegetable slaughterhouse” and is a vegetarian restaurant. Whether you are a vegetarian or not, it has a menu that everyone would love. They have acai bowls, breakfast burritos, pizza, and smoothies, along with several other items.
Blu Jam Cafe (Locations in: Hollywood, Brentwood, Downtown Los Angeles)
Blu Jam Cafe has an array of mouth-watering food, as well as the option of all day breakfast. They have crunchy french toast, an egg benedict sandwich, and steak hash. The food will definitely have you eager to post a picture on your Snapchat and Instagram.
There are countless places to eat brunch at in Los Angeles, and these restaurants are just a few. So go out, get hungry, and grub!
Love boba? New to UCLA? Need new boba recommendations near campus? You’re just in luck. Read on to find out the best and hottest places to get a sip of sweet boba in Westwood.
1. CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice
Originally from Taiwan — the birthplace of boba — CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice serves a variety of drinks on their menu and you can mix and match your own toppings! CoCo offers beverages in all sizes and you can have your own choice of sweetness as well. On a side note, their boba packaging is unique in its shape that is longer and slimmer compared to the usual plastic cups, made for an easier grip so that you don’t drop your boba! Their boba milk tea known globally, as it grew from being a local beverage store to a franchise company. Apart from the amazing boba, the interior has bar areas, tables and couches for sitting, chatting and studying (though it can get a bit dark inside). Just from experience, CoCo serves their drinks the fastest out of all the others in Westwood. It is the closest boba shop outside of the UCLA campus (11201 W Olympic Blvd). They offer delivery on UberEats as well! You can also find CoCo in Sawtelle, Santa Monica, Koreatown, and near USC.
2. It’s Boba Time
Yes indeed it is! Boba Time is also one of the closer boba stores to campus. Replacing the original boba shop occupying the same area (Boba Loca), Boba Time is relatively new, reflected on their interior designs. Apart from traditional boba drinks, you can also get frappes, slushes, shakes and smoothies — their choices are super extensive. Food-wise, Boba Time offers shaved ice and trending acai bowls for the healthy ones. Find it at 10946 Weyburn Ave, across California Pizza Kitchen and the Regency Bruin theaters.
3. Sip Matcha
Sip Matcha is situated next to Japanese restaurant Tomodachi Sushi and across Brandy Melville (10967 Weyburn Ave). It is the most aesthetic and Instagram worthy boba shop in Westwood, with an earthy interior design that corresponds to their special core ingredient — you guessed it — matcha! They offer different renditions on matcha drinks from their blueberry matcha, to “Magic Matcha” which is a beautiful color-blocked drink that tastes good and looks amazing. Asides from drinks, they also offer Onimatchas, which are matcha flavored rice balls in spam, salmon and menetaiko. This is a perfect place for a quick bite and for a refreshing beverage. The only thing missing from this store are places to sit while waiting. The shop doesn’t really seem to be intended for guests to linger around. As of now, Sip Matcha is only offered in Westwood and Rowland Heights, so take the advantage of being a Bruin!
4. Koala T Café
Next is Koala T Café — right next to Sip! It is mostly known for their Chinese food, but they have an extensive choice of boba as well! What’s special about Koala T’s boba is that you can customize your entire drink, from what base you want (tea, juice, smoothie…etc), to what topping (boba, aloe, grass jelly…etc), to the sweetness, amount of ice, and size. You can literally create a drink that is special to your mood and your taste buds! Of course, they offer boba flavors from a menu as well, for the days when you have a boba-flavor-creating block. My personal favorite would have to be the sea salt green tea boba! Don’t let the name scare you — it’s not that sweet, and gives your drink more texture by balancing out the taste of the green tea. Instead of a café though, the atmosphere is more like that of a restaurant, but it is not too noisy if you are looking to study there! Koala T also is also available on UberEats — another one that’s perfect for those lazy days!
5. Lollicup Fresh
You might have seen this familiar brightly lit sign in Ackerman before. They have one in Westwood too! Though it is a bit of a walk from campus (1131 Westwood Blvd) Lollicup is worth a try. Again, from personal experience, their boba tends to be softer than those of other stores — which is a hit or miss depending on what your preferences are. The flavor of their teas are also stronger than the others, but that can be altered by the amount of sugar you want to add into your drink (which you can specify). Like Koala T, you can customize what you want here. They also serve some Taiwanese dishes that aren’t seen elsewhere, like authentic popcorn chicken!
10 Snacks/Foods To Try When You’re High
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I did some research and most people voted for this as their high snack. This little chocolate will blow your mind away, as it did mine. I finished a bag the last time and I don’t regret the calories. What are calories anyway?
- Chocolates White, dark, milk chocolates… There’s no need to favor any of them, because they all taste delicious.
- Cheetos Chips never gets old. It’s a little spicy on the tongue, crunchy, and filling. Perfect for a snack.
- Vanilla Bean Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory Imagine biting into the creamy pastry and feeling like you’re in heaven. That’s it. Classic vanilla and it never gets old. Need I say more?
- Gummy Candies They are really fun to chew and you can taste the sweetness of them (especially when you like sweet things).
- In-n-Out Most people would get the double-double, but have you ever tried something on the secret menu? You should definitely try Animal-styled Grilled Cheese. It’s phenomenal! (unless you hate pickles, but you could also have them removed) Also, the walk to in-n-out from the hill with a group of friends would feel like it’s an adventure.
- Munchies from Jack in the Box They are called munchies for a reason. Try it.
- Nougat Want something healthy-ish? This could replace your chocolate “addiction”! Chocolates are still great though.
- Cereal It’s not breakfast, but it’s fun to crunch.
- Anything!!! And all of the above! Honestly, you would know any food works and these are all just new or old ideas for you to try out. Have fun!