Food is central to Los Angeles and the free Lyft program, dubbed “fryft,” is essential to USC. Combining these two aspects—both of which are invariably prevalent in USC students’ lives—gives a peek into the restaurants that best cater to students and their unique needs.
This collaboration between USC and Lyft provides students with free rides within a two-mile radius of campus from 6 p.m to 2 a.m., with the exception of altered hours for special events and holidays. Within these confines lay many restaurants frequented by students. The question is, which are their favorites and why?
From Italian to Mediterranean to Chinese and more, USC seems to have covered all the bases when it comes to food options within the fryft zone. Josh Skelzkey, a senior studying business, appreciates such variety especially because USC has opened his eyes to a newfound love for Peruvian cuisine at Caveman, located at 2215 Vermont Ave.
“I love Caveman because of its value proposition,” Skelzkey said. “Every time I go there, I know what to expect: constant sports content, amazing food and kind people. Don’t even get me started with the wonderful student discount. It’s almost as if Caveman is South Central’s hidden gem.”
Caveman, along with some restaurants within the fryft zone including Chick-Fil-A, 901 Bar & Grill and Pasta Roma, have student discounts for Trojans. By providing one’s student ID at the register, these restaurants all provide a 15-20% discount for students.
Another budget-friendly option within the fryft zone for USC students is Chinese Street Food, located at 3201 S Hoover St.
“My favorite restaurant in the zone is Chinese Street Food,” said Alix Page, a junior studying popular music performance. “They have amazing pork buns and fried rice and it’s just super close and really good for a cheap meal.”
While some students find these discounts to allow for cost-efficient meals, others face budget obstacles due to the added cost of dietary restricted options at many of the fryft zone restaurants. Hayley Negrin, a sophomore studying theater, was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of two and has appreciated USC’s efforts to have dietary restricted options within the zone, but believes there’s room for more improvements.
“I think USC does a very good job of providing options for students with celiac,” Negrin said. “At Seeds on campus, they have gluten-free bread options. [At] Il Giardino—my favorite—my go to order is the gluten-free pano pasta with their vodka sauce.”
The Italian restaurant, Il Giardino, is a popular option among many students at USC within the fryft zone due to its many options and its location in the USC Village. While the options are there, an added dollar or two for every meal can add up for someone with a dietary restriction.
“You obviously can’t choose whether or not you have dietary restrictions. Some people are born with it and they can’t afford to pay that extra dollar for bread or the extra $5 for pasta,” Negrin said. “I think restaurants can do a better job of handling that situation and just making all the prices equal, especially for students here.”
Further away from campus at the edge of the fryft zone, La Barca is another popular spot at 2414 S Vermont Ave. The Mexican restaurant is known among USC students for its enjoyable atmosphere and large serving sizes.
Raz Mehta, a sophomore studying philosophy, politics and economics, finds himself fryfting to La Barca at least once a week for great food and an enjoyable experience.
“La Barca is 1.1 miles away and provides some of the best Mexican food and vibes in the area,” Mehta said.
USC’s partnership with Lyft has allowed for not only safe transportation for students from off-campus housing to campus, but convenient access to a variety of food options as well.
“When I’m trying to just get a quick cheap bite, fryft is so helpful,” Mehta said.