There’s always something happening at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, be it the USC Trojan football team's home games or perhaps a huge rock concert or other gathering. The venue that is very close to the University of Southern California's campus seats 100,000 people (and more when the field is also used for seating), so when everyone that is going to or from an event is hungry, there is a big need for some great places to eat nearby. And while many of the food possibilities in the neighborhood lean towards fast-food chains, there are definitely some good places to chow down close by the Coliseum. Many are actually on or near the campus, including McKay's, The Lab Gastropub at USC and USC Traditions. Plus, just a couple of quick miles away (via local streets, not the freeway!) is downtown Los Angeles, where world-class restaurants await. You can look down on the city at Wolfgang Puck's award-winning WP24 or choose the hip scene at Katsuya L.A. Live. There really is a cornucopia of food choices near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, places that fit every taste and every budget; and we're here to help you find the best ones right in the neighborhood or just a short ride away.
Katsuya by Starck - L.A. LIVE
For some of L.A.'s best sushi and coolest scene going, head over to Katsuya L.A. Live. Just a quick drive from Memorial Coliseum, the restaurant helmed by Chef Katsuya Uechi and designed by Philippe Starck must be seen to be believed. But don't let the hip decor fool you; this place is serious about its sushi. Try the signature Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and don't miss the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. We'd suggest simply putting yourself in the chef's hands with the Omakase ($75); you cannot go wrong. And don't miss the Flaming Mandarin cocktail, for it is a taste sensation like no other. Keep your eyes open, too, for there's always a chance to see a few famous faces at the table right next to you, enjoying their favorite Katsuya delicacy. (213-747-9797)
WP24 by Wolfgang Puck
When your team wins big at the Memorial Coliseum (or perhaps you're about to go and see the concert of your life after dinner), there's nothing quite like celebrating nearby at Wolfgang Puck's WP24. Sky high on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at L.A. Live, with fantastic views of the city, this haute cuisine Chinese restaurant has to be tried to be believed. Go hungry, as the extensive menu is broken into either a three-course meal (for $80) or a four-course meal (for $110), with a wide range of choices for each segment of the meal. The "Angry Lobster" is a $25 extra supplement, well worth it if a melange of spice and garlic is your idea of heaven. It is ours! (213-743-8824)
The convivial Yard House at L.A. Live is part of a nationwide chain of restaurants devoted to serving up craft beers paired with over 100 menu items. It's an easy place to have a beer (over 100 are on tap) and a burger, but if you're so inclined, you can feast on steaks, ribs, seafood, pasta and more, and wash it all down with wine from around the world or a specialty cocktail. It's close enough to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to make it an easy stop before or after hitting the stadium, especially if you've chosen a hotel at L.A. Live as your home base for all things downtown. Hit it during Happy Hour (3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.) or Late Night (10 p.m. to closing) for discounted drinks and half-price apps and pizzas. (213-745-9273)
Grand Central Market
At Grand Central Market, you'll find a wide assortment of restaurants – and there is sure to be at least one that tickles your palate. Look for lean pastrami and other house-smoked meats and fish at Wexler's Deli; egg sandwiches done to perfection at Eggslut; Texas-style smoked barbecue at Horse Thief BBQ (who also have an outdoor garden and a bar); Las Morelianas, if you love authentic carnitas; and many other taste delights. For dessert, check out Valerie at GCM for baked goodies and McConnell's Fine Ice Cream, where you must try the Salted Caramel Chip and the Dark Chocolate Paso Brittle. All their ice creams are made from scratch, which is obvious from the first lick. So hit the market before heading to the Memorial Coliseum (it opens at 8:00 a.m.) or visit for dinner on Thursday through Saturday, when the eateries stay open until 9:00 p.m. (213-624-2378)
Chichen Itza is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a big reputation. Located a few blocks from USC and the L.A. Memorial Coliseum inside the Mercado la Paloma (head straight to the back once you enter and get in the line), this famed Mexican joint specializes in fare from the Yucatan. Their Cochinita Pibil is an achiote-marinated, slow-roasted pork that is some of the best you'll have north of the border. Try their ceviche or the Torta de Pollo Asado, a charbroiled chicken sandwich on their homemade bread. Place your order and then choose one of the tables spread out around the mercado; they will bring your freshly made meal to you. Note that there is no alcohol served here, but do try the Horchata or Guanabana for a uniquely Mexican quaff. (213-380-0051)
Rosso Oro's Pizzeria
For a quick bite before you stroll over to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Rosso Oro's Pizzeria is the perfect pit stop. Located across from the USC campus and next door to the Radisson Hotel USC, this place makes pizza just the way you want it. Order a single slice "Loaded" and you'll get a pile of mozzarella, pepperoni, sweet peppers, onions, sausage and mushrooms – all for only $3! Or settle in and eat a whole pizza pie for $18; Rosso Oro's has all your favorite combinations (including their signature "Tommy Trojan" pie), or you can build your own. Non-pizza lovers will find salads, pastas and hot italian sandwiches. Beer, wine and soft drinks round out your casual meal here. (213-743-2077)
Located next door to the Radisson Hotel USC, McKay's features a comfortable lounge, welcoming dining area and a well-stocked bar. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this restaurant named for John McKay, one of USC's legendary football coaches, offers everything from burgers and sandwiches to elegant meals ranging from flat iron steaks to glazed salmon and jerk chicken. And just to prove how close McKay's is to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where the USC team plays, there's even a salad known as "The Coliseum," featuring Lollo Rossa greens, grape tomatoes and avocado stuffed into a garlic crostini. McKay's is the local spot for fine dining, before or after any big event at the nearby stadium. (213-743-4111)
The Lab Gastropub at USC
The Lab Gastropub at USC is a short, 15-minute stroll from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, making it a great spot to begin or end your experience there. If you are part of a crowd, choose one of The Lab's "Group Projects" – plates to share of Chipoltle Nachos, Kalbi Short Ribs, Guac Fries, etc. Or try one of the "Class Favorites" like Steak & Fries or Mac & 3 Cheeses; but those are made for one, not the crowd. And in keeping with the in-school theme, be sure to try their "Final Exam," especially the Horchata Ice-Cream Sandwich, made with coconut, chocolate and macadamia nut cookies. (213-743-1843)
USC Traditions Bar & Grill
Located inside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, USC Traditions Bar & Grill is a convivial pub open to all, USC students or not. So grab a bite to eat there before a big USC football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or simply hang out and watch the action on the pub's big-screen TVs. You'll find typical bar food here, ranging from chicken wings, lobster rolls, tacos and calamari to burgers, kale salad and even a fried honey bun for dessert. Open most days from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., USC Traditions has varied hours on game days, opening earlier to feed all the Trojan fans in the neighborhood. (213-821-3445)
About Jenny Peters
Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good things in life. She is a founding/voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, who present the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards every January. Her favorite places to be are on the beach in Southern California playing volleyball, scuba diving with the sharks in warm tropical waters or strolling the streets and soaking in the atmosphere of one of the world's great cities (New Orleans and Florence are her favorites).
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