Dining together once again. Students are not only reuniting with friends and faculty after 15 months of virtual learning, but will now be enjoying meals at USC’s dining halls, such as Parkside, Everybody’s Kitchen and the USC Village.
During the 2020-21 academic year, USC Hospitality only operated out of EVK and provided carry-out meals for students. EVK accepted online orders through GrubHub which could connect to students’ USCards.
USC Hospitality transitioned to providing in-person options this summer, opening EVK on weekdays for students rather than only quick service and carry-out options.
Coming back onto campus, determining what and where to eat on campus can feel daunting for freshmen and sophomores alike. Dining experiences this year are still subject to change, but returning students expect to experience some resemblance of eating in the dining halls, pre-coronavirus. USC stated that in coronavirus reopening phases three and four “University housing and dining halls are open with capacity limits and enhanced safety provisions.” These provisions include mask wearing, social distancing and abiding by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines while in dining halls.
Wondering what to expect next semester? Here are some tips and tricks to navigate your USC dining experience from juniors Olivia Dopp, Olivia Nicholson and Polly Le.
Closest to Birnkrant and New North Residential Colleges, Everybody’s Kitchen, fondly deemed EVK, prides itself on its “homestyle favorites” and is most known for traditional college dining. Even as the only dining hall with a breakfast smoothie bar, there is an ongoing debate among students on whether you should love or hate the food at EVK.
“I’m an international student, so our orientation was right before Welcome Week. All the international students and their parents gathered together in EVK, [and] I loved the atmosphere. I met a lot of new friends; it was my first time trying out the college dining hall experience,” said Le, who is majoring in communications.
One school spirited feature students are looking forward to, especially on football game days, is the custom USC waffle maker.
“McCarthy and EVK have waffle makers you see everywhere, but they have the USC [logo] engraved in them so you get USC waffles, which I think is so fun,” said Dopp, who is majoring in theatre with an emphasis in acting.
Additionally, EVK has one luxury most students cannot enjoy back at home: an all-day self-serve ice cream machine.
“I freaking love [that] there’s ice cream whenever you want; I’m definitely looking forward to that,” said Nicholson, who is majoring in theatre.
For the Fall 2021 semester, EVK will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Sundays and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.
Parkside Restaurant & Grill
Parkside Restaurant & Grill is known for its variety of global cuisines and kosher, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Located near the International Residential College, Parkside is farther from the USC Village and other residential colleges and buildings but students say that Parkside’s eclectic and nutritious food is worth the walk. Specifically, students are looking forward to the live egg bar during breakfast and the wide selection of pizza for lunch and dinner.
With an extensive range of salads and sandwich options, Le explained that Parkside is her favorite dining hall because of its “really good wraps,” specifically, the tandoori chicken wraps.
This semester, Parkside will be open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
USC Village dining hall, commonly referred to as McCarthy due to its proximity to the honors college, has a Hogwartsesque aura, drawing students from all parts of campus. USC Village also uniquely includes the first “flexitarian” and vegan stations for students. Although all of the dining halls have a variety of options for students with dietary restrictions, students recommend USC Village dining hall for vegan and vegetarian options.
“My favorite food would definitely be their chicken teriyaki. My best friend and I, every day that it was there, went immediately to go get it,” Dopp said.
Le hopes students try USC Village because it “has really good ramen.” As for Nicholson, she’s looking forward to one day of the week at USC Village. “I dream of Taco Tuesday,” Nicholson said. “I missed the tacos. The tacos in McCarthy are literally so amazing.”
Students are also looking forward to the USC Village’s exclusive crepes, gelato and sorbet.
Right now, the USC Village dining hall is open at 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Meet new people
Whether it be over a bowl of cereal or a Greek salad, eating at any of the dining halls is an opportunity to connect.
“[The dining hall] is such a fun place to meet people, because you’ll see your friends and they’re sitting with [strangers] and you’re like, ‘I guess I’ll sit here’ and it’s a fun way to make new friends,” Nicholson said.
Especially for first-year students, the dining hall can encourage an equitable space for students to make new connections and bond on a level playing field.
“As a freshman, everybody has to have a dining hall pass so you know if someone is feeling awkward or doesn’t have the money to go out and eat,” Dopp said.
Check the menu
The USC Hospitality website provides a sophisticated online platform for students to explore menus before entering the dining halls.
Before students went remote last fall, Le explained how she would “go up to the USC Hospitality page and check out the menus to see which dining hall has the food that I like.”
Dopp agrees that checking the USC Hospitality website can save time and stress at the dining halls.
“In college, it’s just kind of just so hard and it can be so stressful sometimes,” Dopp said. ”If you’ve walked really far to a dining hall, and don’t have food that you like, it’s very upsetting. I think checking the menus before you walk far is a good strategy.”
There are countless combinations of dishes at the dining halls; the overall recommendation from students is to take advantage of the array of cuisines USC dining has to offer.