With the mass exodus of thousands of UCLA graduates from their picturesque Westwood neighborhood — picturesque if you've always envisioned a neighborhood where you'd search 30 minutes for a parking space before giving up, or if you've dreamed all your life of waking up at 8 a.m. to someone blasting Rihanna songs about S&M — we not only say goodbye to our miniature apartments, we say goodbye to our favorite restaurants. The ones that we'll see on Alumni Day ten years from now and fondly say, “Hey, I got really drunk there.”
To bid a fond farewell to the overpopulated student jungle, turn the page for the top 5 Westwood dishes UCLA graduates will miss the most.
5. In-N-Out's Double-Double with whole grilled onions, mustard grilled medium rare patty, extra toasted bun and a side of well done fries: We admit to taking In-N-Out for granted the instant we moved across the street. When we grew up without a local branch, it was the stuff of road trip dreams. On hours-long drives when roadside signs repeat McDonald's, Carl's Jr., and Taco Bell ad nauseum — has the Latin phrase ever been so literal? — the swooshing yellow arrow of In-N-Out might as well have been St. Peter's golden gates of heaven. By now we've perfected our order: whole grilled onions for the sweet midway between caramelized and raw, mustard grilled patty for depth, medium rare doneness for added moo, extra toasted bun for texture and well-done fries to pretend for the first five minutes that In-N-Out fries can achieve crispiness.
4. Diddy Riese's Coffee ice cream sandwich with double chocolate with nuts cookies: We tried for so long to find the right ice cream filling for a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie sandwich. But chocolate, more chocolate, nuts and coffee just makes sense. Sometimes we get the urge at 11 p.m., walking the two blocks only to discover a line rivaling a Harry Potter midnight showing. We want to shout, “It's only cookies and ice cream! Why don't you just go home?” But really, we know it's just the hunger talking.
3. BBQ Chicken's: Half Crispy Chicken with an order of fries: What's better than Southern fried chicken? Korean fried chicken, so moist we're convinced a Seoul-based engineering firm invented the brine. Its crackling crust, closer to the flour-heavy applications of Southern grandmas than the nanometer thin coating of Kyochon, may occasionally slide off. But hidden between a Jews for Jesus and what used to be a medical marijuana dispensary is a secret that Westwood Koreans smartly keep to themselves.
2. Italian Express's Garlic chicken pizza: It's hard to defend this one. Slathered in garlic cream, the cheese denser each time we meet the delivery man, we usually spend the rest of the night gulping ice water. When 3 a.m. rolls around and you've been doing other forms of excessive gulping, though, nothing satiates like an excess of garlic, cheese and dough. The three or four tomato bits sprinkled on top are nice too.
1. Gushi's Kalbi plate: Was it UCLA or a Korean BBQ shack that taught us time management? If you call and order the kalbi plate the moment you step onto the campus shuttle at Murphy Hall, by the time you walk to Gushi from the Weyburn Terrace stop, it will have just finished charring on the grill, the sugars in its marinade caramelized past savory and straight into smoky. It's surely not meant to be eaten in one sitting, but it always is.