Over the years working in the South Bay, I’ve made a number of places frequent stops for dinner or lunch.
Here’s some of my personal picks I’d like to share.
California Fish Grill
Where else can you get swordfish for $11.99 with two sides? You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere offering such a dish for under $20, but California Fish Grill (a short drive east on Artesia Boulevard from the campus) offers that and other tasty seafood for reasonable prices.
The swordfish steaks and other grilled fish selections come with optional cajun, olive oil, chimichurri or garlic glaze.
Keep in mind the excellent clam chowder, not too greasy fish and chips ($8.99) and consider spending an extra $1.50 for a side of brussel sprouts doused in a tasty vinegarette.
California Fish Grill has numerous locations in Southern California. The closest to campus is 1425 W. Artesia Blvd. in Gardena. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Phone: (310) 225-2777. Online: cafishgrill.com.
Forget the greasy Five Guys burgers and consider In-&-Out’s offerings flavorless and overrated compared to The Habit’s charbroiled creations.
While it is more than what you would pay for at In-&-Out, The Habit is much cheaper than Five Guys and other gourmet burger joints in the South Bay.
If you want something a bit fancier for the price, consider ordering the Santa Barbara Char, which has avocado and numerous other toppings on grilled sourdough.
And don’t forget the onion rings. Crisp, not too messy, not oily and a better order than french fries. Have a lemonade or mocha shake and you’ve got an excellent burger outing.
The Habit has restaurants across Southern California. The nearest to the campus is at 3829 Torrance Blvd. in Torrance. It is open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Phone: (310) 406-3063. Website: habitburger.com.
This literal hole-in-the-wall in a strip mall in Hawthorne is a hidden gem of a Mexican family restaurant, and within reasonable distance from the college.
It is almost always busy and loud with Spanish sports on the TV, but the food can be ordered to go with complimentary chips and salsa, or can be enjoyed in the establishment with a margarita, Michelada or various beers.
Breakfast, seafood, and a variety of burritos (try Tom’s, with carne asada, beans, guacamole, sour cream, onions and spicy green sauce) round out the menu, and weekends offer menudo.
The best thing is that this isn’t a joint that piles on spices and sauces to mask poor-quality meat. It’s mild done right, with the option of adding more fire if you desire.
It’s highly likely the friendly staff will offer you deliciously cold flan on the house, but it might be a challenge to eat it as the amount of food will put you at the bursting point.
Zacatecas is located at 13737 Inglewood Ave. in Hawthorne. It is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Phone: (310) 679-5161. Take out is available.
Offering lunch on the weekdays for under $10 and dinners and weekend prices for $13 a person, this Chinese buffet in Lawndale is just a short drive from the campus.
The establishment offers a change of dishes from its lunch and dinner options. Lunchtime eaters should make a beeline for the Chinese barbecue pork, while weekend and dinner visitors should make room for giant crab legs.
However, the place excels in its appetizers, from wontons, sushi, fried shrimp and chicken wings and skewers. It is likely you will have a plate of appetizers, rice and some variations of meat dishes, and if room allows, a third plate for dessert or fruits.
#1 Buffet is located at 14418 Hawthorne Blvd. in Lawndale. Open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. Phone: (310) 644-4007. Take out is available.
The concept of Taco Tuesday seems to be ripped off by Pizza Rev’s special — $6 personal pies, all day on Tuesday.
The chain pizzeria, which operates like a Subway but serving thin-crust pizza, allows for as much meat, veggies and other toppings as you like for that price. That’s right: no extra charge for more pepperoni or adding more flavor to a Hawaiian-style (or is that Canadian?) ham and pineapple.
Along with specials offered on smartphones, this should be a consideration for a student’s wallet. Pies generally cost under $9 the rest of the week.
The only minus is location; the nearest one to El Camino College is in El Segundo, in the shadows of the city’s skyline on the always-busy Sepulveda Boulevard. There is ample free parking in the midst of the offices, at least.
Pizza Rev has numerous locations in Southern California. The nearest location to El Camino College is located at 460 N. Sepulveda Blvd. in El Segundo. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Phone: (310) 426-6320. Take out and online ordering are available, and the chain offers deals and rewards via smartphone. Website: pizzarev.com.