Many students at UCLA can agree that Westwood is somewhat atypical from the usual college town.
On a lucky day, one might be able to experience a run-in with Kanye West at the local Denny’s or become an eyewitness to A$AP Rocky’s late-night cookie butter pickup at Trader Joe’s.
“Westwood is very much a quaint, walkable college town, yet at the same time undeniably sandwiched between Beverly Hills and Brentwood so you never know what celebrity you’ll run into while you’re running errands,” said Georgia Potter, a fourth-year psychology student.
Despite its exceptionalism, many students have shaped Westwood into their own unconventional little college town. For graduating seniors, the streets of Westwood will be filled with nostalgic memories and will forever be the location of some of their personal favorite spots.
Fourth-year computer science student Jahan Cherian said he enjoys how he can always grab a quick bite to eat in Westwood thanks to its close proximity to UCLA. Westwood’s restaurant offerings include a vast range of cuisines, making it a great spot for students looking to break away from the monotony of dining hall food or apartment cooking.
“Me and my friends will always just spontaneously message each other late at night to go get food in Westwood,” Cherian said. “If anything, I’m going to miss the easy connection between students and Westwood and its accessibility.”
Cherian said two of his favorite places to eat in Westwood are Bella Pita and CAVA – both of which serve Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. While Cherian said Bella Pita is best for late night cravings, he often chooses CAVA as a default to meet up with friends, as it contains a lot of open seating and space for groups to relax and talk.
One of Cherian’s favorite memories at CAVA occurred while he was planning the LA Hacks 2018 event. While dining at CAVA, he learned that the event’s budget had major complications, he said.
“It caused me a lot of stress since the event that took more than a year of planning almost got cancelled, but I didn’t leave until I finished my bowl,” Cherian said. “It brought me a certain calm in the midst of all the chaos.”
With a vast array of restaurants to choose from in Westwood, students usually find one or two spots that they have developed a personal affinity for. Shannon Phu, a fourth-year computer science and engineering student, said BBQ Chicken is her favorite place to eat in Westwood. BBQ Chicken is a small hole-in-the-wall type restaurant located on Le Conte Avenue, with only a few tables inside.
“They serve the best Korean fried chicken I’ve ever had, and I will miss their food the most after I graduate,” Phu said.
Potter said her fondest memories of Westwood center around spending sunny afternoons sitting at the outdoor tables of Espresso Profeta. The rustic cafe, located in a small nook away from the main bustle of Westwood, is one of her favorite places to get some work done or catch up with friends, she said. At one of Potter’s visits, she said the friendly baristas immediately befriended her boyfriend after noticing the band T-shirt he was wearing.
In addition to the food, the nightlife is an indispensable part of Westwood that college students like to take advantage of. Many students choose to hit up Westwood for a fun release from school stress, seizing the night with cheap alcohol and spotty recollections.
There is something familiar and routine about bumping into other students and friends at a bar to enjoy a fun night together as a community. Home to vibrant memories of “Thirsty Thursdays” for many UCLA students, Rocco’s Tavern is trademarked as one of the students’ favorite places to hang out, Cherian said.
“It was the place I brought my best friend to for his 21st birthday, which led us to eventually getting kicked out,” Cherian said.
Broxton Boulevard, a strip of restaurants and shops that transforms into a bustling pedestrian plaza every Thursday for the Westwood Farmers; Market, has been the backdrop for many of Nicholas Roter’s favorite memories in Westwood. Roter, a fourth-year business economics student, said he will particularly miss the Thursday market, often accompanied by live music and food vendors.
“I think my favorite way to experience the Farmers’ Market has been to actually go to Barney’s Beanery … and then eating outdoors,” Roter said. “I will miss being able to eat restaurant food and have a drink with my friends while the performers are right there in front of us playing music.”
Westwood will forever hold a reminiscent value in the memories of our graduating class and their time at UCLA. Potter said that a little bit of exploration of the vast town is required to truly scope out the best spots.
“The town is full of hidden gems, and I’ve enjoyed making so many memories in this college town that I will surely miss when I graduate,” Potter said