The 2018 Major League Soccer season kicked off in March, but Los Angeles’ newest team, LAFC, has been on the road for every match so far. However, that streak ends on April 29. LAFC plays host to Seattle Sounders FC and officially opens Banc of California Stadium (which has only been seen from the street and via some impressive renderings so far).
Given that nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum plays home to USC football and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams (for now), local fans are likely familiar with the surrounding Exposition Park neighborhood — and points slightly beyond. But for those that aren’t, here’s your primer on where to go before and after LAFC matches this season.
California African American Museum
Much of the California African American Museum’s expansive art collection is dedicated to works of art from African Americans in LA, California, and the southwest US, but the collection includes traditional African art as well. Current exhibitions also celebrate African American culture in the form of gospel music in LA, activism, collectivism, and more.
California Science Center
LA is loaded with museums, though few of them are as interactive as the California Science Center. Whether you’re bringing kids or not, the King Tut and Endeavour exhibits alone could probably fill a few hours, and that’s just a fraction of what’s available to take in. Check the museum’s website for current exhibits before you go and make game-plan in advance. You don’t want to miss the game because you lost yourself in a maze of Egyptian artifacts.
Chichen Itza / Holbox
Two of the area’s top Mexican restaurants are just a few feet apart in Historic South Central LA. Chichen Itza aims for bold and spicy flavors mixed with neighborhood charm and a homemade feel imparted straight from Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr. The outpost’s popularity spawned Holbox, which is largely focused on Mexican seafood. Both are affordable, authentic, and just a half-mile from the stadium.
University Park’s Dirt Dog brings LA’s street hot dog culture to a restaurant setting, though that doesn’t mean it loses what’s long made the cuisine so tempting for late-night diners. Paired with a craft beer, selections like the Patty Melt Dog, Red Dog, and Veggie Dog could have you forgetting all about the concessions at the game.
Exposition Park Rose Garden
LA isn’t all concrete and freeways, as much as it may appear that way. One break from the city atmosphere is Exposition Park Rose Garden, which is filled with an array of different colored roses and sits right next to the California Science Center. Whether for a brief or extended visit, the rose garden provides a quiet look at nature before you surround yourself with thousands of screaming soccer fans.
Himalayan House sits just northwest of USC and provides a rich mix of Indian and Nepalese cuisine for prices befitting a college student’s budget and the wallets of many visiting fans. Their momos (dumplings) are a favorite of visitors, as is the chow chow (Nepali-style noodles with Himalayan spices). Just don’t miss this small, unassuming spot if you’re driving nearby.
Revolutionario North African Tacos
Near Himalayan House is the much less straight-forward cuisine of Revolutionario. Marrying North African flavors to traditional Mexican fare like tacos may seem difficult, yet it works. Revolutionario’s prices are on the cheaper end, though the food quality is fresh and rewarding. Duck hash and smashed fries are just the start of a journey into fusion food.
Tracey’s Belizean Restaurant
If you’re searching for large plates of Caribbean-style food, Tracey’s Belizean Restaurant should be able to help you out. Rice, beans, meat pies, plantains, chicken — it’s easy to load up on a hearty meal at this small, local shop. Parking is on the street, however, so just be conscious of that when visiting.
University of Southern California
If you’ve never paid USC a visit, it’s worth checking out the campus at least once. The university has a self-guided tour for visitors that takes you to the various colleges on campus, plus dorms, dining halls, the McCarthy Quad, and plenty of stops related to Trojan athletics as well.