Known for their “kick back and chill” atmosphere, Ground Zero is the perfect spot to get some casual studying done or check out weekly open mic night every Monday night at 9 p.m. As a vegan, I was overjoyed when they began offering vegan shakes since I didn’t want to miss out on all the yummy offerings they are serving up. Ground Zero stays open pretty late which is perfect with finals cram sessions coming up. With shakes and a show, you can’t go wrong with the Five Dollar Shake to Everything but the Girl Scout milkshakes on the menu. For any other vegans out there, I recommend the Death By Chocolate, complete with vegan double chocolate powder and oreos.
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday to Sunday: 1 p.m.-12 a.m.
New Annenberg Illy Café
The Illy Café is a relatively new installment on campus. This Italian style bistro serves a selection of coffees, juices, and even baguette and breakfast sandwiches. Its convenient location in the new Annenberg building near the bookstore makes for a quick in between class pick me up. They even serve a small selection of desserts, including tiramisu and macarons in case you have a sweet tooth. They have espresso too so if anyone is feeling tired the next morning after pulling an all nighter study session this time of year Illy is the place to be!
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 7:30 am-9:30 pm, Friday: 7:30 am-5 pm
Starbucks at McCarthy Quad
For anyone that still knows this on-campus Starbucks as “TroGro” (short for Trojan Grounds), then you know what to expect from this staple caffeine supplier. Despite the lines always being long, TroGo also sells dozens of snacks, juices, bottled water and premade lunches such as sushi, sandwiches and even pad thai noodles. I tend to avoid due to the Disneyland-status lines, but life hack: Try using the Tapingo app to skip the constant line out the door! There is a separate line for Tapingo customers that let’s you walk right up and get your caramel macchiato after you receive a notification from the app.
Hours: 24 Hours
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at the School of Cinematic Arts
If you’re looking for a scenic spot to get away from the hussle and bussle of Trousdale or TCC, check out the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf nestled in the School of Cinematic Arts across from the Ostrow School of Dentistry and near the Lyons Center. The Italian villa-esque architecture has always caught my eye among the more gothic style building around campus. There is seating around one of USC’s many fountains as well plenty of seating outside at tables and benches. If you’re looking for a getaway between classes I would highly recommend this not-so-hidden gem.
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday to Sunday: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Dean’s List Café
Located next to the JEP House and the University Church on 34th Street is Dean’s List Café. The coffee shop’s cute string lights and artsy vibe offer a secluded sanctuary. Their menu boasts paninis, boba tea, coffee and even milkshakes. The brick walls and greenery that almost hide this secret treasure from sight from the street offer the perfect aesthetic for any Instagram picture. Recommended by the barista, the iced matcha green tea. And get this — you won’t pay extra for almond or soy milk, so lactose-free people can rejoice at saving their coins for another day.
Hours: Weekdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Weekends 11 a.m.-7 p.m.