Hi, I’m Sarah C., a current mole. My favorite Blacker “tradition” is our spontaneous trips to get late-night nourishment. Whether it is a short walk to Winchells on Lake at 5am to grab freshly baked doughnuts or driving across Los Angeles to Tommy’s Chili at lightning fast speeds on the day we gain an extra hour, outings are always fun and filled with adventure.
As a crusty Senior, I feel like I now have the power to tell you what are the objective* best late night eats at Caltech. Here is the definitive ranking of late-night restaurants and some fun stories to go along with them:
5. Dupars: OK, while the pancakes here are amazingly fluffy and sweet, it’s just TOO FAR. Who wants to walk 10 whole minutes away from campus after midnight (yes, I know I contradict this sentiment later on. Just accept that a central tenant of late night eating culture in Blacker is based on the phrase “Dupars is too fars”). The food is also quite expensive for basically being a lesser version of Canter’s.
4. Winchells: While donuts are great, especially after spending a night “studying” (aka hanging out with your friends while you have your set up on the computer), Winchells’s product isn’t that great. Krispy Kreme and Donut Man are better. Sidecar, if you get up to Orange County, is probably my favorite. That being said, I spent many nights here hanging out with my friends or taking underclassmen out to dessert as part of our “Frosh Dessert Night” program, where upperclassmen get to know the frosh in our hovse and the frosh get to ask us any question they have!
3. Arturo’s Taco Truck: In terms of food quality, Arturo’s ranks 10/10. It’s an authentic Mexican taco truck open late night in Pasadena. Everything is super fresh. I know moles who come here almost every night (AKA Devin, an amazing frosh who I don’t think ever has said no to a trip in my memory. You should ask him about his Arturo’s stories). The theme of our interhovse was almost Arturo’s**. Now, if only we could get Arturo’s truck to park in Blacker courtyard…
2. Tommy’s Chili: Ok, while Tommy’s probably ranks the lowest in food quality (the ingredients in the chili are reported to be water, flour and yesterday’s Tommy’s Chili), it’s second to none in crazy stories. As I alluded to above, every November, moles pile into cars on the day we gain an extra hour. The point is to leave Blacker lounge, go to Tommy’s, eat a meal, and then get back to Blacker lounge “before you left,” which is possible because the clocks turn back. The Chili Czar, someone who was elected to do this and have weekly trips to Tommy’s at 4am on Thursdays, runs this event. They have the power to award style points, which can outweigh the time points. Two years ago, my group got style points for doing Tommy’s in style: we all dressed up in our fanciest clothes and had a candle lit dinner. This year, my group aimed only for style points: we decided to drive to Vegas and stop at every Tommy’s along the way (there are 3 in Vegas and about 5 total between here and there). We left at 1am, drove to the Original Tommy’s in Hollywood, ate a meal, and then began our trip to Vegas. We arrived at ~7 in the morning, wandered along the strip, bet the entirety of a house office’s budget on Black at a Casino, lost (don’t worry, the house budget was small), and then stopped at 4 more Tommy’s. We ate a meal at each one. I also wrote a yelp review at each one, which you can find here: https://www.yelp.com/user_details_reviews_self?userid=VoTe8-7niSKGBzXNqGasFw. You can see my sanity deteriorate as we stopped at more Tommy’s. I had never been so full in my entire life. Anyway, we ended up winning, so the 3.5 orders of cheese fries and 1 ice cream cone (I am vegetarian) in 17 hours was worth it.
- Canter’s has got to be the best late night restaurant option! I wouldn’t walk sixteen miles for just any restaurant. It’s open 24 hours all day and is the quintessential Jewish Deli with some important stables such as latkes, pastrami on rye, breakfast all day, malts, phosphates, milkshakes, and dill pickles. And yes, you did read the second line of this paragraph correctly. For the past two years, a group of moles has made a pilgrimage by foot to Canter’s, a 16 mile walk from Caltech. I was part of the first group who went. Our initial goal was to walk to Santa Monica, but we noticed Canter’s (and also Tommy’s) was en-route. We walked by Tommy’s, but we decided to stop at Canter’s. Once we did, we each ate a huge meal and decided not to go on anymore. The year after, another group set out with the goal of repeating our journey, which they did successfully. Walking is not the normal means of transport, though. Generally, around 12-1am, a group of people gets together and drives over. This past term, I went almost every week. In the last weeks of term, before LA closed down all of its restaurants and social gatherings were banned, a group of over 30 moles went together for what we’d later learn was our last time for the year. It was so bittersweet, but I will definitely go again when I visit!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed my list. When you visit Caltech in person, you should definitely try each of these restaurants! Definitely ask other moles what their take is on the ranking; most people probably wouldn’t rank Tommy’s so high :P. Also, here are some pictures of the last run to Canter’s, me (I’m the short one) and my friends at Tommy’s in Henderson, NV, and a picture of the Original Tommy’s I took on my walk to Canter’s.
*nothing here is objective at all.
**RIP Blacker Interhovse :(. I believe some variation of this theme made a late round of voting somehow, but we actually do take our interhovse pretty seriously and usually have non-memey themes :).