Summer has arrived and is taking away homework, midterms, and your dreaded dining hall food. The longest break of the year brings you the foods you love, the foods of home – whether that be fresh, simple pleasures to make at home or greasy, indulgent fries you can only get at your favorite hometown burger spot.

This list is slightly California-centered, but no matter where you call home this summer, you too will be able to explore, create or rediscover the foods and dishes that fill you with joy and numerous food babies.

1.  In-N-Out


Photo courtesy of @phillipqgangan on Instagram

After arriving at the airport, I have a specific agenda in mind. Right after I hug my mom after not seeing her for 6 months, my heart is focused on one thing: an animal style burger, fries, and a shake. It doesn’t matter if I get home at 1 am or 1 pm when I arrive – In-N-Out is my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It truly is the hallmark of California, and my own personal lifeblood.

2. Açaí Bowls


Photo courtesy of @bonzaibowls on Instagram

Although it is just an over-glorified smoothie, açaí bowls are fresh, fruity and the epitome of summer (and the antithesis of my late night In-N-Out binge.) If you have a blender, fruit, and some açaí packs on hand, you can easily make these and decorate them to your heart’s desire; whether that be with organic gogi berries or granola and honey!

But if the DIY route isn’t an option, check out Bowl of Heaven or Banzai Bowls, where you can stroll down to the beach and consume your bowl with your feet sifting through the warm sand.

3. Tacos


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Although Seattle has proven to have unexpectedly stellar Mexican food, I still crave the specific tacos and breakfast burritos from back home. Whether the Mexican food is actually better, or my cravings are just tinted with nostalgia, I still can’t wait to order five carnitas tacos and a sausage breakfast burrito with some chips, salsa, rice, and beans on the side.

4. Fish Tacos


Photo courtesy of @pedrostacossc on Instagram

Yes, fish tacos are special enough to deserve their own mention. No other food completes a perfect beach day than a fish taco. Give it to me grilled or fried, I’ll eat them all as long as they are served in taco form.

If you’re in San Clemente, Pedro’s tacos has got you covered; their tacos are stuffed with the obligatory fried fish, cabbage, and salsa. But what makes these tacos truly unique is Pedro’s special hot sauce (ask for extra packets to bring home and put on all your foods).

5. Rubies


Photo courtesy of @jswens on Instagram

Rubies Diner is a 50’s rock-and-roll inspired restaurant, available in only five states, that offer your usual burger and fries combos. Although many of their locations are at the end of a pier or situated with a view of the ocean, my personal favorite is their drive-up shake shack located on Pacific Coast Highway. Order an Oreo milkshake with a side of fries and watch the sun set over Crystal Cove beach; it will be the most romantic date you’ve ever taken yourself on.

6. Pasta


Photo by Daniel Schuleman

Nine out of ten UW students will tell you that the pasta at the dining halls causes pain, bloating, and major regrets. But now that you are back home, armed with a stove and a vengeance, you can make your own pasta, perfect for a warm summer evening.

I’ve already called my mom to heat up a pot of water for the creamy tomato and tuna penne. Remember to share your pasta creation with friends and family for maximum summer satisfaction.

7. Sidecar Donuts


Photo courtesy of @sidecardonuts on Instagram

Following SideCar Donuts on Instagram was the biggest mistake of my life. Everyday, I am taunted by pictures of their rotating artisanal flavors, such as the Pineapple Upside Down, Coconut Flan, and Mexican Hot Chocolate. I will fight anyone who tries to stop me from ordering one of every flavor once I come home; my body needs its glazed spherical sweets.

8. Toast


Photo courtesy of @shutthekaleup on Instagram

Toast epitomizes the phrase, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” I didn’t realize how passionate the relationship between me and toast was until I lived the toaster-less life of college.

Toast is the perfect blank canvas for every food connoiseur’s masterpieces: put an avocado and fried egg on sourdough; butter and apricot jam on whole wheat; maybe even top it off with greek yogurt and honey. There are no rules: simply let your inner Leonardo da Vinci (or Ina Garten) take control.

9. Avocado


Photo courtesy of @avocadotoast on Instagram

I never appreciated fresh, available produce until I went to college. And the most missed fruit of all was the gloriously green avocado. The avocado is a magical goddess that provides you with health benefits and can be incorporated into nearly any dish, even chocolate mousse. I prefer it served in toast form and topped with goat cheese and bruschetta. 

10. Blaze Pizza


Photo courtesy of @_champagnesami on Instagram

At Blaze Pizza, you can customize your pizza pie however you desire; they have better topping varieties than Chipotle with the added bonus of not giving you E. coli. The options are so endless that someone tried ordering every topping available. I always choose their pre-customized BBQ chicken pizza, completed with a sprinkling of banana peppers and gorgonzola. Blaze it.

11. Cha for Tea


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Everyone has their favorite boba place from back home, but Cha for Tea consistently provides excellent teas and numerous food and drink samples. You can’t go wrong with their Honey Milk Tea, but if you’re feeling extra spicy and adventurous, order a blended Strawberry Colada — just don’t skip on the boba.