Visitors discover one of California’s most unlikely culinary neighborhoods
It’s official: Santa Ana is a foodie city. What started with Gypsy Den in 1994 has matured into a City-wide commitment to culinary artistry by some of Southern California’s most innovative restauranteurs.
The successful opening of Gypsy Den in the Artists Village led to Original Mike’s in 2001, Lola Gaspar in 2008 and a surge of unique new eateries scattered throughout Downtown and the East End as more food innovators clamor to be part of the story.
Jason Quinn upped the city’s dining pedigree when, after winning TV’s Great Food Truck Race in 2011, he chose Santa Ana for his first brick-and-mortar gastropub, Playground. Around the same time, Orange County restauranteur Jeff Jensen opened Chapter One: The Modern Local for his local take on pub fare made with local produce and seasonal ingredients from around the world.
And things changed again with 2016’s 4th Street Market. A former, 30,000-squre-foot swap meet warehouse is now a theme park for foodies, featuring 15 unique vendors, ten incubator kitchens and indoor and patio seating for 300.
Santa Ana’s diverse population is the inspiration for one of the region’s most eclectic food scenes – from modern deli (C4 Deli), teriyaki Asian-fusion (Ninjas with Appetite) and Vietnamese (828 Pho) to Venezuelan (Mil Jugos), Filipino (Irenia) and trendy-but-authentic Mexican (Hector’s on Broadway).
The result is what Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold described as “one of the most unlikely culinary neighborhoods in the state, dotted with cocktail bars, tapas joints and …you are rarely more than a few steps away from a taco, a quinceañera dress or shade-grown coffee.”
Make your reservations now – or come wander the streets, markets and pedestrian zones to find the next great dining experience. Right here in Santa Ana.