Dive Into Santa Ana’s Secret Neighborhood
alking into the Main Place Mall parking lot in Downtown Santa Ana, bunches of white tents huddle together like they’re keeping a secret. Festive and fun music bumps from beneath their pitched roofs, smoke tufts rise into the pink sky, and a variety of delicious smoky smells waft into my nostrils. As I walk into the event, I realize that those little white tents are keeping a secret. Taste of Santa Ana lets an outsider dive into Santa Ana’s secret neighborhood: a place of food, laughter and community.
Tasting Santa Ana’s History
My first stop was a sensational pulled pork sandwich from Original Mike’s, where I got a taste of Santa Ana’s unique history with every bite. As I chatted with the men at the booth, I was told about how the restaurant resides in a historic building that is almost 100 years old. Besides the fantastic food, Original Mike’s serves as a showcase of historic Santa Ana. The restaurant is decorated with vintage photos, classic cars and original materials that date back to 1919. Taste of Santa Ana is an incredible opportunity to not only taste the food but to also get a quick history lesson.
I walked around trying delectable bites of food, trying to stay true to the local Santa Ana vendors to really get a taste of the city. I have to say; it was hard to pass up hot and spicy sausage and soft roll from Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ. If you’ve got an empty stomach and want a serious bang for your buck, you can easily fill up on the bites offered at each tent.
If catching a buzz is your thing, you can easily do so at this event. Whether I was sampling cinnamon spiced beer from The Bruery or trying bold sangrias and wines, there were plenty of local sips to lift your spirits.
Party Like A Santa Ana Native
Although the food and drinks were spectacular, it was the sense of community that really made the whole event feel special. From live, funk and Motown band, Cold Duck, to salsa music, the stage area was filled with friends and family dancing and laughing. I could feel the warmth radiating from new couples on first dates and couples that had been married for years as they twirled and clapped to the music.
In addition to the contagious rhythm being ricocheted off of the dancers, games were set up to keep both children and adults entertained. All were carrying the same theme of being life-size, the fun activities ranged from human-sized Checkers to Connect Four. It was incredibly amusing to watch adults that had one too many beers play the games. Needless to say, there was a lot of laughter and love being shared over the course of the evening.
The Power of Food
Overall, Taste of Santa Ana worked its magic by bringing together the community of Orange County. As someone from the western edge of Orange County, I was able to be enveloped in the sense of community I don’t regularly experience. It’s no surprise that a city as densely populated as Santa Ana gives way to so many great restaurants with such diverse backgrounds. As I watched the event-goers laugh, dine and dance, one central theme stood out the most: never underestimate the power of food.
For more information on this event, please visit www.tasteofsantaana.org.