Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things you may not know about Downtown Santa Ana

Here is an article wrote by Vicky Baxter, Executive Director of Downtown Inc.

Inside Downtown

By Vicky Baxter

One of the critical aspects of any Executive Director is to promote their organization and be the “head cheerleader”. As I attend many meetings and serve on many committees, I enjoy singing the praises of downtown Santa Ana. I have a 30 second elevator speech all the way up to a power point presentation extolling the virtues of shopping, dining, playing, living and why entrepreneurs should check out downtown when looking for a business location. I will be happy to speak to your group just give me a call 714-547-6100.

One of the frequent questions that I am asked is; “Do you personally shop in the downtown?” Let me be very clear: I most certainly do! Not only personally but at Downtown Inc we always shop here first and if we cannot buy it, rent it, lease it, or borrow it, we are forced to look elsewhere. We support our downtown!

To that end, I tried to compose a listing of all the merchants I have shopped in the downtown. The number was well over 110. There are over 800 businesses in the downtown so I have a ways to go before I hit them all. Here are a few: At El Faison I found a complete compilation of the Beatles music that has taken me 20 years to find! At Kid Avenue flower girl accessories are half the price of David’s Bridal. The Fiesta Swap Shops have Sketcher shoes actually ½ the price of the mall. At Christmas, I wore my boots purchased from Anna at Fiesta Shoes up to Northern California for Christmas and ended up sending 3 pairs to my daughters. The grandkids all got their winter wardrobes at Fallas Paredes saving me so much money that I adopted a family in Santa Ana and got their kids outfits too. Teresa’s Jewelers protected my wedding ring by repairing my loose diamond and had a collector nutcracker lapel pen that I just had to have. Over at the Santora Building, I have practically gone bankrupt purchasing beautiful art pieces from The Green Door Art Gallery and pictures at Ellen-Ments of Photography. Martinez Bookstore sold me their last copy of “Orange County” by Gustavo Arellano. American Apparel is where I got my youngest daughter’s Christmas outfit. AT&T right under our office is where I purchased my new IPHONE and (husband) Norm his Blackberry. Food 4 Less and Northgate Markets happen to have the freshest and best prices on fruit and vegetables and long before rolled back prices they had the best bargains and still do. Every bouquet of balloons I buy, come from Mi Fiesta Party Supply. Brian’s carries men’s silk socks by Pierre Cardin that all of the ladies in the family steal from Norm. La Moda had a corduroy jacket that was under the Christmas tree for my son-in-law. Shawn at Telas Fabrics has several unusual baskets (similar to Longaberger), that are on my list for future purchases. He’s a little surprised that people actually collect baskets. The Ford has new brakes from Firestone Complete Auto Care and an oil change from Pep Boys. Rite Aid and CVS continue to gain our sundry supplies business with quick in and out service. Calacas and Cantera’s for that international flair we can’t find anywhere else in the world! Next stop Mega Furniture, Dearden’s and Casa Linda and Ray at R & R Sportswear has a pair of striking cowboy boots that would make Norm 2 inches taller! We could see “eye to eye”. J

In the service category, the best customer service in downtown Santa Ana has to be from the professional staff at Dr. Art Lomeli’s Dental Practice. My tooth broke and they worked around my schedule and stayed late to fix it. Thanks Doc!

The restaurants in downtown Santa Ana range from Orient Express on 4th, Venezuelan flavor on 5th at Mil Jugos, to best goat cheese & beet salad and Southern crab cakes at Memphis, thick cut Maui style onion rings and BBQ burger at Original Mike’s keep Norm happy while I prefer their “Soon to be Famous” clam chowder and Super Cheesy garlic bread. Lola Gaspar has this smoke chicken and brie pressed sandwich to die for. Gypsy Den has the best coconut cake and unique vegetarian goodies that lure us to a healthier lifestyle (we continue to resist). Head over to the Crosby and you will be treated to epicurean delights that defy logic such as fried cheese rolled into an appetizer (huh?). My favorite Mexican and Latin cuisine comes from all these places; Jugos Acapulco, Karmina Restaurant and Grill (tilapia fish with mango salsa) , Las Briscas 2 (Queso Fresco enchiladas), Taqueria Guadalajara (steak/chicken tacos), Chimichurri, Rancho de Mendoza for lunch buffet, Mariscos Tampico (fried fish) , El Carbonero for Salvadoran, Las Casuelas and the Fiesta Imperial Meat Market that offer tortas that require 10 napkins because of all the juicy stuff inside. We’ve eaten at all of these and still have more to chose from. To all our relatives in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada; “Eat your heart out”. They have no Mexican restaurants! Other restaurants that we find to our liking are: 828 Pho, Tommy Pastrami for a mile high sandwich worth sharing, Bistro 400 for Romance and Chicken Marsala. All time favorite fast food; Subway, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell and Burger King (friendly employees). We like the night life; we like to BOOGIE at Proof and haven’t been to Festival Hall yet. Coffee kudos to Starbucks for their skinny latte’s. Moya’s Bakery spoiled us and the Board of Directors, with Mexican breads that melt in your mouth. Along with the great dining and gastronomic experiences, we have the YOST Theatre providing top quality entertainers in the downtown. Among them, is Carter Dewberry who resides in our district and provides music of the Gods with her symphonic cello masterpieces. Watch for more excitement as the Yost remodels and expands their venue.

As you can imagine, I’m probably in “big trouble” because I just named a few of the many I shop. That’s the fun and excitement of downtown Santa Ana. Come shop, dine and play downtown and share your good deals, good meals, good times and unexpected finds. Send me a blog at

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