7 Eateries You Must Try at 4th Street Market in Santa Ana

4th Street Market is the New Hot Spot in DTSA

Written By: Kim Conlan

Photos Provided By: 4th Street Market

There is a major buzz about Downtown Santa Ana these days.  Over the last few years, the neighborhood has been changing, incorporating more and more specialty eateries, cocktail lounges and barrooms, clubs and venues, and artists lofts and studios.  These modifications have helped create a more contemporary environment amidst the classic art deco architecture, so much so that the area has earned recognition as an Arts District.  In just the East End, newer establishments like Playground, The Dough Exchange, and Wursthaus have instituted a respected culture for foodies of all kinds to get involved in.  Most recent to create significant excitement in the community is the 4th Street Market that opened to the public in February 2015.

Centrally located in the East End District of Santa Ana, 4th Street Market is a whole new example of how Santa Ana continues to progress.  Within the confines of the 30, 000 square foot location, market-goers can explore 15 different artisan food vendors.  On top of that, they can enjoy live music events at the outside patio area, enlist in cooking classes, and participate in community outreach functions.  Furthermore, the Market contains the East End Incubator Kitchens, which are community rental spaces that offer every tool the burgeoning culinary artist needs to get their business functioning at a professional level.  There are ten custom kitchens available, with three of them set up for completely gluten-free cooking, and one configured solely for confectionary items.  Products made in the kitchens are professionally packaged and marketed with the help of Food Centricity, and then can be sold in the 4th Street Market’s internal marketplace, Honor Roll.

As for the artisan food and drink available in the 4th Street Market, hot spots to keep on your radar include the Latin Asian fusion food of Dos Chinos, the in-house whole-animal butchery, Electric City Butcher, and Recess, which is the extension of Playground’s bar boasting specialty sodas, craft beer, cocktails and hand-selected wine.  For most of the restaurateurs you’ll find at 4th Street Market, this experience is the first time they have ever had their very own storefront.  Many of these businesses started modestly, either selling their tasty products at the Santa Ana swap meet or out of food trucks that roamed the Orange County and Los Angeles areas.  Luckily they have found a home at the 4th Street Market, and now you can wander the premises hosting a 300-seating area and try each of them one-by-one.  As for my humble opinion, here are a few locations that I’ve tried or that have caught my eye.  With doors open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., feel free to stop in and try them all!


Portola Coffee


This is more than just a coffee shop, and it’s justly named a coffee lab.  These roasters truly are scientists of the subject, enough to earn the company Roast Magazine’s 2015 Micro Roaster of the Year award.  These folks take their beans seriously, so expect full flavors, professional brewing, no flavored syrups, and exceptional product from the finest farmers from around the world.  Don’t come here just to drink coffee—come here to enjoy it.



This spot featuring homemade ice cream and cookie sandwiches is not your typical dessert spot.  Starting out as a food truck business, Chuck-N-Chip has switched gears to this new store front, but don’t worry, they still have the truck to cater events!  In store, every item is made in small batches to ensure freshness and full flavor.  Ice creams are made from seasonal items such as lavender blueberry, as well as rose, raspberry, and lychee.  If you are more of the classic when it comes to ice cream style, there is a great mix of traditional flavors like rocky road, bananas foster, and butterscotch with marble and toffee.  To finish off your sandwich, choose cookies ranging from champagne, chipotle chocolate ganache, peanut butter and many more.  Be aware that the menu will change daily depending on what the freshest ingredients available are for that day!


Ink Waffles


Who would have thought that waffles were made to be sandwiches?  Thank goodness the folks at Ink Waffles decided to do us the favor of putting together such succulent flavors as fried chicken, sesame, cabbage and plum glaze—all resting inside the slightly sweet crisp dough of their specialty waffle.  For a great vegetarian option, try the Ratatoullie Sandwich featuring zucchini, mushroom, squash, red pepper, roasted tomatoes, gruyere cheese and eggplant sauce.


Radical Botanicals


All around the world, people are catching on to the movement of mixology.  Each cocktail is served with the utmost attention to detail, and the mixologist’s job is to bring out the full flavor of his or her ingredients.  Meet Mixtress Izumi Hamagaki.  A long-time craft cocktail creator, Hamagaki also studied the benefits of botanicals on the human body.  When customers came into her bar with certain ailments bothering them, she wouldn’t ask, “How are you doing?”  Instead her question was, “How are you feeling?”  She then would mix up a beverage to help ease their malady, which spawned the idea of Radbot!  These cold-pressed juice concoctions have the essence of the finest specialty cocktail, but all the healthy attributes to keep you filled with energy and feeling fit!


Noodle Tramp


When the East End restaurant, Playground, started getting requests for lunchtime menu items, their solution was to create Lunchbox.  From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., customers can jump across the street to the 4th Street Market to choose three options for lunch. One of those options is Asian noodles from Noodle Tramp.  The noodle style they offer is Khao Sio in three different variations; with beef, with chicken, or with just veggies. This tasty dish from northern Thai province of Chiang Mai has a flavorful broth with a distinct taste of peanut and red curry, with a hint of coconut.  If you get the beef, enjoy the tender bits that melt in your mouth as the noodles and broth warm you up from the inside out!


Playground Fried Chicken (PFC)


When the owner of Playground, Jason Quinn, tried Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken in Memphis, he knew it was something special.  Luckily, he came back to Santa Ana, attempted to replicate the flavor and consistency, and then teamed up with Uncle Lou over the phone to tweak the recipe until it was just right.  The result?  PFC.  This unique fried chicken goes well with the home-baked cornbread provided by the Dough Exchange.  Again, this is part of the Playground Lunchbox trio and a great lunchtime option for someone on the go!


The Stockyard Sandwich Company


If you want to know more about The Stockyard, I highly suggest you follow them on Instagram immediately.  Pictures of tater tot poutine, decadent gourmet sandwiches, and bbq pulled pork with a fried egg will keep you drooling before you even check out the storefront.  This is some serious comfort food that is inventive and rich.  Sandwiches come with house made chips, but you can also choose to go healthy with a side salad instead.


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A music collector, writer, photographer, and record store associate in the OC community, and a graduate in Literary Journalism/English at the UC Irvine. Works with local businesses like Port of Sound Record Shoppe, Detroit Bar, OC Music Awards, ACE Agency, The Observatory, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, La Cave, and the late Avalon Bar. Has contributed to OC Weekly, Record Collector, Blisss!, HB Culture, OC Music Awards, Surfline, Sunset Publishing, and The Indie Peddler.


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