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Downtown Funk You Up 

Spending the Day in DTSA With Blogger Jilli Joffe

Written & Styled By: Jilli Joffe

Photographed By: Seth Andrew

Full disclosure: when I set out to write this piece, and asked my friends living in Orange County for suggestions on things to do in Downtown Santa Ana, I got a little bit of flack. Amongst raised eyebrows and inquisitive glances, one thing became clear; I was going to have to do this on my own. Not one to back down from a challenge, I set out to uncover all of the cool things that DTSA has to offer. And after spending a full day in Santa Ana experiencing them for myself, I’m happy to report that there is, indeed, a thriving cultural scene in Downtown Santa Ana. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re heading out to your usual go-to spot, take a trip to DTSA and check out one of these local treasures instead. Better yet, why not follow in my footsteps and make a day of it!

4th Street Market
201 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92701

A day in Downtown Santa Ana just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to 4th Street Market. That’s why I started mine with lunch at this progressive culinary hub in the heart of DTSA’s East End District. With over 15 vendors selling a wide range of gastronomical fare, there’s no shortage of options. In fact, my biggest problem was trying to narrow it down. I eventually decided on a green juice from Radical Botanicals and tuna poke from MAR — the perfect light lunch on a hot summer’s day. (If you’re a fellow spice lover, and consider Sriracha to be its own food group, then make sure to ask for the jalapeño sauce with your poke — it added just the right amount of kick and some awesome flavor to an already delicious dish). Afterward, I just couldn’t resist a handmade Mango Chili popsicle from Front Porch Pops. I told you, I have a thing for spice. It was cool and refreshing and the perfect end to my ideal meal. But if you don’t have room for dessert, and feel a little sluggish post-lunch, consider stopping by Portola Coffee Lab on your way out the door. You’re going to need your energy for exploring the rest of Downtown Santa Ana!


What to Wear:

This is a cool new spot, which definitely calls for an outfit to match. But let’s get real — if you’re going to 4th Street Market, you’re probably going to leave with a food baby. That being said, an expandable waistband isn’t necessarily a bad idea. That’s why I opted for comfy stretchy flares and an easy-breezy spaghetti strap tank — two items that are perfectly comfortable and on-trend, not to mention expansive! An outfit this simple calls for some serious accessorizing. I went for the more is more approach, layering rings and necklaces for a look that seems worthy of this awesome space!


Marcas Gallery
305 E 4th St, #103
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Conveniently located just one block east of 4th Street Market was the next stop on my tour of DTSA — the inimitable Marcas Gallery. As Orange County’s only source for New Contemporary Art, this cool little spot definitely elevates the entire neighborhood. Their expertly curated exhibitions, which change monthly, usually feature a combination of local and international talent. From street artists to fine art painters to sculptors, for Marcas it’s not the medium that matters, but the message; the art featured in their gallery is always current, part of what they refer to as the New Contemporary Art movement. Spread across two small rooms, the exhibitions are intimate and easy to digest. You can pop in for a quick dose of culture … just what the doctor ordered!

What to Wear:

Hanging out at an art gallery can offer the perfect excuse to put some mileage on those ‘impractical’ items in your wardrobe that you just had to have but don’t necessarily have anywhere to wear them to. But keep in mind that Marcas is still a pretty casual place. Don’t take yourself, or your outfit, too seriously! I had fun mixing high and low pieces, pairing a vintage 1920s beaded gown with a Rolling Stones concert tee from the 1970s. The juxtaposition created a balanced look that’s more ‘fun’ than ‘frou-frou.’


DTSA Farmers’ Market
Spurgeon Promenade
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Feeling newly inspired, I left Marcas Gallery and walked across the street to the DTSA Farmers’ Market. If you happen to be in Downtown Santa Ana on a Thursday, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., be sure to check it out! They’ve definitely prioritized quality over quantity at this quaint little market, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in product. Every single stall is chock-full of high quality, hyper-local ingredients. I loved perusing the vendors and sampling goodies, all to the beat of some awesome live music. From artisan bread and raw honey to the usual suspects of fruits and veggies, there’s nothing not to love about the DTSA Farmers’ Market.


What to Wear:

A farmers’ market is an undeniably casual place to be. But don’t take that to mean your outfit has to be boring. On this particular afternoon, I channeled 70s casual-chic in high-waisted denim cutoffs and a tie-front top. The big floppy hat was a fun fashionable way to protect myself from those late-afternoon rays. Not one to shy away from accessories, I tied it all together with some delicate boho jewelry. And to that end, I’ll just say one more thing … anklets! They’re my new favorite accessory; this understated accent just feels really fresh amongst a sea of bracelets and necklaces this season, and can be a summery addition to any wardrobe.

The North Left
400 N Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Shopping always makes me hungry, so once I’d stocked up on goodies from the DTSA Farmers’ Market, I walked three blocks to The North Left for some traditional American cuisine with a modern twist. I got the party started with their most popular cocktail, the Cucumber Gimlet, a refreshing combination of gin, cucumber and lime. I kept it going with a yummy appetizer — the tuna ceviche with chili, cucumber and orange. It was exactly what you want on a hot summer’s night; something really fresh and light. I’d recommend this pair to anyone who loves food (so I guess that would be everyone). They even looked like they belonged together!


What to Wear:

The mark of a true Cali girl is the ability to look chic in the most casual way possible. And you definitely want to look smart at a hot spot like The North Left. So in the spirit of maintaining that heir of ‘I don’t care, ’ I donned my favorite LBD. Nothing’s easier than throwing on a ‘Little Black Dress, ’ but it can also tend to feel a little uninspired, so I personalized my look by layering the dress over a ripped tank, and under a camo jacket. The addition of some rad accessorizes, rocker booties, matching cuffs, and a statement necklace really completed the look.


The Frida Cinema
305 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92701

I finished off my perfect DTSA day the right way, with a visit to The Frida Cinema. This arthouse cinema in the heart of Santa Ana’s East End is a neighborhood landmark with a certain je ne sais quoi. With a focus on foreign, experimental, small release, independent and archival films, this not-for-profit program exists solely for the cultural enrichment of the community. You could say this isn’t your average blockbuster cinema. But then again, that’s what makes it so special!



What to Wear:

If you’re going to a movie in anything other than comfy clothes, you’re doing something wrong. Think about it, all you’re really doing is sitting in the dark! There’s no point in being uncomfortable for hours. That’s why I opted for looser-fitting boyfriend jeans and a classic white tee — plus white on white feels really chic this summer. Hey, nobody said you have to sacrifice style for comfort…