This is my story of Santa Ana from the beginning to the middle, and stretching into the future all the way towards the end.
Santa Ana is one of the oldest cities in Orange County, California. It is a city that treasures its unique culture and its sense of community. Although, I have spent my whole life in Santa Ana I still feel like there’s more to discover because this city has so much to offer.
I attended Santa Ana schools from K-12, continuing on to Santa Ana College, which gave me plenty of time to explore and experience what Santa Ana is all about. This made me think that I knew everything about Santa Ana, only to realize I had only scratched the surface. I was missing out on resources, activities, and so much more. Growing up, venturing out, and having more of those experiences has led me to discover these five things I wish I knew growing up in Santa Ana.
1. Santa Ana Public Library (SAPL), Teenspace
I admit, I was not the best student growing up. I was enrolled in one afterschool program, but other than that I did not go out looking for help. Little did I know, within walking distance, SAPL has a dedicated area just for teens. Located in the basement of the SAPL is a Teenspace. This space focuses on giving teens a safe space to hangout, do homework, but also providing them with workshops and activities that teach resiliency and life skills. If you ever make it down to the Teenspace you’ll be lucky enough to meet a welcoming staff and Cheryl Eberly, the Young Adult Principal Librarian, who has made the Teenspace a White House award winner.
2. Heritage Museum of Orange County
The Heritage Museum is a hidden gem in Santa Ana. Their mission is to preserve and promote the heritage and culture of Orange County. Located next to Centennial Park, the museum sits on federally protected wetlands that is used as a nature area. The museum holds public and school tours of their Victorian style home. They also host events for the community such as their stargazing night, Día de Los Muertos sugar skull painting event, and an Easter egg hunt. I know that growing up I would’ve loved to stroll through their nature area, collect funky rocks, and possibly catch a glimpse of their local coyote.
3. Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk
The Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk is an event that could very easily turn into a bonding Saturday night for the family. I say this because I’m pretty sure that’s what would’ve happened for me and my family, and there’s nothing I treasure more than those bonding moments. The Art walk takes place on the first Saturday of every month. The Art Walk is a space for community bridging where artists come to display their work, the public comes out to support and everybody gets to enjoy the FREE live entertainment. Attending the Art Walk would’ve been a huge change from my usual Saturday nights of playing video games. I see myself at the Art Walk now and think of all the moments I missed with my family, friends and community.
4. El Salvador Community Center
Community centers are a huge part of a neighborhood’s harmony. I had El Salvador Community Center in my own neighborhood, yet I can count the times I participated in their events, and those were because my parents didn’t want my siblings and I to stay home and watch TV all day. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve joined the gardening workshops, used the community pool, and participated in the family PRIDE projects. Now I understand the value that these centers bring, and I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunities they offer.
5. Old Orange County Courthouse Museum
The Old Orange County courthouse is the oldest courthouse in Southern California. The 30,000 sq. ft. building is full of Santa Ana and Orange County history. Many items are displayed in the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum that is nestled away under the stairs. Like many students, history was not always my favorite subject, but something in me always appreciated it. This small but mighty museum served to spark my interest in history.
Story by Abraham Gomez
DTSA Open Stage, a new Facebook Live open-mic broadcasted from the heart of downtown launched this Spring with help from Downtown Inc and Calle Cuatro Marketplace.
The second installment of DTSA Open Stage airing this Saturday, June 27th will bring together performances and pop-up patios that have opened across downtown. Join us for a quick tour of some of the tastes and sounds you're likely to encounter this weekend through the DTSA Open Stage program.
Chevita's and Ayn Liu
Ayn Liu is 12 years old and started piano lessons at age four followed by guitar and ukulele lessons at the age of nine. She began playing in front of crowds at 11 and she has already performed at Segerstrom Center for the Arts talent competition “OC Center Stage” and on Season 4 of NBC’s “Little Big Shots with Melissa McCarthy.”
Ayn will be performing from the new patio at Chevita's where they specialize in cool, refreshing juices like this Coconut, Nuts and Tamarindo Raspado.
Native Son Alehouse and SAINT
Native Son Alehouse's patio is one of the coolest places to hang out in downtown with great views of 4th Street and the Spurgeon Clocktower. Right now, they are featuring Spanish Coke and Frozé, two delicious slushees, perfect for cooling you down and putting a smile on your face.
Speaking of smiling faces, SAINT will be performing from the patio for DTSA Open Stage. Just like the Frozé's, SAINT creates a versatile blend of English and Spanish lyrics with her Cuban-American piano compositions that fuse the rhythm of soul, blues, and pop.
Coffee Muse and Briana Harley
Downtown's Coffee Muse is synonymous with the words "community" and "coffee." The friendly owner, Ricardo, says "This is your community. Your coffee shop. We built this together." His mantra has attracted a loyal following of "bean-worshipping" fans. Many of these fans have musical talents like regulars DJ LexiKhan, Briana Harley and Kilson Street.
On the patio this week, the coffee will be "on the rocks" and singer/songwriter Briana Harley will be rocking with her own original music inspired by her life-long expsorue to contrasting energies from rock to pop, film scores and the avant garde, chamber and chorale pieces.
The Den Cafe and John Roseboro
John Roseboro shares his music with the hopes he has a light to shine that makes lasting connections with those who have an ear to hear. What better place to pour sweet honey in our ears than from the heart of the Artists Village and The Den Cafe. Amidst the most romantic setting in the City, we'll enjoy John Roseboro featuring Lizzy and the Palm for a special drop-in set as he entertains the mask-clad patrons at The Den Cafe's Daily 3pm-4pm Happy Hour.
Beyond these great patio pairings, there will be additional performances streamed from Mega Furniture and Next Round DTSA. Tune in Saturday on DTSA's Facebook Live.
Story by Maria @thehottortilla and Ryan Smolar
Since the start of the statewide stay-at-home order issues on March 19th, members and business owners of Downtown Santa Ana have ensured all covid-19 related safety guidelines and protocols are being implemented.
The OC is now in full Stage 2 of the Resilience Roadmap which allows DTSA restaurants to be able to accommodate dine-in guests and allow retailers will open their doors, with specific regulations.
Santa Ana has innovatively joined a handful of US cities to deploy al fresco dining by creating eight temporary parklets along 4th St/Calle Cuatro along with opening restaurant patios and limited-capacity indoor dining.
Special measures that are reinvigorating downtown's dining ecosystem at this time:
Along with these temporary enforcements restaurants and retail shops are asking their customers to continue wearing face masks, and are limiting their operation hours and restricting their capacity. As a result, reservations may be the best bet to secure your dining spot!
Some restaurants that are now open for sidewalk, patio or inside dining include:
Please let us know if a business is open or closed!
(Above) billed as the world's first social distance omakase dining experience. Wild! (photo by Niyaz Piryani)
(Above) Proposed pop-out proposal for Mission Bar
(Above) Social distance patio at Lola Gaspar
(Above) Happy customers at Chevita's Bagels and Juice
(Above) Restaurants that have been open for Delivery/Takeout
For the latest updates on the reopening of DTSA be sure to follow us on Instagram @dtsantana.
If you run a restaurant, find guidance for dine-in restaurants here:
Story by Jennifer Morones
OC Streetcar is the first modern streetcar project to be built in Orange County and will serve Santa Ana’s historic and thriving downtown, courthouses, government offices, education and cultural institutions, and the thriving DTSA restaurant scene. Expected to begin carrying passengers in 2022, construction is rolling along now to build the tracks along a 4.15-mile route.
The development of this project requires collaboration between the government with local residents and the business community. Therefore, many communication platforms have been explored and pursued to accommodate as many people as possible during construction.
Business Resource Directory
OCTA initially developed a resource guide for local businesses to provide support during OC Streetcar construction. Highlights of the Business Resource Directory that encourage support of local businesses include information on how to obtain construction updates, where to get free business and support and promotional programs including free signage, business spotlights, one-on-one project briefings and a coupon program.
OCTA’s Eat Shop Play Promotes Local Businesses
OCTA also developed the Eat Shop Play program to support businesses located along the future OC Streetcar route. Eat Shop Play offers marketing assistance to increase exposure and foot traffic during construction. Participation is free. OCTA's Eat Shop Play program supports businesses located along the future OC streetcar route. Learn more at octa.net/eatshopplay.
OCTA Partnership with Downtown Business Improvement District Organizations
Over the past five years, OCTA has worked closely with the downtown business district management organizations to ensure businesses are aware, informed and able to provide input on the OC Streetcar project. OCTA Staff have spoken and made appearances at downtown events including DTSA Summer Business Lunches, Downtown Annual Gatherings, DTSA First Saturday Artwalk, DTSA Sidewalk Sales and information sessions OCTA hosted and co-marketed through the business district’s communication channels.
About the Construction
The OC Streetcar Construction has increased to take advantage of many businesses being closed or doing limited business during COVID-19. Current efforts are closing-out the heavy utility relocation work:
Sewer installation work continues along the project route with activities including excavation, trenching, installation of sewer pipelines, and road work and restoration. Sewer installation work requires temporary parking and lane restrictions. Drivers traveling to downtown Santa Ana and to the Santa Ana Transportation Center from the 5 Freeway will encounter detours on Santa Ana Boulevard to accommodate the work activity. Please leave extra time.
Crews will also continue to perform water pipeline work and storm drain installation work along the project route, which requires temporary lane and sidewalk restrictions. Access will be maintained for all residents and businesses.
Get the latest construction updates from OCTA
Get DTSA updates weekly from the Downtown Santa Ana Newsletter
Story by Ryan Smolar and Madeleine Spencer with information obtained from octa.net/streetcar
DTSA is proud to present our very first Digital Artwalk! This Saturday, on April 4th, some of our favorite local artists will be joining us in sharing their work. This will be our first ever, LIVE stream on our Downtown Santa Ana Facebook Page starting @ 6pm!
The Hot Tortilla / Host
Moises Camacho / Kids Art Show
Saint/Live Music / Piano performance
Julio Chavez & Mandie Bee / Live Music Duo
Roger Eyes R / Live Painting
Joy Fire / Live Metal Work
JesseJFR / Visual Artist
Miguel Pulido /Live Music
Mr. Lerc / aka Juan Guzman: Visual Artist lesson /WaterColors
Chris Kallmyer from CSUF Grand Central Art Center
Martin Ross/Live Painting
Cody Jay (Singer/Composer)
Anna Beck Nalle/ Gallery Showcase
Cross-promotion with Apart Together: The Copper Door's Artwalk Livestream
Special thanks to Briana Harley, Breanna Policar and Artwalk Coordinator, Yenny Bernal
Photonic Playground Virtual Exhibition
We're looking forward to staying connected with one and we believe art has the ability to bring people together in a very powerful way. All of these artists are bringing something unique to the table. From singers to painters to blacksmiths, we will get a very personal look into their creative processes.
Before settling-in for the DTSA Digital Artwalk, hit-up your favorite Downtown Santa Ana food and beverages for enjoying the DTSA Digital Artwalk. Order pick-up or delivery.
When to place your order? Many DTSA restaurants who remain open at this time are closing earlier thse days, so get your food before the event starts!
Having a virtual Artwalk provides a more personal and available insight into the perspectives of the artists. It’s not always that you get to meet the artist in person and hear about their creative process or pieces they’re working on. There will be live performances and demonstrations. Also, if you’re not in the area, that doesn’t matter anymore! Anyone around the world can experience the Artwalk, making it an experience that will be unforgettable.
As the community continues to come together and support each other, we want to offer everyone a moment of positivity and inspiration. Please join us online this Saturday as we connect with artists and the community!
LIVE stream on our Downtown Santa Ana Facebook Page starting Saturday April 4th @ 6pm!
Story by Breana Policar
UPDATE MAY 24, 2020 Late Stage 2 businesses including grocery stores, restaurants (dine-in), retail, health services, pharmacies, banks and gas stations are now open.
While downtown businesses are paying close attention to recent Coronavirus regulations and health precautions and the Governor's "Stay-at-Home" order, essential businesses are hoping to stay open and continue to serve you. Whether that's through grab-and go, delivery or even innovative online delivery of the services they provide downtown.
Lola Gaspar is offering a care package of meat, tortillas, sauce and sides that you can order by calling (714) 972-1172. On their Instagram, they said, "As this situation evolves, we beleive it is our duty to continue to serve our community by any means we can." La Vegana Mexicana posted on social media a picture of them making vegan tamales with the caption, "Thank you to everyone who has supported our small business, family, and staff during this difficult time. We can’t wait to open our doors again! Until then, call 949-988-4268 or DM to order. Keep tuned for tomorrow's menu."
Many downtown restaurants are offering delivery on popular food websites like GrubHub, Postmates, Uber Eats and DoorDash. Mimi Mar, owner of The Pizza Press - Santa Ana, who told us about extensive sanitation precautions they are taking and that, "we are encouraging customers to order online and or call in their orders and then come and pick up their food." Just down the road on 4th Street, Taquerias Guadalajares is offering curbside pick-up in addition to online delivery. Around the corner, Mix Mix Kitchen and Bar is offering curbside pickup and 10% off on their exquisite menu when you call 714-836-5158 to place your order between 5pm - 8:30pm. Chapter One: the modern local is offering 50% off beer, wine & cocktails to go and big bonuses for gift card purchases.
Need fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, or artisan bread? Visit the Downtown Santa Ana Farmer’s Market every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the corner of 3rd and Bush streets. Social distancing is maintained and encouraged while at the Farmers Market. Online orders are also available with a wide variety of fresh produce.
Northgate Gonzalez Market is open its first hour so seniors can shop in a safe enviornment. Downtown has many seniors and recently downtown restaurants like Kebab Place have reached out to see how they can offer meals to seniors. Community members are encouraged to connect with Tish Leon if you have resources for local seniors.
Some local businesses are exploring a local delivery co-op lead by the delivery team at Furr Friends Pet Store, Omar Dominguez along with potential partners including Claudia Gonzales, Chunk-N-Chip.
Elite Fitness Gym will be teaching online physical training to prevent you from sititng on your couch and vegitating.
In addition to Elite Fitness' online workouts, The Frida Cinema is working on launching free streaming film and art house content and events like The Witch Walk, Gente Night Market and DTSA First Saturday Artwalk will be held digitally.
Gus' Fried Chicken is offering free meals for students at their Downtown Santa Ana location with no purchase necessary.
According to Larry Kaplan, owner of the Downtown McDonald's: "McDonald's has local and national teams tracking the coronavirus with the #1 priority being the health and safety of employees and guests. We have made it a point to educate our people on best practices inside the restaurants and for personal hygiene."
While The Copper Door needed to be shut down as part of the government order to close bars, they quickly pivoted to retain staff by doing a deep clean and keeping spirits high. They also are organizing online DJ events under their N360 Live label.
You can see a list of all business types considered essential businesses ready to serve you via the OC Health Department's most recent order. Check our DTSA social media and your favorite downtown businesses for updates on who's open and what they're offering.
Story by Ryan Smolar
Photos from downtown business Intagram pages
Come visit the Golden Years Vintage Market on March 14th! This is an amazing event that brings people together to celebrate everything vintage! This retro-inspired market cultivates creativity and individualism through unique clothing and vinyl records. This year, vintage collectors can find some of the best vendors in Southern California, all at the 2nd Street Promenade!
Golden Years is an event that was created to celebrate the past in a fun and exciting way. Sarah Sunderman, the founder, states that, “Something really important to me was for my love for the vintage community to flow over into my event. I wanted greatly to create a fun event for both vintage sellers and attendees, to where it felt like getting together for a big dress-up party rather than a flea market. It's become a giant family and has completely surpassed my expectations!”
Downtown Santa Ana is the perfect place for such an event, as it also welcomes creative communities and provides experiences you can’t find anywhere else. When asked why she chose DTSA, Sarah said that “there is an energy here unlike anywhere else. A goal for my event was for attendees to also get to enjoy downtown Santa Ana like I do. Even as my event grows, it's home will always be Santa Ana.” Golden Years is reflective of what DTSA is all about- bringing community together and encouraging positive experiences for locals and visitors!
This year, Golden Years will be having giveaways for people who RSVP through Eventbrite! Provided by local businesses, attendees will have the chance to win several prizes for going to Golden Years! This will give people opportunities to explore what DTSA has to offer, including The Frida Cinema, Lola Gaspar, Congregation Ale House Chapters, Blackmarket Bakery, and more! Register for free online to be entered into the giveaway!
Photo from http://www.cameoappearancevintage.com/golden-years
Story by Breanna Policar
“To have coffee is to share community with somebody”- Peter Giuliano, Specialty Coffee Association
Coffee is more than just a drink. It’s a shared social experience, a set of traditions and norms that bring people together. Whether you drink it on your commute to work or sit down for a couple of hours at a coffee house with an old friend, coffee has become a significant cultural object in Downtown Santa Ana. DTSA has become a hub for coffee shops and cafes, each showcasing their individuality through taste, aesthetic, and atmosphere. How could one drink have such a widespread influence on Santa Ana? Through perspectives of business owners, locals, and coffee lovers, this question is explored to reveal the underlying culture of coffee in DTSA.
“Coffee is simultaneously deeply technical and social. It is an endless pursuit of quality in the context of social interaction” -Truman, Hopper and Burr
Hopper and Burr has been serving specialty coffee to DTSA since 2016. They produce excellent, forward-thinking coffee and food that is approachable and welcoming. Hopper and Burr pushes back connotations and boundaries associated with coffee. DTSA is unique in that it behaves like a big city, because there is so much history and there is a city center; however, it is different because of the tight-knit community. Hopper and Burr depend on the community for their relationships. DTSA is unique in that it is tightly connected to its businesses. Hopper and Burr is a place where customers can take ownership and pride in their community. Truman, one of the owners, is highly knowledgeable on the technical side of coffee, but he knows the importance of connecting with people in the community. This emphasis of community is shown through his approach to presenting quality coffee. The integrity of the coffee is obvious, showing the passion that goes into the craft.
Photo from @hopperandburr
“Community is the core of what we are.”- Sam, Café Cultura
Café Cultura is the epitome of what it looks like to bring tradition in a modern age. The goal of Café Cultura is to make the community comfortable, while presenting Mexican traditions and flavors in an innovative way. Through their quality food and coffee, Mexico is introduced to Santa Ana in a way that is also welcoming to non-Hispanics, a key role in bringing the community together. As soon as you walk in, you hear Spanish music and are surrounded by bright colors and decorations from Mexico. The menu is in English and Spanish, showing that all are welcomed. The enthusiasm and dedication from the staff is obvious, making you want to come back for more. The whole atmosphere of Café Cultura is more than welcoming, it’s a genuine expression of Mexican American pride, highlighting what DTSA has to offer. The coffee culture of Café Cultura is global, because they importing coffee beans from Chiapas, which are influenced by traditional flavors and spices. This global coffee culture is then localized through the fusion of tradition in Santa Ana. Their Café de Olla is unique because they fuse spices with their coffee beans, providing a delicious black coffee that is sweet and requires no add ins. They have so many more special coffee drinks that reflect their culture, such as the Café Brew de Olla and the Horchata Latte.
Pictured: Café Cultura, (right) Café Brew de Olla
“Santa Ana is a culture of its own.” -Senah Kim, Maz Café Con Leche
Maz Café Con Leche is yet another establishment that is breaking down preconceived notions of coffee shops. As a forward-thinking, innovative coffee shop, Maz Café Con Leche is redefining what it means to means to be a coworking space. This place fosters warmth, love, and inspiration for the community, as they hold many events to supports the and showcase individuals in DTSA. It is a celebration of Hispanic culture, using unique flavors such as their Mazapan Latte or their Abuelita Latte. The goal of this coffee shop is not just to serve coffee, but to create a safe space where the community of DTSA can come together and lift each other up.
Pictured: Maz Café Con Leche
“A coffee house is just a living room for the neighborhood.” -Peter Giuliano, Specialty Coffee Association
Everyone has a special relationship with coffee. For Peter Giuliano, his relationship with coffee started from his relationship with his grandfather, who was a notorious coffee drinker. Peter’s relationship with coffee evolved in college, where he found comfort in coffee houses. He worked, played, and studied in coffee houses where characters outside the norm were embraced and welcomed. To him, coffee encouraged those who were different and off-beat, something that really resonated with his desire to be individualistic. His relationship with coffee grew as he traveled to places where they grew and distributed coffee beans, giving him a much wider and global understanding of something he loved. He learned the different terminology, sources, and scientific sides to coffee. Fast-forward to today, Peter has seen a change in coffee culture in DTSA that is positive and unique. He has witnessed how the localization of coffee culture has brought community together in a special way. DTSA has made coffee it’s own. Coffee has grown into a community-wide specialization.
Santa Ana has a unique coffee culture in that coffee is being interpreted as Latin American. DTSA has a diversity of coffee- from Hopper and Burr to Portola Coffee Roasters, Café Cultura, Coffee Muse, and the Den Cafe- each place is reflecting community in different ways.
Coffee shops are a place for people to interact and feel safe. It’s a place where you can share information and experiences with anyone in the context of coffee. Creating moments that focus on building community is what DTSA is about. This is obvious from the way coffee is viewed and presented by members of the community. There is so much more meaning that is poured into your cup every day. Coffee is not just a beverage, it is a visual representation of community pride, individual expression, and cultural traditions that bring people together.
Special thanks to:
Senah Kim from @mazcafeconleche
Truman from @hopperandburr
Sam and Frank from @cafeculturadtsa
Peter Giuliano from @specialtycoffeeassociation
Story by Breanna Policar
Cupid descended on Downtown Santa Ana and spread the spirit of love around the city. Check out all the exciting deals, promotions and events for you and your betrothed to bask in downtown!
Munchies Diner - McFadden Public Market
Heart-shaped chicken nuggets (vegan)
Mission control/Twisted Tiki
Mission control - free roses for the ladies and couples raffle- drink @ shot specials
Twisted tiki - $2 off all signature drinks
Buqqa Gourmet - 4th St Market - McFadden Public Market
Portola Coffee - 4th St Market
Rose Caradamom Lattes!
Mix Mix Kitchen & Bar
V-Day Prix Fixe Dinner
La Vegana Mexicana - 4th St Market
Pink masa cheese and jalapeño vegan tamales
Steel Pan Pizza - 4th St Market
"Sweet for your Sweet"
Free dessert with the purchase of two pizzas
Naughty Panda - 4th St Market
Special "Naughty" Handroll
Buy 1 intro offer and get the second one 50% off so you can train with your Valentine
Buy any supplement item and get the other for 50% off
5 & 10 packs of Personal Training and Group classes are 14% off
Buy 2 Myzone Heart Rate monitor belts and get $10 off
Use Feb14 as promo code to get discounts -- offers good until 2/14/20
Rose latte and Lavender latte throughout February.
Black Market Bakery
Buy 1 tart, get 1 free. Now through February 1-14th.
Special menu for the night and will be taking reservations for couples
Valentine's Weekend at Chapter One
Thursday-Sunday, February 13th-16th
Join Us For A Special Valentine's Weekend Food & Cocktail Menu!
Champagne and Rose Petal-flavored, heart=shaped conchas are available through February 14th.
Preorder is available online through the 13th.
Special prix fixe dinner menu for couples and live music.
Chevita’s Juice and Bagels
Special new sandwich called "Sausage Bagel Melts."
4 course meal special for the 14th.
Photos: Aaron Alvarez
Cupid cosutme and actor: Vic Carmona
Special Thanks: Breanna Policar
Concept: Ryan Smolar
Downtown Santa Ana would like to welcome the newest pet store, Furr Friends! Established in November of 2019, Furr Friends caters to Santa Ana’s cat and dog lovers who want the highest quality products for their pets. The owners, Omar and Andrew, are very knowledgeable in pet care and only supply the store with locally sourced products that are healthy and regulated. At Furr Friends, you can find baked treats, healthy pet foods, toys, and other pet care items that you can’t find anywhere else.
Their food sources are reliable and regulated, which is not common for chain stores. You can find top customer service here if you need to know more about how to take care of your furry friend. They are always willing to help anyone who wants to provide their pets with the proper nutrition and care. Furr Friends are strong advocates for the health of animals, as well as bringing the community together.
They are currently working with other partners to create a dog park for Downtown Santa Ana, in hopes to provide the community with a safe space for four legged friends. They hope to expand their services to include grooming, educational events, and their own brand of affordable treats in the near future. Grooming will also be available in March 2020. All furry friends are welcome to visit this store!
New, dispatches and updates from Downtown Santa Ana