Rudy & Jackie Cordovas' Best Orange County 2007 - 7 Favorite Things
Rudy and Jackie Cordova are proof that the Reconquista will not only be okay, but it'll also come with cute kids. The husband-and-wife team (Rudy is the Mexican; Jackie's the most Mexican gabacha since Gwen Stefani) run Calacas, a Santa Ana shop that ostensibly sells clever T-shirts ("Powered by Frijoles," anyone?) and other mexcelente merchandise. But since its 2005 opening, Calacas has also transformed into a mini cultural space, with the occasional workshop, open-mic night and musical performances. (Visit them at 3374 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, 714-662-2002; www.calacasinc.com.)
The Cordovas' most valuable contribution, however, happens far away from Calacas: In October, along with Centro Cultural de México, they will coordinate a Day of the Dead ceremony that will take up an entire parking lot. "We want to invite a lot of the high schools to contribute," says Rudy. "When they ask us how much do they have to say, we tell them nothing—we're not about that."
Since the Cordovas are a postmodern Chicano family, we split their favorite Orange County spots between the two, but gave Jackie one more. God bless affirmative action!
1. Orange Coast College Swap Meet: "It feels more comfortable and unpretentious than other swap meets," Jackie says. "We go about twice a month. The best thing I ever bought from there were some aprons—Mexican ones with embroidered flowers. Only 7 bucks each!" 2701 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-5880, ext. 1.
2. Santiago Park: "I like that you can walk through the park and just get lost in nature while still in Santa Ana," Rudy says. "I have a spot along Santiago Creek between Hart Park and Santiago Park that the kids and I call Lost Park. There are two slides, probably 20 to 30 feet long, and my kids get cardboard and slide down. It's off to the side of the creek, and hardly anyone goes there. What's cool is that you get to see squirrels and weirdo animals there as well. You have to get through a couple of homeless guys to get to Lost Park, but they're nice." 2535 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 571-4200.
3. El Gallo Giro: "I love to eat the beans and rice—they taste good and are not dry. The chips are greasy and crunchy. The tacos are big, and it's good for the cost—the chicken tacos are the best," Jackie says. "And I like that you get a lot of food. And the old-school ordering, although it's kind of confusing. It's so loud but has a down-home feel to it—you stand and get your stuff. I used to order their pork, but I don't eat pork anymore—but it's really good here." 1442 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 549-2011; www.gallogiro.com.
4. Chivas Tortas Taco Truck:"I'm not too much of a bread eater, but Chivas Tortas sell tortas ahogadas, a specialty of Guadalajara in which they get hard tortas and pour salsa over it," Rudy says. "Chivas Tortas' tortas are soggy, which means they're good. They drive around the city but usually stop in front of a Northgate Supermarket, where people wait for a long time—but it's worth it." On the corner of Fourth and Mortimer streets, Santa Ana, (714) 235-9125.
5. El Curtido: "We always come here on Saturday after we drop off the kids at the Centro Cultural de México, which offers free music classes to kids and is right above," Jackie says. "El Curtido is a Salvadoran restaurant, so I love their pupusas—the chicken ones, specifically. I like that I'm eating an ancient food tradition, but Rudy says it's just a novelty for me!" 300 W. Fifth St., Santa Ana, (714) 973-0554; www.elcurtidorestaurant.com.
6. Old Orange County Courthouse: "As a kid, you're fascinated with the cannon outside the courthouse and think it's a nice fort," Rudy says. "Then, when you get married in Orange County, you're given that address to go in there [for your marriage license], and you think, 'Wow, I finally get to go inside this kid's dreamland.'" 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 973-6605; www.ocparks.com/oldcourthouse.
7. Los Sanchez: "I love their horchata—it's sweet and has the aftertaste of cinnamon," Jackie says. 11906 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 590-9300; www.lossanchez.com.