“So . . . what Mexican businesses are left in downtown Santa Ana?”
The record heat never dissuades the denizens of SanTana from taking a leisurely stroll down El Cuatro—or Fourth Street, for you non-habla folks. But you'd better get hep to the language if you want a cool refresher while you're rambling up and down the gentrificated neighborhood on a balmy afternoon. The best recommended treats are those served by street vendors, specifically those selling freshly diced fruit. The watermelon, cucumber, mango, melon, jicama and pineapple can come flavored with chile powder or by themselves, and it's totally worth the awkward exchange with Latino vendors for you hipsters (yeah, I said it!).
Nah, just messin' with ya—we locals get as much of a kick out of the cool goings-on in downtown as you outsiders do, and when we're not downing margaritas at Proof Bar (215 N. Broadway, 714-953-2660; proofbar.com) or noshing on sandwiches and pickled eggs at C4 Deli: Cure for the Common (200 N. Broadway, 714-263-1555; www.c4deli.com) we're looking for something sweet as a welcome oasis from the humidity. That's where Tootsie Ice Cream (307 W. Third St., 714-480-0320; www.tootsieicecream.com) comes in. From a window carved into a brick façade comes a mix of tried-and-true flavors and Persian shaved ice that attracts all ethnicities and age groups. And if you're bringing a pooch along on your walk, Tootsie offers frozen yogurt for dogs so they can enjoy a cold treat as well.
After snacks, catch a movie at the Frida Cinema (305 E. Fourth St.; thefridacinema.org). Since the beginning of this year, the Frida has hosted a variety of screenings and community-minded events, concerts, and art shows that foster the burgeoning local art scene. Besides, how can anyone say no to a cool matinee movie in a nice, air-conditioned theater?
Don't think all the fun stuff to do is limited to downtown, though; the Observatory (3503 S. Harbor Blvd., 714-957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com) is already one of Southern California's premier concert venues. The highlights this summer include Burger Records' the Burger Revue and Burger A-Go-Go! The former includes '60s icon Ronnie Spector, King Khan and the Shrines, and a "special mystery guest"; the latter, held in August, will enlist a grande lineup of such female-fronted bands as Shannon and the Clams, LA Witch, Best Coast, and Colleen Green.
When all is said and done, drive along Main Street between Warner Avenue and 17th Street and peek down all the side streets; this is OC's Lonchera Row. Enjoy!
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