Illustration by Bob AulThe Old Town Placentia district along Bradford Avenue and Santa Fe Street is a county treasure; its buildings, businesses and families date back to the early 1900s. Nevertheless, this historic section of Placentia remains slated for massive redevelopment by the City Council in its effort to transform the area into a poor man's Birch Street Promenade. Residents are valiantly attempting to avert the destruction of their charming neighborhood, but it may be too late: already appointed by the council is a master developer who will oversee the $440 million burb blitzkrieg. Make sure to visit the following five Old Town Placentia restaurants soon, then, before bulldozer battalions crush everything to make way for the coming stucco monstrosities.
TLAQUEPAQUE, 111 W. Santa Fe, (714) 528-8515. This isn't Placentia's best location for authentic Mexican, but the restaurant is a must-eat because of its weekend mariachi shows, Orange County's finest. Join in their howling between spoonfuls of mole ($15.95), shots of tequila, and signings of petitions seeking the council's recall. EL FAROLITO, 201 S. Bradford Ave., (714) 993-7880.El Farolito is about as far as white Placentia ventures into the heavily Latino Old Town because the cozy eatery stands on the far-northern side of the district. Don't hold this bit of racial favoritism against the restaurant, which sells gooey chicken quesadillas ($6.25) bigger than the bald spot on pro-developer Councilman Norman Eckenrode's dome. Q'S TORTAS, 220 N. Bradford Ave., (714) 993-3270.The drive-through restaurant is an Old Town institution, having hawked juicy tortas ($2.95) only slightly smaller than the King James Bible for more than a quarter-century. Q's '50s-hamburger-stand appearance should qualify it as a National Historical Landmark; the fact that mostly Latinos grub there ensures that tax-skipping master planner Roy D. DePaul will make it fall. EL CANTARITO RESTAURANT, 120 W. Santa Fe Ave., (714) 528-6090.Rumor maintains the Tlaquepaque mariachis haunt the brightly lit place after a performance because of the burrito special ($3.50), a missile of flour, beans, rice and lettuce. EL TACO SABROSO GRILL, 214 W. Santa Fe Ave., (714) 524-6716.Tacos the way Diós meant tacos to be—steaming soft tortillas futilely holding charred meat, watery salsa and cilantro sprigs. El Taco Sabroso occupies an especially old building, however, so watch for the Placentia City Council to eminent-domain it out of business pronto.