Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

velvet lounge 10

Omar Ávalos Gallegos asks a very good question in his latest post over at the Santa Ana Sentinel – How is Downtown Santa Ana doing?

Here are a few excerpts from his post followed by my own comments:

What’s good about Downtown Santa Ana? Original brands. This is one area where the downtown sets itself apart from others. First of a kind restaurants and store brands make the area unique and that is a strength. Some city dwellers don’t want the downtown to lose that uniqueness by coupling more recognizable franchised brands with those newer, unique ones.

The Crosby found success marketing to its niche. Their $2 tacos on Tuesdays are one of the best values in the downtown, and are highly recommended.

There’s only one Chapter One, even though you could say that it is an offshoot of the Library Bar in Downtown LA, the similarities seem like more than just coincidence.

There’s the list of other unique brands; Playground, Little Sparrow, Au Naturaw, Lola Gaspar, etc. And there’s the list of upcoming brands that reveal that this is the trend here. But there still isn’t enough cultural variety, which is common in other downtowns in the LA area.


So what’s missing here? Much is. We don’t have Italian (remember Trattoria Ciao?), Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Mediterranean, Indian, Thai or other cultural eating choices. These varieties are common in other historic downtowns like Long Beach, Pasadena, even Fullerton. We do have these eating choices scattered around town, but it would be great to have them centered in the downtown.

playground blood burger

Gallegos nailed it!  The reality is that the gentrification of our Downtown has resulted in less, not more, diversity.  And most of the new restaurants he referenced are simply too expensive for most of the people of Santa Ana.  What say you?  Are you okay with bloody sixteen dollar burgers and $7 grilled cheese sandwiches?  Do you really think we need more bars?  Really?

And why is no one fighting to overturn the City’s bans on Hookah bars and tattoo parlors in Downtown Santa Ana?

The biggest question, in my mind, is why can’t all these gourmet foodies run clean restaurants that comply with food safety regulations?  Click here to find out what a mess most of our Downtown Santa Ana restaurants are!

Click here to read the rest of Gallegos’ post.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

18 thoughts on “Do you like how Downtown Santa Ana is doing?”
  1. What is good about Downtown? That hot little waitress that kept me near company while I drank a two dollar Pabst today at Crosby. What is not good? Having to leave for fear of the parking meter maid.

  2. I don’t really care. Other than being a small economic engine, drawing in HIPSTER DRUNKS (as opposed to GRUNGE DRUNKS in Downtown Fullerton) and not really make the city better.

    As I have always said, keeping the “daytime” money downtown has been a goal since Dan Young was mayor. This was in fact, on of Richardson’s chief objectives as a Councilmember.

    Years of development, redevelopment, low interest, booms and busts leave us with the shell of uncommitted renters we have now. It was less than year ago a fundamentalist church helped by Councilmember Benavides made a move on some property there.

    A bigger and perhaps better question (not to take away from Omar’s great inquiry and promoting dialogue could be:

    “Why is Santa Ana HELL BENT on Downtown?”

    The schools are failing, the streets are in disrepair, the police department is about run off with a gift not witnessed since the final scenes of Disney’s National Treasure. Sandpointe needs help.

    Behr wants to move to the IE. Ingram Micro diverts nearly ALL employees south to Costa Mesa, Irvine and Tustin for lunch, and we are worried about six city blocks with ten bad resturaunts, clinics for uninsured aliens and a place for municipal, county, and other state workers to take their taxpayer pensions back to Rancho Santa Margarita, Irvine and EVERYWHERE BUT HERE!

    Just Sayin’

  3. Hey Admin,


    I wonder if Michele and Angie will be touting this in their next “SHOP SANTA ANA” diatribe, Target was a couple thousand yards away!


  4. Hipster Drunks are the window dressing parasites Carpet Bagger. They do not comprise the heart and soul of the interested in Downtown. Those that are truly interested in the future of Downtown are not exclusively interested in Downtown. They do however recognize it as a political battleground for all of Orange County and symbolically for all of the world! All politics is local. Fight for your future and the world that you desire! Do not be a spectator in life. Most of the other parts of Santa Ana and everywhere on this Globe have been reduced to Spectator status. Not us. Viva New Santa Ana!

    1. The Mayans developed zero as a placeholder around A.D. 350 and used it to denote a placeholder in their elaborate calendar systems. Despite being highly skilled mathematicians, the Mayans never used zero in equations, however. Kaplan describes the Mayan invention of zero as the “most striking example of the zero being devised wholly from scratch.”

  5. I devised the New form of New Santa Ana zeros all from scratch and then Editor decided to eradicate the concept of Fiala by designating him as a zero. Which had already been demonstrated by repeated history a billion times over.

  6. I’ll say it again, but in more general terms. The question is already being answered regarding “bloody burgers,” and $7 (though they go higher than that) grilled cheeses. It’s a resounding YES, for now. The Playground is consistently packed and their new iteration, 2.0 is doing extremely well in selling out $200 per person dining experiences (better than I thought they would, honestly). Whether that is being carried out by strictly Santa Ana locals is absolutely a moot point in the scheme of things. Downtown areas are meant to be a draw. They are meant to pool from the surrounding areas as a place where the entirety of the county can enjoy themselves. While Garden Grove has the Asian food covered, I would agree that it would be nice to see a solid Thai, Japanese or Vietnamese spot in DTSA. Mediterranean would be nice, too.

    All of the restaurants in the area are in compliance with the health authority, otherwise they would be shut down temporarily or for good. This is part of the program you continue to ignore.

    1. HaHA appears to be a little bit over eager to make his/her point. As a restaurant professional for thirty years a $200. per head bill is .5% of the industry average. YES 1/2 of 1%.

      So HaHA is claiming that the playground is grossing more than units in Manhattan, San Francisco, Downtown LA or more locally, Newport Beach!

      If what this poster claims is true, there would NOT BE AN OPEN piece of real estate for miles!

      Instead, I suggest that the poster is somehow related (or IS) the proprietor of this venue, which is not uncommon in the business for owners to post FAKE reviews.

      The facts certainly point to this being an influential “opinion” .

      As to the comment “While Garden Grove has the Asian food covered” this exemplifies the ignorance of the poster from an industry standpoint and is contradictory to the assertion that “pooling from surrounding areas” is possible.

      Simply Put: FAKE POST!

      1. LOL, false on all counts, my friend. I have ZERO stake in the restaurant, just a fan of what they do. I’m not sure what your experience in the industry has to do with what The Playground crew is doing, but what I said is true. The Playground opened a 16 (or maybe 17) seat restaurant next to their main hub and it serves as a tasting menu only venue. While prices DO vary a tad, some meals $60 (not including tax, tip and drinks, which ends up being over $100/person) they have a set of I/O dinners that top out at $250 (tax, tip and drinks INCLUDED) in which they go all out and serve a multitude of courses (think Alinea with not as much molecular gastronomy). So far, this endeavor has been very successful, will it last in the long run, who knows? How about you give them a call and ask them how 2.0 and I/O work before throwing out ill-informed accusations, eh?

        You’ll have to explain to me what is really wrong with my comment about Garden Grove? My point is that Garden Grove has a multitude of AMAZING Asian restaurants and is really not far from Santa Ana, at all. I’m saying this to illustrate that DTSA doesn’t REALLY need Asian cuisine as it is within reach, though I still wouldn’t mind someone taking a shot at it to add some variance to the cuisine in the area.

        Is this where I tell you this is not a fake post?

    1. They sometimes have $100 offerings, but the true I/O dinners typically fun in the $200-250 range (which includes tax, tip and drinks). There is nothing wrong with this as this is the standard cost of a tasting menu of this magnitude, and like I said, they continue to sell out, so whatever the market will bear.

  7. $200.00 a head.?
    Oh the Vanity that is over-priced gentrification!
    Better served getting head from a Main street Tranny. Probably better looking also.

    1. Like I said above, whatever the market will bear. Time will tell if it’ll maintain, but for now they are certainly making it work.

  8. Had a beer and appetizer at Chapter One for $7.00. today. @ Happy hour. May I suggest that for venturing the Santa Ana Heart of Darkness.

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