Food halls are the holy grail of the culinary crawl. A stop at the 4th Street Market ingenious food hall in Santa Ana, CA. reminded me just why food halls are the perfect reward for any self-proclaimed foodie. It’s a guilty pleasure I plan to cater to more often.
The food hall concept is simple, and beloved by gastropub diehards, families, singles and date-nighters. Amazingly, it’s becoming one of the fastest growing culinary concepts in not only California but throughout the US. Expect small food booths in a large trendy warehouse setting where an abundance of culinary choices combine in one dynamic synergistic setting.
Customers walk in and the magic begins. At 4th Street Market there are 14 unique, locally owned businesses ranging from the personal butcher concept, to organic drinks made your way, a variety of outrageous poutine dishes, to luscious ice cream concoctions. Whatever I say in this article, expect that your actual experience will exceed your expectations.
Locals already know what a great place this is to eat, but as the word gets out about this revitalized area and its hipsters and artist culture, the crowds are going to become enormous. Weekends are packed with tasters enjoying the food, music, people and other entertainment. My recommendation is to try it on a late Sunday afternoon or weekday of your choice. Plenty of parking, not to worry.
What sets this place apart
This food hall sets itself apart from others through its innovative development program, the East End Incubator Kitchens. Think an affordable place for chefs to develop their craft. 4th Street Market’s offers ten fully equipped, commercial kitchen spaces for rent. The kitchens are designed for artisanal and small-scale food production, personal chefs and caterers. All the health code rules have already been dealt with. Just come in and create. This option is open to both the eateries occupying space in the food hall, or to people just needs commercial space. There are public viewing windows into the kitchens encouraging the community to engage with the project.
The Incubator Kitchen offers three kitchens dedicated solely to gluten free products and one specifically for confectionery work. Each commercial kitchen space is fully self-contained. Food makers do not share their space with another. These commercial kitchens can be rented by the hour, day, or month, utilizing access to the market’s 8,000 square foot basement which includes a commissary, dry storage, cold storage, and packing/ labeling room. Food artisans also have the opportunity to showcase and test market their products in 4th Street Market’s on-site specialty food shop.
This a place of special treats and dreams come true. Let’s delve in and go through the choices. Take your time and enjoy.
My 4th Street Market Culinary Crawl Recommendations
Recess – As in most food halls, adult beverages are big business. You’ll find house-made sodas, six craft beers on tap, six wines and six cocktails mixed up by 2014 Bartender of the Year, Jarred Dooley. Try the Le Vie en Rose cocktail.
Electric City Butcher – Think personal butcher. There are no pre-packaged items to pick up. Customers come in and chat with the butcher about the weeks fresh, fresh offerings (always changing). Quite an experience. The charcuterie tray will knock your socks off.
Mar – Classic Latin and Asian seafood flavors you already love served with a fresh elevated twist. Try the ceviche and poke. Pure deliciousness.
Dos Chinos- Kind of a mix of Latin and Vietnamese tastes. As they say, “Southern California raised us on Asian and Latin food. It’s what were made of – every sinew is built on years of carne asada and Vietnamese pho.” Try the memorable soft tacos. The cilantro sauce has a unique “kick” to it.
KTCHN DTSA – If you love chilaquiles, this would be your stop. Mexican chilaquiles with strips of fried corn tortillas simmered in salsa, and served with cheese and a fried egg. Magnificent.
Terra – For those of you who want an all-natural eating concept where sourcing the right ingredients and creating delicious guilt free foods for all appetites is the goal, go here. Try the cheeseburger slider. Don’t think you’ve had one like this before.
Sit Low Pho – This is the same truck food people you know and love from around the OC. Slightly evolved traditional Vietnamese recipes with familiar flavors. Order the egg rolls or chicken wings.
Radical Botanical- Think seasonally inspired innovative beverage laboratory. Fresh, clean natural drinks. You can’t go wrong when the owner’s set their core values as, “Practice Sustainability, Promote Wellness, Deliver Quality, Inspire Innovation, Build Community, Be Passionate, Be Awesome.” Try everything.
Pig Pen – A creative modern interpretation of bacon and pork. Try the pork belly poutine. You can thank me later.
Jinny’s Pizzeria – Seasonally inspired scratch-made ingredients, farm fresh produce and an artisan edge. No processed meats, so don’t expect pepperoni pizza. What you can look forward to is large portions and an addictive taste.
Stockyard Sandwich Co – Manly food and cheesy goodness for the masses. The menu consists of “gnarly” sandwiches, poutines, soups, and salads. This eatery makes a mean Baby Short Rib Poutine.
Chunk n Chip – Ice cream goodness at its best. Stop here or you’ll miss something very special. Think seasonal Craft Ice Cream Sammiches® that are oven-warmed, ooey gooey cookies served with hand made ice cream. Small -batch production using fresh, simple, premium ingredients (locally sourced when possible) guarantees a special taste experience. One of my favorite stops.
Front Porch Pops – More small-batch yumminess. Gourmet style handmade ice pops and ice cream bars Must tries are the Strawberry Lemonade and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt fudge bar.
Portola Coffee Lab – Even without tasting first, I‘d stop here just for the name. This is a brand that is distinctive for producing an artisanal craft coffee product. Well trained, enthusiastic staff means each beverage served is a winner. This is a local California company. Perfect lattes and specialty teas. Everything is good. The coffee with tonic water is a great choice for summer sipping.
Until you can do the 4th Street Market culinary crawl for yourself, here is a “taste of the place” for you from Radical Botanical. Enjoy –it’s my favorite drink ever – just sayin’.
Compliments of Radical Botanical
A note from the owner: Here at Radical Botanicals we create a new Organic Radical Fresca every day. We never repeat an Agua Fresca which brings another meaning to the word “Fresca”! Here’s one that was known to knock the socks off of all who tried it at a special event honoring and meditating with His Holiness the Dalai Lama last summer for his 80th birthday! He loved it! This one is definitely worth repeating and an exception to our rule.
Brew 1/2 cup dried Hibiscus Flowers and in 2 quarts of hot water. let cool.
Add 2 cups pureed fresh Honey Dew Melon
1 cup cucumber juice
1 oz Ginger Juice (optional)
3 oz Lemon Juice
8oz Honey Simple Syrup (equal parts honey and warm water, stir until dissolved)
Optional flavor kick: The essential oils we used are food grade and recipe calls for only 2 drops each of Lemongrass, Ginger and Wild Orange.
Combine ingredients and top with 1 quart of cold water. Adjust to taste. Serve with ice. Best with organic ingredients4th Street Market Food Hall