Get candy, coffee and breakfast at these 3 hidden downtown gems

Pops Cafe
Photo by Jessica Avila / el Don

There are dozens of places to get something to eat in downtown Santa Ana, from quick stops to full service restaurants to specialty snacks. However, some food places aren’t on the main arteries and you might drive right past them if you didn’t know they were there. These are small independent shops that have been in business serving the community for years and even some newcomers in the previous decade. Here are three downtown Santa Ana spots to eat and drink that are part of city culture – and are worth taking the effort to find.

Pop’s Cafe

112 E 9th St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

7 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Monday to Friday

7:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Saturday to Sunday

Pop’s Cafe is a neighborhood diner hidden past the trees of E. 9th St splitting off from N. Main St owned by Sung Woo that has been serving customers since 1942 with their simple American-style breakfast and lunch menu. The walls are decorated with vintage signs and seating is available inside and outside the cafe. Their specials are on the door for every weekday served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Their peak hours are 10 a.m. and 12 a.m.

Photo by Jessica Avila / el Don

La Central Dulceria

719 E 4th St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

8 A.M. to 7 P.M. Monday to Friday

8 A.M. to 6 P.M. Saturday to Sunday

La Central Dulceria is a wholesale and retail candy, ice cream, party, and mexican goods store hidden away on the corner of E. 4th St and N. Lacy St. Founded in 2012 by Francisco Vargas and his wife named Gloria, they have served the community for over 10 years while supporting the local street vendors, retail stores, community centers with their wholesale purchases from the store’s shelves and freezers stocked with many of the treats that Vargas remembers from his childhood in Mexico. They also carry the common American brands like Blue Bunny™ and Dreyer’s™ and efrutti® candy. “We’re located here because of 4th Street being a popular spot for small businesses and also because who doesn’t love Mexican candy?” comments Gloria, co-owner of La Central Dulceria. Lately, they have been short-staffed and are currently hiring. Their hours run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

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Maz is located across from the Santa Ana train station. Photo by Jessica Avila / el Don

MAZ Cafe con Leche

608 N Lacy St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

8 A.M. to 4 P.M. Monday to Saturday

9 A.M. to 3 P.M. Sunday

MAZ Cafe con Leche Menu

When you go up N. Lacy St from La Central Dulceria to where the street meets E. 6th St and across from Mariposa Park, you meet Café con Leche. A cafe and event venue that has been standing for almost 10 years since its opening on August 29, 2015 serving a wide variety of coffees, teas, and other refreshments as well as lunch options. Visitors can enjoy their drinks in a modern casual setting or outside in Triada Court. The Story Circle sculpture by Jules Rochielle and Chad Clark stands outside–-a local landmark. A few of their more popular drinks are the non espresso frappes like their Abuelita Frappe which is made of chocolate syrup, cinnamon, sugar, milk, and can be topped with whipped cream and their MAZ Frappe which contains milk, chocolate, and mazapan mexican candy. MAZ Café con Leche is partnered with the city of Santa Ana as part of a community revitalization project.

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