4th Street Market

Growing up in Orange County, Santa Ana was NEVER the place to be.  In fact, it was the place you wanted to avoid if you valued your money, valuables, and safety.  My how the world, has changed.  Santa Ana is now like one of the many small pockets of hipster-dom in Orange County.  It’s one of the few places you can go to eat something interesting and tasty.
The 4th Street Market, which is literally across the street from The Playground, my all-time favorite OC restaurant, is sort of like a grunge fancy food court.  What an oxymoron right?  The setting is semi-grunge, paper plates, plastic silverware, simple stalls and decor.  The food is semi-fancy as you will see.  It delivers similar food concepts as the Packing District in Anaheim, in much more manageable and intimate setting.  The same damn hipsters are teeming both locales.  Wait, I’m one of those damn hipsters!  Crap…


I think most of the eateries were equipped with iPads and Square receipt apps.  Bye bye are the days of cash registers.

What I love more than anything when it comes to eating is variety.  So we came well prepared, our party of 3, 4 if you include Baby Talks A Lot but she didn’t really eat anything but downed some milk.  We ordered enough dishes to get a decent sampling of 4th Street Market’s offerings.

Noodle Tramp

Khao Soi wagyu brisket

My time in Portland exposed me to a whole other side of Thai food.  That side includes this dish, a form of curry noodles.  It’s not a dish you will find very commonly at most Thai restaurants stateside, and when you do it’s probably not that good.  Excellent Thai food strikes a perfect harmony between salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and funky.  Fortunately, Jason Quinn and his Playground crew do this dish some justice, but I’ve had better.  Heck even the version I make is better.  I’d prefer if they amped up the funk and tempered the sweet.  I might not sure if you really can get this in Orange Country so Noodle Tramp might be your new go to spot.  While traditionally served with chicken, Noodle Tramp gives you the option for brisket which was actually a tasty twist.  The wagyu is nice but not really necessary.


Pan Roast shrimp and chorizo

I’ve only ever had pan roast one other time at Ritter’s.  It was tasty there, but a tad too sweet for my liking.  Mar’s version is saltier, maybe too salty but it was very flavorful. It ain’t cheap at $10 for a bowl, but it’s quite the hearty portion.  Big Head Talks A Lot brought it home with the intention of adding more rice for round 2.

Dos Chinos

Stoner Papas french fries, carne asada, bolsa roast pork belly, chorizo fried rice, fried egg, salsa verde, onions, cilantro

This was way underwhelming.  I’m not sure if they were just backed up and rushing but this was a sloppy mediocre mess.  The fries were WAY underdone.  The egg obviously wasn’t runny enough.  The rest of it was just meh.  I think you’d have to be stoned to actually think this was awesome.


2 Piece Combo fried chicken, corn bread, coleslaw, chipotle potato salad

I’m not a fan of the Uncle Lou’s fried chicken at The Playground.  This is a completely different type of fried chicken.  It had a very unique spice combination, very heavy on the cumin I think.  The breading was quite heavier than what I am used to.  Overall, better than Uncle Lou’s version, but I wouldn’t come back.  It’s just not my cup of tea.  The side of sweet dipping vinegar or something added some good balance.


While visually kind of unappealing, the cornbread was sweet, moist, and indulgent, especially with a good helping of that butter.


A bit tart, crunchy, and not too heavy.

Chipotle Potato Salad

Not that memorable

Honestly, whoever thought Santa Ana would be even remotely as cool as it is these days.  It still has a long way to go but this part of town ain’t as scary as it used to be.  There were some things that were good and some things that were less good.  I applaud the general concept of the 4th Street Market, bringing some tasty treats under one roof.  And if you don’t want to be under a roof necessarily, the spot has an outdoor patio area that hosts live music on the weekends.  It makes the atmosphere pretty vibrant.  So if you’re in the mood for something new to do in the OC, check out 4th Street Market.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome!
8 – Very good (factoring in the general theme/concept/ambiance) 

7 – Good (for the food)

6 – OK
5 – Average

4 – Not bad

3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT go here

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