Santa Ana Food Gems to Try This Month

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EL MERCADO MODERN CUISINE (pictured above)
From Anepalco chef Daniel Godinez and partner José Cerrudo, El Mercado’s menu features a dish inspired by each of Mexico’s 31 states, all intended as share plates. The tacos ahogados are crispy, rolled chicken tacos resting on hot, fragrant broth. Tabasco coconut ceviche, and Puebla mole chicken plated in the shape of Mexico. 301 N Spurgeon St, Santa Ana, (714) 338-2446

Lemon garlic chicken from Chicken Maison. Photo by Angie W.

CHICKEN MAISON
Come lunch, there’s a line out the door at this bustling joint tucked in a shopping center. Rows of chickens glisten and brown in ovens just behind the cash register. Bland bird this ain’t, not when the Spicy Lemon Garlic Chicken comes slathered with a bright paste of red chilis, green onions, garlic, and lemon. If you can handle the heat, try it in a combo with sides such as grape leaves and Greek coleslaw ($9.25 to $21). The skin remains crisp even under that mix, and the meat is tender. Or try the lemon-basil chicken; it’s fragrant and still has that punch of citrus. $10 for a half-chicken with pita and two sides. 3332 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, 714-434-0244, chickenmaison.com 

Braised brisket phorrito – Photo by Red Envelope

RED ENVELOPE
Take a stroll over to 4th Street Market to enjoy Vietnamese fusion comfort foods such as the braised brisket phorrito ($9.75), carne asada cheese melt on Texas bread ($9.50), or a bowl of lobster pho ($35). 201 E. Fourth St., 714-383-0414

Photo by Aaliyah G.

MAZ CAFÉ CON LECHE
This comfortable and inviting space is a great spot to sip on horchata latte ($3.75 to $4.25) or their famous (MAZ) marzipan hot chocolate ($3.50). Try the New York cheesecake ($4.25), Coconut Dulce De Leche, various frappes, tea and other foods. It’s a perfect spot to work/study or gather with your friends. 608 N. Lacy St., 714-479-0104

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