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Exploring the foodie destination that is downtown Anaheim: Four Hours

Over-the-top cones at House of Chimney Cakes on Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim.
At House of Chimney Cakes on Center Street Promenade in Anaheim, Omar Lara and Szandra Szabo riff off the Hungarian chimney cakes that Szandra grew up on in Eastern Europe. The Hungarian sweet pastry is filled with soft-serve ice cream and topped with more sweets. The ornamental desserts draw social media followers from far-away places.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

Three meals? This is a day you’ll wish for more. Good thing there’s takeout.

Downtown Anaheim, surrounded by the Anaheim Colony historic district’s streets lined with Craftsman houses, turned into a foodie destination with the 2014 opening of the Packing House, a food hall in a renovated 1919 Sunkist citrus packinghouse. But we’re going to start a few blocks away, on Center Street Promenade, a slightly less Instagrammed destination with several yummy places and other draws. If you like, do the route in reverse; you can’t go wrong, and you sure won’t go hungry.

Anaheim Packing House
The Anaheim Packing House is a busy modern food hall within walking distance of Center Street Promenade. The two adjacent areas in downtown Anaheim offer hours of diversion.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

11 a.m.: Park in one of the garages on Center Street between South Anaheim Boulevard and South Clementine Street (look for the orange signs). You’ll get two hours free with validation from downtown shops and eateries and pay $4 an hour after that. Head west past Anaheim Ice and cross the street to Rare by Goodwill (at 411 W. Broadway but with its entrance on Center), a boutique of pre-owned clothing curated to appeal to millennials with items from such places as Urban Outfitters and H&M but with an occasional designer find such as Missoni, Manolo Blahnik and Coach for prices largely below $15. There’s also a selection of vinyl albums and turntables with which to listen to them.

Pop Comics & Culture Emporium
E.T. greets visitors to Pop Comics & Culture Emporium along Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim, Calif.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

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Noon: Now that you’ve scored some trendy duds, head back two blocks east on Center Street, past the ice rink (a practice arena for the Ducks) and Yoga Mat studio, making notes for a future, more athletic outing. If you’re a comic book fan, you might want to peek into Pop Comics & Culture Emporium, while gamers might want to head to LAG Bar. At 185 W. Center St. is Pour Vida Latin Flavor, a small restaurant whose colorful tables sprawled along the sidewalk are testament to this eatery’s popularity. Order at the counter and hope they haven’t run out of short rib tacos. There are plenty of other great varieties, including pork and plantain or Brussels sprout, as well as salads.

Pour Vida Latin Flavor
Dallas John Coley, from left, Grant Monnig and Conner Seamus enjoy the outdoor seating area of Pour Vida Latin Flavor along Center Street Promenade in Anaheim. The lively indoor/outdoor ambiance is great for people-watching.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

12:45 p.m.: With Latin rhythms echoing in your ear, continue west, stopping at Okayama Kobo Bakery at 155 W. Center St. to pick up some sweet or savory baked goods, then cross the street to Muzeo at the end of the Carnegie Plaza courtyard dotted with fountains and overseen by a mural of a girl with a watering can. This small museum showcases traveling exhibits for variable admission fees in its main building. Holiday model trains are on display through Jan. 26. The smaller building at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. is a 1908 Carnegie Library, one of many funded around the country by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, which presents exhibits for free. In front is the Muzeo name spelled out in huge letters of metal, wood, rocks and succulents — a great place for a photo.

Muzeo in Anaheim
Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in downtown Anaheim is within walking distance of the Packing House and adjacent to Center Street Promenade. The urban cultural center, gallery and library is housed in two buildings, a plaza and a courtyard. The historic 1908 Carnegie Library houses some of the exhibits.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

2 p.m.: Cross Broadway and head south on Anaheim Boulevard, part of the original El Camino Real, to the Anaheim Packing House at 440 S. Anaheim Blvd., passing a 1923 Packard dealership, which now houses Umami Burger and Anaheim Brewery, and Farmers Park. The historic packinghouse was converted into a two-story food hall with about 30 vendors. If you’re up for something sweet, stop by Popbar for decorated gelato on a stick or Hans’ Homemade Ice Cream. If lunch has worn off, you can’t beat the house special pho at 206 BCE, which comes with beef brisket, rare beef, beef meatballs and a giant beef rib for $14. “This place is always changing,” said one young man as I squeezed past his group, having already noticed that the Vietnamese place had added Cajun dishes and a Chinese place had turned into a waffle dog stand.

The house special pho with four kinds of beef at 206 BCE in the Anaheim Packing House.
The House Special Pho at 206 BCE inside the Anaheim Packing House offers a fulfilling stop during a downtown Anaheim excursion.
(Ana Venegas/For The Times)

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Sit outside on the south deck — across from Make, a 1917 marmalade factory now housing a brewery and wine tasting room — and you might witness a Union Pacific freight train coming down the middle of a residential street.

There’s usually live music on weekend evenings; rockabilly filled the air on a recent Friday. A small Seed People’s Market outpost and some carts by the north entrance offer opportunities for shopping. On your way out, pick up some takeout for dinner — maybe Indian street food from Adya or SoCal soul food from Georgia’s — or grab an OMG bar at Pandor bakery.

Anaheim Packing House
The Anaheim Packing House is a busy modern food hall within walking distance of Center Street Promenade.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

If you prefer, do this circuit in reverse and end up at House of Chimney Cakes at 173 W. Center St. for an over-the-top ice cream cone like Oreo Overload, Fashionista or Everyday Birthday Cake, which you’ll need to photograph before it topples.

The FRAN shuttle
The FRAN shuttle can speed up your transport from Center Street Promenade to the Anaheim Packing House. The free on-demand shuttle offers rides around downtown Anaheim with the help of the CtrCity Anaheim app.
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

If you get tired of walking, arrange for a lift from an orange FRAN (Free Rides Around the Neighborhood) shuttle via the CtrCity Anaheim app or by hailing one in person. Or if you’re up for more fun, grab an ART (Anaheim Resort Transportation) shuttle at one of several stops in the neighborhood and head one mile away to the neighborhood park — Disneyland.


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