There’s a restaurant in downtown Santa Ana that reinvents itself every seven days.
So just when you start thinking about how much you’d like to chomp into another one of those chorizo burgers you ate on a previous visit, remember that it won’t be on the official menu the following week.
Don’t worry. At Element7Seven Culinary Kitchen, the chef will sometimes make old favorites, but just don’t expect to see them among the week’s official offerings.
During my visit, the kitchen was serving:
- The Classic Dish (tri-tip with a house-made Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce, mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables)
- The Chorizo Burger (accompanied by onions, bell peppers, fried egg and bacon)
- The Baja CA Special (fish tacos served with citrus cabbage, homemade chips, salsa and rice)
- Coffee flan
- Freshly made coconut water (served in a coconut, no less)
- Golden Goodness (a chicken sandwich with macaroni and cheese, bacon pieces and fries)
Element7Seven is a hidden gem inside the retro McFadden Public Market at 515 N. Main St. The restaurant opened in May. It’s self-service, cafeteria-style, with shared seating and an outdoor patio used by the whole market. For operating in something like a chic food court, the stunning presentation of every dish is perfect for today’s Instagram world.
The eatery serves breakfast and some specials after-hours, as well as vegan and more-caloric “cheat” day items. Prices hover around $12, and the portions are generous.
Element7Seven is a tongue-in-cheek reference to food being the seventh element of life following carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.
Element7Seven is the latest endeavor by a diversified company, the TRG Agency, which also does sports management and brand development.
TRG’s chief executive is Brian Stretch, a marketing, branding and Wall Street veteran.
“These guys are so versatile,” Stretch said of his staff. “They surprise me every day.”
Element7Seven only serves fresh food; nothing is frozen.
Head chef Sergio Ortega, formerly of Arc, Fig & Olive, Social and other O.C. mainstays, says he gets his inspiration from his former kitchens and seasonal options.
“We’re at the store every other day,” Stretch added. “It’s really farm-to-table.”
Jaime Sandoval Jr. is the chief marketing officer, keeping diners abreast of the week’s menu changes.
There’s another element to the business that does catering and food prep for athletes.
Stretch also told me about the ways his business gives back. He gives food to the homeless and works with probation officers to hire at-risk youth, including those with juvenile records. Employees who maintain C averages in college receive tuition reimbursement.
TRG is planning an expansion of the concept called E 7 & the Broadway Social Club.
I recommend checking out Element7Seven and discovering what’s inspiring Ortega the week you visit.