Move Over Disneyland, there is a new kid in town.
Food malls are on the rise, and at the top of the chain is the historically beautiful Anaheim Packing District. The district is in the heart of Anaheim’s historic downtown, just minutes away from Disneyland, this authentic food mall is packed away in an old 1919 Spanish orange marmalade plant. The Anaheim Packing House is now a local destination for not only dining experiences but nightlife. This up and coming food mall was once a place where local farmers prepped fresh citrus into wooden crates for shipping all across the United States. Today the newly renovated location celebrates the dense agricultural history of Orange County by exhibiting almost 24 culinary or boutique artisans. These skilled restaurateurs range from butcheries, bakeries, sandwich shops, Vietnamese food, fresh and fried seafood, Indian cuisine, pizzeria, and a coffee shop. Through all the madness you can sit and rest in a group-dining hall that wraps around the outside covered porches, deck, and bar.
In this public market type setting (think a more “indie” Ferry Plaza) there are multiple restaurants but you can stop by; Hans for ice cream, Cafecito Organico for small batch roasted coffee, or Crepe Coop for your own signature crepe. After picking your food(s) of choice, venture downstairs to the communal dining hall or head outside to the Farmers Park, which is an all green-lawn marketplace. Farmers Park is also home to tons of community activities such as movies nights, concerts, and a Certified Farmers Market almost every Sunday.
Towards the back of the packing district located just outside Ecco’s Pizzeria comes a home-style backyard patio with a heated seating area that includes a fireplace to warm up chilly nights, and features plenty of seating for just having a drink or hanging out. Shaheen Sadeghi, the mastermind behind the packing house and other alternate non-malls such as the costa mesa LAB. “Our passion is about small operators. It’s about personalization, not homogenization,” For Sadeghi the idea of the Anaheim packing district came from beautiful marketplaces all over the world. The district has a certain vintage-hipster feel, the perfect backdrop for Instagram and Yelp pictures. Although many eateries have in-house seating the packing district offers what they call “communal dining.” A dining area in front of the stage which hosts numerous live performances, most of them involving musical acts.
Some of the more popular eateries include Popbar (gelato on a stick), The Koft (New American), Ecco Pizzeria and Hans Ice Cream. At Han’s Ice cream the ice cream is made fresh daily, transported from the Santa Ana location as stated on their website. The milk and cream comes from Scott Brothers Dairy in Chino, with locations in Santa Ana and Anaheim. On Hanshomemade.com they state “we never whip air into our ice cream to fluff up the volume, so all you get is dense, creamy ice cream that you can really sink your teeth into! “At the Packing District in Anaheim, single scoops are $3.50; doubles $5, signature flavors from the new owners include Oreo coffee and salted caramel. They often add summertime sherbet flavors as well. Customers often say the same thing “I enjoy Hans because you can tell the quality of cream used, and how fresh and innovative the flavors are” says college student Anjelique Arabshahi.
Fan favorite Popbar is always the most crowded at the Packing District, although simple in concept customers wrap around the building with salivating mouths and a look of anxiety and desperation in their eyes. Reuben BenJehuda co-founder of Popbar says “The younger crowd is mesmerized by our display, the older crowd thinks of us as something nostalgic…Popbar’s treats appeal to all ages, genders, and income levels so we have a variety of customers. Locals, tourists, adults, and children…everyone enjoys visiting Popbar!” Popbar appeals to the younger customer in particular with social media platforms the company says “We are extremely active on social media and have a large following on Instagram (@popbar) and Facebook (@popbarUSA). We post everything from followers’ photos of their customized Popbars to promotions and coupons. At the same time, our fans, also known as Popaholics, post photos of their creations to their own pages. Many end up receiving large amount of likes which then generate more followers of our social media pages and brand.” BenJehuda says not only does the packing district strive to provide a fun atmosphere but Popbars mission “is to give visitors a fun and unique experience which allows them to customize their Popbars their way with our chocolate dippings and various Poppings” So whether you’re looking to eat breakfast or dessert the Anaheim Packing District is your destination for social gatherings and a fabulous nightlife.