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Southern California adventures: Going to my stomping grounds for a family visit is packed with surprises 

I've said this before in these columns, but I'm originally from Los Angeles County. My hometown, although very close to the coastal cities (Redondo Beach and Huntington Beach), is wedged right in the middle of all of the Los Angeles action. It's about a 30- to 45-minute drive from the heart of downtown LA and Anaheim, so I get the best of both worlds when looking for cool places to check out.

click to enlarge SIBLING ADVENTURES Every time I come home, my brother and I find a new place to explore, like this building that had a second floor filled with vintage games. - PHOTO BY KAREN GARCIA
  • Photo By Karen Garcia
  • SIBLING ADVENTURES Every time I come home, my brother and I find a new place to explore, like this building that had a second floor filled with vintage games.

Every time I take a break from the Central Coast and head home, my older brother, Salvador, is my partner when it comes to exploring what Southern California has to offer. We usually hang out in LA County but we decide to change things up this time and check out the Orange County area. The biggest attraction in Anaheim—aside from Disneyland, whose prices continue to skyrocket (no, I'm not upset)—is the Packing District. It's a building that houses multiple restaurants for visitors to choose from. You could almost call it a big food court, minus the 1990s to early 2000s cafeteria trays. These districts are starting to pop up throughout the county and they're definitely the places to take the foodie in your life. We find one called the McFadden Public Market in Santa Ana to check out on April 2.

McFadden labels itself as a food hall and it definitely carries that vibe. The first floor has food and coffee spots to the left and right. Smack in the middle are long communal tables and chairs to share with other visitors.

There are two restaurants. En Tu Boca (which translates to In your Mouth) has Mexican-Asian flair cuisine. Their menu follows the build-your-own concept: You can choose a taco, burrito, bowl, or nachos. Then you choose—and here comes the Asian fusion part—from options like steak or sinigang pork belly (it's Filipino) for your protein.

The other restaurant, Rooster Republic, serves up Southern style fried chicken. We order from this restaurant, because why pass up the opportunity for some comfort food. Their menu consists of fried chicken, salad, fried chicken sandwiches, dinner rolls, and coleslaw. I can say that the fried chicken sandwich is more chicken than crispy skin and there isn't the slightest feeling of greasy regret as I finish chowing down.

The first level also has a bar if you're in the mood to grab an after work drink.

But the second level, Mission Control, is where the barcade is. Yeah, you read that correctly: barcade. There's a small bar to order drinks from, but the main attraction is all the vintage arcade games that fill the room. My brother and I trade in our dollar bills for quarters. For an hour—we parked at a meter so time is ticking—we play to our heart's desire. There's Pac-Man, an AC/DC pinball machine, Terminator 2 Judgement Day, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We team up on Terminator 2 to save the world from the machines of Skynet in a war to save the human race, which, let me tell you, is not easy.

Staff Writer Karen Garcia is trading in her bills for quarters at kgarcia@newtimesslo.com.


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