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SoCal Explorer Partner Highlight: Cafecito Cultura

Sam Ruiz is the co-owner and co-founder of local favorite brunch, lunch and espresso spot, Cafecito Cultura in Downtown Santa Ana. The shop has been serving contemporary Mexican coffee and cuisine for over ten years and continues to offer the Santa Ana community a welcoming place to enjoy authentic, Mexico-city inspired food fare alongside warm hospitality.  

“What really makes us stand out is the area we’re located in. Downtown Santa Ana has been developing for the last five years but we’ve been here for almost eleven. We were here before it was ‘hip.’ Initially getting people to come to this area was a challenge. Downtown was still trying to move forward and was normally overlooked.”

Ruiz is proud that over the past decade Cafecito Cultura has stayed true to its original roots despite the changes in the local area. “It’s developing and evolving for the best – kind of like the Arts District in DTLA. We’ve been here so long, that we’ve kind of endured the entire revolution of what Downtown Santa Ana used to be – and we were able to stay true to who we are. What I mean by that is that we never changed our concept, we never changed our design; we’re a modern Latin restaurant but we didn’t try to fit the mold of what downtown looks like now.  With business development can come corporations, and we’ve been able to show the people who we truly are and what makes us special,” he shares.  

Ruiz emphasizes the café’s commitment to the local community. “Another element that makes us stand out is that we truly are all about our community. We’re a Latin dominated community here, and in this area we serve that clientele. Our menu is an ode to the city where I grew up – Mexico City – where I lived until I was 12. The food here is very Mexico-city inspired,” he says.

Ruiz is proud of the menu’s authenticity and flavor. “It’s not your stereotypical Mexican restaurant fare – it’s more small-town fare. We’ve created a space that with time has become very Instagrammable – it photographs very well and is cultured, cool and hip. That’s why our name is “Cafe Cultura,” he says.   

He shares a few of his favorite dishes on the menu, including the café’s famous French toast dish. “My personal favorite which is also one of our most popular is a dish is called ‘Pan Dulce French Toast.’ It’s an ode to a French style French toast. We don’t use melted egg batter, we use cream and butter, but instead of brioche we have our baker make a square version of a pan dulce – like a concha – and instead of being round, it’s like a loaf. We make a really good sauce that’s made from Mexican eggnog.”

Ruiz says he’s taken Metrolink in the past to sports games, and to downtown Los Angeles from Orange County on family outings. “Personally, I’ve taken the train with my family and friends from Santa Ana to DTLA for Laker games. It’s great when you don’t want to deal with traffic or parking.” 

Café Cultura is expanding operations and will open another café closer to in Los Angeles in December 2020 – right by a train station! Stay tuned, for more details to come.  

When SoCal Explorer rewards members take the train to Cefecito Cultura and show their loyalty card, they will receive 50% off any coffee, tea or latte from 7AM-11AM (subject to modification).

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