Event - Sampling Anaheim's Newest Attraction: The Anaheim Packing House

Like bees to the fragrant flowers of a citrus tree in the springtime, Orange County residents have swarmed to the newly opened Anaheim Packing House for its own food-powered fragrance which resides in the historic Anaheim Citrus Packing House built in 1919. If you have somehow missed the buzz on this new hot spot, picture 27 vendors housed under one roof featuring artisan and local food products with a dedication and commitment to serving the county the best of the best. Think about an open space with white wooden and metal rafters above, organic and farm-inspired decor around, and the structure of nearly 100 years of history beneath your feet. Fully restored, the Anaheim Packing House is on its way to becoming a beloved community go-to for bonding, eating, and enjoying. What once stood as a hub for citrus and eventually a storage space is now bumbling with the life of the county's residents. We stepped through its doors one evening to sample what all of its newest residents had to share.

"Most historic buildings have been burned down or torn down; we are so grateful and appreciative for this building to have survived and very fortunate that these walls are still standing. This building has soul; this building has a heart. I can sense it pumping and am so proud that we were able to save it." - Shaheen Sadeghi, LAB Holding
If you have heard different names for the area and might be confused, there is a marked difference between the Anaheim Packing District and the Anaheim Packing House. The former refers to the entire area which encompasses the latter, a park, and the restored Packard House currently housing Umami Burger and Anaheim Brewery. The park project was developed to focus on education of food from its vegetable garden to its classes teaching locals how to grow their own food. A farmers' market is also held there on Sundays starting at 9AM. To eventually combine all three components, there are plans for quarterly dinners featuring the chefs of all of the restaurants in the District for a capacity of 400 guests.

We started our preview of the vendors inside the Packing House over at The Hammer Bar & Tool Shed, a from-scratch bar featuring cocktails, old fashioned liqueurs, craft beers, and farm wines. If you enter the Anaheim Packing House from the main doors, you cannot miss this bar on your right as it sits in the middle of everything with a tool shed feel, surrounded by oilcans, stacked with old tools, and attached to a vintage Ford tractor. We whetted our throats with the Hanky Panky (Broker's gin, Carpano Antica vermouth, Fernet Branca, and orange oils) from the Savory Shooters menu and the A Twist of Cane (Rhum Clement VSOP, fresh-pressed cantaloupe, lemongrass syrup, and Chareau Aloe Vera liqueur); both were excellently made.

"This project is about localization, customization, and personalization and not homogenization."
Because the Anaheim Packing House is bent on supporting the local community and its artisan entrepreneurs, it is no surprise how varied the vendors are. Even though the sampling we all received was just a small fraction of the number of active vendors at the location, there were so many cuisines and styles represented in a short amount of time. We are excited for Urbana Fish Market & Mexican Eatery to open since they will feature a fresh fish market with seafood sold by the pound but also via fresh ceviches and pokes; if the sampling from Javier and Andrea was any sign of what their full-fledged menu will be like, it will surely be a treat. If you have a hot pot craving, there is Rolling Boil downstairs with their multiple broths serviced individually with a burner at every seat. The artful Chef Shachi Mehra can fulfill any Indian food curiosities with her ADYA - a restaurant that features traditional dishes with southern Californian flair. Looking to get away from the typical Orange County food? Try the feel-good collard greens by Gretchen Shoemaker of Georgia's, a home-cooked Southern style restaurant specializing in comfort foods like fried catfish, barbecued pulled pork, macaroni and cheese I could not stop eating, and more.

Not everything is herbs and spices-centric though as we saw with the refreshing samples of Lemon Drop Fresh Pressed Juicery & Farm Shoppe by Chef Jenny Ross. This fresh cold pressed juice bar sits in the middle of the left half of the Anaheim Packing House and will not only send you on your way with superfood smoothies and healthful snacks but also offer shortcuts to cooking at home via salad bouquets and full recipe kits. Straight across from the main doors is Orange Tei helmed by Ramen Master Shigetoshi Nakamura featuring sushi rolls and ramen. We tried a whole spread of different rolls and were happy to taste how fresh it was; if you are a rolls kind of person, give this a shot.

In terms of the savory samples we had to try, the favorite piece was the fried chicken sandwich from The Kroft, a sandwich-centric restaurant on the lower floor of Anaheim Packing House. Focused on local and seasonal ingredients, this spot highlights how their meats take a minimum of 24 hours to prepare the way they want them. If you are a fan of SWSH Shabu Shabu, you'll be excited to know that The Kroft was created by the same owners, Matthew Tong and Stephen Le. Not a fan of traditional bread for your sandwiches? We didn't have them pictured but Iron Press' second location is housed in the Anaheim Packing House as well; they are the waffle sandwich-makers and craft beer lovers. Want a savory waffle that is completely loaded alongside a pint of cold brew? It's Iron Press for you.

The dessert options will be glorious for those with sweet tooths. You might have already seen the multiple Instagram pictures of Popbar with its gelato and sorbet popsicles both dippable and topping-able. If you lean more towards loving traditional ice cream, I really recommend getting in on the Han's Homemade Ice Cream action because their first location near South Coast Plaza has been my own go-to ice cream shop for years. Having a second spot in this culinary hub only makes sense for this community favorite - they make dang good ice cream. Our biggest dessert surprise that evening was the masterful magic of Dark180 by Kevin Nosworthy. Their fitting description calls Dark 180 a chocolate alchemist; the samples of rosemary chocolate caramels, decadent hot chocolate, and a Thai tea white chocolate drink with lychee foam and lime zest (MAGIC!) proved how excited everyone needs to be about their eventual opening.

Can you believe that this was just a taste of what Anaheim Packing House has to offer? Other vendors include Black Sheep (cheese shop), The Blind Rabbit (secret speakeasy), buy'n bulk (bulk food merchant), The Chippy (fish and chips), Confecito Organico (small batch coffee roaster), Crepe Coop (sweet crepe maker), Ecco Pizza (the second location of the beloved pizza spot from The Camp in Costa Mesa), Kettlebar (Creole cuisine), Sawleaf (Vietnamese fast-casual), and Wheat & Sons Butcher & Rotisserie. We also got the scoop that another development is in the making just two blocks down from the Anaheim Packing House - a concept called "MAKE" which will house, in a similar fashion, artisans who make non-food items.

If these entice you, make your way to the Anaheim Packing House located at 440 S Anaheim Blvd and go with an empty stomach!

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.