On the corner of Anaheim Boulevard and Santa Ana Street sits a Sunkist packing house. From 1919 to 1955 the Packing House served as a part of the Anaheim Orange & Lemon Association where orange growers would deliver their fruits to be packaged and transported around the country on the railways. It makes me wonder how many oranges from the orange groves that used to grow where my house sits traveled through the Packing House. How I remember it as an ice house. You pulled around back and requested bags or even blocks of ice that were carried in trunks or truck beds to celebrations around town. These days the celebration is at the Packing House.
The last few years have transformed the site from a rough, empty building to a beautifully redesigned and functional space housing over 20 eateries and community meeting spaces. Although the days when the building was used to sort and pack oranges are gone, the exposed beams, large ceiling windows and original wood floors compliment the new modern touches.
Walking in the North entrance you have a view of most of the first floor and atrium. To the front you have the concierge and to the side Studio la Fleur, a little flower shop on carts. To the right you have the Hammer Bar which I think is one of the best put together spaces. The actual bar area is an old trailer hitched to a vintage tractor. Sitting in the bar you feel like you are in a greenhouse, surrounded by plaid and metal vintage camping décor. Cocktail glasses hang from rakes, with copies of Popular Mechanics laid out for reading while lounging on old tractor seats. My favorite cocktail? A Twist of Cane: rum, fresh-pressed cantaloupe, lemongrass syrup and Aloe Vera liqueur.
On the South West side of the building you will find the first of many eateries. Adya isn’t just any Indian restaurant, it focuses on Indian street food. Chef Shachi Mehra’s fare has been a huge favorite; I have yet to hear anyone try something they didn't like. Many people assume Indian food means curry, but this isn't true at Adya. Even if you don’t think you are a fan of Indian, you might be surprised by the Malai Tikka chicken and goat cheese naan – my favorites! Bonus – everything except the bread is gluten free.
Chances are you won’t be disappointed by the other food options either. The eateries aren't traditional sit down restaurants, but this isn't a food court either. Community seating between the restaurants allow for variety that can meet your party’s palette. Choose from sushi and ramen from OrangeTei, fish and chips from The Chippy, waffle sandwiches and craft beer at TheIron Press, shabu shabu at Rolling Boil, comfort foods at The Kroft and coming soon is Georgia’s southern cuisine. And don’t forget to grab dessert! Although I haven’t tried it yet, if the line speaks for how good their pops are, Pop Bar serves gelato on a stick with dipping options like chocolate and nuts. Since ice cream is my favorite treat, you’ve probably seen me in line for Han’sHomemade Ice Cream. Crafted from cream from local dairies, this ice cream is delish. I suggest the peanut butter ice cream with chocolate ribbon.
I love the culinary and dietary variety that come together under one roof at The Packing House. Raw Chef Jenny Ross’ Lemon Drop serves cold pressed juices, smoothies and a variety of other raw and vegan foods. Have you ever thought a delicious breakfast would be slices of avocado topped with berries? Me neither until I tried it. Since I’m not a full time vegan, I can walk downstairs and visit Wheat & Sons Butcher/Rotisserie for locally sourced grass fed meats. I’m thinking a perfect summer day would include a fresh squeezed juice, then a whole chicken or sausages for barbecuing in the afternoon.
Don’t forget to visit the outside spaces for relaxing in the shade. Railcars that used to pull up next to the building to transport citrus throughout the country now sit stationary as outdoor eating spaces. Just outside the East of the building is a grassy area with plenty of seating including rocking chairs and a fireplace. Take a seat on North side of the building’s first floor rocker or ground level lounging areas and enjoy the view of Farmer’s Park.
When I first walked inside of the Packing House on opening day I was impressed. What I saw far exceeded my expectations and I thought, “This is ours.” The way the Packing District (Packing House, Farmer’s Park & Packard Building) has been developed is one with the history of Anaheim. There aren't many historic buildings left in Anaheim, and to give these life again is celebrating the past, present and future. During the media tasting welcome address, Shaheen Sadhegi of The LAB Holdings, who has developed the area, said the Packing District was designed with “localization, customization and personalization” in mind. He referenced how post WWII America’s interest was in mass consumption, but these days people are looking to make their own goods or buy local goods. That to me is part of what building a community is all about.
There’s a group of us that frequently run into each other at restaurants, Center Street or even the Anaheim Brewery. These meetings aren't always planned, many times they are just by chance. We call each other neighbors even if we live streets or miles apart. My neighbors and I have been excited to see so many strangers at the Packing House. We imagine there are other groups of friends, probably thinking the same thing about us. Now we have a new place to bump into each other, and even meet new neighbors.
440 S Anaheim Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92805