Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Which Mexican Restaurant in Santa Ana or Orange?

An OCThen reader named Kathryn King write to us about a Mexican restaurant she used to go to, and now can't remember the name of it...

I actually have two questions regarding restaurants. My family used to go to a Mexican restaurant that was just east of Main but I can't remember if it was on 1st, 4th or 17th. It was run by a family. The father usually sat at the register and would give us lollipops when we left. They had the best food. I remember this meatball soup. In fact I have only had a similar soup one other time and that was at a small Mexican restaurant in Venice. Anyway I would love to know the name of the restaurant. Also there was a smorsgabord and (i think) miniture golf restaurant near/across from Hart Park. Anyone know what I am talking about?

The soup she's referring to is probably "albondigas".

It sounds like this restaurant is in Santa Ana, based on the cross streets of Main St and either 1st, 4th, or 17th. However, she also mentions Hart Park, which is in Orange.

Anyone wanna try to name this restaurant?

88 comments:

  1. The mexican restaurant was in Santa Ana. But the smorsgabord place was in Orange. Two different restaurants and memories. I only went to the smorsgabord place once or twice with other people. It was a girl in my class's birthday. The mexican restaurant was a favorite of my family. It is no longer there though. I have tried meatball soup at Mexican restaurants where I live now (Texas) and they aren't the same. I am thinking there must be a regional difference. Anyway. I loved going to the Mexican restaurant as a kid. It was a great memory for me.

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  2. I think it might be "La Chiquita Resturant" on Washington St Santa Ana just south of 17th and Lincoln

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    1. Your right, the lollipops are the main clue.

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  3. The Mexican restaurant in Santa Ana is called La Fonda.

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  4. Anybody remember Louie's Mexican Restaurant. That goes way back when I was a kid in the 50's. It was in an old house and I think it was on Broadway near the Court house. The food was tremendous!

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    1. My dad went to high school with the son of the family that ran Louie's, and I grew up eating there. I know they were still open in the mid 80's, my dad got me one of their T shirts.

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    2. I went to Willard Junior HS and we used to got to Louie's for lunch. We were able to walk in the back door and get everything at half price. We always got the tostados.

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  5. Louie's was on Main St a block or so south of 17th St. Right across the street was a great Chinese takeout place named Koo's. Louie's later moved to North Main across from St Joe's hospital. By the way Mr. Gonzalez the owner of LaFonda did'nt give out candy to anybody. It was La Chiquita that gave out the candy.

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  6. Yes, but La Fonda had that great display of candy by the register, and the best chile relleno in the world. La Hacienda, just down the street was also good.

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  7. La Chaquita---that brings back some real old memories. We lived on Custer when I was in Kindergarden and my mother worked at the restuarant. I don't really remember if the food was good, but to this day my mother makes the best spanish rice, one thing my friends remember of my mother. There was also a little store sharing the same building also called La Chiquita. I also remember the owners always getting after us kids for riding our bikes in the parking lot behind the building. Wonder if these two placesc still are there!!!

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  8. There was also La Costa, which has been torn down....my husband worked there quite some time ago, and also La Perlita. Both were on Main St. La Costa was a big yellow house.

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  9. I remember Louie's the most, spent so much time there during and after my school days. Then, our first child who is now 41 spent his first years eating there also. They had a high chair and would make special food for him....he loved it! Also, remember La Fonda...all had great food!

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  10. The original Louie's was at the corner of 15th St. & Main in an old house. I used to go there for lunch when I attended Willard Jr. High in 1959. The second place was on Glassell in Orange across from Hart Park and next to Holy Family Catholic Church and is now Yen Ching's chinese restaurant (also very good)

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  11. Does anyone know where the Gonzalez family went after selling La Fonda? They may not be aware of the "cult following" they had! ha!! But we would sure love to have their recipes.

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  12. the smorgasbord was bit o sweden and there was a mini golf there it is now a chineese resturant

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  13. Sombrero Street? Main south of 17th, near the old Trader Joes

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  14. I remember a great mexican restaraunt on Euclid and Katella that served fried flour tortillas dusted with brown sugar and cinnamon after the meal. Also across the street from there was a small fast food chinese restaurant called Lee Canton. They had the largest egg rolls! I also remember at that same intersection one of the first Carls Jr's that I think is still there. Also a Food Giant or was it a Smith's Food King? Across from that was a Payless Drug that was huge. I remember getting one of the first LED watches there when they came out with my paper route money. I think it was $39.99 which was a lot for a 12 year old!

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    1. The restaraunt in Garden Grove was called "Don Diego's"

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  15. There was a restaurant called Las Palmas one block east of Main on Seventeenth, but I don't remember if that was a more recent name. I, too, remember the miniature golf place across from Hart Park. There is a Senior Living complex there now. Wow, I'd forgotten about the miniture golf place!

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  16. yeah! yes bit o sweden with the miniature golf. Still not sure about the mexican restaurant. i dont think it was in a house. seems like it was a one story stucco building. but then it was a long time ago and i was little. i remember getting the meatball soup and enchiladas. then when we would leave a man (who i assume was the owner) ran the register and would give us kids each a lollipop. He was a rather large man. but thanks everyone for the possibles. there also was a little taco stand we used to walk to it was on grand just north of 4th. we lived on fourth street across from Muir Elementary.

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  17. Sounds like "Las Palmas" like the other poster said......since your talking about a "large man" behind the counter.....they did have great food........I heard he died and the family decided to close the restaurant. Another mexican restaurant went in to that building but, it wasn't even close to as good.

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  18. la fondas was on the west side of south main in santa ana,it was run by the gonzales family in a converted house,my dad told me it was there when he moved to santa ana in 1935,the food was fantastic,they never got a beer and wine licence but you could bring in your own,they made the best salad with a oil/vinegar dressing that you ate with chips,they had a spot on the wall in the waiting area where people would post there busness cards,now its just a distant memory from another time

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  19. Super Antojitos. Probably my favorite place. We would go there for lunch when I worked at Greenthumb. Bristol and Edinger, Right next to Pops bike shop. Me and Joe used to play in the old cars behind Commonwealth VW. Anybody remember these places?
    ...Leo

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  20. Wow, just this morning I had a "flash memory" out of nowhere of going to La Fonda with my family as a kid. Last time I was there was probably around 1975 (7 years old), but I distinctly remember the "small house" feel, big candy display, free lollipops - they also had a large display of cigars and I remember smelling the flavored ones.

    There was a wishing well out front too. Yes, the vinegary salad was a big favorite of mine, but other than that all I remember eating was corn tortillas with butter :-)

    Thanks for sharing. I wish I could go back there and see it again...

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    1. I agree - the salad with the vinegar dressing was the best! I wish I could find a recipe to duplicate that flavor. Brings back great memories!

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  21. On Chapman Avenue, up in El Modena, there was once a very old church, Baptist, I think, that was slated to be torn down, but the Mexican restaurant beside it, the White Tortilla Kitchen, bought it, and made it over into a larger version of their old storefront place. I remember going there with my folks, sitting on the patio under the beautiful pepper trees, watching the tortillas being made there, while the main cooking took place inside.

    Does this place still operate? It would be sad to lose such an old pair of landmarks- the church and the White Tortilla Kitchen.

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    1. Yes, I remember the White Tortilla. I lived in Orange in the mid to late 60's up until 1980. I remember another Mexican restaurant on the corner of Katella and Shaeffer called Casa Gamina, I think. Used to be a Manny's until the early 70's. Also, I remember the Chili Pepper. Do you remember Watson's Drugstore, right near the Orange Circle?

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    2. No, it
      Has been gone since the early 70's. They had potatoes in their tacos....good!

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  22. Umberto owns la Perlita on Main Street, Santa Ana is from Chihuahua, Mexico and often sang along with visiting Mariachi who roamed Main Street on Saturday nights entertaining restaurant guests for tips. Umberto’s slow cooked Pork Carnitas were the best ever.

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  23. The Mexican restaurant in El Modena is Moreno's and is still operating--a lovely location with the Church and the pepper trees.

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  24. Definately La Chicita on Washington near Lincoln (east of Main). Family run, father would sit at the cash register take the money, give out candy, had a wall of kids and relatives pictures behind him, even patrons pictures and their kids. Louie's on Main at 15th, oh yes, went to lunch there from Willard school, so many kids' go there they made us come in the back to the kitchen to get our food.

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  25. SOME OF YOU WERE PREETY CLOSE ON THE MEXICAN RESTRAUNT ON 17TH ST, IT WAS CALLED "CASA PALMA", HOME OF THE $3.50 BIG WET BURRITO, CAN'T FIND THAT ANYMORE.

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    1. Yes,it was Casa Palma and I used to get those huge burritos almost everyday in the 70's when I didn't have to worry about my weight!

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  26. I remember a family owned place named La Fonda. It was on Main St. in the area of 1st or 4th I think.
    Someone also mentioned eating at Kenny's Taco's on 17th near Tustin Ave. They had the BEST soft tacos in the world. I don't even remember any other place offering soft tacos.

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  27. I do also remember Louie's.... We eat here all the time and then they moved up off of Main near the Hospital. That was even better because we lived on River Lane, just off of Flower near Jack Fisher park.

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  28. We owned a Mexican restaurant on 8th and Main in Santa Ana called Sombrero Street. Our restaurant was open from May 1975 to January 1996, but we still continue on with our catering, Country Garden Caterers, in the same location. We used to win the Southern California Restaurant Writers Awards just about every year we were in business and a few years (while they awarded them) we received the top 10 brunches in So Cal award.
    We were a family owned business and we had killer albondigas soup.

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  29. I am amazed that after all of these years, people would still talk about La Fonda.

    My Family had ran it for approx 51 years, 1939-1990

    My Grandfather, Gil Gonzales passed away in 1985. My Grandmother took over, but abruptly shut it down in 1990.

    I started as a busboy when I was
    14 years old in 1982. Did that for about 3 years, then served for 2 years until it was closed down.

    For some reason I just typed in La fonda in google and came accross this blog, and was shocked to see the memories people still have about the restaurant.

    As a token of my appreciation to all of you I am going to create a La Fonda web site.

    It might take a bit of time but I will do it.

    It would be fun to share memories and see pictures of what used to be.

    Who knows maybe I will find the salad recipe that some were talking about :)

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    1. Can't wait for the web site!! Any way to get some of the wonderful recipes of that delicious food? Can't find anything around that compares and I'd make it myself if I knew how.

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  30. La Fonda Was the first Mexican food I ever had, and the best. Probably about 1960, age 7. I remeber the salad, buttered flour tortillas, Nesbitt's strawberry
    soda and the tamales. My parents said movie stars used to drive down from L.A. to eat there. The atmosphere was so cozy and the candy counter was amazing!
    So sad that it, and so many other Orange County memories are gone. Now it's just a parking lot next to the 500 Club.

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  31. The restaurant your recalling is definately La Fonda's.....Oh how I wish I could have one of their beef taco's right now! Their beef was amazing.

    I was born in 1975 and our family ate there all the time. My mother used to eat there with her parents when she was young too. I remember the tortilla's were amazing. And I LOVED getting a grape soda as a kid! Yes, I remember the wishing well too. I used to always leave a penny there.

    I distinctly remember getting those sunkist gummi circle shaped candies at the candy counter....cherry, orange, lemon etc. Plus, they sold blackjack gum.

    Does anyone remember the old cash register machine they used where you punch in the numbers and you see your bill get tallyed up?

    Oh and those cigars. I used to look at them as a kid and think they were for grandpa's only.

    One week, our family piled into the car and drove up to Santa Ana for our weekly fix. All of a sudden, the doors were shut and that was it. My mom was literally speechless. It had become the restaurant where every member of our family had our "birthday" meal each year. It was frequented by my aunts, uncles, cousins etc. I think my mom even had the Gonzales home phone number. I kinda remember her talking to someone in the family shortly after. I think she told us kids that the new woman (your grandmother?) had said it was just too much work to cook for an entire restaurant....at least that is what my mom said to us.

    Hey, if your digging up any recipe's, let me know how to make the beef tacos. I would DIE a happy person if I could eat your families cooking again (jenivy@hotmail.com)

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  32. La Fonda's was a institution in our extended Myrick family. My parents started going there in 1945when they moved from Kansas City, KS to Santa Ana, CA. I went from 1947 (when I was born) until 1990 when it was abruptly closed. My children grew up going to La Fonda's and it was a favorite place to celebrate our family birthdays.

    I can't tell you how devastated we all were when it closed! Had I known I would have crawled on my hands and knees begging for the receipe for their beef tacos!

    Since 1990 our entire family have made it their Life Quest to find a Mexican restaurant as good as La Fonda's -- and that includes our combined traveling to over 50 countries! We have all failed! There will never be another La Fonda's! It is but a wonderful memory.

    To Gil Gonzales' grandson: I remember your grandfather with great affection. He was a true gentleman with a big heart. He always had a kind word and a smile for everyone. He was also very involved in supporting the youth athletic programs in the community. I also remember his mother -- your great-grandmother fondly. She ran the cash register for as long as I could remember. And she was the one to sell you whatever you selected from that famous candy counter.

    Your grandfather was the one to teach me how to eat refried beans rolled up in a buttered tortilla. Oh! the memories! The salad with the vinegar dressing with the two tortilla chips stuck on the side (something I'd forgotten about until reading others' memories), those creamy, packed-with-flavor refried beans that I've never been able to find anywhere else in the world and those beef tacos. Oh! what I'd give for just one more of those one-of-a-kind tacos! My mouth won't stop watering . . .

    I remember Armando very well, too. He started working there while still in high school as a bus boy and ended up being the manager after your grandfather passed away.

    One day I stopped in for lunch right after they had opened up and ordered my usual: 2 beef tacos, all refied beans/no rice and corn tortills. My first bite of refried beans was -- terrible! I tasted it again and realized that the cook had forgotten to put any salt in the new batch of refried beans. I brought it to the attention of Armando and everyone was very grateful that the beans could be rectified before the big lunch crowd had come in.

    I know that there are A LOT of people that would love to make contact with the Gonzales family and get their hands on their favorite receipes. And, I've heard talk of having some kind of reunion. Wouldn't that be a hoot!And, I know that your promised web site is something that is looked forward to with much appreciation and anticipation.

    I remember once having a conversation with Armando and I told him that he should open up a branch restaurant in the Newport Beach area because he could make a lot of money. He said, "It will never happen!" I asked, "Why!?" And he said, "We only have one cook. It wouldn't be the same. She has been the only cook that we have ever had. When she decides to retire we will close the restaurant!" I guess she retired in 1990. And, sadly, all good things much eventually come to an end.

    Gloria Myrick Pedersen gloped@earthlink.net

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    1. Gloria, I couldn't have said it better myself! Our family started going there in the early 60's. Every Friday night...5 kids and 2 parents. What a treat. I can remember every square inch of that whole place. I've never found any food close to La Fonda's beans, cheese enchiladas and those fab tacos (I always suspected a bit of potato in them. Yum!).

      I will search for that La Fonda Website! Viva Santa Ana in the 1960's!!!

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  33. Tina Gonzales FonteSeptember 02, 2008 7:10 PM

    RE: La Fonda
    To B. Gonzales and all the rest. I am the daughter of Raul Gonzales, Gil's Brother. My father ran the other La Fonda family restaurant on Beach Blvd. in Stanton and guess what I have? You guessed it - the receipes! I would love to correspond with you B. as you are my second cousin. Who do you belong to? Elaine, Cheryl or Gil Jr? Please contact me so I can contribute to your website. tinafonte@hotmail.com

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  34. well I think the one post that got it right is Casa Palma. Or at least that is the name that struck a cord with me--the original poster. I know it definitely was NOT la fonda. I can still see my family sitting at a semi circle booth eating. I always got the enchiladas.

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    1. Yes, it was Casa Palma. The best beef burritos and chips and dip!

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  35. I also ate at La Fonda's as a child in the 60's and 70's, who ran the La Fonda's on Harbor, we ate at both of the restaurants.

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  36. I also grew up at going to dinner at La Fondas. I remember Gil and Armondo, the lollipops as well as the wishing well. When my daughter was born I don't think it was 1 minute after walking in the door before she was whisked out of my arms and taken in the back to see the ladies in the kitchen. I still compare every Mexican restaurant I go to to it and would pay big money for a "Regular Dinner". If any of the family members would give up any of the reipes .. I'd love to buy a cookbook.

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  37. My name is will and Raul was my father I would like to here from my sisters on my father side of the family. Its been 30 yrs I live in Birmingham Ala and work as a chef in New Orleans La. Its beem to long guys. I remember having my 14th B- day at LaFondas and i remember staying the night with my father at the house in the back. About those tacos slow cooked beef briskit and then pulled not cut i remember my father telling me things about the food and how my grandmother used to cook backin the day well its been a long time i just googled Lafondas and here I found my half sister tina wow.

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  38. Hi again to the Gonzales family im will Rauls son contact Email willie_j_wells@yahoo.com

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  39. I remember La Fonda very well. Thirty years of great memories. After they closed I actually tried using the Register to seek out their taco recipe with no success. I will never forget the night that Gil went nuts because a customer accused them of using dog meat in the tacos. Gil was so great. Didn't he also own the 500 Club next door? I remember him sending us over there to buy the cold beer to bring back to the restaurant. I'm now in the Northwest but I would fly down there to get some of the recipes. They did teach me the guacamole recipe that to this day is still a hit with anyone I serve it to.

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  40. It was the LaFonda, my Mother worked there in the 40's and I went to school with one of the Daughters of the Gonzalez Family...good times....Pam valley Grad 1967

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  41. My name is Pam Nee Lindsey....Elaine Gonzales was one of my best friends at Spurgeon Elementary in the 50's. we were in scouts together. I was at her family home many times and just loved her Family. I spent many wonderful hrs at The La Fonda and always wonder how the family was. My Mother worked for them before I was born. such lovely people and wonderful memories.

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  42. I used to go to La Fonda when I was a teenager.. my girlfriend was a waitress there and one of my girlfriends Elaine Gonzales was related to the family.. I would go to work with my friend and wait in the kitchen for her. I remember Gil Gonzales.. I watched her make the best cabbage salad with apple cider vinegar, wesson oil, and sugar. I still make this salad today. They had the best food and I am going to California this may and was going to look up the restaurant but I see it has closed. Lots of memories of this place.

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  43. I was so glad to come across this blog regarding La Fonda - the restaurant on Main Street in Santa Ana. My entire family went there regularly for 30 some years until it closed. I was so sad to see it go. I remember the wishing well...the grape lollipops...and my favorite menu items - the salad and the cheese enchiladas! I can still see your Grandmother greeting us at the door with menus in her hand and showing us to a table.

    To B. Gonzales that posted a message on May 12, 2008 - yes, there are many people in the local area that still talk about La Fonda. I look forward to seeing your website in the future :)

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  44. Ahh! The memories. La Fonda in Santa Ana was true home cooking and I had the pleasure of enjoying it from the time I was 5 years old until they closed when I turned 40 or so. Mom, Gil and the staff were the best as was their food. Reading this a few weeks ago got me in the Guacamole mood so with the avocados being just right and with the butter milk, cottage cheese, garlic powder and hot sauce I am delighting my family and friends with a real treat. Where is a time machine when you really want one to back in time? Oh that deluxe dinner.

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  45. Kim Steaffens RichardsJuly 06, 2009 9:37 PM

    I have THE BEST memories of La Fonda. I recall driving from north Santa Ana down the 55 fwy to get there and we would pass the sugar factory. The chips and the salad dressing at La Fonda were to die for! My mom always bought me candy ciggarettes there and I thought I was so cool....the food was fantastic but my fondest memory was always making a wish in the wishing well out front. I wish I had the recipes as well. Would totally buy a cookbook......

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  46. I started going to LaFonda as an infant in my baby carriage in 1944, I was raised on that great food. After I left Santa Ana as an adult I would always come to Orange County to see my family and we would go to LaFonda's several times when I was in town. When they closed we were so sad. I remember Sophie doing the register and Gil seating the customers and visiting all around the resturant. Suckers were always given free when you left. The wishing well was special to all the little kids. The tacos and red cabbage salad were my very favorites, but everything was good. If anyone has their recipes please post them. The tacos had a special red taco sauce that was wonderful and unique. My dad, grandfather, and then my husband would bring in a beer from the 500 Club. What a special place that was for our family and friends. Never did we have a bad meal there. Again, please post recipes for their beef tacos and the taco sauce and the good red cabbage salad.

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  47. I remember as a kid going to the old Louie's restaurant across the street from St. Josephs hospital in Orange. I believe the owners name was Louie Armenda?? They had previously owned a mexican restaurant in the older part of Santa Ana which my parents used to go to when they were in high school. (Santa Ana High) The food was great!! I often wonder what happened to that family.

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  48. My mom worked at Headstart in Santa Ana and ate there frequently. Sometimes in the summer we would go to work with her and she would take us to La Fonda. I remember scooping up the creamy beans with the corn tortillas spread with butter. I've never found beans like that anywhere else. I wish I'd tried the guacamole, but that was probably too exotic for my Canadian mother.

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  49. We ate at La Fonda usually on Saturday's after we had spent the day at Bullocks with my grandmother. We would have lunch in the Tearoom, then walk around the Fashion Square stores or Town and Country. I couldn't wait to drive down 17th Street to have my usual 2 bowls of the cabbage salad with the chips! To this day, I still butter my tortillas! (Lipitor anyone?) My sister and I would be so annoyed if we got there too late and we had to wait by the fountain because there was already a waitlist. If a cookbook is ever available, I would be the first in line!
    So many wonderful memories! The business cards on the wall, the old cash register, the candy. Would love a time machine to duplicate just one day of a wonderful childhood memory. And if anyone has the Bullocks Chicken Salad and Popover recipes, I really don't know what I would do!

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  50. I remember going to Louie's across from St. Joseph's with my family in the late 60's/early 70's. I always got a cheese quesadilla (I can still remember the taste -- yummmm) and my mom always ordered a chile relleno and cheese enchilada. Not sure what dad and my sister ordered!

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  51. A recipe book of La Fonda delicacies? Sign me up. I grew up at that place ( I think nearly everyone did). The beef tacos, the cheese enchiladas, the tamale Gonzales,the sweet and sour slaw ( it's a cinch to make, La Fonda fans), with chips and tomato salsa, the corn torillas with butter, and the scoop of vanilla ice cream and coffee for dessert. Fabulous food, and absolutely unique. And the anbience, a mom and pop venue so cozy and nice, you wanted to live their, and Gil and Sabie were terrific hosts. and what about poor Ramona ( the statue in front of the well? What terrific memories. It was a different era back then; smaller, more innocent. The only thing comparable was Knott's Berry farm and Mrs. Knott's chiken dinner erstaurant, before they began to charge admission to enter Calico. God bless the Gonzales'. Get that cook book out!

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  52. I went there at least once a week and sometimes two or three for 33 years. Everything on the menu was terrific. Bring on that book please (or at least a write-up on how to make the tacos and sauce). Does anyone have pictures they could scan and post to this list?

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  53. Louie's - I grew up eating at Louie's. I, too, always got the cheese quesedilla. What memories. I was just a kid and used to like to play waitress there!

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  54. La Fondas set the stand for every Mexican meal I have ever had. Great memories

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  55. I remember Gil told my mother that they put a lay of shredded carrots in the base of the taco, then the meat. That soaked up the drippings and kept the taco from falling apart. I think it gave it that special flavor too. Dad would always ask to sit in the back room so that he could order a drink from the 500. The back doors of both places faced each other across the drive.

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  56. Oh I am so happy to have found this - My favorite all time place for Mexican food was La Fonda's! Our family would eat there at least once or twice a week. We would order "The plate" most of the time. The salad recipe (someone wrote above) was given to me years later after it closed by Caroline, one of the waitresses that worked there for years, then moved over to La Chiquita (on Washington) after La Fonda's closed. My mother (god rest her soul) sought the perfect Chile Rellano for up until her passing 4 years ago that could compare to La Fonda's! She said she could get the chile part, but never could find how they made the sauce that topped it! The tacos yes, to die for! The complete recipe for the salad is: Red and Green cabbage, shredded carrots, and regular parsley (some people forget that). Then the dressing is apple cider vinegar, wesson oil, and sugar to taste, and salt and pepper. You will know the taste by adding the sugar (it is alot more then you would think!). Now if you still want a great cheese enchilada you can still go to La Chiquita (and they sell their sauce to go to!) and eat there, but nothing will ever replace La Fonda's! Gil was loved by many, he sold my mother a painting that used to hang in the restaurant she had admired it one time and said she would buy it from him, he would not here of it, and said he would sell it to her for I think a dollar! I still have it hanging in my home. It was a picture of a spanish lady with a beautiful mantilla and full long dress with roses on it. I have often wondered who painted it, so if anyone knows more history of it, I would love to know. Gil even wrote a note on the back of the painting from the Gonzalez family to our family. My dad always thought Sabie was so cute when she was taking orders (which usually she didn't only when they were busy) and she would repeat back the order saying "Un tamal"! The lifesaver rack with the gold bowls of candy. I was hooked on the candy that had "ice" in the title - can't think of the name, but it was a chocolate square wrapped in gold paper, and it melted in your mouth instantly! Yum, topped off the salad, chips, taco, corn tortillas with butter (yes still have to have them con mantiquilla!) So many memories, I even dated one of the busboys in jr. high school. Tina, Armando, Cheryl we would love a recipe book!!! Please please please!!!!

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  57. I grew up in Santa Ana in the 50s & 60s, and we frequently ate Mexican food, my dad's favorite, at both La Fonda and La Hacienda. I believe they were both on Main St. and both run out of houses by families. My dad grew up in Santa Ana in the 20s & 30s, and went to school with the kids of both owners, and he learned how to make really excellent Mexican food from them, as they let him help in the kitchen. He was a musician
    and he played music in their restaurants sometimes. My favorite part of the meals there was getting those delicious steamed tortillas that were served beneath two warm china plates. We'd put butter on them and it would melt as we spread frijoles on top, rolled them up and gobbled them along side our dinners. I remember the tangy dressing on the salad, too. My dad was so inspired by that Mexican food, that when we were stationed in Sasebo, Japan from '61-63, he helped his Japanese friend, Eddie, turn his bar into a Mexican restaurant called Eddie's Kitchen. That Japanese Mexican restaurant was in business until 2000, when Eddie's widow finally retired and closed it down. My dad opened his own Mexican food place in Garden Grove in a little mall near Lampson. It was called El Gringo. I have a deep love and appreciation for Mexican food due to my father's influence, and being raised on the best from those two very fine Mexican restaurants in Santa Ana. Also, can't forget Mr. Sanches tamale shop - that was the bomb!! Does anyone remember Mr Sanchez? He also made other Mexican food dishes, all sold to go, with the tamales. Blessings to all!

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  58. Wow what memories of La Fonda. I started going there when I was a teenager and later played baseball in the summer league and our team was sponsored by La Fonda. A lot of Valley and Santa Ana high school baseball players played for La Fonda. That was a very successful team and we played in Anaheim Stadium in the summer of 1968 and 1969. I miss the tacos and that cole slaw salad was incredible. Would love to have the recipe with the right mixtures.

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  59. Message from Dana of Murrieta;

    La Fonda was also a favorite of mine. Our entire family would go to the restaurant as it was very reasonable for a family of five. After dinner we would go to the Salvation Army Store down the street and look around for good bargins. My favorite as a child was there tostado topped with a very mild tomatoe sauce that was perfect for someone who couldn't tolerate spicy foods. I still crave their food to this day and nothing comes even close to their quality and their wonderful hosiptality!

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  60. Yes, the Mexican restaurant on 17th and I think Bush was called Casa Palma. The owner was a rather large gentleman and his wife also worked there. Hands down they had the best enchiladas and sauce. I believe he got cancer and lost tons of weight. He was a very nice man and had a great restaurant.

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  61. original poster here :) i am almost positive it was Casa Palma. Seems like i remember it being right by Norms. You wouldn't know if you were going to Norma or the Mexican restaurant until you got there. :) my parents used to take us to Norms for the early bird special. i would get the fish and it came on a metal looking plate shaped like a fish. Spires was also a place we would go. one time we drove all the way out to Huntington Beach for barbeque sandwiches--they were supposed to just like the ones we would get when we visited my grandmother in texas. there are so many times when i wish we hadn't left california. oh well.

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  62. I remember eating at La Fonda once in the early
    60's. In the refried beans I got some sort of hard object, maybe a small stone or hard bean. A older Gentleman came over and apologized to my Father.
    I think he had a thin mustache. I remember how
    I enjoyed the food. Louie's across from St. Joe's was my favorite and I had my 7th birthday party there in 1963. Tacos and Mexican food was a rare treat.
    In 1969 as a eight Grader, After we ate, I bought a pair of shoes at a large shoe store
    in the shopping center. They were knock-offs
    of the Sperry Topsiders.
    In 1978, I took my girlfriend to Louie'sand just saw it as a small hole in the wall.
    Back in the late seventies, My car broke down
    at 4th and Grand, and while I was waiting for
    assistance, I ate at Taco Tio's ??? Run
    by a Chinese guy.
    They had the best Carnitas burrito, I was a regular until they changed owners and ruined
    the food. Same thing with the Green Burrito, I
    used to get the Big Ed, but when Carls Jr took
    over the chain, they ruined it as well. They
    should have kept their Taco de Carlos stores.
    But I guess my all time favorite Was the Taco
    Bell at Edinger and Fairview. My Mom used to get her hair done at a beauty parlor in the
    center, and me and my brother were boared out
    of our minds. We would eat donuts from the donut Mill and eat the 19 cent garbage from
    Taco Bell. We sure went crazy for their
    food. beats me why, It was just fun.
    There was a place across the intersection that
    my understanding put peanut butter on hamburgers? I also liked Sombrero Street, and Casa Palma and some real Mexican fast food
    place on First near the Post Office that served
    Tongue Burritos.

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  63. Hi, when I went to Willard Jr. Highschool in 1954, we used to walk down the street to a Mexican restaurant on the corner in an old house. We went in through the kitchen and they served us right there, and we took up to the front and paid. Great food and good prices then..!

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  64. Louie's (on Main in S.A. across from St. Joe's Hosp)was the best. Louie Armendarez (sp?) used to sit in the back booth and his whole family was the staff. When his granddaughter was born she would sit with him. Later she was one of the waitresses. We used to go there in 1966 while dating and then took our children until it was sold. Always a huge line waiting for seating on weekends. Anybody know what happened to the family?

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  65. That was Louie's! What a great memory.

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  66. The best Mexican Restaurant on 4th street was "La Casa Blanca" two blocks west of Broadway.

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  67. Yes, Casa Palma!! We used to go there and yes there was a Norms right there. They did have the best food. Wasn't there also a Sizzler right by there too? Wow! It sure brings back memories. Hey does anyone remember eating at Yen Ching right across from Hart Park? I take my husband and kids there now. Not very often, but they also love it. Does anyone remember Hoagies Corner? My brother used to buy sandwiches from there all the time and never let me have a bite! Lol! How about Southside Market? My sister and I used to ride our bikes there and get popsicles and candy. The Street Fair was also fun back then. It was mostly locals but now it has gotten way too big. Fun memories!

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  68. i just happen to come across this site and notice my families restaurant La Fonda being mentioned, I would love to say Thank You for the wonderful words and the memories everyone has shared, Eva Gonzales was my mothers aunt(my grandfathers sister) and she raised me from birth,I remember going to La Fonda couple times a week, also her son gilbert and his wife Esther would always take us to church and take us to dinner every sunday, times were good back then. Also i too have all the original handwritten recipes from the restaurant which have been kept in the family. Love to all, Thank You again

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    1. I was born in 1943, and raised in Santa Ana. My parents started taking me to La Fonda's as an infant. We ate there for 47 years until they closed in 1990, loving their wonderful food. If you have all the recipes would you share them with all of us that love La Fonda's?

      E-mail me at pparker43@att.net

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    2. I was born in 1943 & raised in Santa Ana, my parents started taking me to La fonda's as an infant. We enjoyed their excellent food and hospitality for 47 wonderful years until they closed in 1990. If you have their great recipes would you share them with the huge following of La Fonda fans?

      Thank you....you can email me at pparker43@att.net

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    3. Has anyone made an attempt to publish the recipes? There are so many people who would like to try to make them although your great aunt had a knack no one could probably duplicate. If I could help let me know as I know a publisher.

      bonnieamy2003@yahoo.com

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  69. Best memories ever, going to La Fonda once or twice a week for dinner. I remember Gil who went to Santa Ana High with my father. Gil always greeted us with a smile and warm welcome. What I would give to go back and have "the plate" again. I was lucky enough to take my children there before they closed.
    A wonderful memory and what I would give for the recipes!

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  70. Is La Fonda connected to the White Tortilla?

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    1. No. It is not related at all. WAIT! The White Tortilla Kitchen is coming back to Beautiful downtown El Modena. After 25 years is coming back, original menu items you enjoyed way back when. Chips with that wonderful dipping sauce, the Original Don Ramon sandwich. Yum! All coming back soon. Keep watching out for more info coming soon.

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  71. Wow, La Fonda!!! Was there any better Mexican food in Southern California? I don't think so. My family's car dealership was right across the street from La Fonda for15 years till we moved. Corn tortillas that Gil taught my sister and I to slather in butter, the best cheese enchiladas anywhere and everything else they served that was terrific. And then, with your belly bursting with great food, you hit the candy hard on the way out. God, life couldn't get better than that. One more memory to share, no liquor license, but my dad would always go next door for his beer. Nothing but great memories delivered to us by the Gil and his family and our favorite waitress Carol. Thanks from the entire crew at O.R. Haan Chrysler/Plymouth group.

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  72. What was the name of the restaurant in the old Spanish Manor on Tustin Ave. near the corner of La Palma Ave. in Anaheim? It was torn down years ago and now is a business strip mall and Starbuck's and El Pollo Loco. It was on the east side of Tustin Ave.I have talked to a few people who went there and no one can remember the name. The used to hold receptions there also. This was back in the late 70s to early 80s.

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  73. P.S. to the restaurant on Tustin Ave in Anaheim where the name cannot be remembered, some people thought it had the name "Daisy" in it, while others thought it had the name "Rose" in it.

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