Downtown Santa Ana is suddenly a hotbed for modern Filipino food. Former Leatherby’s chef Ross Pangilinan runs Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, and Irenia is now thriving in the former home to The North Left and The Crosby, two of the neighborhood’s most important building blocks.
Orange County native Ryan Garlitos worked at local restaurants like Slapfish and Taco Maria before teaming with girlfriend Sarah Mosqueda on a pop-up called Irenia Supper Club. They relocated to downtown Santa Ana in 2016 and dropped “Supper Club,” but still honor his grandmother Irenia, whose photo hangs on the wall. Over the pass, an Ilocano Proverb reads, “If there is no patience, there will be no food.” The saying holds true in Luzon and DTSA.
The menu centers on rice bowls at lunch and share-friendly plates at dinner. No matter the meal, order a slice of ube brown sugar pie ($7). The short wedge features layers of purple yam jam and brown sugar custard, oat crust, whipped cream and dusting of powdered sugar.