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Orange County ITINERARY

Go 4th for Fun

Street in Santa Ana offers a five-block stretch of Mexico.

April 09, 1998|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tres, quatro, cinco--how many places in Orange County have bustling street life? However small that number may be, the five-block stretch of 4th Street in Santa Ana known as Fiesta Marketplace certainly counts.

Perhaps start at the historic Spurgeon clock tower, then let yourself be transported to a little slice of Mexico. You can find everything on Calle Cuatro from accordions to zapatos. A carousel runs on weekends. Bridal shops, jewelry stores and, above all, bargains abound.

MORNING 1, 2

Looking for that perfect cobra-skin belt--you know, with the snake's head still on? You'll find a selection of the herpetologic cinches at Zapateria 3 Hermanos Hernandez, one of many shoe stores lining 4th Street. The prices at Hermanos Hernandez will charm you too: Cowboy boots start at $45, kids' around $25. Embroidered boots, $99 on sale, are a specialty at Perfect Shoes (116 W. 4th St.), while clearance tables at El Paso Shoes (210 E. 4th St.) have pairs at $7.80 for women, $9.80 for men. Zap's (300 E. 4th St., No. 107) is a combination shoe store/income tax service.

For Stetson hats, sombreros or fancy belt buckles, peek in at R&R Sportswear (308 E. 4th St.), which has 5,000 hats in stock from $70 to $1,200; the shop also blocks hats for $8. In the center of R&R is a 1929 Model A Roadster.

Pedrini's House of Music marches to the beat of a different drummer, beginning with a shiny tuba and under-size guitars in the window. Can't keep time? Try a watch in the shape of an electric guitar, or one with a face in the shape of an accordion. Speaking of which, there's a whole wall of ornate Gabbanelli accordions, some resembling highly decorated slot machines, others downright glamorous. Other instruments include pan flutes, kazoos and jingle bells. Tambourines come in half-moon and football shapes. And who could resist those wax-fruit maracas?

In the Fiesta Bargain Store (201 E. 4th St.), you'll find homeopathic medicines alongside computers and a nail parlor adjacent the palm reader; a sign near the palm reader says, "$5 la mano, $10 the cards."

What do the cards say? A wedding chapel, Capilla Guadalupana, is opposite Pedrini's at 110A W. 4th St.

Take a break and savor such fruits as coconut, watermelon, mangoes or tamarinds from the street stands. Other vendors offer churros and tamales.

LUNCH 3

Consider something more substantial at Mariscos Tampico. Never mind a few ripped seat cushions; the restaurant otherwise looks like a squeaky clean fishing lodge complete with a harpoon, oar and boat hook on the wall, and the staff is friendly and attentive. Jugos de frutas (fruit juices) include mamey and one called vampiro juice (no doubt made with tomatoes). Starters include ceviche tostada mixto ($4), ostiones Popeye (oysters on the half shell, six for $6.95) and pulpo (octopus). Parrillada de mariscos (seafood grill, $38 for two) includes crayfish, octopus and seafood brochettes grilled at the table. Norteno-style banda music plays on the jukebox.

AFTERNOON 4

A visit to the Ritmo Latino music store (320A E. 4th St.) can ensure that the banda plays on at your house. St. Teresa's Catholic Gift Shop is nearby on a pedestrian plaza at 300 E. 4th St., No. 102.

If you've still got time, and Spanish isn't already your second language, consider a time-honored method for learning it. Fiesta Teatro offers double bills of mainstream English-language Hollywood films, such as "Meet the Deedles" and "The Man in the Iron Mask," with Spanish subtitles. Admission is usually $5.50; on Thursdays it's $3. At the refreshment stand you can quench your thirst with horchata and sample, for far less than American-style sweets, a selection of dulces Mexicanos.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1) Zapaterias 3 Hermanos Hernandez

115 W. 4th St., (714) 834-1682

10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily.

2) Pedrini's House of Music

109 W. 4th St., (714) 547-6929.

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

3) Mariscos Tampico

220 E. 4th St., No. 102, (714) 667-0441.

9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

4) Teatro Fiesta

305 E. 4th St., (714) 541-4351.

First show begins at 1:45 p.m., last at 8:45 p.m.

Parking: There is metered street parking (25 cents per hour, 2 hour maximum) and paid parking in city lots ($1 per hour, $7 maximum per day) between 3rd and 4th streets at Sycamore Street and at 4th and French streets.

Buses: OCTA Buses No. 53 (Orange-Balboa) and 53A (Orange-Costa Mesa) run along Main Street with a stop at 4th Street. Buses 61 (Santa Ana-Newport Beach), 69 (Fullerton-Santa Ana) and 75 (Santa Ana-Laguna Hills) also serve Fiesta Marketplace.

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