Open mics and karaoke make up the bulk of the low-budget entertainment found in most of our local restaurants and bars. But in Downtown Santa Ana good times are about to start spinning with two separate restaurants giving audiences and aspiring artists a different spin on sign-up sheet stardom–with open turntables. The comeback of vinyl revives the art of the DJ and the classic setup used to bump mix, scratch and manipulate jams. Despite their being an explosion in digital and streaming music like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music, Records are being sold and played more and more. Two local Mexican Restaurants, La Rinconada Mexican Restaurant and El Indio Botanas Y Cervezas located in Downtown SanTana, decided to celebrate the vinyl resurgence by opening up their turntables to anyone who has a record and the passion or curiosity to spin it.
El Indio Botanas Y Cervezas Restaurant, located on 3rd Street, open up their turntables every week during Taco Tuesday. The owner Oscar Olivares is a SanTana native and admits he has been a vinyl collector since he was a kid. “We want people to pass by El Indio and listen to music that usually comes form Backyard parties in Santa Ana–Funk, Oldies, Hip Hop, Soul.” says Olivares. On an average night at El Indio you can expect customers from all backgrounds and professions. Workers from the near by city and county offices come in their suits and take a seat. A group of middle aged 20 year olds open a tab at the bar with their friends while a group of older women sit beneath the strands of bulbs that light up the back patio. “We encourage professional DJs and even people who have never scratched a record before to come in and practice,” Olivares adds. “As long as the music isn’t offensive you’re welcome here, we even had a guy come in and spin his Backstreet Boys album once.” The music is loud enough to enjoy but quiet enough to hold a conversation and most of the time groovy enough to enjoy while you feast on your dollar tacos.
La Rinconada is located on the corner of 5th Street and Broadway– hence the restaurant’s name which translates to “The Corner Place” in English. Jose Trujillo and Raul Sanchez are both business partners and committed life partners. They both have a passion for food and have brought their authentic Mexican food from Guadalajara to Santa Ana. Raul explains how difficult it was for them to receive a city permit to hold live music performances but how important it was for them to attain it. “Music like food is all part of culture and appreciation for our culture is what drives our restaurant” Sanchez explains in Spanish. “We encourage everyone even beginners to come play their preferred genre of music on the open turntables on Taco Tuesdays” Sanchez says “We want our cliental to be diverse and having different music playing throughout the night encourages locals and outsiders to come in for the music and stay for the food”. La Rinconada holds many different social events like Sundays Salsa and Cumbia night as well as Saturdays Rock en Español. Sanchez explains he has more social events in the works like gay night as they are a pride friendly and safe space, Hookah on Thursday Nights and Brunch on Sunday Mornings. The restaurant also caters and holds company parties and often helps school, non profits and community organizations.
So next time you’re on in Downtown Santa Ana or have a free Tuesday night visit one of these two restaurants. Bring your records and and an empty stomach for a night of good music and tasty dollar tacos.