Orange County. There is a reason it’s called that. It’s well known that the area that is now the Disneyland Resort was once orange groves, and well, that is what most of Anaheim was like. In the late 1800s and through the early part of the 20th century citrus was king here. And where did all of those lovely Anaheim oranges go after they were plucked off of the tree? Well right to the Sunkist Packing House located in the heart of Anaheim.
Built in 1919 right along the Southern Pacific Railroad, freshly picked citrus was unloaded by the local farmers here to be washed, graded, and, of course, packed, before making their way to market.
Today, this is the only packing house left in Anaheim, and it’s kind of a miracle it’s still here. The last crate of citrus was packed in 1955 and the building sat vacant for a few years before Electra Motors took it over, removing the packing equipment, among other changes. Electra left in 1968 and it wasn’t until 2009 when the city of Anaheim decided to really start to re-invest in its downtown, which, wasn’t, and still isn’t much. As the downtown core began to fade in the late 1960s, nearly all of the buildings met the wrecking back in the late 1970s. With awful 1980s post-modern in place of what was once a quaint, classic old downtown. (You can see and read more on this tragedy from O.C. History Roundup.) That is why the gem of the Packing House is so special. It’s not only still standing nearly 100 years later, it is thriving, as a fresh, unique, and local food hall. The renovation took two years, and the new incarnation of the Packing House opened to the public on May 31, 2014. Our first visit was actually back in December of 2014, shortly after moving, and I fell in love. A little after a year of being open, the Packing House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A few places have come and gone since our first visit, but it is always busy, and remains one of my favorite places to dine at because of its history and variety.
With 42,000 square feet, the Packing House features over 25 unique places to dine, including a speakeasy. One of my favorite places to eat at is Georgia’s, with spectacular southern food, including the best chili mac & cheese I’ve ever had. I also love Ecco, the pizza joint next door to Georgia’s. I’m not normally a thin crust kind of girl, but I am a fan of Ecco for sure.
Packing House can get crowded, especially on weekends, with not a single spot in their lot, but it is a teeny tiny lot, and there are plenty of other places to park! Visit their website for further details on events, parking, hours, and an up to date list of restaurants.