Kathy Cervantes was working as a buyer for Nordstrom when her youngest child was born. When it came time for the baptism celebration, she hired a local taco cook to cater the event. “The presentation was nice, but the food was just OK,” she says. Underwhelmed with the catering, something clicked. I could do this, Cervantes thought. And I could do it better.
She started by making food for a friend’s graduation party. Her homemade flour tortillas were a hit, and before long, Cervantes had quit her job and invested in professional equipment. “The next thing I knew, we were catering parties on yachts and events at Disneyland and California Adventure. We were just everywhere.” Soon, Cervantes’ husband, Art, left his job to support the business, and they started scouting spaces for a restaurant.
The Cervantes family now runs K&A Catering, as well as three successful Anaheim restaurants: Cervantes Mexican, which focuses on traditional Jalisco dishes with a twist; K&A Cafe, a breakfast and lunch spot with killer chilaquiles and deep-fried French toast; and Cafe 26, located inside the Anaheim Police Department to serve city employees.
“We love Anaheim because it’s a very tight-knit community,” says Cervantes. “Everybody knows everybody.” After creating a local restaurant dynasty and raising five children (now ages 16 through 30), there’s nowhere she’d rather call home. When friends and family visit the area, she encourages them to enjoy the laid-back, family-friendly SoCal lifestyle.
Cervantes’ perfect day in Anaheim might start with a breakfast burrito (“turkey sausage with veggies and egg whites”) at K&A Cafe. She advises that no trip to Anaheim is complete without an afternoon at Disneyland Resort (“the happiest place on earth!”). Don’t miss Downtown Disney District, one of Cervantes’ favorite places to shop. “Anything you can imagine, it’s there,” she says. “There's even an interactive LEGO Store so kids can sit there and build stuff.”
After the sun goes down, Cervantes likes to head to the Packing District, a former Sunkist citrus packing house that the city transformed into a culinary wonderland. Cervantes’ food-hall favorites include the fried chicken sandwich at Sweet Bird and the classic poutine topped with homemade cheese curds at The Kroft.
She also enjoys an occasional nightcap at The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy inside of the Packing District that’s ”really cool inside—one of the chairs is a bathtub.” Cervantes recommends ending the evening with a spectacular show. You can drive up to the Anaheim Hills, although any high spot will do. (Cervantes favors the parking structure next to her restaurant). Every evening at 9 p.m. fireworks from Disneyland fill the sky with sparkling Mickey Mouses and bursting hearts.
FIVE MORE FAVORITES
Here are a few of Cervantes’ favorite places to go and things to do in Anaheim.
Best coffee: “Okayama Kobo is a little Japanese bakery and their coffee is so good. I get the hazelnut latte with oat milk and the sunrise pastry. It’s kind of like pan dulce, but Japanese style. It’s like eating a cloud.”
Unique shopping: “There’s a new eco-friendly store called Eco Now. They have all of these cute little containers to buy and you fill them up with any kind of skincare or cleaning products you need.”
Night on the town: “Every three months, Downtown Anaheim hosts an Art Crawl. Different artists from the area come out and you can see people drawing and painting live. There’s music and swing dancing. It’s very fun.”
Satisfy a sweet tooth: “The House of Chimney Cakes is a must-try. It’s a Hungarian pastry that cooks on a wooden spool so it turns into a cone. Then they roll it in cinnamon sugar (or whatever you want), fill it with ice cream, and top it with fun little toppings.”
Local History: “One of the original libraries in Anaheim is now also a museum called the Anaheim Heritage Center. It houses all of the history of Anaheim—you will learn a lot about oranges!”