Photo by Jack GouldCypress—a.k.a. Dairy City, a.k.a. Moo Valley, a.k.a. the Florence of Orange County—is one of those cities that most people don't realize is a city. Just less than 50,000 people live here. Some live in gated housing communities indistinguishable from Irvine or Mission Viejo, with rows of identical homes tightly packed behind high walls and beneath Spanish tile roofs. A few live in the Hooverville of tiny homes, laundry lines and unpaved sidewalks that sits between the Cypress Suites Motel and Cypress Cottages townhomes on Lincoln Avenue. But most live in nondescript working-class homes spread throughout the city's seven square miles.
Known as Waterville in the 1890s because people only had to dig down 225 feet to hit water, Cypress has pretty much always been dull. The city's official history records that the town was also isolated at first: "It was a half-day drive to Anaheim and an all-day drive to Santa Ana." Thanks to the 5 freeway, some things never change.
Uzushio. Just about anything at this sushi bar is good, but pay special attention to the California rolls and eel. The fried shrimp are great and greasy. 10545 Valley View St., (714) 236-0678.L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. This hole-in-the-wall joint offers classic Hawaiian food served in a classic Hawaiian setting of just chairs, tables and a counter. And they've got laulau, a traditional Hawaiian meal of steamed pork, salmon and spinach. Mmmmm . . . spinach. Better get a snow cone while you're at it. 5633 Lincoln Ave., (714) 229-0432.Dalton's. Cups of black coffee, ham and eggs served all day, and lots of fried meat make this place a winner with the old folks. 9575 Valley View St., (714) 229-8101.
Liquid Zoo. Your basic sports/dive bar. Remember, there's a community college down the street, and those kids aren't usually too particular. But the place is fun. 5591 Lincoln Ave., (714) 484-0788.Campus Billiards. It's a basic billiards place, with Wednesday nights showcased as Dollar Beer nights. 'Nuff said. 9111 Valley View St., (714) 952-2731.
Family Planning Associates Medical Group. This abortion clinic has proved very popular with your anti-abortion protesters. The clinic is owned by Dr. Edward Allred, the most prolific abortion doctor in the state. (Allred also owns the Los Alamitos Race Course.) Allred is a colorful guy, having donated thousands of dollars to anti-abortion, Republican candidates like Dana Rohrabacher, Gloria Matta Tuchman and George W. Bush. 9461 Grindlay, (714) 995-3001.
Concerts on the Green. Locals say these summertime concerts, located on the Civic Center lawn, are about the best thing going for Cypress. For its part, the city hopes the concerts will encourage "families, lawn chairs [and] picnics." They're held at 6 p.m. on summer weekend nights. 5275 Orange Ave., (714) 229-6780.Darrell Essex Park. This tiny, fenced-in park has the requisite swingset, grassy field and drinking fountain. It's named after "King of Cypress" Darrell Essex, so dubbed for his 34-year tenure as Cypress city manager from 1962 to 1996. Today, the "retired" Essex is a redevelopment lobbyist and consultant with an office across the street from City Hall. Park entrance on Cumberland Drive between Moody and Grindlay streets.
Cypress Family Twin Cinema. This is one of the last mom-and-pop theaters around, which, in this era of massive corporate cinemaplexes, is quite rare for a movie house that isn't showing porn. The "Twin" in the title denotes the theater's two screens, which generally alternate between standard family fare and '50s trash movies. 9823 Walker St., (714) 828-1660.Bionic Records. Where music snobs go for indie and alternative CDs. 9549 Valley View St., (714) 828-4225.
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