You can tell a lot about a city by its slogan. That Fountain Valley calls itself "A Nice Place to Live" says it didn't try very hard. But locals are well-aware of the treasures that belie this tiny gem.
One of the most obvious is Mile Square Park (10401 Warner Ave., 714-962-5541; www.ocparks.com/milesquarepark), a recreational Valhalla for golfers and suburban outdoorsy types. The park's 607 acres is enough for just about any kind of sports field we care about in America, in addition to a couple of man-made lakes and an adjacent golf course. Fountain Valley is probably one of the only cities aside from Irvine that can get away with having a park such as this without worrying about it being overrun by hippies or the homeless.
This small city of 56,000 may have a mild moniker, but it takes pride in having lots of balls, mostly of the bowling variety. In fact, plenty of people only come to this city because of Fountain Bowl (17110 Brookhurst St., 714-963-7888; www.fountainbowl.com), voted best lanes in OC for years. And of course it's the official spot for the bowling half of Lebowski Fest LA! Hey, if it's good enough for the Dude . . .
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Of course, the fun stuff is great, but around here, comida is king. A guide to good food in Fountain Valley basically reads like a map of Asia with a few surprises thrown in. The city has always had a strong Japanese presence, and Tsuruhashi (18798 Brookhurst St., 714-593-8393; www.tsuruhashibbq.com) and Kappo Honda (18450 Brookhurst St., 714-964-4629; izakayahondaya.com) are the standards. For pizza, Moonlight Pizza & Chicken (9895 Warner Ave., 714-963-4488) offers Armenian spices and soujouk sprinkled over Italy's greatest invention, while hipsters continue to flock to Samurai Burrito (18932 Brookhurst St., 714-962-1370), Donut Bar (18011 Newhope St.) and Afters Ice Cream (18030 Brookhurst St.; aftersicecream.com). Bottom line: This is the city where you come to breathe reasonably clean air around reasonable people doing reasonable things. It's so goddamn pleasant it's disgusting. Maybe Fountain Valley is just being truthful by calling itself "nice." But we suspect it's part of the strategy to make sure the douchebags look right past it. Let's hope it stays that way.