What can we say about Stanton that hasn't already been said about hell? How about, until 1911, it was called Benedict, but that was the year the city of Anaheim proposed making the entire place a sewage farm. No shit! (The jokes just write themselves, don't they?) And so some guy named Philip Stanton rode in from Seal Beach and helped the farmers of the 16-square-mile region incorporate. In his name, naturally. Then, in 1924, they disincorporated, and in 1956 they incorporated again, with three square miles this time. God, Stanton, make up your mind! They've got one library branch (provided by the county), almost 40,000 people and a whole lot of wowza motels. And all-nude clubs, which we really don't recommend as the girls have bruises. And pawn shops, which is where I like to do my Christmas shopping. There's one really pretty neighborhood of charming old houses in gingerbread colors—but on closer inspection, it turned out to be Garden Grove.
Stanton is not necessarily a city of "bests." Whenever someone steals a child in LA, you know they'll be found in Stanton in a day or two. Sad, sad Stanton. And yet here we are. In Stanton.
Yayyy, Stanton! We think.
Best Fizzy Italian Pizza Wine Park Ave. The retro Americana on the menu of Park Ave (fine dining!) is hilarious and sweet (and we're not just talking about the "Lil Pot of Heaven," which isn't what you think it is, but chocolate pudding with brled bananas on top). Don't you want a Spud Dog? Or a helping of Seafood Pie? Of course you do! (Executive chef David Slay was named one of the nation's top 12 when he ran Beverly Hills' La Veranda, begging the question: Just what exactly is he doing in Stanton?) Just three months old, the restaurant doesn't yet have the tables for park dining they ordered all the way back in June, but once they finally arrive, you'll be supping under the stars (even though the restaurant's insides are gorgeous and sharp with atomic chandeliers and purple metal-flake), or just drinking yourself silly on a Hot Lips—Bacardi and Chambord—or that Fizzy Italian Pizza Wine. 11200 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 901-4400.
Best Poker Store The Poker Store. They've been around for over 22 years, and they've supplied the Bicycle Casino and Hawaiian Gardens Casino with their chips and felts. Don't you need a dealer's shoe? Or chip spacers? Or a cup holder? Come on, everyone wants a cup holder! Cup holders are the best things to happen to people since valet parking was invented in the 1600s. I still remember the thrill I felt upon realizing that the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas has cup holders in the women's room stalls. Now that's a casino with its customers' comforts in mind! Yay! 11460 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 895-3783.
Best Amusement Park Adventure City. You get the feeling that if Walt Disney had to do it all over again and re-create the Midwest America your cousins inhabit, he would create Adventure City. This two-acre Stanton gem is small and navigable with a carousel in the middle, little roller coasters and whirly rides. The staff is far less regimented and far more—oh, what's the word?—human than you find at big-ass theme parks. There's only one entrance and exit, so kids are safe to wander on their own, and the park's diminutive layout means they can never wander far. There are puppet shows, face painting, and an area where kids can just go and play with trains. That's right, play. They can dress up like firefighters and cops and ride around a track in cop cars and fire engines. And there's a miniature train that circles the whole place. It's gloriously cornball, wonderfully goofy and brilliantly hokey. Walt would understand. 1238 S. Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 236-9300.
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Best Homemade Steak Sauce The Golden Steer is what a family restaurant used to be—not just inexpensive enough to feed a family, but tasty and wholesome enough to feed it well. It also hearkens back to a time when a family meal meant meat-meat-meat. The place is crowded (with old people), but good acoustics keep it from sounding like a mess hall, and incredible service keeps that growl in your stomach from turning into a bad mood. 11052 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 894-1208; www.goldensteer.com.
Best Place to Buy a Samurai Sword Before Going on an Irvine Grocery Store Rampage Musashi Martial Arts. Please don't actually go on an Irvine grocery store rampage. Thank you. 12463 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 894-4021.
Best Scam Artist Laila Sultan. Remember that lady who said she found a condom in her McCormick & Schmick's clam chowder? She was Laila Sultan, then 48, from Stanton. Whee!
Best Drag Super Auto Box. Chock-full of auto sound equipment, racing mufflers, air fresheners and high-tech air filters, this place is like the WOW! store for tuner cars. Everything you can bolt on, they have. Ha-ha! We tricked you! 12645 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 903-9900.