The stretch of pavement known as Highway 39 leads to the coastal edge of Orange County, but not without going through Stanton. Sure, the city has its detractors who say its slice of Beach Boulevard resembles a desert ghost town right out of The Hills Have Eyes. But to hell with the haters! Summertime in Stanton is the real deal, and it all starts with a drive.
Heading down Beach Boulevard showcases all there is to offer. First stop for fun is Adventure City. . . . Oh, wait, that's just on the other side of the border with Anacrime. So what if Stanton doesn't have a mini-amusement park? It still has plenty going on. Don't let the disturbing motel names (such as the Chester Inn) along the way cause the creeps. Just keep driving.
Sooner or later, revelers will happen upon a recognizable restaurant amidst the strip malls of shutter on Stanton's claim to Beach. Still standing is Acapulcos (12765 Beach Blvd., 714-895-4444), a place where a decent brunch and more than a few margaritas can be had. But that's too easy. The secret to Stanton is its key hole-in-the-walls, with Thai Nakorn (11951 Beach Blvd., Ste. J, 714-799-2031) being the best of all. Gooey satay sticks warm the belly for such main dishes as beef panang.
Hop back on Beach, and keep those eyes peeled for storefronts that appeal to curiosity. How many cars travel up and down the highway every day with drivers wondering about Carniceria Mexico (10565 Beach Blvd., 714-826-8740)? Quell the mystery, look at the piñatas hanging from above and buy as many pounds of carne asada as you need for that perfect daytime barbecue with friends. Too bad the city has had its park shut down for years, a product of its perpetually shitty economy.
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In fact, the only part of the city that ever truly buzzes is the Indoor Swap Meet (10401 Beach Blvd., 714-527-1112), the land where the CD never went out of style—just like Stanton.