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Why: Southern California is ground zero for the mid-century phenomenon that Tiki became, and the concept is experiencing a serious revival.
What: Hollywood’s Don the Beachcomber inaugurated the Tiki bar concept way back in 1934. The movement inspired generations to wear Hawaiian shirts, decorate in faux-tropical kitsch and order flaming cocktails. Though the original Don the Beachcomber went the way of the Tail O’ the Pup, the Tonga Hut and a few others held on through the dark time of Tiki’s decline in the 1970s. Until a few years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a decent tropical rum drink from anywhere reputable.
But here we are, in a rebirth of Tiki, and if you want to experience a night of tiny umbrellas in a Polynesian paradise, look no further than the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood. Opened in 1958, the Tonga Hut offers an excellent Tiki-themed interior, a jaunty jukebox, devoted regulars, a wide-ranging list of classic tropical drinks and history — it’s Los Angeles’s oldest tiki bar still in operation. Look out for the Loyal Order of Drooling Bastards wall, which lists every person who has mastered the “Grog Log," a list of 78 classic exotic drinks, within a one-year time frame.
Still thirsty? Other L.A. Tiki options include the tiny but mighty Tiki Ti in Los Feliz and Clifton's Cafeteria's revamped Pacific Seas downtown. And there's the lively Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. Also, a new Tonga Hut location just opened in Palm Springs.
Where: Tonga Hut, 12808 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, 14 miles northwest of downtown L.A.
How much: Drinks will set you back anywhere from $9 for something simple to $14 for a bowl drink, which might leave you horizontal.
Info: Tonga Hut