Los Angeles and tiki bars share a rich history. In fact, the world’s first tiki bar – Don the Beachcomber – opened in LA in 1933! People flocked to Don’s, which had a romanticized South Pacific theme, for a dose of escapism, a rum-based drink and exotic cuisine. Tiki bars soon began popping up throughout the country, reaching a height of popularity in the 50s.
An example of decor typically found in tiki bars (Photo: Sam Howzit via flickr)
Nationwide enthusiasm for tiki bars eventually started to wane, but LA’s tiki scene held strong. Today, you can take a seat at bars dating back to the 50s and 60s to sip on an original tiki drink recipe. You’ll even find bars with an updated take on the tropical drinking scene. We’ve highlighted all the best – from kitschy to modernized versions – worth a visit for a Mai Tai or two.
Seating options at Tonga Hut (Photo: Sam Howzit via flickr)
Tonga Hut is Los Angeles’ oldest tiki bar! Tucked away in North Hollywood, Tonga Hut has retained much of its mid-century features from when it opened in 1958. Their cocktail menu includes classic recipes from when tiki culture first swept the nation. You can order a Mai Tai, which is made using Trader Vic’s original recipe, or a Zombie, a cocktail recipe that dates back to 1934. They also have house and seasonal specialties, like a Mojave Punch, made with passion fruit, homemade hibiscus syrup and rum. Tonga Hut is open daily from 4pm to 2am.
12808 Victory Boulevard, North Hollywood
Lone Hollywood is a modernized homage to tiki bar culture (Photo: LONO Hollywood)
Established in 2017, LONO Hollywood was designed to make guests feel as if they’ve been transported to the golden age of escapist bars. Step inside the urban oasis and soak up the relaxed, modernized take on tiki décor. LONO’s menu is packed with Far East flavors, as well as tiki-inspired drinks. You can order a classic Mai Tai or go for a signature drink like the Curse of LONO, a secret recipe with a “special blend of exotic juices, intense spices, and intoxicating spirits.” LONO is open daily from 5pm to 2am.
6611 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood
A local favorite, Tiki-Ti has been making tropical drinks in LA since 1961 (Photo: Sam Howzit via flickr)
Locals love Tiki-Ti, so you’ll have to show up early if you want to get in. The 12-seat bar has been serving tropical drinks to the neighborhood since 1961. The bar’s signature – and most popular – drink is Ray’s Mistake, made with a Super Secret Flavor, botanic liquors, passion fruit and dark rum. Not sure what to order? Spin the Wheel of Tiki-Ti Drinks and it’ll decide for you! The bar is open most Wednesdays-Saturdays (check the online calendar for hours) and is cash only, so come prepared.
4427 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood
Pacific Seas’ decor includes pieces from iconic tiki bars like Trader Vic’s (Photo: Jesús Bañuelos)
The historic Pacific Seas at Clifton’s Cafeteria promises a classic tiki bar experience… if you can find it. Passing through the mirrored door on Clifton’s second floor, you’ll be whisked away to a room overflowing with Polynesian-inspired décor (some pieces preserved from iconic tiki bars!). The menu is simple and includes all the standards – Mai Tais, Singapore Slings and even a Scorpion Bowl, to be shared among friends. It is worth noting that the dress code is enforced Fridays and Saturdays and reservations are recommended. Pacific Seas is open Wednesday through Saturday.
648 South Broadway, Los Angeles
Kahuna Tiki, a tiki bar in sushi restaurant in North Hollywood (Photo: Alyx Sariol)
Kahuna Tiki is an island oasis in the middle of Los Angeles. The Polynesian-inspired restaurant serves sushi, pupus (Hawaiian appetizers) and tropical cocktails. Vintage surfer music is piped throughout the restaurant, which is decorated with tiki torches, wooden masks and water features. Wash down your Maui roll and Spam Musubi with a Lahaina Love Potion or Waikiki Wipeout. Kahuna Tiki hosts an authentic Polynesian Luau every Sunday at 7:30 PM (reservations are recommended). Kahuna Tiki is open daily.
11026 Magnolia Boulevard, North Hollywood