Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Introducing...Tiki Tuesday! Episode One: The Tonga Hut

OK. So one of the things I loooove is Tiki Culture. Tiki bars, tiki drinks, tiki anything.
Some people think tiki stuff is tacky, and perhaps it is, a bit, but I like many things that some consider tacky so let 'em. I'll be over here enjoying my Mai Tai :-)

In indulgence of my tiki passion I'm rolling out a new feature here on Vintage Advantage called TIKI TUESDAYS. Yes, I'm yelling because I'm excited about it!

So with no further delay, here is my first installment:

The oldest surviving tiki bar in Los Angeles!  It's a teeny tiny little hole in the wall bar, on a nondescript corner in North Hollywood. For those of you who aren't familiar with Los Angeles, that's in the San Fernando Valley, which is the sprawling suburban wasteland north of LA proper.

The Tonga Hut greets you with a mysterious green light and a big Moai tiki.

Right inside the door is their mascot, "Big Mo" another enormous Moai

You can't really see my outfit here very well (I'm still learning to use my new camera) but it consisted of: vintage high-waisted jeans, vintage printed Darlene cardigan sweater, one of my trusty vintage leopard-print handbags, and a big pile o' Bakelite on earlobes and wrists.

The inside of the Tonga Hut is dim and evocative, and every inch is covered with some cool tiki relic. Many of which were rescued by the most recent owner from various demolitions around LA.

There's a hang-out nook with padded benches, a Polynesian 3-D map by Kirby, a classic Witco ship panel, and a fantastic bright-red mid-century fireplace.
Love it!!!

 Look at that awesome fireplace! I want one just like it sooo bad. Here's a closer look:

They sell an assortment of collectible tiki mugs including some that have been commissioned just for the Tonga Hut.

One of the most fun things at the Tonga Hut is the "Drooling Bastard", which is this tiki fountain:

They do this thing called the Royal Order of the Drooling Bastard...if you drink one of every single drink they make (and that's more than 80) you become a member of the Loyal Order and you get your name on this wall.

They keep a big book behind the bar of everyone who's trying for it, and a record of all the drinks they've had.

Our bartender, Ian, was friendly and helpful (I know! Shocker! That's one of the reasons I like Tiki bars...the barkeeps are always friendly...unlike at the ubertrendy bars near where I live) and on his recommendation, I chose a classic Mai Tai. The Tonga Hut makes their Mai Tais with the real, historic recipe so it didn't taste like one of those horrible too-sweet things you might get it you ordered a Mai Tai at, let's say, a TGI Fridays or some such horridness.
The vibe was low-key, and the jukebox had a nice selection of Exotica and tiki music along with some rockabilly, some soul, a bit of this & that and (weirdly) a whole bunch of English punk. Some guys had loaded the jukebox up with 10 bucks worth of quarters, all punk...which is what actually drove us out of the bar! We'll be back, though...and maybe I'll start workin' my way through those 80+ drinks!!

Here are the details:
The Tonga Hut is at 12808 Victory Blvd, in North Hollywood, CA
They have a great  website too!


  1. Great review! Tiki Tuesday!

  2. I don't even drink and I love Tonga Hut! Tiki bars are awesome - well, tiki anything, really!!!

    1. Haha...one mai tai pretty much puts me under the table, so I would say I don't really drink, either :-)

  3. Great blog!! I'm planning on a mini day road trip up from San Diego to visit this spot next month.

    1. How fun!! Be sure and hit the Tiki Ti in Hollywood, too, if you have time! There's also a great little vintage store just down the street from the Tiki Ti called Ragg Mopp...it's worth a visit :-)

  4. Ooh I love Tiki Bars! We just don't have very many of them in the UK though :(

    1. Aren't they they best? Sorry you don't have many in the UK...you've gotta come out here to California...we still have a precious few!