Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tiki Tuesday: Don The Beachcomber

This past Saturday I went to Don the Beachcomber
In Huntington Beach, CA, for the Tiki Marketplace. The address says Huntington Beach, but to me this restaurant is in Huntington Harbor, not Huntington Beach!

Does the sign look familiar? Used to be Sam's Seafood!

Are you guys tired of looking at this leopard purse? Time to mix it up, Dina.

Don's has an interesting history. The founder of the original Don's in Hollywood was named Ernest Gantt. He opened his first Don the Beachcomber in the 30's and his identity became so tied to it that he legally changed his name to Donn Beach! He was apparently quite a character, and is widely credited with inventing the Mai Tai, Zombie, and Navy Grog recipes...he focused on rum because rum was the cheapest liquor!
Now the "Don the Beachcomber" name is licensed. There have been a boatload of restaurants bearing the name over the years, all over California, Hawaii, some in Texas and even Minnesota.Currently there are only three: two in Hawaii and this one in Huntington.

Love that slogan!

It's a great big sprawling place with a labyrinth of dining rooms and bars inside, all decorated in super-kitschy, high-Polynesian style.

this one's for you Noelle M.

The main bar is called the Dagger Bar, after Donn's collection of antique daggers.
It's a great looking little bar, with lots of seating and yet a cozy feel. There is fantastic artwork everywhere, including big full-wall murals.

 The main dining room has a stage for live musicians to play in front of a waterfall.

fun artwork everywhere!

The Tiki Marketplace was held in two rooms further back in the building...I swear this place goes on forever!

It costs 10$ to get into the Tiki Marketplace, and for your ten bucks you get a food/drink voucher worth 10 dollars, which will buy you a Mai Tai! Haha...drunk shopping? Danger Will Robinson!!! Danger!

There was a ton of amazing Tiki-themed stuff to peruse. From antiques to brand-new fun things. Several vendors had amazing drool-worthy vintage lamps like these:

I splurged and bought a set of Franciscan Starburst china from this nice guy I met, named Spike. Now half the time I forget the names of the people I meet almost instantaneously, but how could you forget the name Spike? It was actually pretty funny because he was selling the dishes from under the table, being that they weren't really "tiki" merchandise. I felt like I was making some sort of black-market deal :-)

Turns out he's in the band The Hula Girls
They're super fun! Check out this clip of them playing live at Don's:

Denise and her fabulous creations!
I also met Denise from  Retro Ruthie
She makes the cutest reproduction-vintage clothes using real vintage patterns. Isn't this top and skirt set adorable? She has a great selection of true-vintage and vintage-look fabrics to choose from, and she'll even make something out of your vintage fabric if you ask nicely :-)

The cover artist of the newest issue of Tiki magazine was there, but I didn't get a chance to meet her. As a watercolor artist myself, I love that she uses watercolor in a field dominated by other media. I also love that she's a she!! Most tiki artists are men, for some unknown reason.

Tiki magazine
is a lot of fun...it's hard to find in stores, so your best bet is a subscription.

The Tiki Marketplace was great fun if you're into Tiki. I bought myself some cool tiki earrings (made of Shrinky Dinx!!) a lovely and well-made flower clip for my hair, and the aforementioned dishes.
I had a really delicious Mai Tai that sort of kicked my butt, as I drank it on an empty stomach! We didn't actually eat at Don's, mostly because their restaurant isn't very vegetarian-friendly. I suppose that would be my only criticism...throw us a veggie-burger or something, people! It's really not that hard!
Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach hosts the Tiki Marketplace every 6-8 weeks or so.

See you at the next Tiki Marketplace!


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  3. I have an antique Mahogany Carved Desk from Don the Beachcomber for sale. It is carved on both sides from the 1940’s original Don the Beachcomber restaurant. Polynesian design at its best. leila@leilalujan.com