Summer of Tiki
Los Angeles is a place built on fantasy and glamour so it’s only fitting that Tiki, the most fantastical bar scene in history, started and continues to thrive in the City of Angels. The tropical tiki drink trend is a perennial favorite–but there’s just nothing like sipping a fun, fruity cocktail in the summertime. There is no doubt that the Tiki trend is decidedly back with a vengeance, and in fact never really left Los Angeles. There are more than a handful of incredible tiki bars and venues in Los Angeles and beyond, so we decided to embark on our "summer of tiki" and check out some places for the first time and head back to some of our old favorites as well.
Here is a brief rundown of my top 5 tiki bars of 2019:
Trader Sam's (Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim)
Trader Sam's incorporates elements of traditional tiki bars combined with magical memorabilia from Disney rides and movies such as Indiana Jones and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and "shows" that occur when you order a particular tropical concoction off the menu. In addition to classic tiki bar details, Trader Sam's contains references to many elements of the Adventureland area of Disneyland. The Jungle Cruise ride introduces Trader Sam as the "head salesman" of the Jungle Cruise Navigational Company, which explains all the tiki memorabilia throughout the bar. Also, in keeping with the bar's Jungle Cruise theme, bartenders are all referred to as "Skippers." This is easily my favorite tiki venue of all time, as a big Disney lover, Trader Sam's is that ultimate tropical oasis that delivers a fantastic experience time after time. My favorite go-to drinks are the Krakatoa, the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki rum and the new shareable cocktail called the Sea Monster's Embrace.
Tiki No (North Hollywood)
This classic NoHo tiki bar is a new favorite of ours. A cozy, dim interior with both bar and booth seating options and a great atmosphere and classic tiki decor. The bar offers array of tiki classics, and some of my favorites like the Chief Lapu Lapu, the Blue Hawaiian and the house Pina Colada that packs a surprising punch! Even more appealing is the weekday happy hour that runs from 5-7pm with a selection of drinks offered at almost half the price. Tiki No has the feel of a neighborhood hangout with some classic tiki feel. This is the perfect place to come for a summer tiki drink (or two!) before heading off to dinner.
Tonga Hut (North Hollywood)
The Tonga Hut has survived since opening in 1958, and is now the oldest tiki bar in Los Angeles. Not only that, but it has had a renaissance in the past few years, enjoying a remodel that has left the interior looking chic and mid-century modern while still distinctly tiki in character. There are curved booths around the bar and the lighting is very dim, as it should be. There is a small water feature by the bar so you get that water sound as you sip your drinks as a blend of traditional tiki music and classic rock plays over the speakers. They have a daily happy hour for mostly non-tiki drinks from 4-8pm, but the tiki drinks are the star of the show, ranging from classics to tonga hut specialties. My favorite is the "Tonga Punch" which can be ordered as a single cocktail or for two, served in a tiki punchbowl and lit on fire! Doesn't get better than that!
One of LA’s newest Tiki bars, Lono, opened in Hollywood in 2017, offering classics like the Mai Tai and Grass Skirt, and premiering some exciting new twists on Tiki drinks, and a menu full of delicious food (chocolate covered bananas infused with rum, anyone?). The decor is more Hawaiian-tropical than Tiki, which still makes for a wonderful escape from the tourists at the Walk of Fame outside. I classify them as more upscale and chic tropical decor with a twist. Lono also offers a happy hour Tuesdays-Fridays from 5-7pm with a few drink and food options included. My favorite cocktail at Lono is the King Kamehameha which is a mix of several rums, aperol, fresh lime, orange, pineapple, passion fruit & honey. A great new option to satisfy your tiki craving!
The Warehouse (Marina del Rey)
The Warehouse opened in1969 and has a nautical, wharf feel with tiki components. The front is surrounded by water, koi fish swimming around, barrels and vintage decor. The restaurant was one of the first businesses in the Marina, and from the beginning it was an instant success. The Warehouse has both indoor and outdoor seating with a view of the water and some great food and drink options. They have a drink called the "Barrel of Rum" which is an incredible rum concoction, and you even get to keep the barrel! Highly recommend checking it out for a great meal and a drink!