This week, Tiki-Ti, the classic Los Feliz tiki bar, shocked its loyal patrons with the news that it is closing indefinitely. Fans cried into their Uga Boogas and swarmed the bar's Facebook page with well wishes. (Fortunately, it turns out that "indefinitely" only means a couple of a weeks and Los Angeles won't be losing even more of its tiki heritage.)
Southern California's love for all things Tiki began in 1934 with the opening of the Hollywood restaurant Don the Beachcomber, which featured the flaming torches, carved wooden statues, and colorful rum-based punches still essential to the genre today. As World War II servicemen returned from the South Pacific, their stories fueled the fad for Polynesian-themed kitsch, which inspired bars and even architecture throughout the late 1940s and into the '50s. And it all only grew stronger with Hawaiian statehood in 1959. Today, Tiki is primarily associated with its colorful drinks, but what's left of Tiki architecture is still compelling, often featuring steep A-frame peaked roofs, carved wooden beams, palm trees, and sometimes Googie details.
If you need your Tiki fix before Tiki-Ti reopens, here are a few haunts scattered around Los Angeles that'll get you through the next couple of weeks:
↑ Just down the street from the now-closed Bahooka restaurant, which had its own amazing tiki architecture, sits the Kona Kai apartment building in San Gabriel. It was built in 1959 and would be just another uninspiring blocky complex except for its impressive façade and carved wooden tiki heads along the walls.
↑ Built in 1962, the Kona Pali apartment building in Granada Hills is the sister complex to the Kona Kai with the same peaked roof. It even has the same tile mosaic of the Hawaiian Islands in the lobby, but all of its carved tiki accents are green.
↑ The Polynesian in Canoga Park once had decorative tiki pillars holding up a canopy on its east side. They're gone now, so it would be a typical dingbat apartment building except for the giant tiki face staring at the street.
↑ The oldest tiki bar in Los Angeles, Tonga Hut, may be the only one that could possibly take Tiki-Ti's place. Dating from 1958, the exterior may not look like much, but the inside features the requisite wooden heads and bamboo walls—as well as 78 different drinks.
↑ Named after the father of Tiki restaurants, but with no relation to the original, Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach features the characteristic peaked roof. On the inside, a thatched grass roof covers the bar and weaved Polynesian mats line the walls. Its menu features island-inspired items, like kailua pulled pork, fresh mahi mahi, and, naturally, molten lava chocolate cake. —Leonard Hyman
· Uh Oh, No One Knows When Tiki Ti in Los Feliz Is Going to Come Back [Eater LA]
· An Introduction to Googie, SoCal's Signature Architectural Style [Curbed LA]