Though Tonga Hut is not L.A.’s most famous tiki bar, it is the oldest, and this month the watering hole celebrates its 55th birthday. Forget the run-down strip on which it’s located; inside, the joint has been restored into a midcentury tropical haven, with a fire pit and vintage moai fountain.
Barflies (most of them friendly) mingle with tiki buffs and thirsty souls seeking a casual neighborhood spot. Polynesian-themed cocktails—the Old Skool Zombie is lethally strong—are stirred every day, but Hawaiian-shirt wearers gather on Sundays for informal meet-ups and occasional art shows. The newest drink, the bright blue Rufus, honors the fishy mascot at the recently departed Rosemead restaurant Bahooka.
Settle into a thatch-roofed vinyl booth and savor your safe landing on this lost island of retro kitsch.
Valley High: 12808 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood. 818-769-0708 or tongahut.com