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Puka Bar, Long Beach, CA (bar)

Pages: 1 26 replies


Name:Puka Bar
Street:710 West Willow Street
City:Long Beach
Status: defunct

Tiki Bar with Crazy Al tiki carvings. As of right now, there's one main room and a smaller room off to the right as you enter with a jukebox. In the smaller room, there's an archway leading to an unfinished room of approximately 1200 sq. ft. according to the owner. Puffer fish lamp, a few hanging floats, and at least one OA mask on the wall. The bar has some Tapa-like carving in it, done by Crazy Al, looks good. There are photos in the following thread:
and here's the website:

[ Edited by: TikiJosh 2006-02-19 16:43 ]

[ Edited by: Bora Boris - No longer operational as The Puka Bar. - 2011-06-03 09:19 ]


The Mrs and I went here on Friday, they open at 4pm, so don't make the mistake of showing up at 2pm like I did. Drinks are really good. Quality is very high, lots of alchol. The mai tai is one of the best I've had anywhere. Traditional TV recipe, not the juice and syrup crap. No tiki mugs, but the owner said he didn't want 'em to get stolen, so he's sticking with just regular glassware, although it is somewhat unusually shaped. Music is mostly from a jukebox with a variety of music, though I didn't get a chance to look at all the possibilities as the page turner in the juke was broken. The atmosphere is perfect, dimly lit, some carvings and tikis, and the bathrooms are clean. For only being open a week, the place is off to a good start. Drink prices were pretty reasonable too. 2 mai tais, 2 rum and coke, 2 shots of Matusalem rum, a couple of sodas, and one beer were about $47.


This place is bitchin'. The interior is old school tiki and Al's carvings are excellent. I rapped with the owner for a bit, and he's a super cool guy, so go give him some business. It's conveniently located just off the 710, so go check it out.

[ Edited by: blood.red.elephant 2006-08-10 20:40 ]

The Mrs and I were in SoCal recently and decided to check out the Puka
bar. Great neon sig out front. The interior is amazing, a lot of detail
in all areas of the bar. The drinks were good and it had a cool vibe. My only complaint is the music. Way too loud, I actually got a headache, and rock
music in a tiki bar doesn't quite seem to fit. I could probably live with
the music if the volume didn't require me to shout to be heard by my wife.
Overall, definitely worth checking out.

Puka Bar has become my new "happy hours" (plural cuz all the hours are happy there!) establishment. Fantastic little spot with an excellent jukebox. Great staff!

Have the drinks improved from when they first opened?
How about the decore and the far, Music room( open yet?
I saw alot of potential, when I was there a few months back.
Hope it turns out for the best, would like to make it a spot om my rounds, if it's up to snuff.


Nice tiki-restoration of a 50s bar.

High Tipsy factor, including large tikis behind the bar and against the wall by Crazy Al.
The bar itself, previously photographed, is a thing of beauty. The bamboo matting on all of the walls is a very good addition. Some classic and some contemporary tiki mugs decorate the bar.

I also like the Volcano room, with the Volcano and the rattan furniture and faux palm trees.

The verdict is out on the MaiTai. Although I did like the Seafoam, I did not approve a blended drink being served in a Martini glass. Both would have been helped by being served in a tiki mug. However, I do like the umbrellas.

My suggestion: Invest in your own tiki mug (or just select one out of TikiFarm's catalog) and sell it with the drink. Otherwise, byo tm, and keep it there like Tiki-Ti or the Voodoo Room.

The jukebox was mixed. It played exotica; it also played far more 70s rock and, yes, very loudly.


How does the name Puka Bar relate to tiki ???? can someone explain???

You're kidding. Right?




The Missus and I just went again on Saturday, the volcano room off the side is taking shape, and the drinks were still good. The jukebox was a little loud for us this time 'round, but we were in the volcano room, so not too hard to figure that out. I remember the last time we were there the jukebox wasn't so bad. Drink prices still pretty reasonable, and the Mai Tai is still pretty tasty.

Ghost posted on Sun, Sep 24, 2006 7:34 PM

Checked out the Puka Bar a few weeks ago. My lady and I were both impressed. Nice decor, good strong drinks....we originally intended to just "pop in for a drink or two" and ended up staying for many more. The bartender was very helpful and what she didn't know how to make she made every effort to find out how. There was a DJ the night we went who played a very eclectic mix of music. Planning on going back very soon as we had a great time. I'd definitely recommend this place, especially to anyone in the area.

Puka is a taste of the South Seas in Long Beach
Byron Mathis concocts exotic cocktails in his tiki lounge.
By Heidi Siegmund Cuda
August 9, 2007

BYRON MATHIS, who spent five years slinging cocktails at the Bigfoot Lodge, took a roundabout route to Long Beach.

Like a tattooed Tom Cruise in "Cocktail," the bartender perfected his art in L.A., New York, New Orleans, Hawaii and San Francisco before opening up his own tiki lounge.

A little over a year ago, he teamed up with custom motorcycle builder Larry Settle, who owns a chopper shop in Harbor City, to open up Puka Bar in an industrial stretch of Long Beach.

And the locals are saying mahalo.

"I'm a huge fan of Hawaiian and Polynesian style," says Mary Pagoni, an art director who's been frequenting Puka since it opened. "It's the most authentic tiki bar I've ever been to. And Byron's a real mixologist. He knows how to create a perfect mai-tai."

"I've traveled the world, visiting every port town you can think of," says Richard Ferry, a ship hand who makes his way to Long Beach every few months. "This place is reminiscent of some of the best ones I've seen in places like the Virgin Islands and Indonesia."

Credit Mathis, who takes his work seriously.

From his design, which is spot-on tiki chic, to the cocktails, he says he gave it all he's got.

"It's all about the right ingredients," he says. "From the smile on your face to the music to the way we create our drinks, it's a no-fail recipe."

Mathis took five weeks to revamp the bar from a low-key dive to an authentic tiki bar. Among the design highlights are bamboo walls and ceiling lamps created from real blowfish. Hula hoops hang on the walls in case clubbers want to try out their hips (they do, and often) and black-velvet nudes of pin-ups hang on the walls.

We couldn't resist taking a peek in the men's room, which looks like the inside of a volcano, with blackened textured lava-like walls.

The crowd is just what you'd expect from Long Beach. It's a nice mix of rockabilly hipsters, urban professionals, refinery employees, longshoremen and sailors.

The common denominator? The cocktails.

There's the Land Pirate, a whiskey-based drink with a secret sauce that's like an Old Fashioned turned on its head; the Snow Monkey, a frothy tequila confection which includes banana liqueur, fresh pineapple and coconut; or the Lemmynade, a rum-based cocktail with dark brown sugar and fresh lemon juice.

Although the Puka Bar offers DJs six nights a week, regulars come in early and drop a buck in the jukebox. Among the highlights: Elvis, Throw Rag, the Distillers, Iggy & the Stooges, Bill Withers, Flogging Molly, the Groovy Rednecks, Tom Jones and Sublime -- all nice ingredients for a swell time.

"There's a couple things missing," Mathis says. "Like the Ramones and the Damned. But we're working on it."

But Puka Bar regular Johnny Fouts says it's all good.

"It's my favorite spot to go to in Long Beach," he says. "It's just a beautiful bar."


[email protected]


Puka Bar

Where: 710 W. Willow St.,

Long Beach

When: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Price: No cover; 21 and older

Info: (562) 997-6869; http://www.pukabar.com

Cool , great review. His partner wanted to trade a Harley for the back room build out.

[ Edited by: Tiki Diablo 2007-08-13 22:49 ]

Went to the Puka Bar about a week ago for the 1st time. Nice place! People were friendly. Bar-tender was VERY cool and kept coming back to talk with us. Really enjoyed my 1st experience there. I would highly recommend this place to anyone thats looking for a Poly-pop watering hole in Long Beach.

Interesting side note. My girl told me that all the bars in the local vicinity used to be watering holes for the long shore men in the 40's during the war. So I guess a lot of the bars on that street and neighboring streets have been bars for quite some time.

Anywho....just my 2 cents.

Ownership change at the Puka Bar

Press Telegram: Tim Grobaty Column-Puka Bar

Possible change to Puka Bar itself? It may become a bikini bar? Stay tuned


Nice !! There's a long standing tradition for T&A in the Tiki bar...

That's the reason for Tiki Bob's smile. :)

(Credit Swanky for the pics. I poached them from his website.)


Here's a status update on the Puka Bar that was posted on their former Facebook page (now called "Tiki Drinki") this morning. I'm omitting the name of the poster because I don't know what their connection is or isn't--I think it might be one of the former DJs:

"At this point the bikini aspect is not a for sure. Our guess is the new owners will have trouble vis a vis the entertainment license regarding this. They've already done a lot of renovation. Jacked up the bar and moved it out and back in the room. Knocked out some walls, new flooring, etc. Major cash injection!! And, it's no longer "you guys" as in Larry. Completely new ownership and staff. Retaining the name and decor only. Not gonna do live music as far as we've heard. One of the new owners was a manager at MaiTai Bar at the Pike, so they have bar experience."

too bad,
just as the really cool shows were starting to happen there.
oh well....


We were here a while back to see one of my husband's bands play, and I wasn't overly impressed. It had some cool elements, but the drinks weren't great, for the most part, and we found a huge gaudy plastic "Party City" tiki mask in there.
The mai tai was the most disgusting one I've ever had. Really syrupy and sweet, and when I told the bartender that it was really syrupy, far too sweet, and tasted "off," she insisted that this is the way they are made. Ha! I don't believe in arguing with idiots, so I switched to beer. Might have to give it another try sometime, now that it's changed hands - maybe the drinks will improve.

I just drove by the location and their new signage is up. It's called Sandbar Bar and Lounge.

Here's a "Help Wanted" ad for new staff...

Servers & Bartenders Wanted – Long Beach

SANDbar long Beach
Bar & Lounge

Looking for Bartenders and Servers.
1 YEAR bartender or server experience necessary!

Bikini Bar and Lounge : island theme atmosphere

  1. Bikini top with jean shorts (day)
  2. Bikini top with tank top (bar logo) with black shorts (night)

Venue will be featuring high profile DJs and Bands Weekly!
FULL Bar! State of the Art Audio and Visual Systems!

Be part of the Newest and Hottest Bar & Lounge in LongBeach!

3 Stage Hiring Process:
1st – Send 1 page resume with a head and full body shot
2nd – Fill out application in Person
3rd – 1 on 1 five minute interview

Grand Opening to be on March 12th (tentative)
New hires START DATE: March 1st (tentative)

Send 1 page resume with a head shot and full body to XXXXXXXXX

Time to change the Puka Bar's status to "DEFUNCT", I'm thinking?


Okay, it's changed.

Iscah posted on Fri, Jun 3, 2011 10:00 AM

Oh, that sucks. I remember going here after my thesis defense. Although, maybe I should apply for a job. I am trying to get back to California.


I heard thru the grapevine ....the Puka bar is no longer a Tiki bar and has turned
into a strip club.Is there any validity to this ? Has anyone been there lately ?


After searching the internet , the Puka Bar is definitely closed !This may be old news
to some TC peeps !

Pages: 1 26 replies