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Arturo's -not Tiki in Style, but in spirit!, Harbor City/Lomita, CA (restaurant)

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Name: Arturo's -not Tiki in Style, but in spirit!
Type: restaurant
Street: 25720 So. Western and PCH
City: Harbor City/Lomita
State: CA
Zip: 90710
country: USA
Status: operational

I am posting this place despite it being a Mexican restaurant, because SO MANY elements that I love about mid-century Tiki style are still intact and present here --PLUS it does have ONE American Tiki in it :).

I don't make it down there often, but after finding it still in its original state when I went to dinner there with a couple of friends last night, I decided it needed to be known that such an oasis still exists. Restaurants are taking a hard hit in this recession, who knows how long it will still be around.

Arturo's is a unique case of a Mexican restaurant designed in mid-century modern style, and if I would not know for a fact that it always WAS Mexican, I would be sure that it once was a Californian Coffee Shop. The ball shaped lamps, the slotted wood dividers, the beamed ceiling.... Then throw in a couple of stone idols and pagan murals, and you have a fine example of mid-century "Tiki" Modern.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-02-08 08:54 ]

(Now to repeat, I am not saying these sculptures ARE Tiki)

Stone guardian by the side door

The original sign:

Front door door pulls:

entrance lobby and restrooms:

Side room with Aztec idol art:

A closer look, to appreciate the burlap wallpaper (the chandelier is NOT original, I would say):

Let's turn to the small bar in the back, which, as it used to be custom, has its own side entrance:

And a cool modernist idol mural at the end. But what is this, below the idol image?

Well if it isn't the "Surf Goddess" Tiki, printed on Val Surf T-shirts and made into a mug at the Tiki Tikis Japan!
..and as statue at "The Polynesia", Seattle, (in TIKI MODERN on page 249)

And what is that offering on her head? Well, "Arturo's" logo idol cocktail napkins, of course:

And while we are at it, let's pick up the logo matchbook, too:

Now they don't use these items because they are "hip" or something. They simply never stopped making them!
(And no, they do NOT have logo mugs, menus or swizzles!)

The Surf Goddess seamlessly blends with more Pre-Columbian back bar statuary:

Back in the dining rooms, a map mural:

Friends enjoying the atmosphere:

And the piece de resistance, the atrium in the middle of the restaurant:

Last not least, my "Julius Shulman" shot :) :

I hope some of you share my enthusiasm for this time warp. Now if considering going there, keep in mind that we do not visit these places for the food (which is fine, just mediocre) and that my photos tend to glamorize. :)

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-02-08 09:30 ]

Awesome, Bigbro!

I think your photos actually do the place justice. I've been wanting to post about Arturo's again for a while, but didn't have any photos as nice as yours. Thanks.

Arturos was built in 1960 and until a few years ago had been owned by the same family that built it. It has been kept in really nice, original condition. While the food is old-school, 1970s American-Mexican (enchilladas, tostadas, chile rellenos, etc), a few margaritas will definitely enhance the experience. My friends and I like to dress in our Sixties finest when visiting Arturo's which also adds to the ambience.

I can add a few pics from my collection:

:down: Here's the vintage postcard

And I'm glad to see the new matchbook looks much like the old one:

Although the old matchbook has its plusses :down:

Thanks for bringing Arturo's to our attention again, Bigbro. I really like your "Julius Shulman" shot

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2009-02-08 11:47 ]


Being the Mid Century Modern geek that I am, I need to check this place out. 70's Mexican food is fine with me.

Speaking of MCM eateries, I had breakfast at ROD'S In Arcadia today....a fine example of a MCM Googie diner, still in pretty original condition. I love when the old places don't do the modern price bilking....$5.95 for a pretty damn good egg breakfast, that would be $8 or $9 anywhere else.

This Arturos place looks like my kinda place tho'.

Sweet feature matchbook there, Sabu! And comparing the original postcard to my exterior shot above: Where in L.A. do we have a 1960-built restaurant whose exterior has remained unchanged! They are getting rarer and rarer every year!

Zeta posted on Mon, Feb 9, 2009 9:38 PM

Muy bonito! From all the idols shown in the pictures, only 2 1/2 existed in pre-hispanic Mexico:
The small green Toltec Atlantean warrior next to the (Ku) surf tiki, and the Aztec calendar. The painting on the wall with the fangs looks Olmec but is a "reinterpretation". Everything else is Neo-Aztec.
From Tiki finds...

On 2009-02-05 09:20, Zeta wrote:
One of my favorite pieces:

Toltec Atlantean warrior decanter and mini shots. Aztec Pop, I looked for this one for years, finally found it in perfect condition complete with bottle cap and the 4 shots. 50 pesos = 3.5 U.S. dollars. Now I can drink tequila in my tiki bar with style, without being worried about disrespect purist exotic style.

Those matches are GREAT Sabu!

Zeta posted on Mon, Feb 9, 2009 9:52 PM

The stone Atlantis again...

Zeta posted on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 11:14 AM

[ Edited by: Zeta 2009-02-26 11:14 ]

The jury is out on the food...but I think I may try to check it out this weekend anyways. Right around the corner from mom's house too.

Mixed Reviews:



Design/style critique from July 2014...


JOHN-O posted on Sun, Jan 4, 2015 7:28 PM

Closed at the end of Oct 2014 :(...


Well that sucks. BOOOO!!!

We knew it was just a matter of time.


This is too bad. Very glad to have stumbled into Arturo's about 4 or 5 years ago. The "Mid Century Mexican" architecture caused me to U-turn and then blew me away. Sven's photos nail the whole vibe of the place.

I remember sipping on a margarita one evening while looking out one of those very large plate glass windows into the parking lot, watching two great big Raccoons ambling between the cars... escapism in Lomita, CA...fantasy inside, reality outside!

I wish I was a restaurateur with a lot of time & money...

More mid century history, gone.....like tears in rain.

I use to frequent Arturo's ( mainly for lunch ) when I roamed the Southbay as a telephone employee during the 70's/80's. wish that I had visited in more recent times. Mahalo to all for your posts here.

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