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Royal Hawaiian, Laguna Beach, CA (restaurant)

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Name: Royal Hawaiian
Type: restaurant
Street: 331 N Coast Hwy
City: Laguna Beach
State: CA
Zip: 92651
country: USA
Phone: 949-494-8001
Status: defunct

The Royal Hawaiian is a 40-year-old landmark in Laguna Beach. The food isn't supposed to be all that good but I can personally vouch for the bar's signature concoction, the Lapu-Lapu. For about $8, it's the equivolent of four to five drinks in one and it takes two hands to lift the huge fishbowl that it's served in. The bar/ restaurant just recently replaced most of their wood tikis out front. The decor inside is top notch.

[ Edited by: Luckydesigns on 2003-07-30 22:01 ]

[ Edited by: Bora Boris 2012-05-01 11:36 ]


Oops, did you mean Lapu Lapu?

I have had many good times and memories at the Royal.Looking forward to the next!


FYI- Bonus air miles for drinking/dining here...


The Royal Hawiian is possibly the test tiki resturant next to the Tonga Room.

It has an extemely high TIPSY factor, both inside and out. NEW: The Royal Hawiian has replaced its colorful, but damaged tikis outside with new, natural colored wood tiki poles.

My favorite table is next to the tiki garden, in view of the bar. There are also numerous fishtanks to further accuentuate the tropical feeling. I would not mind if the stark white chairs were replaced.

The prices are very reasonable, just $5.00 for a mai-tai or chi-chi and just $9.00 for the lapu-lapu in the large brandy snifter with the extra layer of rum.

However, although my cocktail was properly served with an umbrelkla, there was a noticeable lack of fresh pineapple and marishino cherries.

It is a reason alone for driving to Laguna Beach, a wonderfully charming beach city, particularly during the summer months during the art festivals.

[ Edited by: christiki295 on 2003-08-03 11:46 ]

The Royal Hawaiian, Laguna Beach has always been one of my favorites. The Lapu Lapu is terrific (if you are out of gas, pour some Lapu Lapu in as a substitute), good Mai Tais too. Drink prices are surprisingly reasonable. However, they close the doors to the bar at 11PM on Weekends. Overall, this place is a tip top tiki bar in my book. Check it out.

I too, have been to the Royal Hawaiian. We made the trek last year and were very pleased with the place. It has very nice atmosphere, good food and a "happenin'" bar. It seems they haven't changed the place too much and, as a matter of fact, Bob from Oceanic Arts told me they outfitted the place when they originally opened up ages ago. If you're in the neighborhood, check it out.

Ah the Lapu Lapus. The wife and I had a few on our last trip out. It took her a day to recover. We also had the lobster. No complaints here.

And it's rumored to be haunted.

[ Edited by: nice fishy on 2003-11-11 21:22 ]

[ Edited by: nice fishy on 2003-11-11 21:23 ]

this place was among my favorites last year when me and the wahine were out in cali on our tiki tour.....and yes, those lapu's are out of this world!


My wife & I finally got out to the Royal Hawaiian, We shared the Big Kahuna drink & some spare ribs & shrimp appetizers. Had a great time, love the decor as well.



We (Tonga Queen and I) finally got a chance to get to the Royal Hawaiian.. We had a great time, Dinner was ok, Restaurant Decor was GREAT and the drink were AWESOME... we both had a Lapu Lapu with our dinner and by the end of dinner we both had a grin from ear to ear and I could feel my cheeks glowing, heck we were feeling so good that we stopped at the bar on the way out to have a "Big Kahuna" which is 2 Lapu Lapus in one glass... WOW...!!!!!!!!!!! Never again on a work night...
If we could only find the recipe for the Lapu Lapu, when we asked how to make all we got was "Light and Dark Rum, Orange juice, Pineapple juice and the secret syrup.."
The only bummer was that there were not any TIKI mugs to be found (except for the ones that had been made into table lamps..
all in all we had a great time and we cannot wait to do it again with other TCers..


[ Edited by: Tonga King on 2004-07-03 21:38 ]


Went to royal hawaiian 9/04. Not the greatest; had dinner at 8pm and they were out of their 'world famous ribs'. The mai tai was too sweet with no discernable fresh fruit juice (i.e. lime). I tasted like kerns apricot necter with rum. Food was less than average. Bahooka and Damons (same price range) are better, at least in the drink/food area.

reference mai tai : trader vics or house without a key (waikiki) or jamesons (north shore)


Went there last year, great mai-tai. Great location, nice bartender, some of the furniture ?????????

I remember going to this place a few years ago with an ex-girlfriend. Between the Mai-Tais and the green goddess dressing, my fate was sealed...

The girl is long gone now, but my appreciation of Tiki and polynesian culture was set. True the drinks and furniture may not be up to par, but having been to tahiti and several of the Hawaiian Islands since then, it isnt too bad. Whats important is that it takes you back to those places that remind you that there are faraway lands that are filled with water of endless shades of blue, white/black sand and soothing drinks that make you forget where you eventually have to return to...

Those of you that have actually been to these places know exactly what im talking about...

in short, enjoy that these places exist even though they may not necessarily be "true" tiki bars...

Mahalo nui loa!


Happy the Man
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst,
for I have lived today.
(Horace - Odes, Book III, xxix)

[ Edited by: Drunk Sailor on Shore Leave on 2004-09-01 17:07 ]

[i]On 2004-09-01 17:04, Drunk Sailor on Shore Leave wrote:

My appreciation of Tiki and polynesian culture was set. True the drinks and furniture may not be up to par, but having been to tahiti and several of the Hawaiian Islands since then, it isnt too bad. Whats important is that it takes you back to those places that remind you that there are faraway lands that are filled with water of endless shades of blue, white/black sand and soothing drinks that make you forget where you eventually have to return to...

The Royal Hawaiian is such a tiki treasure because it does have the ability to offer a bit of Hawaiian South Seas paradise right here at home.

sippin a lapu lapu as we speak!!!....that drink always reminds me of the royal hawiian

Happy Tiki took entire bachelorette party for sister on Laguna Beach Pub Crawl starting at Royal Hawaiian. Thank goodness we hired a limo with a discreet driver! Standing room only. Lapu-Lapu: One per 4 girls was fine. Thought I was snapping pix of the tikiness. First couple pre Lapu turned out good. Following Lapu, I got pix of things like a guys nose, feet under the stall in the head, an irate diner forking fish into her mouth, my self with the tiki out front. Taken by myself, so it's mostly my eyes rolling into the back of my head. What great fun we had! Lapu-Lapu should be called the Drink of Fertility, cuz all 15 girls were all of a sudden lookin for a good, stiff.....................

I just had another visit.
The decor still rocks, but they were playing the Gypsy Kings throughout dinner which kind of sucked.(I like the GK, just not then).
The menu has changed, Kahuna ribs were the only Polynesian food I could find). I still had a great time.

I sent my friends The Bartman and HippieChick down to the Royal Hawaiian and these were the pictures they came back with:

Mmmmmm. Tastes like Tiki.

A round of Lapu Lapus please...

Even before the first sip the bartender said, "Should I call a taxi for you?"

I know this guy...


We paid a visit to the Royal Hawaiian this past Thursday, and it was great. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. It's dark enough in there that I really should have had my tripod, but if you squint at my pictures, you get the idea. The waitstaff confirmed that they don't know much about the impending sale, they don't know whether the restaurant will be staying, be changing into another restaurant, or if the building is going to be bulldozed. The escrow has been pushed back a few times, and currently the Royal Hawaiian is taking reservations up to June 11... after that, who knows.


Recognize this place?

Un bloody believable. Just so depressing! Like we really need ANOTHER plain ole place with brick walls and beer bottles lined up like trophys. I'm in tears!!

Found the new owner tending bar ... So, Jim is one of the guys who founded the Yardhouse and he's the mystery buyer of Royal Hawaiian, says anyone who wanted to keep it just as it was could have bought it. I'm guessing he's been saying that a lot. He should print it on a card and just hand it to people as they walk in.

I didn't hold it against him. The RH founder was gone and the heirs were more interested in the selling the cow $$$$$ than selling the milk $$, it's sad, it happens.

So we had a pretty interesting conversation with him about the extensive remodel and what the old ownership is taking with them. The old owner's family is taking the name of the place & the TIKIs and ALL the tropical d├ęcor as well the salad dressing and the rib sauce recipes (for a stab at retail marketing). But they're leaving him the chef who'll keep making the 3 or 4 menu leaders along with a more general club fare like pizza's etc. Downstairs the entire dining area is being replaced with one gigantic bar that will continue serving the "Lapu-Lapu" and he's adding an upstairs VIP lounge for cigars etc and told one drunken customer that his liquor license would let him run a strip club there (hopefully, just hyperbole for the hooting toadies?) .... Oooookaayyyy then.

Taste the drink... you'll start humming the mantra ..."but that's not a Lapu-Lapu"

Welcome to "sharky's" of Laguna! What I'm really afraid of is that the immense Friday-Saturday RH crowd that fills the joint, won't even notice the difference.

And ... he's sure location is everything and no one will care about losing Royal Hawaiian. I couldn't talk him into giving Crazy Al a call or Bosko or Holden, or rolling up the street to House of Tiki, he's not realy interested.

Stick a fork in this one gang! Royal Hawiian is just another tombstone int the Tiki graveyard.

[ Edited by: skulltoons 2006-06-05 23:11 ]

[ Edited by: skulltoons 2006-06-05 23:12 ]

Well, not that it's the same as still being there, but there are plenty of pics around of it. And some of us have the memories of being there. I just feel sorry for those that didn't get to enjoy it.

Sounds like the new owner is a Major Tool, and I don't mean he's in the Military. But he'll probably make a ton of $$$ and fit right in with all the other NEW OC Crowd.

I remember when people didn't know where OC was.
too funny.


[ Edited by: bigtikidude 2006-06-06 16:59 ]

I'm just glad all the tiki deco didn't get thrown in the trash. I went to the critiki page and it said the new owner "gutted all Polynesian details". I hope not. Can someone verify? If the old owners took everything tiki, are they planning on selling the collection? When? Where? Very sad...

Some friends asked me where I'd like to go for my birthday next weekend and my first thought was the Royal Hawaiian. I'd heard that despite the rumors, the place was still operating, so I gave them a call tonight. The guy who answered the phone said yeah, it's still the Royal Hawaiian. According to him the place is a big construction zone right now but they are still serving Lapu Lapus, Scorpions & Big Kahunas like they always have. I asked him how the remodel was going and got a vague answer about it being "tropical", but "more contemporary". Still not exactly sure what the future is for this place, but as long as there's Lapu Lapus, I'll be glad to do some further investigation.


The Lapus aren't the same and it's been in the same "construction" mode for over 6 months....They may be serving food, I don't know and wouldn't trust it. I'm sad!


The Missus and I just drove by the other day. The two large tiki poles are still out front, and I saw the big "Construction underway but business still open" kind of thing. Didn't have time to stop inside, otherwise I'd have given it a try. I sure do miss that place.


I would love to hear some details about what the current state of affairs is at the Royal Hawaiian. I've gotten two very conflicting reports so far: one was from a PR agency hired by the new owners, who told me "it's still the same old Royal Hawaiian!" -- obviously, I took that with a great big boulder of salt. The other contact I've had wishes to remain anonymous, but was a much more credible source in my opinion -- they reported that some very dramatic, and possibly illegal, renovations were underway. With only those two bits of info to work with, I don't know what to think, but my hopes are not high. If anyone can report back with some details & pictures, it would be much appreciated!



[ Edited by: RevBambooBen 2017-05-06 08:49 ]

Well, damn. I had my hopes up when I drove by and saw the renovation sign, but none of this is sounding positive.

At least there's light at the end of the tunnel for Sam's Seafood.


Has ANYONE got any updates to this--is it COMPLETELY defunct? That was one of my ALL-TIME FAVES --and the lapu-lapu is a LEGENDARY intoxicant --what has replaced it? or did they DOZE it and put in some new craptastic kind of CA trough?

You Asked for It You Got It.....

Lapu Lapu's: Too Much OJ & Passion Fruit Mix
Only Remaining Tiki's: 2 Infront by the Sign and on the Inside/Outside of the Door
Food: Mediocre/Increased Prices $$
Music: Traditional Hawaiian until 7pm then Hip Hop Beebop

CAUTION: Not for the WEAK at Heart :(

It's time to pull the cord and let the Memory and Spirit of The Royal Hawaiian R.I.P

Ohhhhh the agony!

Glad I made it out there before this travesty. On the bright side at least there something left, they could have put up another damn Walgreens instead.


Good Lord. :(


The little tiki garden is gone! I can't believe it! Arrrrgh!
At least Sam's is coming back!

I give it six months.


Here's what's left of the Diorama:




[ Edited by: RevBambooBen 2017-05-06 08:51 ]


On 2007-03-14 22:16, RevBambooBen wrote:

Damn straight!
I remember the first time I ever went in there. I saw the little tiki garden out there and thought hey, this is a nice place. Just what I've been looking for. The Missus and I went back a couple of times. Good times. Sniff.......

[ Edited by: TikiJosh 2007-03-15 14:48 ]

Look again at the before and after photos.
I'm still pissed off!


Every summer it was our ritual to go see the Laguna Sawdust Festival, the Koi Pond store (a really cool place) and end up at the beach right below the Royal Hawaiian. We'd go snorkling at the cove, shell hunting, make a sand castle, and get generally famished by sunset.

Then we'd just go up to the RH in our bathing suits and sometimes change in the bathrooms upstairs, sometimes just sit there drying off at the tables. And we'd pig out at unbelievably cheap prices. We've taken friends from Canada there, sat swilling blue drinks in soaking wet clothes and waiting for the shrimp and ribs to arrive.

Every single person around us was a return customer, the older ones had been coming since the '60s. Elizabeth Taylor's parents ran an art gallery a block away. Wyland got started a half block from that. Some of the really old customers remembered their parents (!) going surfing there in the 1920's. We honeymooned at the Eiler Inn, 5 minutes away.

So I'm really really sad, but we knew that special places are here for a very short time. The Royal Hawaiian lasted longer than any, but better that it's really screwed up than just watered down. Better dead than wheezing.

So bid goodbye, or rather Aloha, to our friends and golden memories at the Royal. That island has sunk slowly to the horizon, the oceans of change have finally washed it away.

I'm gonna have a drink. Hey, why doesn't somebody invent a new drink called the ROYAL HAWAIIAN????

We made our annual stop at RH last night. Reading this forum, I was a bit worried of what we would find, but we gave it a try. I am not sure that all is lost.

First, it is a construction zone. With the cold weather, it was a tad chilly inside. From an engineer and former brewpub owner's eye, it looks like the new owners are having to update to meet some of the building and fire codes that have come into place since the original structure was opened. The wheelchair ramp out front for the ADA is changing the front. It looks like the brick wall coverings are brick to meet the flame spread code that the Station fire showed us the importance of. I imagine UL listed palm mat wallpaper is dear to be found. Given that they are operating during construction, I'd say they are working on a shoestring budget and are doing the best they can given they are at the mercy of the city officials who have to work within national safety codes that where written to turn the world into malls mini-marts and TGIFrigdays. The non-fire rated doors are the originals. I know that having restrooms upstairs can be a problem.

The menu changes removed the lamb chops and the teriyaki steak is now a fillet. Considering the lamb chops were my spouse's destination meal, she grilled the server to make up for it's disappearance. We were assured, the kitchen staff is the same. The veggies on ice are gone, but the salad and dressing are the same. The french onion soup is good, but I can't remember it from before. The ribs are as good as ever.

Bar wise, the Mai Tai are tasty, but weak which I don't think is a change. The lapu-lapu tasted much the same as the Mai Tai. They are of the fruity variety, and didn't seem to have any orgeat in them. At about 8:15, a loud PA system came on in the bar and a voice making an attempt at being a DJ filled the building. The dance music started.

The interesting thing I noticed was the bar was busy with a younger crowd. Some were wearing bits of pyrate clothing. I think pyrate people are close enough to tiki people that this is a good thing and may keep this land mark alive while the building codes take their toll.

Oh yeah...... It's much better now.....

Everytime somebody posts something new to this thread.
I think of the new owner, and say what the Dad on That 70's show says,


Since this is turning into the Royal Hawaiian MEMORIAL THREAD now, let me twist the thorn in the wound a little more and talk about the historical importance of the ORIGINAL restaurant:

The first menu:

The Royal Hawaiian was opened by Francis Cabang sometime in the late 40s, and thus was the oldest running Polynesian restaurant in original condition on the West coast

menu detail

In the 1950s it even had a sister restaurant in Anaheim...

...which, it is said, was a favorite hangout for Walt Disney (and might even have inspired the Tiki Room?)

Because the the Cabang family was from the Phillipines, they were friends with both of the Fillipino Tiki carvers in L.A., Milan Guanko and Andres Bumatay. These talented artists both supplied Tikis for the restaurant:

The entrance with a Milan Guanko Tiki as railing post

An elegant cartoony Guanko Tiki inside

Unfortunately, the really cool Andres Bumatay Tikis in front of the restaurant began to dissappear in the 90s and early 2000s:

First there were 3 (some even say 4)

..then there were two

..then only one left.

When they were all gone, they were replaced with misbegotten
nouveaux Tiki "Tree Spirit" type carvings that had little in
common with Polynesian art. As is the way of things....

snif snif, thanks for the tour down memory lane Sven.



People know not what they destroy.

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