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The wife and I are planning an anniversary trip to the Cook Islands in April with a layover in LA. We'll have one day to cram in as much as possible and we welcome ideas for the best way to spend our time. In addition to food and drink suggestions, we're up for sight seeing and touristy stuff like Griffith Observatory and the Grauman's Theatre. Tiki Ti is a must. We've been to OA so that's not a priority. Trader Sam's is probably too far a trek considering our limited time frame. Some places I've heard good things about include Lono, Clifton's, Damon's and the Dresden. Also would like recommendations on a place to stay. And what's the best liquor store? Thanks!

I recommend working in a visit to Tonga Hut in North Hollywood if you're able to.

On that list I'd recommend Lono for drinks/food and Clifton's or Damon's for decor.

Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder on Tonga Hut! Definitely adding it to the list.

So our flight to Cook Islands leaves LAX at midnight on a Saturday. We haven't booked the flights to LA yet so I'm thinking we'll try to get in early on Friday to give ourselves almost two full days to squeeze in more fun.

Our list of possible activities to do includes:
Griffith Observatory
Grauman's Theatre
La Brea Tar Pit
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Comedy Store

Would love recommendations of liquor stores, record stores, vintage shops, and any other fun or "must do" ideas.

And what about food? Any old diners, historic or fantastic restaurants we should make a point to visit?

Thanks again for the tips!

PS - If anyone wants to meet for drinks that would be great. This isn't til April, but we like to plan ahead!

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2019-10-15 17:33 ]

B

I would HIGHLY recommend you eat at the Formosa Cafe in Hollywood. Check out their history on the website very cool spot with incredible food and even some really good tiki drinks.
https://theformosacafe.com/



Hey Mike Keep us posted on your itinerary in LA.
Coles French Dip ( 6th & Main, dwntwn ) not only has great deli food they have a speakeasy hidden in the back and their specialty is vintage drinks, absolutely delish I might add. Parking is impossible during the day-the opposite at night. my wife and I go there at 830 pm or so.
The Autry Museum of the American West is always a treat for western fans. A lot of the permanent exhibit items are from Gene Autrys personal collection The museum is closed on Mondays.
Musso and Frank Grill in Hollyweird is always a good bet. Sorta pricey food but the old school drinks are great. google em
P M me if you want .
Later

K

I'd skip Clifton's personally - in the middle of filthy Downtown, not the easiest to get to, drinks not the best, music can be obnoxious. A lotta effort for little reward in my humble opinion. Damon's has improved their cocktails lately, and is a decent place to dine, but it takes you to Glendale which is a bit out of the way from your more or less central LA/Hollywood experience. Sounds like you could start your tiki cocktail nite at Tiki Ti and head not too far over to Lono. Maybe save Tonga Hut for later since it's in North Hollywood.

As far as liquor stores go, you might not be impressed depending on what your local stores carry, but there's Hi Time Wine (Costa Mesa...too far south), Cap'n Cork (not far from Tiki Ti), Circus Liquor...the last 2 mark up a bit. Mission Wine & Spirits is great too, much like Hi Time Wine, but might be out of your way - more of Pasadena/Glendale though there's a location not that far from Tonga Hut if I recall.

The missus and I are essentially doing the same thing in a couple of weeks but for a Bauhaus concert at the Hollywood Palladium: flying down on a Saturday morning and flying out on Monday morning, total hit-and-run job. No car and no luggage, just a couple of backpacks, so we're staying locally and doing a lot of these on foot: Tiki-Ti, Lono, lunch at Formosa Cafe, seeing "The Irishman" at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, Larry Edmund's Bookshop, Amoeba Records, and possibly Hollywood Forever if we're not too tired.

We're staying at the Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills, which has the fantastic 101 Coffee Shop attached as well as a decent little bar:

https://www.101coffeeshop.com/

http://www.minibarhollywood.com/

I've only been to the coffee shop before so I'll let you know how it is!

Thanks for all the info everyone! This is very helpful. I'm starting to get a lay of the land by putting everything into Google maps. It looks like with traffic it takes 20 min to travel 3 miles anywhere. Since we're so limited on time, I'll likely take Clifton's and Damon's off the list this trip. Likewise, doesn't look like Cole's is in the cards, even though it looks damn delicious.

No one has commented on the Dresden. Worth checking out after Tiki Ti or just head towards Lono and the stuff over there?

Keep sending ideas. Our trip isn't til April. And curious to hear how that Best Western is.

K

On 2019-10-19 15:52, mikehooker wrote:
No one has commented on the Dresden.

I'm sure the Dresden is just fine, but I've never been there myself. I stay away from the city for the most part because I hate trying to find parking, paying for parking, the traffic, etc...yet I live here. Their menu is great though and I'm sure it's a nice break from tiki overkill. If you do end up going to NoHo, don't be tempted to try Tiki No (looks great, shit drinks where a flaming marshmallow is their signature).

S

Just a Tiki No note... when I've gone I get there right when it opens and it's usually pretty empty for about an hour. they'll pout on the exotica if you ask and the drinks aren't bad. After about an hour the locals are there and the music changes and it's time to head over to Tonga Hut!

On 2019-10-19 15:52, mikehooker wrote:
Thanks for all the info everyone! This is very helpful. I'm starting to get a lay of the land by putting everything into Google maps. It looks like with traffic it takes 20 min to travel 3 miles anywhere. Since we're so limited on time, I'll likely take Clifton's and Damon's off the list this trip. Likewise, doesn't look like Cole's is in the cards, even though it looks damn delicious.

You know, if you're not public transit averse, you can hop on the Metro Red Line on Hollywood Boulevard and take it down to the Pershing Square stop downtown. Trains come every 10m or so and the trip takes about 15m. Clifton's and Cole's are both only 2-3 blocks away from the Pershing Square stop - knock 'em out in one fell swoop!

No one has commented on the Dresden. Worth checking out after Tiki Ti or just head towards Lono and the stuff over there?

We're going after Tiki-Ti for a snack and an old fashioned, if we're not completely bladdered. We'll let you know!

Went to the Formosa Cafe after an event in dwntwn LA. I heartily second Benbows recommendation. We had some light fare along with some slightly tweaked tiki and authentic vintage beverages. Drew was our bartender-a most pleasant chap..Happy hour was 10 to 12-close at 2. Open 7 days a week. Place is supercool!

Awesome. Formosa is definitely on the list.

Thanks for the suggestion of mass transit. That's something I had not realized or considered. At this point I don't know if the plan is to rent a car or just rely on ubers and trains. Maybe a combination of all of the above.

H
Hamo posted on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 10:09 PM

What's the date you'll be there in April? Keep in mind a few things: Tiki-Ti tends to close for their Spring break around Easter, which is April 12. Also, the TCM Film Festival will be April 16-19 in Hollywood, and will be utilizing the Chinese Theater (and likely the Egyptian, depending on if Netflix buys it), so there will be extra people around.

The Hollywood area seems like a nice base for a lot of things you're considering: classic theaters, Hollywood Forever, Formosa, Tiki-Ti, Griffith Observatory, even Tonga Hut. If you're interested in old Hollywood, the Hollywood Museum in the Max Factor Building is pretty neat and right by the Chinese.

You might also look at touring the Lost Spirits Distillery, which is closer to downtown and places like Clifton's.

We went ahead and booked our flights to LA. Just $208 per person round trip from Austin with no stops. Decided to arrive bright and early at 7 am on a Thursday and we'll be leaving for Rarotonga on Saturday at 11:30pm, giving us almost three complete days to explore! Upon further research, it looks like Tiki Ti is always closed the week before and after Easter which is when we'll be there, so that's a major bummer. We'll likely rent a car since we now have more time to branch out beyond just Hollywood. We got an air bnb in the hills that looks private and cozy and is less than half the price of the hotels we were looking at, plus it has free on-sight parking.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/22045193?s=67&shared_item_type=1&virality_entry_point=1&sharer_id=76671467

We're still 5 months away but I'm really excited about this trip and glad we decided to give ourselves more time to see and do things. Please continue sending suggestions!

JE

If you’re going to Tiki Ti, there are quite a few little shops right there including La Luz De Jesus Gallery/wacko.

My recommendation is that you pick a location and you stick with that depending on how long your layover is.

As far as things that are near each other I would group these together.

In Hollywood and Los Filez

  • Tiki Ti
  • Wacko
  • Lono
  • The Frolic Room
  • Harvard and Stone
  • Amoeba
  • Muso and Franks

Near North Hollywood/Burbank and Studio City

  • The Tonga Hut
  • Idle Hour
  • Joes Great American Bar and Grill
  • Atomic Records
  • Halloween Town
  • Portos (if the line hasn’t extend outside the store)
  • The Bearded Lady/Mystic museum
  • Dark delicacies
  • Hyaena Gallery

If you’re going Down Town to see Clifton’s

  • Choles Sandwiches / the varnish
  • The Last Bookstore
  • The Streamliner/ Imperial Western Beer Company
  • Olivera Street
  • Little Tokyo
  • The Geffin Contemporary
JE

I realized some of the things I said is kind of a moot point from what you mentioned in Op but I i like grouping places together by location since it makes planning a bit easier

H
Hamo posted on Tue, Jan 28, 2020 7:48 PM

Any more progress on trip planning, Mike? Over the weekend, I was looking at a few things for when I'm there in April (the 15th to 19th for the TCM Classic Film Festival) and found that Tiki-Ti has posted on their website that they will in fact be closed that week, but the weeks before and after have yet to be scheduled.

I find watching old episodes of "California's Gold with Huell Howser" leads to some inspiration, which is why I'm planning on visiting the Nethercutt Collection up in the San Fernando Valley that Thursday morning. Then I'm kicking around the idea of taking Amtrak to Ventura to check out VenTiki, but that's a chunk of time....

mikehooker,
I would suggest to add to the Downtown LA / Clifton's area.

  • Seven Grand (if you are into Whiskey's.....an amazing collection)
  • Clifton's
  • Bradbury Building (the iconic building that is in the original Blade Runner, but, also in numerous films)
  • The Edison (amazingly restored building which used to be LA's first power plant...now an amazing bar, and restaurant)
  • Lost Spirits Distillery (the most fun and unique distillery tour I have ever been on)

Thanks for bumping this guys, and for the further suggestions. I completely missed Jonzy's post and it's a helpful one. Lots of things I hadn't yet considered. And I've definitely been trying to group things by area, figuring I'll spend some time in all three locations he mentions. It's getting overwhelming, honestly. So much I wanna do. The Lost Spirits tour is definitely added to the list, which means Coles and Clifton's which I had removed, are back on. I'm confused about Clifton's. I know it's a multi-story building with a cafeteria and a couple "clubs," one being the Pacific Seas. I've heard different things that the cafeteria is closed or maybe the whole place is closed. And I've also heard it's gone way downhill and not worth visiting. What's the sitch?

Hamo, my dates for LA are April 16-18 so we'll have some overlap, but sounds like you've got a lot on your plate as well, so not sure if we'll be able to meet up. I did see the Tiki Ti calendar, and while previous years they seem to close for two consecutive weekends around Easter, looks like this year it's just the one, the one we're there. I'm major bummed about that and have considered swapping the dates and doing the LA leg of our trip after instead of before Rarotonga, but we've already booked the flights, air bnb, rental car, etc, so might be a major pain.

H
Hamo posted on Thu, Jan 30, 2020 7:38 PM

Well, let's see if there's a chance to meet up once the dates get closer and our schedules really solidify. For instance, I'll be staying literally steps from Lono, so depending if/when you're there, that might be a possibility.

I was just looking at Clifton's, too, and it appears that the whole place is currently "temporarily" closed and has been for about a month. Not sure about the exact timeline, but when I visited last April the cafeteria portion was closed for remodeling into a "marketplace" (which sounds like a food court, or not much different than Grand Central Market up the street.) Still, I enjoyed walking around the whole place and think Pacific Seas is worth a visit.

As for Tiki-Ti and the long list of stuff you want to do, look at it this way: you'll have a good reason to make a return visit....

On 2020-01-30 19:38, Hamo wrote:
Well, let's see if there's a chance to meet up once the dates get closer and our schedules really solidify. For instance, I'll be staying literally steps from Lono, so depending if/when you're there, that might be a possibility.

I was just looking at Clifton's, too, and it appears that the whole place is currently "temporarily" closed and has been for about a month. Not sure about the exact timeline, but when I visited last April the cafeteria portion was closed for remodeling into a "marketplace" (which sounds like a food court, or not much different than Grand Central Market up the street.) Still, I enjoyed walking around the whole place and think Pacific Seas is worth a visit.

As for Tiki-Ti and the long list of stuff you want to do, look at it this way: you'll have a good reason to make a return visit....

Yes, let's keep in touch and see if we could work out a time to meet up. Lono is definitely on my list to visit.

As for Tiki Ti, I've only been one time and only for one hour. The people who took me there had our day planned and things were a bit rushed. I had two Ray's Mistakes. My hope for my next LA visit was to make a night of it at the Tiki and explore more of the menu. Sadly not to be on this trip.

FYI, looks like most of Clifton's is back open per this announcement on their Facebook page:

"The lands of the Republic have opened once again, in case you've missed the news! Our Regular Hours of Operations are Friday-Saturday 6pm-2am
We will be opening Thursdays as well starting Thursday March 12th & Wednesdays starting March 18th! Please stay tuned for programming announcements that are sure to delight! The Cafeteria is still undergoing a wondrous upgrade and will re-open later this year! Food is still available throughout the Republic."

Pacific Seas is quite a sight to see if you can get in (which always used to be hard unless you went early). But maybe now it's off the radar since it's been closed?

Anyone have dinner suggestions in the north Hollywood/Valley/Van Nuys area?

H
Hamo posted on Wed, Mar 4, 2020 10:20 PM

Well, I enjoyed Bob's Big Boy when I was out last year, and I might try to make it to Tallyrands this coming trip. Both places are in Burbank, classic California places with American fare.

H

Smoke House, 1946, old school steak house
Monte Carlo deli and Pinocchio's, 1960, Italian deli, restaurant
Portos, Cuban, long lines, great for lunch

M

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank also has a weekly classic car meet-up on Fridays.

If you have at least four people, you can request the Beatles booth:
https://bobs.net/history/beatles

Thanks Y'all. A lot to digest here. The pieces are coming together.

M

If your main priority is drinking at Tonga Hut, keep in mind that Durangos Tacos sets up a stand in the back parking lot. Starting around 8 p.m. I think?

[ Edited by: MauiRose 2020-03-05 12:27 ]

On 2020-03-05 12:27, MauiRose wrote:
If your main priority is drinking at Tonga Hut, keep in mind that Durangos Tacos sets up a stand in the back parking lot. Starting around 8 p.m. I think?

[ Edited by: MauiRose 2020-03-05 12:27 ]

Thanks for the info. I saw they had a taco truck there but didn't realize it opened that late. We have a lot planned that day and figured we'd end up at Tonga Hut around 6, drink for a couple hours and have a light bite there before going somewhere more substantial for dinner. I have my eye on the Smokehouse. Looks like we might need to snack before Tonga Hut though.

H
Hamo posted on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 9:23 PM

Shoot, now I'm considering the Smoke House, too....

Those pastries at Portos tho!!!! Man, we may do Smoke House for dinner followed by treats from Portos.

H
Hamo posted on Fri, Mar 13, 2020 8:32 PM

Well, I don't know if your travel plans are changing, but the primary reason for my April trip, the TCM Film Festival, has been cancelled. Right now I haven't decided whether I'll still come out or not....

[ Edited by: Hamo 2020-03-13 20:57 ]

Ugh. Our primary reason for this trip is to get to the Cook Islands. Last I checked, they had banned 16 countries from traveling there. If cases keep spreading in the US I imagine we'll be refused as well. At this point we are still planning to go to LA. If the other leg of our trip is canceled, our flights to and from LA are 10 days apart so we might just do a west coast national parks trip to make the most of it. But then again, those might get closed as well. It's all up in the air.

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