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Tiki Strip club and the Smog Cutter

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Hi all! I've been a lurker for a while, decided to finally get a username and get in the game...sorry I missed the OC crawl! I just moved to LA from the DC area. I have a few questions.

I've been exploring like mad, found the Tiki apartments in Palos Verdes, I was adamant about living near the Tiki Ti and managed to find a house 5 blocks from it. Haven't hit Trader Vics yet because I don't have a job yet!

So...driving down Santa Monica Blvd today, saw the Tiki Strip club...what's it like inside? A place a tiki gal could maybe explore without feeling endangered. I don't know the 'hoods so well yet, but I did see some grafitti, so was wondering if the inside was scuzzy or not.

Second, I found a place called the Smog Cutter on Virgil. Didn't get to stop in yet, but it looked like an old dive bar, was hoping for a nautical theme. Anyone know??

Fine urban archeology, Anna. To my shame I have to admit that I never ventured into the "Tiki Theatre" all these years. Someone once told me that there was nothing redeeming inside, and I left it at that...this should not hold anyone back, though.
The Smog Cutter, though a GREAT LA Tiki bar concept, did not yield any finds once I surveyed it, just a basic minimal Asian run beer bar. Still, again, there must have been an interesting history somewhere...
But you made a good choice to move close to the Tiki Ti, it'll be a while til you have drunk yourself through the menu. The steep price per drink will keep you to a minimum, more than two are lethal anyway. Go there BEFORE 7:00, and you'll find a place at the bar, where you get o know Mike and Mike jr.
Ground yourself with El Chavo's Mexican food next door, the blacklit Sombrero ceiling in the bar is supreme. Don't give in to a Margharita there AFTER having had two Tiki Ti cocktails, I once had memory loss after that.

Otherwise, hop over to Glendale and visit Damon's on Brand Blvd. All bambooed out, American cuisine, minimal food and cocktail menu, but great murals.

Thanks!! This is so funny, because I DID hit El Chavo and had a margarita! (and enchiladas, of course) Then to the Tiki Ti (YES, before 7PM!...although I did miss the traditional Wed. evening toast, I learned that Ray's Mistakes are half price on Wednesdays!! Also, there was an LA tiki meeting of some sort, to discuss the release of "Intoxica" I met Beach Bum Berry!! So, yes. Two drinks at the Tiki Ti (I'm working through the menu in order so I had a Navy Grog and a Zombie) THEN, it was off to the Good Luck Bar for a tequila sunrise! Talk about staggering home!

I will have to try Damons. Went to Bahooka last week and was really disappointed. The ribs were pretty good, I suppose, but the large 2 person drink I ordered came in a WOODEN bowl with a little glass ramekin in the middle containing one burning sugar cube. It was just about pathetic...


I should probably mention, re: the 1/2 price Ray's Mistakes at the Tiki Ti...it might not be every Wednesday, and it might only be from 6-7 and it might have been a one time thing. I'd hate for someone to show up thinking things might be cheaper than they are.

Rest assured, they won't rip you off though. I didn't know about the drink special when I was there, and I was shocked when I received a nice wad of change after paying for my drink. I never got an explanation, though.

OH, and their Chex Mix is REALLY freakin' good.

On 2002-07-15 00:13, annalulu wrote:
I suppose, but the large 2 person drink I ordered came in a WOODEN bowl with a little glass ramekin in the middle containing one burning sugar cube. It was just about pathetic...

Pathetic? How so? Sounds like a fun (& ample!) drink to me!

It was a wooden salad bowl. Not carved, in fact, rather flimsy. I suppose I consider it pathetic compared to an actual tiki bowl with a little volcano in the middle for some sterno. Instead, this flaming sugar cube ended up stinking like carbon and the smaller bowl that held it ended up floating around in the drink.

The drink wasn't particularly strong, either. It did have a nice fruity flavor, though.

You're right Chris. I again have to warn the youngens not to get spoiled by the seemingly paradisical picture painted in the Book of Tiki. When I started on the trail of Tiki there were NO Tiki mugs used in ANY remaining Polynesian palaces. Places like Bahooka and the Royal Hawaiian have weathered the Tiki-less times of the 80s and 90s, been stripped of any Tiki wares by greedy customers, seen the suppliers dissappear. They are not (at least not yet) gonna get all new Tiki Farm utensils for a bunch of kids that think the Book of Tiki is a restaurant guide. (Trader Vic and the Bali Hai are leading the way with their re-issues by Tiki Farm, but those are hopefull signs only.)

Be appreciative of the few untouched places that have survived, forgive the bad mixology and marvel at the firmament of lamps and aquariums at Bahooka's, for example.

Again also, that is not to say that one should not MENTION to the staff that it would be NICE for the cocktails to be served in an appropriate vessel, and it would be NICE if the cocktail would not taste like spiked Cool Aid...

The mana of Bahooka's is tainted by a completely different story:

When graduating from Pasadena Art Center together with his friend Bosko, young Tiki enthusiast and Bahooka fan Mark Ryden made a fine rendering for them and proposed it to them as a logo. As not unusual in many of the hardened Tiki-holocaust survivors, the reaction was a gruff "not interested".

So young Mark was more than a little surprised to find his artwork reproduced on the Bahooka T-shirts some time later...

Just another tale in the endless tradition of Tiki imagery "transmission".

I may have hit Bahooka on an off night...I will give them that. I had read a lot of recent reviews of Bahooka making it seem like a great place. I found the staff to be young and dis-interested, the service to be sub-par, the food to be bad, the plates were PLASTIC.... The decor was okay, but with all the scratched in grafitti, it was hard to get in the mood. The music was dreadful, and a lot of the aquariums were empty.

As for the tiki mugs, I suppose they can't be expected to invest in new ones now, but a burning sugar cube? It was just gross.

I really liked the outside of the building, though. And I got on the high scoreboard of Millipede, so all was not lost.

PS, I'm not exactly a "young 'un" just young to this board.

This photo of the Tiki strip club was taken on my last visit. I was there doing um-er research, yes that's it, urban archeology.
And Svens right, no mugs, at all. The Tiki Strip Club was not a strip club, more like an adult theatre. It was seedy, dirty and gross. I think young girls from Montana should STAY OUT of the Tiki Strip Club


At least they attempt to do the flaming bit. I appreciate that. Some of their drinks are pretty good, for example their coconut drinks are excellent and made from scratch (no Pina Colada mix).


I love the Bahooka, and I think they do a good job all things considered. The drinks are not the best, but as good as, say, Trad'r Sams, and priced OK. Fresh lime would be nice, but even the Tiki Ti uses frozen lime juice. Yes, the bows are crappy salad bowls, but I'm sure they've had anything worth a shit stolen, so I don't blame them. And the fire comes from bread chunks (croutons) soaked in lemon extract. It makes a great flame, much better than just putting 151 in the top of your volcano bowl. I use it at my home bar and am very pleased with the results.


Staunch Bahooka Defender.

"...but I'm sure they've had anything worth a shit stolen"

Yes they have. I can certainly attest to that since I have a very good friend who used to work there at Bahooka. I remember at one point you couldn't even see the ceiling because of all the ephemera up there (glass floats, etc). But over time, people have slowly pilfered the stuff and the ceiling is VERY visible now. A desicration indeed...

*** The Polynesian Popster ***

[ Edited by: PolynesianPop on 2002-07-16 08:26 ]


Jeez- It's one thing to pocket a mug or even a fork (NOT something I approve of or have done but I can see how people feel it's OK) but to take the decor from a place...What creeps. Let's think bad thoughts in their general direction.

Not to name names ... but at Li's restaurant during the OC Tiki Crawl, I did have to ask a certain someone if that was a scorpion bowl in their pants or were they just happy to see me!


Where once was the great Kelbo's in West L.A. sat, now lies another strip bar that still has some resemblences to it's Tiki Era glory (a picture from the outside will suffice).

I too have never ventured into the Tiki Theatre, but have been tempted many times. Another one to avoid is the Tonga Hut on Victory Blvd. While the sign is okay and the door tiki outside is totally genius, inside it is the worst.

I'm not saying it has to look like it did in the '60s... I understand that these guys don't care about Tiki and thirty-forty years later, while we are rediscovering it, they are simply burned out of it. But, the Tonga Hut is really disgusting. Many of the regulars there are drunk by 2 in the afternoon. By night, it can be violent, with drunks cussing at the newcomers.

The owner is always drunk too, but he gave me his original drink recipes to borrow one night (while he was smashed out of his mind). That is an eternal loan, mind you, because he doesn't need 'em back. He isn't using them.

The Tiki Ti is still the best place in L.A. for drinks, but the Lava Lounge is really god too, and the music is always very hip. The Tahitian, next to the Writer's Guild on 3rd St., is okay. They have a Gilligan's Island night on Wednesday's. I've never been to it, though, so I can't comment. I usually alternate Wednesday's between the Lava Lounge (Blue Hawaiians play) and Cantor's on Fairfax.

Anyone visited the Cacao on Santa Monica Blvd.? I've heard it is a Tiki coffee house (tiki without liquor = boring, I know). A place called the Chinese Island, up near Magic Mountain, still serves drinks in tiki mugs. Happy hunting. Welcome to L.A.

A little more that I forgot....

If you make your way up to Magic Mountain, you may as well make it a whole day and head over to Hurricane Harbour, the water park of the Six Flags amusement park. Hurricane Harbour is one huge Tiki-themed water park.

Now, it is not from the Tiki Era, as Six Flags Magic Mountain wasn't built until 1971 and Hurricane Harbour years after that. However, large stone Mois are everywhere, literally (you can't turn your head without seeing a tiki), plus the wave pool has three of the biggest stone tikis I've ever seen peering down upon pool proceedings.

Over by the green slides are some wacky stone tikis, but the park is mostly Moais EVERYWHERE. If you have a little cousin or brother or kid and they want some summer fun to stay cool by, this is a good place to go. Kids have a lot of fun there.

Also, while you are in the Greater Los Angeles area, don't forget to go to the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. Tomorrowland sucks, and Disney now has a "big ride" park, as well (mind you, Disney has NEVER been about the rides... it is fantasy, but whatever).

In any case, the Enchanted Tiki Room is still in its original glory, and is not to be missed. My wife and I see the show four times, every time we go to Disneyland. If you really love what the Tiki Era represented, you will hardly believe your eyes while in the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Sam's Polynesian Seafood (Huntington Beach) is a little far to go for dinner from Disneyland (Anaheim), but if ever down there again, Sam's has good food, reasonably priced, and a great struture. I've also heard that there is still some remnants of Tiki-ness on Catalina Island. Confirm anyone?


Hey Guys & Gals!
Catalina has "Luau Larry's" Beer & Fish & Chips! (Not as good as Sam's Seafood!)
Does Have Old Tapa lamps & sum 50's cartoon masks! If yer there stop in !But dont go there to go there!Also it gets purty Rowdy at night ! So We dont go there with our Catalina then!
Make shure to get the Cave to "dine" in!
CC-ya -=CC=-

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