great bartender, somewhat nice other girl bartenders, reasonable prices, great place, beautiful tiki, pretty bad skin, loved regulars
Tonga Hut might have the city's best mixologist/bartender.
There are many great reasons to visit the Tonga Hut. I'll get to those a bit later, but want to first focus on one of the bar's greatest assets: Kelly.
Kelly is a mixologist/bartender that only (seems) to work the weekend "happy hour" shifts of 4p - 8p. But, in those few hours, she makes some of the **best cocktails I've had in Los Angeles.**
This is not something I say lightly. I won't throw just any swill down my throat and can make a wide range of cocktails for myself at home... without the bother or cost of heading out to a bar.
If I'm going out, I expect something amazing and Kelly delivers. She uses high-quality spirits and ingredients, scientifically-accurate ratios and she taste-tests her drinks before sending them out (just like any proper bartender should).
But all of that just means that she's a solid bartender. Her real magic comes from her original cocktails.
There's a special menu at the bar, only when she is bartending, that has about 20+ of Kelly's drinks. It's difficult to put into words just what makes her drinks so spectacular -- but those of us who have had them cannot stop talking about them with our other imbibing friends.
The drinks have exotic flavors and some of them can be quite potent. But, you never get the sense that you're having an overly-boozey drink nor do you get that "syrupy" taste that usually gives tiki drinks a bad name.
There's simply something very unique & deliciously amazing with Kelly's cocktails. I cannot recommend them enough.
As for the Tonga Hut itself...
I've been visiting the Tonga Hut since the mid-90's and it's a bar that has seen its share of ups & downs. About 8-10 years ago though, it had a bit of a revival as it went from general "dive bar" back to its roots as a tiki (polynesian/tropical drink) bar.
It's kind of tucked away in a less congested part of North Hollywood; but its semi-remoteness makes it that much better.
Their cocktail menu includes some drinks that are house specialties, a selection of well-made classic tiki/tropical drinks and, of course, all the regular stuff you'd find at a bar.
The bar itself is decked out with some pretty cool (and entertainingly kitchsy) tiki design. There are a couple massive tiki statues (inside and out) that you need to have your photo taken next to. You just do. Don't ask why. You'll just be very happy to have a photo of yourself with a giant tiki at some point in your life.
The space is on the small-side, but has a number of booths, stools at the bar and space for standing. On occasion, I've seen them squeeze live bands into what looks to have once been a dance floor. So, the place is not overly-tiny -- it would just be nice if it was bigger.
There's usually a great mix of people at the Tonga Hut; a pretty diverse & interesting crowd and I can only recall having solidly enjoyable times here.
It's a kickback bar that you should visit sometime soon -- either for Kelly's great cocktails or just a great place to come & do some drinking any night of the week.
First let me say I am giving this place 4 stars because it has brought many a good night but last night....
Came to bar late last night, and Geez Luise when did Tonga become a haven for rude men? And when did the bartenders start giving evil eyes because you are having a good time in their establishment?
Lets take it back to the days when people were encouraged to dance, and play darts, and have "game-balls" and stay all night, lets bring it back to Trevor who is perhaps the best bartender in the valley, who remembers peoples names and who is genuinely happy to see you when you walk in the door.
Lets bring it back to when the regulars at this place were as different and oddly paired as Tonga is to a toy train station store.
What does a girl have to do to get a drink in this town?
Watch Out as Favorites Lose Big Time.
Now it seems to be just a nest of nasty big eyed bimbos bartending on a nightly basis if thats your game be prepared to follow the rules..... over the top demands for a little haven in the valley that we all really used to enjoy going to for decades..... now comes in the new owner with no clue as to what we all loved and kept coming back to for decades. NO MORE TONGA HUT AS WE KNEW IT. It was our little haven. Now, you can't even blink without getting tossed out by a bouncer if the bartenderesss doesn't like you or if your talking to someone they want to solely monopolize.
Good Luck, SFV people - if you go in as a group looking for $1 PBR you are ok, if you go in solo -AND DROP A TON OF MONEY- lets say $30 - $50.00 be prepared to face bitter adversity just for sitting there!!!!!!!! Who wants to drop $50 in two hours and be treated like an infectious disease by whatever is behind the bar ??? Just for no reason other than they didn't know who you were and didn't give a hoot to find out, and/or didn't treat you with the respect you deserved for being a patron for a quarter or half a century and not even blinking to take your drink order- just skipping right to a new male customer for the bartendress to flirt with and plump up for more tip money !!! Not even concerned with my potential tip money, which i gave plenty of and still got no "doll eyes", no personal attention, no respect for sitting there and buying a drink there. They need to get their bartenders from a more realistic and professional arena or they need to inform them that the PAST REGULARS rule, even if the regulars were before their young times behind the bar. We were ALL behind the counters of THAT bar (the Tonga Hut) before them, and they need to take a look in the mirror as does the new owner. I can't wait to get 86'd for this current commentary, so that I can take the multi-voiced grievances along with mine to court to bounce the new owner into another orbit and to leave us as we were....very, very happy for many, many years til now. Did you hear that new owner? GET OUT OF OUR BAR or let us do our normal thing when we are there. Nothing out of the ordinary, for a bar.
Like Dancing, Singing Along to Music Playing.... when appropriate. Do people go to a bar to hear music and have a good time? Am I confused here?
Am I over-reacting ? NO, i've been in there about 8 - 10 times in the past 3 months. No mercy for some of us past regulars. They only care about the new $1.00 PBR people or any "guy" who enters the premises. And OK, some of the girls were somewhat nice to me when i was in there but it was superficious and the other girl bartenders were downright nasty, discerning, and clueless as to how to have ladylike manners and had me removed by bouncers for talking to the person sitting next to me. Ooochhh. Get a backbone chick, there is conversations and i wasn't out of line.
Does it sound like i have a chip on my shoulder ? well, if i wasn't treated with such disrespect and indiginity time and time again, "just sitting there quietly or trying to respond to nearby conversations"..... i'd say lets video tape them to keep them on their polite toes. It's the only logical solution to prove either side's story.
L.A.'s oldest tiki bar is where South Seas decor and stiff drinks go hand-in-hand..
Originally opened in 1959, the Tonga Hut is one of an ever-dwindling number of holdouts from the tiki/Polynesian era. Holding the title of L.A.'s oldest running tiki bar, the NoHo hangout exchanged ownership in 2005 and has since stepped up the experience while maintaining the original charm. Among the giant tiki gods and garden of kitschy delights, the space features a kidney-shaped drop ceiling, hexagon-shaped bar and waterfall--with a model of an outrigger canoe, naturally. The regulars seem to think of this beloved dive as just a neighborhood bar, not a celebration of all things tiki, but we know better.
I loved it!.
The Tonga Hut is a purdy rad place I hafta say... they have cheap well drinks and dollar PBR's as well as great drink specials. I mean it cant get any better? Or can it? The bartender Myria I think is her name was is Awesome! She made THE BEST bloody Mary's and Martini's EVER! She was alot of fun we enjoyed ourselves.
I went to the Tonga hut the other night by accident. Well I had a BLAST! me and all my friends had an awesome time... I loved the bartenders and regulars that were there.. i am definitely going back..
Especially for that one tikki something drink The tender made me... man it was soo good! ... lmao.
I Liked It!. So I read all the reviews and had to go for myself. I had a great time and did not encounter the rude bartender. Maybe it was just a random thing that happened to the other reviewer because I've been back a handfull of times and always get great service. The girls bartenders are nice and the guy bartender (tues & sat nights) is cute. The new owners have done alot to make it more tiki-ish and give it a cool vibe. From what I understand everything from the staff to the lighting to the customers is a huge improvement over what this place used to be like. I dig it.
Avoid this bartender!!!. I'd have to agree with the last review regarding the style of the Tonga Hut. I loved it... But... I also have to agree with the "Rude Bartender", I think it might have been the same one, except I went on a Thursday night I believe, there was a girl working that had pretty bad skin and dirty blonde hair who served us first and honestly looked like she was high or/and hung over... I've visited the spot before and enjoyed every aspect, but this time I was disappointed... I think that the tonga hut has a lot of potential and should really look out for the people that they are hiring, it's a tiki scene and they should respect themselves by hiring tiki enthusiast ( like me)... Nonetheless I wont be going there any time soon and will surely spread the word of this "Rude baretnder"......
I loved the style of the place... very cool. the only problem was the bartendet that spilled a drink on me and looked as if she had no idea what she was doing... So watch out for her... She has bad skin and dity blonde hair. Pretty rude...
The drinks that we ordered from the male bartender were great! I believe we went in on a sunday evening...
Other then the spilt drink and rude bartender.... I liked it.
Great drinks at reasonable prices!. I have to disagree with the last review because I'm a bartender there and I've heard a lot of reports which all agree that I'm hot!! AND a great bartender! And a true Tiki enthusiast, not just someone who happens to work at a Tiki bar. Yes, the place is old but that's part of it's charm! It's also in the process of being renovated so it gets better all the time. Come on down on Wednesday and Friday nights after 8 or Thursday and Saturday afternoons 4-8 and try my Tiki specialty, The Voodoo Juice or my signature martini, The Betty Page!
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