From Disneyland, Kemey and I continued our tiki tour to Huntington Beach, where we parked our car for a few days of fun in Surf City USA.
We had a blast staying in this Orange County seaside enclave. Our hotel was an ideal base for a laidback beach break. Every meal we enjoyed around town was delicious. As for the tiki, it was of the full-on and classic variety.
Don the Beachcomber
Don the Beachcomber is a tiki wonderland. A cavernous venue bedecked to the nth degree with tropical trappings of mostly mid century origin. Of course, it should be pointed out that this restaurant is not connected to Donn Beach and his now defunct Don the Beachcomber chain of restaurants opened in the 1930s, which set the tone and template for every tiki bar to follow. But, the place pays homage to the original Beachcomber and has proper old school tiki cred. Once upon a time, the same venue was Sam’s Seafood, which for decades served as a Polynesian Pop destination for folks throughout Southern California. Current ownership has done a fine job maintaining the original look while adding a bit of Donn Beach memorabilia.
I could carry on but fear getting lost in the weeds and alienating any readers who aren’t hardcore tiki aficionados; thus, missing the point of this series entirely. So suffice it to say Don the Beachcomber is a great old school tiki bar with amazing décor that’s been maintained with the upmost care and respect. There’s tasty food on the menu too (try the ribs, the tuna tacos and the calamari) and live music most nights of the week. If you’re into tiki, an elbow-bending session at this bar is one for the bucket list. If you’re in Huntington Beach for whatever other reasons, Don the Beachcomber is an excellent spot for any sort of awesome night out.
Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel
Across the street (with that street being the Pacific Coast Highway) from the beach and the famous Huntington Beach Pier, with stylish and spread-out-able rooms (ours faced the ocean with a sweet little balcony), the Shorebreak is the sort of hotel that’s easy to love and hard to leave. Kemey and I had the most restful time here – and I think we’d both agree it was our favourite hotel of our trip.
Located adjacent to the Shorebreak’s lobby, Zimzala is the hotel’s restaurant. Featuring plenty of outdoor seating and a delectable menu of California coastal cuisine, I loved starting my day there with an epic breakfast. The chilaquiles (tortilla chips, two eggs, red onion, cilantro queso fresco, salsa roja and sour cream) with short rib was one of the best morning meals I’ve had this year.
Duke’s Huntington Beach
Named in honour of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, this surfside restaurant next to the pier was a wonderful restaurant for a taste of Hawaiian cuisine. I was particularly impressed with the starters (crispy coconut shrimp, poke tacos, crab and mac nut wontons) and the seasonal fresh fish mains.
Ola Mexican Kitchen
This place rocked. I loved my taco sampler: carnitas, surf & turf (filet mignon and lobster), and blackened shrimp. And I loved sitting outside on Ola’s massive terrace and admiring the views of the Pacific while chowing down on said tacos and washing them down with a watermelon margarita.
When not stuffing our faces, we made good use of our beachside accommodations and perfect end of summer weather by spending as much time outside and active as possible. My favourite memory from this leg of our trip was renting electric bikes from Pegigo for a cruise along the coast. So much fun and easy to ride! I’m dying to get back on a Pedigo.
For more tips on having fun in Huntington Beach, visit surfcityusa.com.
Go to visitcalifornia.co.uk for ideas about designing your own tour of California.
Stay tuned for more in my series of posts about my California tiki tour.