It all began with a young wanderer named Ernest Gantt. Inspired by the culture of the South Pacific, where he sometimes worked on film sets, he opened a small watering hole just off Hollywood Boulevard in the mid-1930s. He decorated it with old fishing nets and trinkets he’d picked up during his travels to the South Pacific and created a menu of exotic rum drinks, which he etched onto a board hanging behind the thatched tiki bar. Back then, drinks cost a quarter, or five wooden nickels.
Today, Don The Beachcomber still serves some of Ernest’s original rum cocktails—including his signature mai tai—in a tiki lounge inspired by that 1930s watering hole. A few things have changed over the years, however; the joint now serves a full menu of Hawaiian specialties such as ahi-tuna tacos and Kalua pulled pork piled on sweet a hawaiian bun. On Friday nights, live musicians perform Hawaiian tunes next to an indoor waterfall.
More than 100 whiskeys and a comparable bounty of beers flow at Johnny’s Saloon, an eccentric neighborhood bar that dubs itself a “twisted Cheers.” Opened in 1982, the bar emanates a charm stemming from its appreciation of the rock 'n' roll generation and a rejection of anything that represents the status quo, such as walls. The jukebox is stocked solely with vintage rock 'n' roll and country, steering clear of Top 40 pop and hip-hop, and in the spotless bathrooms, 20 scented lotions keep hands smelling fresher than the Snuggle bear’s dance moves. Though the bar doesn’t serve food, the staffers happily order in from the nearby famous Donuttery and pour libations from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. They serve up single shots of spirits such as Midleton Irish whiskey and Macallan 21-year, but patrons can also purchase a private bottle of liquor that’s held behind the bar under lock and key.
Pours from extensive wine and beer lists mingle with sea air and classic Italian flavors at Luggatti's Italian Grill. Pinot grigios such as fruity Corte Giara pair with scallop-and-clam-smothered pastas, and an Antigual Uno malbec pairs well with a 12-ounce new-york strip. Other featured wines include Educated Guess cabernet, Plungerhead zinfandel, and Zaccignini montepulciano. Taps froth with craft brews such as Allagash Curieux, Flying Dog Doggie Style IPA, Chimay, and Shipyard Brewery Monkey Fist IPA. On weekend nights, guests can sip to the sounds of live musical performances in the indoor space decorated with snappy art, or carry glasses outside to enjoy the breeze off the nearby beach and the warmth of an outdoor fireplace.
Spark Woodfire Grill features contemporary American cuisine with an Italian twist. As the restaurant’s name suggests, Spark's chefs use woodfire specialty cooking equipment to prepare their dishes, or they yell at them until the dishes become cooked by shame.
The well-regarded executive chef at Zimzala, Vincent Muraco, worked with menu expert and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein to develop a creative menu of Mediterranean cuisine with a California tinge. They researched the 22 countries of the region, incorporating the flavors of Spain, Greece, Italy, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Alabama, and more into a collection of healthful, exotic delights built from fresh, top-quality ingredients.
At Black Bull Chop House, the culinary team grills up a menu of delicious certified Angus beef steaks among a brick-walled Western décor replete with cactus plants, a mechanical bull, and a sprawling boogie floor. Settle your spurs and nosh on an appetizer such as the santa fe rolls, a succulent blend of chicken, black beans, jalapeños, sweet corn, and two cheeses swaddled in flour tortillas ($8.95). The 12 big-screen televisions occupy diners’ vision in between bites of the tomato and mozzarella pizza ($10.95) and heated staring contests with the 16-ounce teriyaki rib eye ($22). Flanking the steaks is a lively recreation area, including a dance floor hungry for tapping feet and a raucous mechanical bull seeking brave animatronic cowboys.