September 2, 2005

The Mysterious Mexico City Mauna Loa

Filed under: History,Mexico,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 1:51 pm

Mauna Loa, Mexico City

One of my favorite tiki locations is the Mauna Loa in Mexico City, not because I have scads of interesting history of the place, but for the opposite reason: it has been an intriguing mystery for me.

There have actually been two Mauna Loas in Mexico City. One still operates today on Ave. San Jeronimo, and I have very little information about it, other than that is actually has a Polynesian floor show — always a promising sign. The other is a bit better documented, but long gone. I would love to think that the two locations are related, but have not uncovered any information that confirms or refutes that.

Today, I am going to focus on the Mauna Loa in Mexico City that is now closed, which was on Hamburgo. The restaurant’s interior, pictured above in a postcard, shows it had some rather grand elements — live flamingos, large tikis, lava rock walls. The menu from the location is equally impressive, and one of my favorites. The menu when open is about 1-1/2 by 2 feet, and is full of beautiful full-color graphic illustrations on every page. Just a few images from this outstanding menu can be seen on Critiki.

The Mauna Loa also had unique mugs — or at least semi-unique, some of them are similar to mugs found at the also-mysterious Ren Clark’s Polynesian Village in Ft. Worth, Texas. There are artist’s renderings of these mugs visible in the menu, and they include a fertility goddess mug, a handled mug of a head with a pointed nose, and my personal favorite — a coiled snake, complete with head at top rim. Recently, MachTiki at Tiki Central found a fertility goddess mug very similar to those seen from the Mexico City Mauna Loa. This one does not have any restaurant marking, but does have a large manufacturer’s label, for an Enrique Guerra with an address that appears to be from Mexico City. Is this the manufacturer for the Mauna Loa mugs? Did they also produce mugs for Ren Clark’s Polynesian Village? Did these mug designs originate somewhere else, and were merely copied?

It’s fascinating to me. I hope that someday we will hear from someone who visited the Mauna Loa, or had family that did.

9 Responses to “The Mysterious Mexico City Mauna Loa”

  1. Jack Barkley Says:

    I sent you an e-mail at hello@ … I hope you got it and still have an interest in the Mauna Loa… Let me know if you got it – visited it several times in 1965…..Jack

  2. Al Says:

    The Mauna Loa on San Jeronimo (in the tony Colonia Pedregal) was famous —amongst other things, like a fantastic menu, some serious large-scale torches marking the entrance, and an underground space for private parties shaped like a full-scale pirate ship (!!!)— for also having an artificial waterfall built into a hillside right outside the restaurant which could be seen in full crashing flow while dining. I last visited in 1978 back when I lived in Mexico City.

  3. Anthony Wright Says:

    I am currently living in Mexico city (Oct. 2008) and, as a Tiki fan seeking all things tiki in Mexico (virtually nothing), can confirm that the Mauna Loa on San Jeronimo also no longer exists, and has not for some time.

  4. Lori Dennis, ASID, LEED AP Says:

    Tiki in Mexico… what a riot.

  5. Leon & May Says:

    We spent New Year’s eve in this restaurant in 1958.
    We were on our honeymoon. Too bad the location that we visited is now closed.

  6. Miguel Martinez Says:

    The Mexican author Antonio Velasco PiƱa tells about going to the (old) Mauna Loa to celebrate his graduation in the late 50′s, in his work “La mujer dormida debe dar a la luz”.

  7. Ashley H. Says:

    My great uncle was the owner/founder of mauna loa. I don’t know much about the glasses besides the fact that my grandmother has some of them somewhere. They had a huge Polynesian show with dancers trained in Hawaii for the full experience. I can try and find out more information if possible. It’s kind of cool to see that his establishment is remembered!

  8. gothicgarden Says:

    Both were from the same person. I went to the one in San Jeronimo when I was a child, a teen, and a young adult. Last time I went might have been around 1997. It was a lovely lovely place. My mom told me that the one in Zona Rosa was exactly the same concept but there was a fire that destroyed it so they moved to San Jeronimo. The San Jeronimo one was very similar in style to the pictures in Zona Rosa. The mugs for the drinks had slight changes along all those years, but the ones that remembered almost the same always were the geishas and tahitianas. I remember that when i was a child, if a customer had on that day several geishas, they added a pearl. My mom had a custom made ring from all those geishas. It was a delightful place. They had also a mini zoo nearby the corsario bar and there was a waterfall. There were activities for children on weekends and magician and clows shows. The ladies restrooms had massive shells as sinks. At night time there was a polinesian show, there was the main central stage and they had small stages so the dancers could be scattered all around the restaurant. Its a pity it does not exist anymore.

  9. Martha Says:

    I remember the old Mauna Loa on Hamburgo during the ’60′s. Great place. I think it burned down?

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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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- A Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

- Tiki Mugs & More: Track & View Collections




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