Lava Lounge in Hollywood, CA
Hollywood’s Lava Lounge is nestled in a tiny, nondescript strip mall (“nondescript” and “strip mall” are pretty redundant, I suppose) on La Brea, just off of Sunset. I’ve only been there a handful of times — parking in the area is a pain in the keister, and it’s not the tikiest of tiki bars — but I did think it was pretty cool. For one, it’s dark, and I love a dark bar. For another, they weren’t kidding around with the often too-casually-applied “Lava Lounge” name: the room was a mix of pitch black faux and real rockwork, contrasted against blonde bamboo, and it came together really nicely. There was a rocky wall at the back that wept water, and a very small stage area bathed in red light. The drinks were not very good, but at least they tried.
Now comes word that the Lava Lounge’s days are nearing an end. After 13 years, the small bar is closing at the end of February, and undergoing a remodel and name change — no word yet on what the new incarnation will be. 13 years for a bar is impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you consider the competitive environment of bars in Hollywood, and that when it opened in the mid-’90s, tiki was not a hot thing, but the realm of a small cache of hipsters. The bar is one of the very, very few that opened during the exact years that really cool, original places were shutting down all across the country.
If you can, stop in one last time to spend some time in this swell little bar. Lava Lounge mainstays the Blue Hawaiians will be playing a final show there the night of Friday, February 23. Hat tip to bigtikidude for the heads-up.