If you ask Tikiphiles (especially west-coast ones) about some of their favorite historic places, you will likely hear the name Tony’s On The Pier from more than a few of them. This historic seafood restaurant and bar has called the Fisherman’s Wharf at Redondo Beach Pier home since 1952. Their staff (many who have been there for decades), their time-capsule mid-century nautical decor, and their notoriously strong Fire Chief Mai Tai are just three highlights of what makes this place so special. I got a chance to visit when my friend Laura had her birthday party, so it gave me a great opportunity to see one more awesome place before John-O took me back to LAX.
If you have never seen it, the pier at Redondo Beach is beautiful. Just in the stroll leading to Tony’s, you can sense the history in the air. There are quite a few original buildings there, and Tony’s in particular sticks out, thanks to the hexagonal bar area that sits atop the restaurant. The inside of the restaurant is incredible – the fish floats, fish nets, the beautiful furniture and fireplace – even if you don’t eat dinner, and just go have a drink at the bar, go and walk around the restaurant; it’s a feast for the eyes. Once you’ve made your way up to the bar and take a seat (I recommend sitting near a window), you get to enjoy an incredible view of the beach and the rest of the pier. The day I went it was kind of foggy, but I can only imagine how amazing it would be to watch a sunset from there.
A visit to Tony’s would not be complete without a glass (or two) of their signature Mai Tai-ish drink, the Fire Chief. All told, this is a drink that has felled many an unsuspecting patron, so it has become a thing of South Bay lore. The drink is topped with a 151 floater, and tastes curiously like Swee-Tarts. I don’t care if it sounds weird – just drink one. Oh, and you get to keep the glass, too, so don’t leave it sitting on the table! My amazing friends and I had a blast putting a few of these away. I had the best time at Tony’s, and was really sad when it was time to go. Luckily, I have some really great memories to hold on to!
Tony’s has been fortunate to still be standing after so many years. It mercifully survived a huge storm and fire in 1988 which nearly destroyed the entire pier. As of late, there have been rumblings of major changes coming to the Redondo Beach Pier which threaten its existence. Revitalization efforts have resulted in many older businesses shutting their doors after it became financially unsustainable to stay open. A historic 70’s indoor amusement park on the pier is set to close at the end of next year, to make way for new retail and dining establishments. Ongoing redevelopment plans are in limbo as of this writing, so Tony’s future remains uncertain.
With the recent closing of Don The Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, it brings to mind that your favorite historic Tiki haunts could be here today, and then gone tomorrow. Tony’s is no different. If they owned the land they were sitting on, it would be a different story. I encourage you to visit your favorite places as often as you can – show your support by attending events, sharing events if you can’t go, and taking a friend who’s never been there the next time you stop in. People need to know why the places we love, such as Tony’s, are so important, and so awesome.
Tony’s On The Pier
210 Fisherman’s Wharf
Redondo Beach, CA 90277