Long Bar, Tijuana Mexico – Bootleg Tequila and Stale Beer

Very old Meda Photo of the meda crowd at the Long Bar and I took it. Billy Humes in the front center. Front left: John Brower, Moon Taylor, Kathy ?,  Tommy Doyle, (Blond) Kathy Haddock, Tom Damm and Maynard (dark hair girl), Richard Ernest, and Bob Balanca in the center. I may be Wayne Cummings in the back corner and Joe Hallow next to a guy we have seen in alot of the pics but can't place who he is. This is way back in the 60s. Photo by Doug Moranville

Very old Meda Photo of the Long Bar. Billy Humes in the front center. Front left: John Brower, Moon Taylor (RIP), Kathy ?, Tommy Doyle (RIP) (Blond) Kathy Haddock, Tom Damm and Maynard (dark hair girl), Richard Ernest, and Bob Balanca (RIP) in the center. Wayne Cummings in the back corner? and Joe Hallow next to a guy? Photo by Doug Moranville

If you Google search Long Bar, the first three pages are filled with some historic Old Town Irvine bar called Tia Juana’s Long Bar and Grill. The website hypes that you sit under the brightly colored banners, sipping Tia Juana’s famous hand-shaken Margaritas, and eating the freshly made tortillas and salsa.

Now check this out, it says it restores the fun and excitement of the famous Long Bar in Tijuana. And you feel you have been transported across the border to rub elbows and share the excitement with 30’s & 40’s Hollywood’s elite.

Hummm… uh …  I don’t think so!

Well that may have been a tad true during 1920s when prohibition forced the wealthy Americans and Hollywood celebrities flocking to Tijuana to partake in legal drinking and gambling. It was during this time that several impressive casinos and bars were established to cater to the demand for alcohol. During this time was when the famous Agua Calientes opened its doors.  The original grandstand structures were destroyed by fire in 1971, but rebuild a few years later with only greyhound racing. But not in the 60s or 70s and  never did the Long Bar cater to the rich and famous … it was always a local and very down to earth shit-kicking bar.

The Long Bar in Tijuana in the mid 40s - check out the hill in the background, not a house to be seen

The Original Long Bar in Tijuana before it burn down in the mid 40s - check out the hill in the background, not a house to be seen

Who every wrote that fricken review ought to be tied down,  forced to drink the flat and semi-warm beer that sometimes had a green appearance, and the bootleg tequila the real Long  Bar used to serve. The only food served was some street vendor’s taco stand that only a concrete stomach could handle…

Call it how you see it, but TJ was the spot to sinfully drink and it is impossible to even try and mimic the real Long Bar.  There was no strutting of fancy dress like that BS disco attire, but jeans and clothes you really did not care if they got dirty or not. And yes, after an long evening of combat drinking and raising hell, you smelled of stale beers, dirt/sawdust, pee, cheap cologne that you got from some weasel of guy in the restroom, and a few things that your would never even whisper within a nun sighting.

It was not a place to come home from if you were still living with mommy and daddy. Clothes were known to be in the trash after a good night in TJ.

Meda crowds of 10 or more crammed around tiny tables, etched in initials, drank pitchers of beers and with every shot of very cheap tequila, got increasing boisterous and rowdy. Because after getting primed at the Long Bar it was down the street and around a corner some sleazy and very sinful nightclub awaited. If things got a bit out of hand … many got introduced to the infamous TJ Jail, a place worse than hell and reserved for another Meda tale.


  1. heydoode says:

    OMG, I am so glad to find something REAL on the old Long Bar in TJ.
    Weren’t there a few distorted circus mirrors in the little “hall” where you entered?
    I’m talking 1970-73ish ..
    When did it change?
    I used to know the bartenders name but that’s long gone now.
    What a crazy place .. whew ..

  2. Bob Bellanca (this is the spelling of his name in the LJHS annual from 1963) is RIP? What happened?

    Also – the Tommy Carroll who sent in the video of 40’s La Jolla – is this the Tommy Carroll from LJHS class of 1964? Bob should have been class of ’64 also but he isn’t in the’64 annual with the rest of the seniors and doesn’t show as “shutter shy” either.

    TJ was awesome in the 60’s. I was forever recruiting people to go and dance. I remember Mike’s. The best bands were there and I have often wondered if I was in the presence of Carlos Santana. He’s one of my
    favorites and totally rocked Woodstock.

  3. Ah, the Long Bar… I got engaged after a night at the Long Bar and Carnitas Urupan in 1976. So the night after our wedding we went back and almost ended up in the TJ jail. After a half hour of arguing with the cop our friend said “You can’t put us in jail, this couple just got married!” the cop shook my husband’s hand enthusiastically, gave me a big hug and took a slug of our bottle of tiquila and off we went. Still together after all these years.

  4. Dan Dameron says:

    I agree with you and Dennis Downie (above) Jim Rydell

  5. John K. Weldon says:

    Front and center, James Rydell on Kathy’s right and behind is Ray Darby, Behind Tom is me, and the girl with the long black hair is Christy Krammer. John Brower is a RIP.
    Here’s a quote I used to use a lot, “John K. wanta Tijuana.” Back in the day I had an apartment in TJ. A little know fact…Carlos Santana used to play soul music at a dance club in Tj called Mikes Bar, before he became an illegal alien and move to South San Franciso. Make these corrections and you have it right.

  6. Bill Sowles says:

    Remember the late night beer runs to Tecate?

  7. John K. Weldon says:

    Yes, That is Rye seated and me to Tom’s left. Kristy Krammer also…So sad about John Brower

  8. Kip is going to do a post on Ocean Fresh and we are looking for old photos to add to the ones we have. Charlie Doyle is checking his files plus we are going to print Ocean Fresh t-shirts with that great logo Tommy had made, way back when. Those were the first shirts I ever printed. Lots of locals were employed there including Keith Liberty, Jimmie Downie, Peter Bergstrom and half of the rest of the town!!!!
    I have some photos of Tommy and Jon Close plus Randy Miller in the fish cutting room with a stack of White Sea Bass. What a great place. Can’t wait! Hello Gary Wickem.

  9. WHEN CRABS ROAR says:

    To Dennis Downie
    In my humble opinion Ocean Fresh served the best seafood I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant, fresh, local, well cooked and not fancy with large portions, served by your friends, it doesn’t get any better than that.
    Ahhh The Long Bar, we would close up Maynard,s or The Red Mountain Inn and drive south to continue the party. Sometimes I would be wearing my garage overalls that I had worked all day in when I went straight from work to the bars, but other times just jeans, t-shirt and barefoot.
    Gary Wickham

  10. Dennis Downie says:

    Yes, Thanks. Tommy Doyle sure looks young. They all do. Great photo.
    Someone should tell stories/photos of Ocean Fresh in Bird Rock.

  11. Billy Humes is in the very front.

  12. Dennis Downie says:

    Is that Jim Rydell seated in the foreground?

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