Joe Chastek was first introduced to Polynesia when he and a high school buddy stowed away to the Philippines when they were both 17. Joe was one of the first to open a club with the South Seas motif. His first pre-Tiki bar was the Zamboanga. His second was the Tradewinds. His third was Vagabond's House. The name came from Don Blanding's poem of the same name. Don and Joe were acquaintances.
The interior combined tropical motifs and decor from many countries, including the South Pacific, the Philippines, Africa, and Mexico. There was lots of bamboo, matting, totem poles, glass floats, etc...
Joe often threw luau styled parties but the signature dish on the menu was curry.
The building in which Vagabond's House was located is a prime example of the Spanish Churrigueresque style practiced in the mid-1920s by the firm of Morgan, Walls and Clements and perfected by its chief designer, Stiles O. Clements.
The building was designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1983.
Several popular Wilshire restaurants have occupied the space, notably the Cafe Opera in the 1930s and early '40s and the Vagabond's House later. La Fonda opened in 1969 as a venue for mariachi music. After being open for nearly forty years, La Fonda closed in 2007. The restaurant reopened in 2016, and it once again regularly offers live mariachi music.