West Coast Tiki bar roundup

14Sep10

[FR : Voici quelques commentaires sur les bar tiki que j’ai testé récemment aux USA.]

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. I went to 5 tiki bars on my recent trip to the USA (and visited my two favorites twice). This inspired me to compare their qualities. I like a good drink, good décor and a fun time. Here are a few (very subjective) notes, for what it’s worth.

There are many websites where you can get the opinions of tiki “connoisseurs”; some of them get a little too picky. Critiki is quite well-thought-out and has a clever tiki radar feature (“nearest tiki”) that shows the next nearest bars to the one you selected.

[this trip]
Smuggler’s Cove (SF): best drinks, excellent décor, a little expensive, connoisseur-friendly
Forbidden Island (Alameda, CA): excellent drinks, best décor, connoisseur-friendly
Frankie’s Tiki Room (Las Vegas): rather sweet drinks, open 24 hours, not very expensive, best room layout, excellent décor, smoking allowed!!!
The Alibi (Portland): large (lacks intimacy), fair drinks, some cool décor, was there with friends so I had a great time
Trad’r Sam (SF): cheap drinks made with cheap ingredients, lively atmosphere, but I have the impression that many customers are not “real tiki fans” (I was the only one wearing a Hawaiian shirt)

[previous trips]
Tonga Room (SF): expensive (happy hour is cheaper), unmatched setting/décor, rumored to be closing soon
Tiki Ti (LA): fun, family-run, historic, truly historic décor, tiny (and sometimes packed), very good drinks, connoisseur-friendly, smoking allowed!!! inside!!! yes, in California!!!

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One Response to “West Coast Tiki bar roundup”

  1. This is fantastic. I will be in Cal next week and actually have on my “must do” list The Tonga Room, Forbidden Island, and another place in Oakland called the Conga Lounge. Then, as it turns out, we will be in Vegas in November and will definitely go to Frankies. Thanks for this post, Jon. Hope all is well with you xx


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