10 Must-Visit Tiki Bars

Sip on a a tasty tropical drink at one of our favorite retro-cool tiki joints.

Mai Kai Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Mai Kai Restaurant

Mai Kai Restaurant

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Since it opened in 1956, Mai-Kai has proudly carried the torch for tiki. Even today, it still exudes a "'50s-swinger" vibe. Waitresses wear sarongs and bikini tops. Each room reflects a different Polynesian region and overlooks a waterfall or lagoon. Polynesian dancers perform nightly. And then there's the Mystery Drink, which involves, among other things, a gong, flames, and a kiss on the cheek. 954/563-3272 or maikai.com

Trader Vic's Bar

Photo: Gayle Christopher

Trader Vic's

Emeryville, California

"Trader Vic" Bergeron spearheaded America's tiki craze. In 1937, he turned Hinky Dinks, his rustic restaurant-bar in Oakland, California, into a Polynesian-theme hideaway that he renamed after himself. (In 1972, the flagship location moved a few miles north to the Emeryville bayfront, gaining great sunset views.) Vic pioneered fusion cuisine by introducing exotic island flavors to Chinese, French, and American dishes. Even more momentously, in 1944 he and his staff invented the potent beverage known as the mai tai. 510/653-3400 or tradervics.com

The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

Photo by Pargon via Flickr

The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

San Francisco, California

"Over the top" seems so inadequate to describe this fantasyland inside the venerable Fairmont Hotel. Tables surround a lagoon on which floats a ship-shaped stage for the band. Periodically, thunder rumbles, and rain falls into the lagoon. Lavish quantities of faux foliage, carved tiki heads, thatched "roofs," and other Polynesian froufrou complete the decor. The Pacific Rim cuisine gets mixed reviews, as do the prices, but the happy hour buffet is a relative bargain. Sip a Bora Bora Horror and enjoy the ambience. 415/772-5278 or tongaroom.com

Bali Hai Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Bali Hai Restaurant

Bali Hai Restaurant

San Diego, California

The Bali Hai, overlooking the water on Shelter Island, offers gorgeous views of San Diego Harbor and the city itself. Not long after its 1954 opening, the restaurant became so popular that several other tiki-theme businesses opened nearby. The tiki factor in the decor hasn't changed much over the years, but is coming back strong with the current "Polynesian pop" revival. Local boaters traditionally visit for Sunday brunch. 619/222-1181 or balihairestaurant.com

Bahi Hut

Photo: Clyde Robinson via Flickr

Bahi Hut

Sarasota, Florida

Bahi Hut's 1960s-vintage decor includes but a single tiki (a carved image of a Polynesian god). No matter: Tiki attitude pervades the place, and the Hut still serves its fearsome original-recipe mai tai. There's a two-mai tai limit, for good reason. Less-dedicated drinkers should try the milder Sneaky Tiki. 941/355-5141

Kowloon Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Kowloon Restaurant

Kowloon Restaurant

Saugus, Massachusetts

The Wong family has operated this Boston-area institution since 1950. The restaurant has expanded several times and now incorporates a variety of cuisines (Cantonese, Szechuan, Polynesian, Thai, sushi) and decorating styles. But the gloriously tikified Tiki Lagoon (pictured) remains the most popular dining area. Try for a booth beside the fountain that runs down the middle of the room. 781/233-0077 or kowloonrestaurant.com

 

Square Grouper Tiki Bar

Photo courtesy of Square Grouper Tiki Bar

Square Grouper Tiki Bar

Jupiter, Florida

As one of the most popular watering holes in the United States, Square Grouper Tiki Bar has seen its fair share of fame. It's the home of Alan Jackson's "It's Five O'clock Somewhere" video and a famous lighthouse, with stunning scenery of the Jupiter inlet. Sip on a Fuzzy Coconut (peach Schnapps, coconut rum, & orange juice) while you enjoy the relaxing sea breeze. 561/575-0252 or squaregrouper.net

Kingfish Restaurant and Tiki Lounge

Photo: Chris R. via Yelp

Kingfish Restaurant and Tiki Lounge

Bay City, Michigan

Located in the heart of the city, Kingfish has some of the best fish and chips around. Venture out to Dockside, the outdoor restaurant situated on four levels of deck that overlook the historic Saginaw River, for some real reggae. And don't miss one of their fun, tasty drinks like the Rasta-Politan. 989/894-0772 or kingfishbaycity.com

Holiday Isle Resort Tiki Bar

Photo courtesy of Holiday Isle Resort Tiki Bar

Holiday Isle Resort Tiki Bar

Florida Keys

This bar originally opened in 1969 as The Hapi Hula Hut, but officially became known as the Tiki Bar in 1971. The hotel's owner forged his claim to fame as the original inventor of the cocktail known as the rum runner—a delicious mixture of banana liqueur, Meyers rum, brandy, and grenadine. The concoction became so popular that a statue was resurrected in its honor and is still a hot photo op. 305/664-2321 or holidayisle.com/tikibar

La Mariana Tiki Bar & Restaurant

Photo: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

La Mariana Tiki Bar & Restaurant

Honolulu, Hawaii

As soon as you walk into La Mariana Tiki Bar & Restaurant, you'll feel the dedication to keeping historic Hawaii alive. The restaurant embodies the old, traditional, unhurried pace of dining. They suggest one of their famous mai tais or zombies to assist in your time travel journey. 1/808/848-2800 or lamarianasailingclub.com

Printed from:
http://www.coastalliving.com/travel/top-10-tiki-bars-00414000073287/