Tiki Restaurants to Warm Up the Winter Blues Slideshow
January 5, 2012
Don the Beachcomber; Huntington Beach, Calif.
This newly revived version of the Don the Beachcomber tradition has very little in common with the originator of the tiki culture in the U.S. — the current owner bought the place in 2009 and licensed the name from the owners of the Don the Beachcomber brand. But the restaurant serves all of the original drinks and dishes, and the décor is marked with elaborately carved wooden embellishments and tropical floral displays.
The Hurricane Club; New York City
This tiki restaurant and bar opened its doors in 2010 and brought New Yorkers a taste of the Hawaiian islands in a trendy, cosmopolitan setting. The music is always thumping and the place is always packed, but after taking a few sips of a mai tai that's the size of your face and tasting a bite from one of the pupu platters, the atmosphere won't matter so much anymore.
Mai-Kai; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
This Fort Lauderdale landmark has been offering locals and visitors alike tastes and sips of the tiki culture, plus live entertainment, for the past 56 years. The décor is inspired by the lush landscape of Hawaii, complete with waterfalls, grottos, and exotic flowers. The menu consists mostly of Chinese dishes.
Trader Vic's; Various Locations
This international chain of tiki restaurants and bars was started in Oakland, Calif., in 1934, by Victor J. Bergeron. Since then, the brand has expanded to include 24 locations across the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The restaurants continue to serve the Chinese-inspired dishes created by Bergeron, as well as classic tiki cocktails, such as the mai tai, which was reportedly invented at Trader Vic's.
The Tonga Room; San Francisco
Since 1945, San Franciscans dreaming of the tropics and visitors to the city alike have been escaping to the South Pacific via this appropriately decorated tiki restaurant and lounge located in the Fairmont Hotel. Regulars at The Tonga Room know to save room for dessert — the indulgent offerings are meant to be shared, like the Mount Tonga ice cream sundae, which comes to the table erupting with hot fudge and caramel sauce. Diners can enjoy the sounds of tropical rainstorms and a Hawaiian band floating on a barge in a pool in the middle of the room.
Bahooka Family Restaurant; Rosemead, Calif.
It takes a single step inside the dining room at Bahooka Family Restaurant to feel like you've been transported to a time-worn seaside shack on the coast of Hawaii. The entire restaurant, furnished with wooden and bamboo fixtures, is covered with fish nets, tiki torches, and Polynesian-inspired collectibles. With regards to the food at offered Bahooka, expect a selection of appetizers, mains, and desserts crafted with traditional flavors from Hawaii and Tahiti.
Kon Tiki Restaurant; Tucson, Ariz.
Kon Tiki is another restaurant that has been a mainstay of the tiki culture for quite some time. Open in 1961, this Tucson restaurant and lounge is a lush, tropical gem located in the Arizona desert. The décor is a reflection of the classic tiki genre, such as bamboo fixtures, tiki torches, and an indoor water fountain. The menu consists of various pupu platters, fresh fish and meat dishes, and of course, traditional tiki cocktails.
Mama's Fish House; Maui, HI
This seaside restaurant located on Maui's majestic north shore (the view is pictured here) serves traditional cuisine inspired by the Polynesian lifestyle, particularly when is comes to their preparation of locally caught fish. The atmosphere and setting is more reminiscent of a fine dining establishment than a classic tiki spot, but the presentation of the dishes and cocktails, adorned with exotic flowers, reflects the genre's sensibility.