When you want to spend time with colleagues and clients and leave behind the typical, consider making a no-flight-required escape to a Tiki bar. With tropical décor, fruit-laden cocktails and vintage allure, Tiki bars provide a conviviality ideal for relaxation, easy conversation and inspiration.
TONGA ROOM & HURRICANE BAR, San Francisco
Located within the elegant Fairmont San Francisco, the Tonga Room was created in 1945 by an MGM set designer. Transforming the elegant hotel’s indoor swimming pool into a lagoon with a floating stage, a truly unique getaway was born. Anointed “the greatest place in the history of the world” by no less an authority than Anthony Bourdain, the Tonga Room continues to attract locals and tourists alike drawn to classic Tiki drinks like the Fog Cutter and the Zombie, “tropical rainstorms” (complete with thunder), happy hour Mondays through Thursdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and dishes like tuna poke tostadas, spicy tofu with bok choy, and kalua pork tacos. The Tonga Room as a whole accommodates up to 200 people, while its private dining space holds as many as 60.
CLIFTON’S PACIFIC SEAS, Los Angeles
Impress your group at this palatial Tiki bar in the heart of bustling downtown Los Angeles. Concealed behind a mirrored door, Pacific Seas serves up flaming cocktails with Tiki opulence and a side of kitsch. Gorgeously lit, the décor includes artifacts from classic Tiki bars of the past, a speedboat jutting from the bar, an art deco room, palm trees, murals, blowfish lamps, and much more. With a capacity of 120, Pacific Seas can be booked for private events.
SMUGGLER’S COVE, San Francisco
Though Tiki bars are known for serving up rum-based cocktails, Smuggler’s Cove is a real standout, offering a staggering 600 different rums. The menu features more than 100 cocktails, including Planter’s Punch, historic cocktails created by tiki masters, and recipes original to Smuggler’s Cove. Often lauded as one of America’s Best Bars by authorities including Esquire, this Union Square drinkery can accommodate groups of up to 49.
FALSE IDOL, San Diego
Highly atmospheric, False Idol is arguably the best Tiki bar in San Diego. Created by the Tiki expert also known for the aforementioned Smuggler’s Cove, False Idol features a dramatic water feature that spews flames, a bevy of striking wood carvings, strong cocktails and lots of memorabilia. This hideaway’s menu features 36 tropical drinks, many made with rare rums. If you’re coming with a group, a reservation is essential. False Idol has a capacity of 76 people.
TRADER VIC’S, Emeryville
This is one of only three locations remaining in the United States of the iconic Trader Vic’s Tiki chain, which boasts a history dating back to the 1930s. Though it’s a subject of debate, Vic Bergeron, Trader Vic’s creator, is often credited as the inventor of the most popular of all Tiki drinks: the mai tai. Trader Vic’s Emeryville offers views of both the San Francisco Bay and the Emeryville Marina, along with Polynesian-style décor and handcrafted cocktails like the famed Scorpion Bowl, Navy Grog and the Suffering Bastard. Options on the extensive dining menu include crab rangoon, miso black cod and five-spice duck. Trader Vic’s has three private dining rooms, the largest of which accommodates up to 120 visitors, while the rooms in total can host as many as 200 guests.
TRADERSAM’S ENCHANTED TIKI BAR, Anaheim
If you’ve always thought cocktails were the only thing that could make Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room better, then you’ll want to head over to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. Situated within the Disneyland Hotel, this bar was designed by Disney Imagineering. Boasting influences from both the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise, Trader Sam’s is a feast for the eyes, with over 1,600 decorative elements scattered throughout. Animatronics, sound effects, and special lighting make appearances when certain cocktails are ordered, creating an atmosphere like no other. Try the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum and get there early—Trader Sam’s accommodates just 47 guests.
This tropical oasis tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood Boulevard is less kitsch, more classic Hollywood. Shareable punch bowls, a full restaurant, and Aloha Hour, from 5-7 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, make LONO a great spot for socializing with groups. In addition, three stunning private rooms, one of which features a 20-foot atrium ceiling, can be bought out for cocktail parties or buffet dinners for up to 250 people. Pair LONO’s well-crafted tropical drinks with dishes like jackfruit sliders, or tiki tots with nori and banana ketchup.
TONGA HUT, Palm Springs
The Tonga Hut brings Tiki flair to the desert. Decorated with memorabilia and images of Palm Springs’ Tiki history, the Tonga Hut merges midcentury modern style with tropical vibes. The Tonga Hut’s restaurant, the Hideaway, serves up Polynesian/Cantonese cuisine, among them flaming pu pu platters. Share a bowl drink (good for up to four people), or sip a Tiki classic or one of the Tonga Hut’s original libations. Groups seeking a private space can reserve the Secret Room, which is entered through a phone booth.