If you’re looking for a taste of the tropics in the Bay Area, you don’t have to travel far. Tiki bars have been a beloved fixture of American bar culture since the mid-20th century, and the Bay Area boasts some of the best examples of these whimsical watering holes in the country. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic mai tai or a creative cocktail served in a hollowed-out pineapple, the Bay Area’s tiki bars offer a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that transports you to a world of surf, sand, and sunshine. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best tiki bars in the Bay Area and what makes them so special.
Trader Vic’s is the OG Tiki Bar in the Bay Area. Located in Emeryville, Trader Vics is known for its tasty pupus (appetizers) and its Mai Tai packs a punch. Founded in 1934 by Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr., the bar quickly became known for its exotic decor, potent cocktails, and Polynesian-inspired cuisine. Today, the Bay Area location of Trader Vic’s remains a beloved institution, attracting locals and tourists alike with its lively atmosphere, tropical drinks, and classic menu items like the iconic “Mai Tai” cocktail and “Pu Pu Platter” appetizer.
With its kitschy charm and rich history, Trader Vic’s continues to be a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the unique magic of tiki culture.
Located in Downtown Oakland, The Kon-Tiki is new on the tiki bar scene. It’s quite small but it’s strong drinks and friendly service make up for the size. Parking is tough since it’s smack dab in the middle of Downtown Oakland and happy hours tend to be packed.
Hula’s Island Grill
Hula’s is a restaurant/bar just off the main shopping district in Santa Cruz. This particular tiki bar has surf videos going full-time, and lots of fun memorabilia. The best appetizer choices are the coconut shrimp rolls and the ceviche. Don’t hesitate the Mai Tai or the Lilikoi Margarita!
Tiki Pete’s is that rare South Bay tiki bar establishment. Drinks are fairly reasonable and they regularly have live music and a front patio. The staff here is so friendly and the vibe is incredibly comfortable. The best bet for parking is the large parking structure next door.
Tonga Room and Hurricane
The old-school vibe of the Tonga Room is an SF local favorite. The Tonga Room offers live entertainment in the center of a pool and sporadic rainfall. The drinks are around $15 each and are strong and sweet. Of note: there is a fee added to each bill if there is live music.
This isn’t the full list of fantastic tiki bars in the SF Bay Area, there are several other options!
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