Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don the Beachcomber, Huntington Beach, CA

This was our first stop on our trip to Disneyland. Huntington Beach was only 15 minutes away from our hotel in Anaheim so I couldn't pass this place up.

We arrived right around sunset so they had all the exterior lights on. Don's has one of the best tiki exteriors I've ever seen! I wish I brought my DSLR but I only had my little point-and-shoot; I got a couple of good shots anyway.

Here's a view from the side parking lot:

And here's a couple shots from the front:

I love their signage. Apparently the shark sign was left over from the restaurant's previous tenants, Sam's Seafood.

Anyways, we walk in and the decor is awesome. Tikis, palms, fountains, puffer fish lights, bamboo, the works! The main dining room has a gorgeous tiki-fied giant waterfall:

We sat in the dining room rather than the bar because we were starving after driving 6 hours, but I did walk around the bar for a minute, nicknamed the "Hidden Village." Here's a bar interior shot:

So we order our drinks from a very small selection with no explanation to what the drinks are. I get the Rum Barrel, which is strong and rummy. We also got Sam's Lapu Lapu, which aside from being served in a bamboo-shaped glass was completely without garnishes! I love a good cocktail monkey or umbrella stuck in a pineapple slice, and when I get a tiki drink without a garnish I'm bummed! At least it tasted good. I couldn't tell you what the drinks tasted like because after a day of driving with little food, we got fairly drunk pretty fast...

Here's a picture of the rum barrel mug (which you can buy for $25 and get a free drink, which is a bit steep in my opinion.)

I have to mention our appetizer, the brie quesadilla, which was AMAZING!!! I love my cheese, and this was so delicious.  Our entrees weren't bad (again, no idea what we got, as we were pretty inebriated) but I know they weren't as good as the quesadilla.

They have a couple of private party rooms in the back with great decor, here's a couple of pics:

Next time I visit I definitely want to sit in the bar, which was more densely tiki (and they have happy hour!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Forbidden Island- Alameda, CA

A few nights ago, we went to my favorite tiki bar, Forbidden Island, which just so happens to be in my hometown of Alameda!
Here are some pictures of their signage:
I didn't get many good pictures on the inside because it was so dark and I felt invasive using the flash on my camera but I did get one picture of the bar:
The decor is incredible! The entire place is covered in thatch and bamboo; the booths are designed to be little private tiki huts. There's vines, fishnets, a carved tiki fountain, glass floats and blowfish lights. Someday I'll have my own tiki room/bar and it will look exactly like this.

My first drink was the house special, aptly named the "Forbidden Island." It comes in a take-home tiki mug with a customized stir stick and a beautiful orchid:
Not only is it nice to look at, it's one of the best tasting rum drinks I've ever had. I'm not sure what's exactly in it, but here's how their website describes it: "Our signature drink is a hearty grog, filled with lime, pineapple, and our secret mixture of rare spices and liqueurs." Yummmmm.

We also had the "Sidewinder's Fang," which was sour, tart and very refreshing. The last drink had was the "Tropical Itch;" I would describe it as a smokey passion fruit drink and very strong...

Forbidden Island has a unique drink rating system that let's the customer know the alcoholic strength of the beverage, from 1 to 4 "cocktails". All of our drinks were 3 or 4 "cocktails"; by the time we finished I was floating out the door.

Next time, we want to try the "Fugu for Two," a two-person drink served in a ceramic puffer fish bowl. Can't wait to go back!

Here is the website so you can check them out for yourself:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tiki Movies

Today is a lazy Saturday so I decided to watch a movie, which got me to thinking about Tiki-themed movies, if there are any. I did my Google search and the #1 recommended movie is "Blue Hawaii," which I kid you not was one of my all-time favorite movies when I was a kid (I had a thing for Elvis...).

I'm having a hard time coming up with other Tiki movies, but here are some that sound somewhat interesting:

Kona Coast (1968)- an adventure/ thriller set in Honolulu

Bikini a Go Go- aka "Curse of the Erotic Tiki"(2004?)- a totally ridiculous-sounding T&A film

Road to Bali (1952)- Bing Crosby and Bob Hope get stranded on a deserted island with a beautiful island princess

South Pacific (1958)- A classic musical love story set on an island in the South Pacific during WWII

If I end up watching any of these, I'll write about it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My "Hit List"

Here are the places I'd like to visit and revisit in the next few months (with hopefully more to discover!)
(According to, there are 236 tiki places in California alone! Woohoo!)

Forbidden Island- Alameda

Conga Lounge- Oakland

Club Mallard- Albany (This place sounds... unique, it is part duck-hunting themed, part tiki)

Temple Bar- Berkeley

Trader Vic's- Emeryville (but not until it re-opens in September!)

Trader Vic's- Palo Alto

Kona Club- Oakland

Tiki Tom's- Oakland

Bamboo Hut- San Francisco

Hukilau- San Francisco

Smuggler's Cove- San Francisco

Tonga Room- San Francisco

Trad'r Sam- San Francisco

Tiki Tom's- Walnut Creek (apparently unconnected to the one in Oakland)

The Enchanted Tiki Room- Anaheim, Disneyland
Going in August! Yay!

I will try to take as many pictures as I can while on my adventures, because we all know photos make everything better :)

Thanks to for helping me find all the tiki places I didn't know existed!


After trying to make a reservation at our local Trader Vic's (Emeryville) for Father's Day, I learned that they are closed through September for renovations! Boo!

Well I can't wait to see the improvements to one of my favorite restaurants, I might just have to make the trek down to Palo Alto to satiate any cravings.

Happy Father's Day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tonga Room And Hurricane Bar

Tonight Sean and I finally celebrated our 2-year anniversary (only a few months late) by going to the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. The Tonga Room is located in the basement level of the Fairmont Hotel in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, which just so happens to be my 'hood. Rumors have it that proposed remodeling of the hotel would close the Tonga Room for good, so I wanted to visit it before it disappeared.

Sean and I walked the very steep block uphill and another block or so down the road and through the side door that lead us into the restaurant. It was packed but luckily I had made a reservation a few days ahead (which I would highly recommend, thanks

The place itself is pretty huge, built around an old swimming pool now used as a lagoon, complete with a live band playing on a floating barge. I would say the restaurant decor itself is more Polynesian than kitschy tiki. There's a pirate ship/dancing stage and thatched canopies, large torches and carved tiki heads.

Every 30 minutes or so would be a rain and thunderstorm over the lagoon, which I thought really added to the tropical atmosphere.

I ordered their signature Hurricane drink but was bummed when they told me they were out of the take home glasses! Boo! So much for adding to my tiki mug collection tonight. I settled for the typical Mai Tai which was served in a ceramic coconut; it was delicious and I would definitely recommend it. Sean's not into the sweet drink thing so he had one of SF's local brews, Anchor Steam (but hey, it goes with the whole nautical theme.)

We started with the Pork Lettuce Cups as an appetizer, which I'm sorry to say looked and smelled like some of my cat's canned food. It didn't taste bad and we were hungry so we ate it (the pork was braised in coca cola, how strange).

We shared the Fire Cracker Prawns and Huli Huli Chicken, both were excellent! The shrimp was perfectly cooked with the right amount of spice, and the chicken has this yummy, caramely sauce.

I ordered a Planter's Punch as my second drink which was a mistake on my part because I hate spiced rum; this drink had way too much for my taste. Oh well.

We had pineapple upside down cake which came with a nice sorbet, it was very light and sweet which was a nice ending after our spicy entrees.

What I didn't like about the Tonga Room was the band's repetoire: Phil Collins, Van Morrison, lot's of 50's and 60's Top 40 hits, so not the right music for the atmosphere! The majority of the crowd, however, seemed to love it (elderly, white tourists) so I guess we were just the wrong demographic.

All in all, the food, drinks and atmosphere were only so-so; I don't know if I'll be making the trek uphill again anytime soon to go back before it closes. However, I am glad I went because it's been a famous SF institudion for the 60's and is fun to visit if your touring the area.

For more history about the place and a complete drink and food menu, you can visit their official website:

Post Number 1!

My goal for Summer 2010 is to visit all the tiki bars and other related establishments in the San Francisco Bay Area (my home!) and possibly more of the greater West Coast. I'll be documenting my excursions with this blog and hopefully post some pictures too!