False Idol – San Diego’s Best Tiki Bar

We skipped False Idol last year since we weren’t doing much indoor bar crawling, but we were sure to make it this trip by making a reservation. Having visited Smuggler’s Cove and Hale Pele in the last ten days this completed the trio of Martin Cate’s bars on the west coast.

A rare moment when standing room cleared

You enter False Idol via the host stand inside Craft & Commerce. With reservations you’re seated at a table and get to avoid the crush of patrons in standing room or trying to get to the bar seating that is first come, first seated. The reservation for four at 8 pm on a Friday was for two and half hours and we used nearly every minute. Our server Jordan did a great job checking in with drink orders and such, and since we were seated by the exit door we also saw him play bouncer when people tried to sneak in.

The decor here is so cool, with a ceiling filled with floats and carvings on the fall walls from local legend Bosko. Thunder roars when flaming bowl drinks are served. This was our first time seeing the new entrance, replacing the old speakeasy style freezer entrance with one framed by scary shrunken heads and skulls.

The cocktail menu is vast, offering both a classic tropical cocktail as well as a modern riff.  I thought the Mai Tai was just fine, and the Mai Sho Roa Na riff was a great excursion for a version using Banana rather than Orange liqueur and then adding Madiera. Our group tried some of the other cocktails including the Polynesian Forty-Niner (using Gardenia mix), Coronado Luau Special, Mac Nut Chi Chi, and Ube Bae. Really great cocktails overall at False Idol.

Mai Tai

I attempted to not over-indulge by only having two drinks. But the group was really interested in ending the night with a flaming bowl drink, so we settled on the Alkala the Fierce, featuring Dons Spices #2, Orgeat, rum, and Chai-infused Bourbon. I really liked this cocktail, and Jordon flamed it up real good for us. Though, afterwards there was a clear cloud of cinnamon that settled on the table.

A really fantastic evening at False Idol.

3 Replies to “False Idol – San Diego’s Best Tiki Bar”

  1. we made dinner reservations for 5:30 at craft and commerce? can we go into false idol and have drinks first ?or do we need separate reservations for false idol?

    1. If you want to do drinks after instead of before: When you get there for dinner, tell the hostess you want to get into False Idol after dinner. They will put you on the wait list so that you get fast entry after dinner. This does not get you a table, but the “skip the line” is a big plus. If you want a table in false idol, you need a false idol reservation.

      5pm is early for this area’s nightlife, I suspect you will have no trouble doing walk up that early, but you still might not get a table.

  2. Reservations for False Idol are completely separate from Craft and Commerce, but depending on capacity walk-ins may be available. If you line up way early so that you’re first in line when they open at 5 pm it might work. Good luck.

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