Da Tiki Hut, Tacoma’s Locals-Only Tiki Bar

Da Tiki Hut is a Hawaiian restaurant and tiki bar located in a quiet neighborhood in central Tacoma. I visited for lunch on a Saturday and enjoyed a very nice Korean chicken plate lunch with some Gyoza pot stickers and Dole Whip soft serve for desert. This was just the pick-me-up I was looking for after a night of heavy drinking at Devil’s Reef the night before.

The restaurant entrance is set up for to-go orders, but there are a few booths in the back and there’s even a sort-of speakeasy entrance to this portion of the venue. This room features Hawaiian and nautical decor, tikis, and even a nice picture window display. Music was a mellow mix of Jawaiian and other tropical tunes.

There’s also a tiki lounge all the way in the back of the venue with three booths and five stools at the bar. Cocktail service doesn’t open until 1 pm on Saturday so I missed sampling, but there’s a pretty reasonable selection of spirits on the back bar. Locals tell me the cocktails are just okay and that the venue has been working on improvements over time, though with mixed results depending on the bartender. The cocktail menu has most of your favorite tropical cocktails including a 1944 style Mai Tai, plus beer and mocktails.

If you’re doing the tiki tourist thing in Tacoma, Da Tiki Hut isn’t your highest priority but at the same time surely is a great option for locals.

Devil’s Reef Remains one of the Best Tiki Bars in America

Last year I was scheduled to do a Tiki with Ray Live interview at Devil’s Reef in Tacoma. That event was cancelled when I got COVID, so I made sure to visit on my recent trip. We arrived at opening on a Friday.

The venue remains largely the same as my last visit several years back. This is a dark immersive space, with nautical elements combined with tiki and horror. There’s a large bar along with several large booths and tables in the rear. Dark mood lighting and exotic mood music are in full effect. It is very relaxing inside and you’ll totally forget the rain or whatever is happening outside in downtown Tacoma.

Fun times in Tacoma

The bar program is led by co-owner Jason Alexander, and incredibly leans on just a few Planteray rum expressions for nearly every cocktail. We were considering our order when Jason popped in unexpectedly, as he wasn’t scheduled for that shift. We caught up for a bit and when I asked about the relatively new Ferrand Dry Curacao Yuzu he immediately whipped up an incredible Yuzu Daiquiri that totally blew me away.

After Jason departed we were left in the capable hands of Gamaliel Giron who prepped great cocktails for our party. I thought that the Devil’s Reef’s Officer’s Mai Tai was fine but it didn’t blow me away. This cocktail isn’t beloved by Jason Alexander and I guess they’ve bowed to pressure to include it on the menu, but I give a wide berth considering how fantastic all the original cocktails I’ve had here are. I truly loved the Special Dry Planter’s Punch featuring Jamaica rum, falernum, and grenadine.

We didn’t try the food but we’ve heard good things, and there’s a set of non-alcoholic cocktail options on the menu as well. The Friday crowd was going pretty good by the time that we left around 7:00, so its great to see that one of the best tiki bars in America is still doing everything right. This place is a gem and to paraphrase the old Herb Caen line about Trader Vic’s (“the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland”) we agree that the best tiki bar in Seattle is Devil’s Reef in Tacoma.

Tacoma’s Old Hangout is a Mixed Bag

Popped into this tiki bar on the lower level of the McMenamins Elk Temple in Tacoma. I love the decor in the Old Hangout and indeed it is a wonderful place to hang. There’s a really interesting set of decor pieces that come from different places and styles. Music can be all over the place.

I wish I could be as effusive about the Mai Tai, which had a strange taste from the orgeat and rums that aren’t particularly assertive. Locals tell me you’ll have better luck when working with a bartender in off menu cocktails.

Officer’s Mai Tai

Props to Andy at Easy Tiki Drinks for getting the recipe to the Officer’s Mai Tai from Devil’s Reef in Tacoma. Jason Alexander makes some truly amazing cocktails, and this Mai Tai riff is no exception. It’s really quite great, using two excellent Plantation rums as the base.

Want the recipe? Head over to the Easy Tiki Drinks channel on YouTube to check it out. But suffice to say that the addition of a small ingredient means this a different animal than the traditional 1944 Mai Tai. But riffs are fine, especially if labeled as such like this one is.

This one is served in a tall glass, paying homage to Devil’s Reef – one of the best tiki bars in America. Really hoping we can make it up to SeaTac sometime when the Reef is open.