The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a plethora of tiki bars, many of which are amongst the finest in the nation. This page covers tiki bars in the SF/SJ Metro area, with other nearby destinations listed on the Tiki Travels: Central California page.
Bamboo Hut (1)
479 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133
Forbidden Island (2)
1304 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA 94501
Hawaii West (3)
729 Vallejo St, San Francisco, CA 94133
230 Jackson St, San Jose, CA 95112
Hula Hoops (5)
2278 Westborough Blvd #203, South San Francisco, CA 94080
The Kon-Tiki (6)
347 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612
The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto (7)
1900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94612
Kona Club (8)
4401 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
Last Rites (9)
718 14th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Luau Lounge (10)
Pier 39, 2 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Pagan Idol (11)
375 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104
Smuggler’s Cove (12)
650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tiki Haven (13)
1334 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122
Tiki Pete (14)
23 N Market St, San Jose, CA 95113
Tiki Tom’s (15)
1535 Olympic Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Tonga Room (16)
950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Trad’r Sam (17)
6150 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
Trader Vic’s Emeryville (18)
9 Anchor Dr, Emeryville, CA 94608
Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport (19)
1701 Airport Blvd, San Jose, CA 95110
World Famous Turf Club (20)
22519 Main St, Hayward, CA 94541
The Zombie Village (21)
441 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102
These are the destinations that every tikiphile needs to experience and your visit to the Bay Area would not be complete without seeing these. These venues are generally the most immersive tiki experiences, known for high quality cocktails and (for some) food.
- Forbidden Island
- The Kon-Tiki
- The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto
- Last Rites
- Pagan Idol
- Smuggler’s Cove
- Tiki Tom’s
- Tonga Room
- Trader Vic’s Emeryville
- Zombie Village
Worth a Look
These destinations have something interesting to offer, and are sometimes great for locals and for those tikiphiles looking for “extra credit” destinations. Some are more “dive bars with a tiki theme” and so the cocktails, music, and clientele may be reflective.
- Bamboo Hut
- Hula Hoops
- Kona Club
- Luau Lounge
- Trad’r Sam
- Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport
Only for Completists
If you’re one of the crazy people who like to visit every possible tiki bar around, like I am, then here’s the list. These generally are much further away from a tiki theme, or have significantly bad reputations for service and quality.
- Hawaii West
- Tiki Haven
- Tiki Pete
- World Famous Turf Club
Coming Soon, December 2021: Dr. Funk, a new tiki destination in Downtown San Jose replacing the old Peggy Sue’s diner.
The Ultimate Mai Tai rating system for Tiki Bars based on the following four criteria:
Drinks: quality, variety, price, consistency
Ambiance: decor, immersiveness, seating, special features
Service: hours, ease of service, friendliness
Tiki Aesthetic: totems, Polynesian and/or nautical theme, music
|Trader Vic’s Emeryville||7||7||8||8||7.5|
|The Tonga Room||5||9||6||8||7|
|The Kon-Tiki Room||7||6||7||5||6.25|
|Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport||7||4||6||5||5.5|
|World Famous Turf Club||2||4||5||2||3.25|
A few notes:
- Kon-Tiki’s frequent playing of Yacht Rock and other retro-rock music hurt it in the last category, though I happen to love their fun vibe. This is one of my favorite tiki bars anywhere.
- Hula Hoops, Tiki Tom’s, Trader Vic’s, and The Kon-Tiki all got a boost in the service category for their excellent food offerings.
- Hukilau is more of a Hawaiian-themed restaurant, but is listed on Critiki.com’s list of tiki bars so our wide net includes it as well.
- More about our Tiki Bar Rating System
Bamboo Hut originally launched in North Beach in 1999, and recently reopened after an extensive renovation. This is best characterized as a “dive bar with a tiki theme” but crowds are well-mannered and friendly. The cocktail menu is hit or miss, and is not fully the craft orientation of others in the city. The large tiki head just inside the door dates from the 1940s.
A seminal location in the resurgence of tiki in the last decade. Originally opened in 2006 and still going strong. High quality cocktails and service, with light food options (fryer only). A neighborhood bar layout, plus a patio that’s open during daylight and early evening. Be sure to check out the free jukebox where you can influence the music being played. Forbidden Island is known for strong hospitality and a large rum selection; the Kill Devil Rum Club is popular with regulars.
One of the most sketchy dive bars you’ll ever encounter. Known for having an unpleasant bartender and borderline hygiene, there are a few tropical drinks served amongst a few tikis. Beware…
This Hawaiian-themed restaurant has a tiki leaning cocktail menu (heavier on vodka than rum, though) and just a few tiki touches (but is still listed on Critiki.com’s list of tiki bars). Food is great and authentically Hawaiian because the place is owned by actual Hawaiians. They often have music in the back room on the weekends and the Japantown neighborhood is charming.
The strongest suburban tiki location in the Bay Area, thanks to a small but high-quality cocktail list and innovative food offerings. Live music is available many nights, and the family style layout lends itself to private parties and watching sports on the TVs. Check out the small but immersive tiki room built by Bamboo Ben for a more intimate tiki experience. Features cocktails by local luminaries Doc Parks and Buz Deadwax.
Strong cocktail program, innovative food offerings, and friendly service are the hallmark of this downtown Oakland tiki bar. We’ve loved Kon-Tiki since they opened in 2017. Conveniently located a block from the 12th Street BART station, Kon-Tiki is a fun hangout bar that is large enough to usually guarantee a place to sit. Check out the artwork and signature mug by local artist Woody Miller, and meet Woody and the other “Oakhana” regulars on Wednesday nights. They have a large rum selection and the Kon-Tiki Expedition rum list is popular as well. The music is always groovy and retro, though does lean into Yacht Rock more than the typical tiki bar (we love this but you might not). The best thing in the entire building is their famous Cheeseburger that everyone says is the best anywhere.
The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto
The bar is next door to the Palmetto restaurant, and comes from the same team that brought you The Kon-Tiki. The bar manager is Jeanie Grant (ex-Pagan Idol), and the cocktail menu is different than at Kon-Tiki (notably: Frozen Disco Banana!). Small bar bites are available from the kitchen shared with Palmetto. The space is immersive and dark with no outside windows, with a cohesive nautical decor by Woody Miller. The bright style pairs well with the Art-Deco of Palmetto. Noteworthy: music often veers towards 80s top 40.
This neighborhood bar features an incredible interior by Bamboo Ben and is a large space with pool tables and a nicely appointed lounge. The hula girl statue with the swaying hips is a key focal point. Drinks are free-poured and not craft-inspired, and music is more likely to be classic rock than classic tiki. Service often lacks hospitality.
An immersive adventure awaits you at Last Rites. This is themed to a plane crashing in the jungle, including the bar made out of a plane’s fuselage. The menu is designed like a manifest and seems to be covered with blood. A large stone skull is a focal point, though purists will note there aren’t actually any tikis here. But this is otherwise one of the best tiki bars you’ll ever visit. Very strong cocktail program here, including their signature Last Rites cocktail available in a special glass. Join the rum club if you’re a local.
When you’re looking for an escape from the tourists on Pier 39, check out this bar in the back of the Players Sports Bar and Arcade. The offerings here have historically been hit or miss, but you can tell from the menu’s nods to Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber that they are trying. They have a surprisingly large rum collection and some great views of the bay. Music is available some nights and the menu is Hawaiian-leaning bar food.
Popular with Financial District workers at quitting time, Pagan Idol is a top destination for tikiphiles as well (pro-tip – go on the weekends at opening and it’s a superbly relaxed time). The front room has a nautical theme with some amazing wood and glass features, along with a fish tank and front bar. The back room is themed to a tiki island and features large tikis, another bar, and a couple tiki huts that are available for reservation only. Live music is available some nights, so check their social media for updates. The cocktail list is relatively small and leans towards originals, but they do have a very extensive rum selection. Some of the most highly trained bartenders work here, so asking for something off menu is always okay. Music is always exotica.
This is the place for high-quality cocktails and an immersive tiki bar experience. The venue is relatively small, so be sure to get there early before opening if you can. There are bars on the main level and in the basement, plus more seating on the upper level. Drinks are all ordered at the bar, which can lead to logjams on crowded nights. Smuggler’s Cove has an extraordinarily large rum collection and their Rumbustion Society rum club is legendary. The cocktails are truly amazing here, and there is a cocktail tasting program too. They offer one of the best Mai Tais anywhere. Every tikiphile needs to visit Smuggler’s Cove.
Neighborhood dive bar with tiki leanings in the Sunset District. Some cocktails do come in mugs, but you then have to deal with all the neon beer signs and the classic rock playing. Decor is “tacky tiki.”
This downtown San Jose restaurant renamed themselves after the owner a couple years ago, while keeping the Hawaiian leaning menu that had previously drawn praise in the press. In theory, the cocktail menu does the right thing, featuring several different kinds of historically accurate Mai Tais. But our drinks haven’t been prepared to spec very well, and we had a nightmare experience where the food orders came out at different times and it took over 45 minutes for our cocktail order to be delivered. Then the owner called us out on social media for being “rude” to our server, before then outing the server as trans! We were definitely “terse” (not rude) with the server, as we think anyone would if it took 45 minutes for cocktails to be delivered.
This is the only place we actively discourage people from visiting.
Tiki Tom’s recently reopened after their COVID shutdown with a completely refreshed and immersive interior by Bamboo Ben and an overhauled menu. Initial reports indicated that cocktails were uneven and inconsistent, but we found the cocktails to be very high quality. The food we sampled was very well prepared and tasted great, though as with the cocktails the prices are a bit higher than you’d expect considering the portions/quality.
The interior is absolutely gorgeous and music is Hawaiian-leaning exotica, so the mood inside is perfect. Some of the paintings on the walls are screens, so the artwork cycles every few minutes. There’s plenty of room at the bar, in the various cozy booths, or in the lounge section that features a rain/thunder window. There are fun tiki mug displays related to The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, The Big Bang Theory, and more, plus two large tiki mug displays.
One of the oldest and grandest tiki restaurants still in existence, the Tonga Room is in the basement of the famed Fairmont Hotel. The experience is breathtaking as the large room is filled with tikis, nautical pieces, and a large pool where rain falls regularly. The Hurricane Bar is in a sort of subsection of the room and offers bar bites only at specific tables in the bar (so ask when you arrive). Cocktails have improved in recent years, though this is still not a strength. Service in the restaurant is decidedly old-school, with the waiter addressing you formally. We’ve liked our food here, and though it isn’t cheap there are some interesting fusion dishes. There’s a small stage in the pool that floats out when the band plays, but unfortunately the music is 70s-80s pop and not something exotic. Worse, when the band plays there’s a $15/person cover charge. So, arrive early before the band comes on for the best experience.
Likely the oldest tiki bar still in operation, this neighborhood bar has fallen into disrepair. Best to stick to beer rather than the cocktails that all seem to be the same regardless of what you order. Worth visiting, but be aware of the drink quality.
Trader Vic’s Emeryville
Built under the guiding hand of Trader Vic Bergeron himself, the Emeryville location opened in 1972 and remains the franchise’s flagship location. Still family owned, Trader Vic’s sits on the bay and is famous for sunset views, extensive tikis, and signature food and cocktails. We love this Vic’s location, even more so now that the original 1944 Mai Tai made from scratch is the hero cocktail on the menu. The visit won’t be cheap but we do think the quality of the food lives up to the price. For the cocktails, these are slightly less of a good deal, but with a wide selection of palatable drinks it’s a great place to take tiki newbies. Musical acts appear in the lounge several times a month and the not-to-be-missed Tiki Bazaar comes around a few times a year.
If you’re doing the Trader Vic’s history tour, head over to 65th and San Pablo Ave in Oakland to see the vacant lot that used to be the original Trader Vic’s location. Then go over to Mountain View Cemetery (near the Kona Club) and view Victor Bergeron’s final resting place in the Main mausoleum, Garden Terrace, Column 357, Tier 3.
Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport
We might be biased in saying this, but this might be the best airport bar in the world. Only for those on the inside of security in Terminal B near Gates 22-23. There is a restaurant with a few food selections and bar featuring a very large selection of Trader Vic’s favorites (including the Mai Tai, of course). An adjacent Outpost location across the hall features grab’n’go food and Trader Vic’s merchandise.
World Famous Turf Club
This nightclub in downtown Hayward has patio out back with a modest tiki bar and tropical themed garden. Drinks aren’t memorable but if you want to see every single tiki bar in the region this is your last stop.
The Zombie Village
Produced by the same bar group that launched Pagan Idol a few years earlier, Zombie Village is a large venue with something to will appeal to any tikiphile. There are extensive tiki art and carvings, and there are special lighting effects that make some of of the art come alive. The cocktail menu is vast and among the best you’ll find anywhere. A row of differently sized huts are available for reservation and provide a more intimate experience. There is a smaller second bar upstairs that’s open some nights. Zombie Village isn’t in a great neighborhood, but if you start your walk at nearby Union Square it is quite a bit less stressful.
The original Tiki Bob location and statue is a couple blocks away at corner of Post and Taylor.