SF Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a plethora of tiki bars, many of which are amongst the finest in the nation. See the Tiki Bar Ratings page for additional analysis.

Bamboo Hut (1)
479 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

Downtown Tiki Lounge (2)
144 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

Forbidden Island (3)
1304 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA 94501

Hawaii West (4)
729 Vallejo St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Hukilau (5)
230 Jackson St, San Jose, CA 95112

Hula Hoops (20)
2278 Westborough Blvd #203, South San Francisco, CA 94080

The Kon-Tiki (6)
347 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Kona Club (7)
4401 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

Last Rites (8)
718 14th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Luau Lounge (9)
Pier 39, 2 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Pagan Idol (10)
375 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104

Smuggler’s Cove (11)
650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Tiki Haven (12)
1334 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Tiki Pete (13)
23 N Market St, San Jose, CA 95113

Tiki Tom’s (14)
1535 Olympic Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Tonga Room (15) 
950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Trad’r Sam (16)
6150 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

Trader Vic’s (17)
9 Anchor Dr, Emeryville, CA 94608

World Famous Turf Club (18)
22519 Main St, Hayward, CA 94541

The Zombie Village (19)
441 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

San Francisco and Alameda County Tiki Bars

Must-Sees

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
  • Kon-Tiki
  • Last Rites
  • Pagan Idol
  • Smuggler’s Cove
  • Tonga Room
  • Trader Vic’s
  • 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
  • Tiki Tom’s
  • Trad’r Sam

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.

  • Downtown Tiki Lounge
  • Hawaii West
  • Hukilau
  • Tiki Haven
  • Tiki Pete
  • World Famous Turf Club

Coming Soon

TBD 2020: The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto. The bar is adjacent to Palmetto restaurant, 1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. From the same team that brought you The Kon-Tiki. The bar manager is Jeanie Grant (ex-Pagan Idol).

TBD 2020: Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport. Only for those on the inside of security, but open any time planes are flying near Gate 22-23. Restaurant and bar, with Outpost grab’n’go.

Ratings

  Drinks Ambiance Service Tiki Aesthetic Total
 Zombie Village 8 9 7 9 8.25
 Smuggler’s Cove 10 9 5 8 8
 Trader Vic’s 7 8 8 8 7.75
 The Tonga Room 5 10 6 9 7.5
 Forbidden Island 7 6 7 8 7
 The Kon-Tiki 8 6 8 6 7
 Pagan Idol 6 7 5 8 6.5
 Last Rites 7 8 6 4 6.25
 Hula Hoops 6 5 7 6 6
 Bamboo Hut 5 5 6 5 5.25
 Kona Club 4 6 4 6 5
 Tiki Tom’s 4 5 6 5 5
 Luau Lounge 5 4 5 5 4.75
 Downtown Tiki Lounge 5 5 5 4 4.75
 Hukilau 5 4 7 2 4.5
 Tiki Haven 4 4 5 4 4.25
 Trad’r Sam 3 3 5 5 4
 Tiki Pete 3 4 3 4 3.5
 World Famous Turf Club 2 4 5 2 3.25
 Hawaii West 2 2 3 4 2.75

A few notes:

  • Pagan Idol gets dinged a bit because I don’t love their current menu offerings, which are small in number and less diverse than when they first opened.
  • 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, 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.
  • More about our Tiki Bar Rating System

Visitors Guide

Bamboo Hut

Tiki Head inside Bamboo Hut

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.

Downtown Tiki Lounge

Dive bar with very light tiki theme and menu is the most positive thing you can say. Hours are inconsistent and the drinks are spotty. The neighborhood is upscale but there appears to be no attempt to cater to the cocktail snobs.

Downtown Tiki Lounge

Forbidden Island

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.

Sharing a bowl at Forbidden Island

Hawaii West

Does this look inviting to you?

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…

Hukilau

Hukilau’s Tiki Bar

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.

Hula Hoops

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.

Tiki Room at Hula Hoops

The Kon-Tiki

Strong cocktail program, innovative food offerings, and friendly service are the hallmark of this downtown Oakland tiki bar. 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 Burger

Kona Club

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.

Kona Club

Last Rites

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.

Rock Feature at Last Rites

Luau Lounge

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.

Luau Lounge

Pagan Idol

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.

Tropical Drinks at Pagan Idol

Smuggler’s Cove

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 Rhumbusiton 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.

Immersive Decor at Smuggler’s Cove

Tiki Haven

Tiki Haven

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.”

Tiki Pete

When it takes more than 45 minutes for your Mai Tai to be delivered

This downtown San Jose restaurant recently renamed themselves after the owner, while keeping the Hawaiian leaning menu that has 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

Tiki Tom’s

A strange bastion of old-school Walnut Creek, surrounded by upscale shopping and restaurants, Tiki Tom’s in an unpretentious neighborhood bar with a light tiki theme. People always seem to be having fun when I visit, and karaoke is popular several times a week as well. Drinks are not so great, but the service is efficient and friendly. The kind of place that’s really more of a sports bar, but at least they play reggae.

  • More info: Bay Area Suburban Tiki is a Mixed Bag – Tiki with Ray Blog
  • Note: as of May 2020 during shelter-in-place, the interior of Tiki Tom’s is undergoing a makeover from Bamboo Ben. The pictures indicate this will be a traditional dark tiki bar interior. Ben says that the menu will also get a makeover, whenever this opens.

Tonga Room

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.

Glorious Decor at The Tonga Room

Trad’r Sam

Trad’r Sam

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

Plenty of Tikis at Trader Vic’s

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.

World Famous Turf Club

Tiki Bar at the 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.

Tiki Huts at Zombie Village