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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Shanghai Lil's, Chicago, IL (restaurant)

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Name:Shanghai Lil's
Street:5415 N. Milwaukee Ave

Another one of the many Polynesian Pop restaurants located in the Chicago area during the Tiki heyday.

I have this postcard showing the drink selections.

Just picked up this nice menu - it is really big.

The cover.

Tropical drink selections from the menu.

Some more drink choices from around the world.

Additional artwork from the menu.

I love the rendering of the woman - must be Shanghai Lil herself.


anyone care to post a pic of the ashtray..i'm too lazy to do it myself but i will if no one else steps up......

On 2009-07-05 20:07, Tipsy McStagger wrote:
anyone care to post a pic of the ashtray..i'm too lazy to do it myself but i will if no one else steps up......

OK Tipsy, lets see the ashtray already.


Here is so more info on Shanghai Lil's from James T's book Tiki Road Trip.

Tipsy - Where is that ashtray?


okay- here it is....this has always been one of my favorite ashtrays.....back in the 80's and early 90's you could find these in just about every visit to a thrift store in chicago.....i used to give these awy to friends for x-mas i had so many back then...this one in particular has really crisp detail in the graphic..not all of them were like that...alot had muddled and smudgy looking graphics...probably because those were the ones they offered up later and didn't care about the quality so much due to the fact that everyone and their brother was probably swiping these things all the time from the place......anyway, it's been along time since i have seen these in the wild....they all just kind of disappeared.


Nice Ashtray. If you ever come across another one, pick it up for me and we'll do a little horse trading.


Here's the pop culture background to the name, a classic musical song performed by James Cagney in 1933:


...and here's the only version of the song on the net, as usual with jazz classics from that period, the vocal starts only after a minute into the song:


On a side note, (Warning: decidedly leading away from the subject of Polynesian pop !), the vocalist Kardos uses for the song reminds me of songs performed by Charlie and his Orchestra:


A unique and esoteric footnote to Nazi propaganda, which of course was laughed off by the targeted US and British soldiers -and by hip German teenagers like my parents, who as Swing Kids could tell fake from real jazz:


If they would have had an inkling of Polynesian pop back then, they would have dug it!

Quite a history lesson there, Sven. The youtube shots of old Shanghai were interesting.

Picked up one of those ashtrays Tipsy had posted and it came with a free matchbook from Shanghai Lil's.


Came across this photo of the Royal Hawaiians, a featured act at Shanghai Lil's. The info stated that the picture was from 1972.



I'm gonna run this pic by Gwen at Barefoot Hawiian.
I'll be she can identify some of these people.


Gwen writes:

"Wow - what an oldie! I do remember their faces, but not their names!"

Tiki Transmission Tradition - the Shanghai Lil's logo was used at the Bali Hi in Youngstown, Ohio.

Exotic drinks and a luau room.



Hi everyone,

My name is Danny Wong Jr. My father was the manager. To answer the question of the aquatic pool, it was located under the floor of the main dining room, it was never used by Shanghai Lil's. I believe the name of the restaurant that had the mermaid show was called The Quid Chicago.


Some more drink choices from around the world.

This list is fairly hysterical. Sazerac from Brazil? Dr. Funk from Jamaica? Hurricane from Barbados? Bloody Mary from South Pacific? Harvey Wallbanger from Las Vegas?

Did they just pull drink names and random locations from a hat?

[ Edited by: arriano 2014-04-25 10:24 ]

Found this article from 1976 on the web with a few photos of the exterior and the entertainment. A good description of the environs.

Chief Tavui was a mainstay at the various Tiki establishments in the Chicago area.


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