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The wife and I booked flights to SF for early November. We'll be there from a Tuesday to Tuesday with a detour to Yosemite (for possibly 2-3 nights) plus a day in Napa Valley to see the wine country and some friends up there. So we may only have three or four full days to take in as much of San Francisco as we possibly could. Our tentative itinerary includes the following tiki locales:

-Smuggler's Cover
-Pagan Idol
-Trader Vic's
-Forbidden Island
-Tonga Room

Smuggler's Cove is probably the one I want to spend the most time at and possibly go to on two occasions if time allows. We're flying in to Oakland in the late afternoon so first thing we'll probably do is stop into Trader Vic's in Emeryville for lunch and then depending what time we finish up and if traffic is still fierce, we could either kill some time at Amoeba in Berkeley or go down to Forbidden Island for a couple drinks, then head on over to the Cove. Not sure I want to cram three bars into one day though, especially since we will be driving. Is Forbidden Island still serving quality drinks? It's probably the most out of the way of the bars we've chosen.

I've heard mixed reviews of Tonga Room with many people saying the food and drink are terrible but it's worth popping in to see the place. If that's the case and only one drink is necessary, it should be easy to do that and Pagan Idol in the same day because of their close proximity.

We're also looking for other things to do, especially in the day time. We're perfectly content doing touristy things like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge but heard the Wharf is really not worth going to. What other activities, shopping, or fun things should be on our radar? Record stores? Vintage/thrift stores? What eateries should we definitely consider?

Oh, and does anyone have lodging recommendations? We don't want to slum it but can't spend a fortune either. Would like to find a reasonably priced place to stay that's not too far from the action. We're planning to rent a car since we are taking those trips out of town but heard it's a nightmare driving in SF so maybe we'll return it for the days we're staying in the city. What say you locals?

Would love to hear everyone's suggestions on how we could make the most of our time there. And of course would love to meet up with some of you.

I think the Wharf is worth visiting. It is touristy, but the seafood is great! I generally go everytime I am up there.

There are two Amoebas to check out and also Rasputin Music is good.

Chinatown and Japantown are cool for strolling around.

Tonga Room is right by Smugglers Cove and is worth a visit in my opinion. I wouldn't miss Forbidden Island if you are already in Oakland. Haven't tried Pagan Idol yet but it is on my list. There is also a newish Gin bar by Martin, White Chapel - http://whitechapelsf.com/

People like to ride the trolley, but in reality Uber is the best way to get around.

On 2016-06-13 14:00, lunavideogames wrote:
I think the Wharf is worth visiting. It is touristy, but the seafood is great! I generally go everytime I am up there.

There are two Amoebas to check out and also Rasputin Music is good.

Chinatown and Japantown are cool for strolling around.

Tonga Room is right by Smugglers Cove and is worth a visit in my opinion. I wouldn't miss Forbidden Island if you are already in Oakland. Haven't tried Pagan Idol yet but it is on my list. There is also a newish Gin bar by Martin, White Chapel - http://whitechapelsf.com/

People like to ride the trolley, but in reality Uber is the best way to get around.

Thanks for the tips. Funny, the other night we were discussing ideas with our friends who now live in Austin but were from SF and when we mentioned going to the Wharf they simultaneously pleaded for us not to, so we were gonna scratch it off the list. Great seafood is up our alley though. Any particular restaurants you'd recommend? And I guess sourdough is a big thing there?

They did mention China and Japantown. And said to stay away from Haight St which is where the other Amoeba is. I had mentioned the gin bar to my wife but she shot it down since we have so many bars on the agenda already. Will have to save it for the next trip.

I like the Haight st Amoeba better than Berkley, I have never seen that it was a dangerous area or anything, just homeless people and hippies. The whole area over there has a lot of cool shopping. Also, Tiki Bob is right around there I believe.

As far as the Wharf, just their little street vendors are good. My wife swears by the clam chowder. Comes in a sourdough bowl and has cured her hangover on numerous occasions :wink: I always get the steamed crab, fresh and steamed in front of you. There is also a resturant that you have to get a boat to over there, with a bar but I have never been.

Hotels are spendy so whatever you can find for less than $200 a night might be the way to go.

J

There's info here: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=49446&forum=16
More here: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=48045&forum=16

Tonga Room is close to Pagan Idol, so you can do those both in one evening easily. Pagan Idol opens at 4:00, so start there, then if you can pry yourself away from their awesome drinks and décor, head to the Tonga Room for dinner. The food and drinks at the Tonga Room improved greatly a few years ago when they hired a new F&B manager. Unfortunately for them, their head bartender left to open Pagan Idol, but I doubt they've gone downhill that much in a year. If it were me visiting San Francisco for the first time, I would walk two blocks from Pagan Idol to California Street and hop on the Cable Car up the hill to the Tonga Room. It's a little pricey at $7 per person, but it's fun, and easier than hiking up that hill on foot.

Smuggler's Cove is best if you get there when they open at 5:00 (if it's not a Monday or Tuesday, you should get there before they open if you want a seat). Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are particularly busy at "the Cove" and it can be hard to really appreciate its beauty when it's so crowded you can't really see the décor. Also, there are no servers at Smuggler's Cove, so you'll want seats at one of the two bars if possible. Once you're there, introduce yourself to your bartender and allow them to guide you if they're not swamped. The drinks are unparalleled, as is the skill of the bartenders and the décor. Take your time there and soak it all in.

I do really encourage you to check out Martin Cate's Whitechapel when you're near Smuggler's Cove. Even if it's only for one drink and a look around. The space was created by Notch, the same guy who did Smuggler's Cove, and it is AMAZING! It's also fairly large so getting a seat is not difficult early in the evening. Oh, and they have fantastic food too.

The original Tiki Bob is at the southeast corner of Post & Taylor, just a few blocks from the Tonga Room if you care to drive by (it's nowhere near the Haight).

If you like authentic Italian food, the North Beach neighborhood is the best place for that. There are also some very nice restaurants along the Embarcadero for a good view of the Bay Bridge lights. You'll want to make those reservations very early. Let me know if you want specific restaurant names. Just for reference, the Embarcadero is on the east side of the city with views of Oakland and the Bay Bridge, Fisherman's wharf is along the north side of the city with views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge.

If you have time during the day, and if the weather is cooperative, you might want to go out to Lands End and see the Cliff House. They do a very nice (but a bit pricey) brunch on weekends. From there, you can take a walk down Ocean Beach. If you have a car, drive south along the beach, then head inland to Golden Gate Park. If you're a Disney fan, you should also check out the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio (the former military base around the San Francisco end of the Golden Gate bridge.

When choosing a hotel, you really should do your research. While I understand that budget is important, there are some really shady places in the city. In general, you'll want to avoid the Tenderloin neighborhood. The hotels near Fisherman's Wharf tend to be a bit more reasonably priced than other areas, and they're relatively safe and clean. You'll be lucky to find anything under $200 in a decent neighborhood though, so plan on spending closer to $300 for something you'll not hate. I've heard good things about Hayes Valley Inn and Inn at the Opera, both just a few blocks from Smuggler's Cove. Make your reservations as soon as possible so the rates don't get crazy high as they fill up.

Parking is its own circle of hell in San Francisco, so you probably will only want a rental car on the days you leave the city to go to Yosemite, Napa, or Emeryville and Alameda, and maybe one day in the city to visit Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, and the Disney museum.

Hope this helps.

I agree that the Haight St Amoeba store is rad and in a great shopping district. Plus its super close to my favourite daytime non-tiki place in San Francisco - Golden Gate Park. I could spend days there and I recommend checking it out if you are nearby at some point.

City Light books is really cool too, and down the street from Club Fugazi where they do Beach Blanket Babylon. Beach Blanket Babylon is just SO San Francisco and a great way to kill a couple hours if you are into that sort of thing.

I personally hate the wharf area, but I also hate seafood, so what do I know?

I have had great experiences at the Hotel Donatello. Huge rooms, fantastic staff, and clean as a whistle. It's near Union Square and a short downhill stumble from the Tonga Room.

Your trip sounds awesome. I think you have all the tiki places right.

Thanks for the tips guys! Really appreciate the info. I think we've decided to keep the Yosemite excursion to just 2 days and only make the Napa trip a half day detour to allow for more time in SF.

Thanks for the location of Bob! Can't wait to see that poor green bastard in person. Has anyone ever eaten at the Honey Honey crepery that's there now? Wondering if it's worth grabbing lunch there.

As for lodging, my wife's been doing a ton of research and although we were advised to stay away from the tenderloin, there's a place called the Phoenix Hotel that seems promising. It's on the outskirts of the tenderloin and on the same block as Whitechapel. The price is right and there's free parking. And we'd be fairly close to Smuggler's Cove as well. Maybe we'll do one night there and other nights closer to the Wharf?

Do any of the bars have happy hour specials we should be privy to?

S

I only had 3 days in SF when i visited in 2012 and really only got to see about half of what i really wanted.

I stayed in a cheap hotel only about a block away from Chinatown so i was quite central in the city and did a lot of walking but i did catch the cable car down to Fishermans Wharf (where i got off at Lombard Street on the way also) which i did enjoy. I would have loved to have crossed the Golden Gate bridge and also do a tour of Alcatraz but unfortunately with my limited time there i only got to view them from a distance. I would have loved to have seen the 'painted ladies' but again, i just didn't have the time to squeeze them in.

As for the bars, Trader Vic's is definitely worth seeing if you can get out there. I fortunately met someone at Tiki Oasis who lived in SF and they drove me there (and to the Kona Club which sadly has now closed) and if it wasn't for them i would have missed that as i have no idea how i would have gotten out there on my own otherwise. I personally don't like drinking when i'm eating so i only had one drink (i'm not sure what and can't remember what it was like) but i do remember the food being good.

Tonga Room is a must for the history and decor. I was warned to only order a beer when there but because i'm not really a beer drinker and was also already a little drunk, i ordered a zombie. When it arrived about 10 seconds later i probably should have taken that advice, but as has been mentioned, the drinks have supposedly improved since then.

Forbidden Island was my favourite. I really loved the decor and the layout of the room and also the drinks were very good.

As for Smugglers Cove, i didn't enjoy it as much as i hoped i would and here's why. I had spent the day pretty much from 12:00 onwards drinking cocktails at Kahuna Kevin's house (if you own any of his books and/or have had some of his drinks you know what that means). We went and had an early dinner and got to SC maybe 30mins after they opened and had to wait outside for a little bit. Whilst the decor is very cool, it really is a 'nautical' bar, not a 'tiki' bar. And it is quite small and i wasn't a fan of the actual layout of the place. It also seemed overcrowded which is something that makes me not want to stay at places. I understand that that is to be expected with such a popular place but i prefer a quieter bar with less hustle and bustle.

As far as the drinks go, i 'think' i only had two before we left but couldn't tell you what they were like but no doubt, considering the popularity of the bar and the amount of lists it is on as one of the best in the world, no doubt they would have been good. I would love to make it back there one day and experience the place under different circumstances on a quieter night when i had more time to soak it all in.

So that's my two cents on my brief time in SF. I hope that helps somewhat.


[ Edited by: swizzle 2016-06-14 19:23 ]

J

On 2016-06-14 14:27, mikehooker wrote:

As for lodging, my wife's been doing a ton of research and although we were advised to stay away from the tenderloin, there's a place called the Phoenix Hotel that seems promising. It's on the outskirts of the tenderloin and on the same block as Whitechapel. The price is right and there's free parking. And we'd be fairly close to Smuggler's Cove as well. Maybe we'll do one night there and other nights closer to the Wharf?

I forgot about the Phoenix. Yes, that place is the one exception to the Tenderloin rule. I know it was the official hotel for one or two of the SF Bay Tiki Crawls that used to happen years ago. If the rates are good, that's a good location, just don't wander to the east on foot at night.

[ Edited by: JenTiki 2016-06-15 07:21 ]

J

On 2016-06-14 19:16, swizzle wrote:
(and to the Kona Club which sadly has now closed)

I believe Swizzle may have meant the Conga Room. Kona Club in Oakland is still open, but the Conga Room has closed.

On 2016-06-14 19:16, swizzle wrote:
I would have loved to have seen the 'painted ladies' but again, i just didn't have the time to squeeze them in.

The "Painted Ladies" are not far from Smuggler's Cove, so if you want to put them on your agenda, it would be easy to see them late afternoon before heading to Smuggler's Cove for their 5:00 opening.

T

"Chinatown and Japantown are cool for strolling around"

We try to go to any Chinatown we see as they are most time from the fifties and not changed much.

SF Chinatown is very cool.

On 2016-06-15 07:21, JenTiki wrote:

I forgot about the Phoenix. Yes, that place is the one exception to the Tenderloin rule. I know it was the official hotel for one or two of the SF Bay Tiki Crawls that used to happen years ago. If the rates are good, that's a good location, just don't wander to the east on foot at night.

Awesome! It's under $200 so we'll definitely stay atleast one night there. She also found a place called Cova a little deeper into the tenderloin which looks nice and is a bit cheaper. Should we just spend the extra bucks at Phoenix? I heard they have a nice pool area. Not sure if the Cova does.

On 2016-06-15 07:31, JenTiki wrote:

The "Painted Ladies" are not far from Smuggler's Cove, so if you want to put them on your agenda, it would be easy to see them late afternoon before heading to Smuggler's Cove for their 5:00 opening.

Added to the ever changing itinerary.

On 2016-06-15 08:41, tikiskip wrote:
"Chinatown and Japantown are cool for strolling around"

We try to go to any Chinatown we see as they are most time from the fifties and not changed much.

SF Chinatown is very cool.

Sweet. Any suggestions on food in either China or Japan town? We've got most of our activities planned, now to figure out what to put in our bellies besides rum (and gin).

J

On 2016-06-15 09:45, mikehooker wrote:

She also found a place called Cova a little deeper into the tenderloin which looks nice and is a bit cheaper. Should we just spend the extra bucks at Phoenix? I heard they have a nice pool area. Not sure if the Cova does.

Cova must be relatively new since I've never heard of it (I moved across the country almost two years ago after a lifetime in the Bay Area). The website makes it look very nice, but I would not want to sleep in that neighborhood. Those streets (and the activities thereon) are not the view you want when you look out your window on vacation, nor will you enjoy the sidewalk aroma when entering/exiting the hotel. I'd say stick with the Phoenix. As for the pool ... it's San Francisco ... in November. It only gets warm enough for a pool in that city about 3 weeks out of the year, and those weeks are usually done by mid-October. Most of the really high-end hotels in SF even have their pools indoors, if they have one at all.

We stayed in Chinatown and went to a place to eat.
Man everybody in there did not appear to speak English, even the menu was in Chinese.
We pointed to two things that looked like they were appetizers and got out.

We went to Chinatown in Hawaii to Wo Fat restaurant glad we went as I see it is closed.
But they walked some kart around and said we HAD to try this thing, I am to
this day sure it was Cow Balls.
They seemed to be interested that we eat it.
Did not like it really.

Peking duck house in New York was good!
Man around dusk all these Cop cars started rolling in so we left.

Go to Taco Bell. :)

If you find yourself in Chinatown in search of food, this place is a hidden gem that's been around for almost 100 years:

http://www.hangah1920.com/

I also highly recommend stopping by the infamous Li Po Lounge (with their Chinese Mai Tai) whilst in the neighbourhood:

http://www.lipolounge.com/

Warning: I remember every time I've gone to Li Po, but rarely remember leaving.

The Phoenix has gotten fairly expensive in the past few years (you can find better rooms and rates at Hotel Kabuki in Japantown) but it's a cool place if you're music-centric. I hung out with Duran Duran here many years ago...

I highly recommend looking into getting the citypass, worked awesome for my wife and I on our last trip:

1 - 7-day Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport
2 - California Academy of Sciences
3 - Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure (replaced this w/ Alcatraz in our case)
4 - Exploratorium or de Young Museum
5 - Aquarium of the Bay or Monterey Bay Aquarium

Also, I believe it was Thursday night, but the exploratorium does an adults only with a bar, it's an interactive science museum, so mix a few drinks with that and it's a great time.

I also highly recommend spending some time in North Beach, dinner, bakery visit for cannoli, it'll be delicious. If you like Art Deco style, amazing views, and walking up a big ass hill, definitely go up to Coit Tower, the WPA murals are fantastic, give them a look before you go up to the observation deck.

I would also say you should go out to Golden Gate park, which is the location of the California Academy of Science (great combo museum, natural history, planetarium, aquarium - good stuff), anyway, go to the Japanese Tea Garden in the park, it's amazing. Just wonder that park, there's always cool stuff to find!

So far I've only been to Tonga Room (my list for next time matches yours). The decor was fantastic, my drink (Zombie) was pretty good, but it was very crowded, the band was playing top 40 covers, and we had to pay a cover charge (I think $7 each), and there was a line to get in. I think the cover starts later in the evening when the band starts so maybe get there beforehand for a smaller crowd, probably better music, and more of an ability to look around.

Have fun!!

Also, in terms of lodging my wife loves the cable cars so we've stayed right on the line both times. The Sir Francis Drake and the Stanford Court. Stanford court is VERY centrally located. Literally across the street from Tonga Room and would be right up the hill on the California line cable car (less busy one) from Pagan Idol.

M

I have a short trip to San Francisco coming up with family. Would love to hit all of the tiki spots, but that would be much too much drinking for this mixed group. If I can hit one tiki spot only, which should I go for? I know Trader Vic's would be a pain to get to but it seems like the most fun. The Tonga Room looks great, but I hear it is hard to get in and the food is bad. We are staying in Fisherman's Wharf.

Any advice please? thanks.

[ Edited by: mcmtiki 2016-07-28 09:01 ]

F

Mcmtiki, if you can do only one tiki bar, and you can get to Alameda, make it Forbidden Island.
If you can't get to Alameda, his Smuggler's Cove when they open (line up 20-30 mins before on a weekday to make sure you get a spot at the bar to watch the action, or seats above in the loft.)

And if you have time for non-drinking tiki, I highly recommend getting over to the deYoung museum to spend some quality time with their rooms of South Pacific art and artifacts. As an art aficionado, there's more than enough to see there to make it worth going, but their Pacific Islander cultural collection is amazing. Probably one of the best, if not the best, in the country.

Have a blast!

J

It really depends on what you're looking for:

Best drinks and awesome decor: Smuggler's Cove
History: Tonga Room or Trader Vic's
Food: Tonga Room or Trader Vic's. Tonga Room's dining room food really isn't bad, but Trader Vic's is better. Smuggler's Cove and Pagan Idol don't have food.
Kid friendly: Tonga Room or Trader Vic's. Smuggler's Cove, Pagan Idol, and Forbidden Island are 21+ only.

None of these are within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf, but you can get on the F-Line historic streetcar at Fisherman's Wharf and take it all the way to Market & 11th St and walk a few blocks from there to Smuggler's Cove. Or for a truly fun touristy experience, you can ride the Cable Car from Fisherman's Wharf directly to the Powell & California stop where the Tonga Room is located. Also, the 47 Muni Bus will get you from Fisherman's Wharf to Van Ness & McAllister, just two blocks from Smuggler's Cove, but the streetcar and cable car are much cooler, and the bus clientele can be a bit sketchy.

Your experience at these places will also vary by the day and time of your visit. If you tell us that much, we can give even better advice.

[ Edited by: JenTiki 2016-07-28 09:37 ]

M

Thanks finky099 and JenTiki. I think my main aim to go after is "vintage tiki vibe" -- which is why the Trader Vic's location seems enticing. Even with a grain of salt, the Yelp reviews of the Tonga Room make it sound like a supreme hassle just to get in the door, which I am up for but need to keep the group on-board.

This would be an eve visit, and food is likely a good a idea given the potent tiki drinks to be imbibed by occasional drinkers.

J

On 2016-07-28 09:43, mcmtiki wrote:
the Yelp reviews of the Tonga Room make it sound like a supreme hassle just to get in the door,

I have never found that to be the case, and have been there dozens of times. Perhaps people just didn't know how to find it in the hotel since it's on a lower level, or maybe they tried to go on a weekend in the evening. If you're going for dinner, simply make reservations and you'll have no problem getting in. If you want to go for happy hour, just get there a few minutes before they open. Keep in mind though, that the happy hour buffet is a serious quality drop from the dining room food. The other thing to keep in mind is the cheesy cover band they have playing at night. I think they usually start around 8:00 and a cover charge will be added to your bill if you're there when they start playing. They play the usual wedding band stuff, not exotica or Hawaiian music. Most of us in the tiki scene go early and leave early to avoid the cover charge and the cheesy tunes.

Just got back from a trip to SF and I have to agree with JenTiki and the posters above. The Tonga Room was much cooler than I had expected to be after hearing all the les-than-raving reviews over the years.

Smuggler's Cove is awesome, but much, much smaller than I had expected it to be.

I found that I really liked Pagan Idol, even though I have had very few people talk about it. It's got a very cool vibe, and the drinks are good. It is also pretty small, so go early.

I found that most of my tiki drinking was over by 8 or so when everything filled up and got too loud.

J

On 2016-07-28 15:36, TikiHardBop wrote:

I found that I really liked Pagan Idol, even though I have had very few people talk about it. It's got a very cool vibe, and the drinks are good. It is also pretty small, so go early.

Here are my thoughts on why you may not have heard as much about Pagan Idol.

  1. It's relatively new having just opened earlier this year.
  2. It's not run by Tiki Central ohana.
  3. The Bay Area tiki people really love Smuggler's Cove and its owners. I really like Pagan Idol, and if I still worked in SF (my office was two blocks from it), I would probably be there at least a couple times a month. But I have a sense of loyalty to Smuggler's Cove that makes it difficult, for me at least, to promote a bar that could be seen as its competition.

All that said, I think Pagan Idol is a very good tiki bar that is doing it right. I enjoyed the drinks I had there, and they've got the beginnings of a very good rum selection. The décor is also very cool! I mean have you seen the lighting fixtures in the front room! :o Those are crazy!

But when I'm back in San Francisco for a few days in September, I will rack up many more hours on a barstool at Smuggler's Cove than I will at Pagan Idol. Partly due to my sense of loyalty, but also because Pagan Idol wouldn't even exist if Smuggler's Cove hadn't paved the tiki highway for them in San Francisco. Then there's the fact that I can feel the nipping at my heels of about a dozen people trying to beat my rum count at Smuggler's Cove (which currently stands at 543) so I've got some drinking to do!

Yeah, we were only at both places long enough to get two drinks and then we headed out. Both bars became too full for us country mice. I'm glad you gave the back story. We love the Stolen Idol folks as well. If it weren't so crowded, we would have definitely closed the joint!

I was in San Fran last year and had the chance to stop by Tonga Room and Smuggler's Cover.

We stopped at Tonga Room first and I wasn't blown away but it may be that we just stopped by on a bad night. It was packed and we waited for awhile just to get a spot standing by the bar. It was a fight to find a few inches of bar space to hail the bartender. Took forever to get my drink and it was a little too sickly sweet for my taste. The live band wasn't doing it for me either. On top of that I also had the misfortune of standing next to an particularly nasty guy spewing some pretty hateful comments that really brought my whole experience down. If you've got time I'd definitely say pop in the Tonga Room as it's pretty cool inside and I'd likely give it another shot if I was in the area again.

Smuggler's Cove was a much better experience. It was busy but actually felt less packed than Tonga Room despite being much smaller inside. Drinks were better here as well which is no surprise, they were just named America's best cocktail bar for 2016 by Tales of the Cocktail. I loved the decor inside and am extremely jealous that the self-styled pirate town of Tampa, FL where I grew up doesn't have a bar half as piratey as Smuggler's Cove.

If I was back in San Fran and only had time to visit either Tonga or Smuggler's Cove I'd go with Smuggler's Cove.

BTW - When I was there I also stayed at Yosemite and did the whole Napa Valley thing (as well as drive a good chunk of the Big Sur coastal highway). It was a great trip so I'm sure you'll have a blast. If you've got an extra day maybe swing by Carmel-by-the-Sea. A really neat little beach town about a two hour drive from San Fran. Totally worth the drive, especially if you swing by the tiny Town Hall and apply for your high heel permit.

Thanks everyone for all the great tips. It's awesome that all these tiki bars are so busy all the time and presumably doing very well, but I get crazy anxiety in big crowds and will assuredly not enjoy my time if I have to be in a standing room situation. I much prefer a quiet, relaxing evening where I could shoot the shit with my bartender and not feel rushed cuz someone's waiting for my seat. So I plan to do all my bar visits earlier in the day to try and avoid the congestion. Curious though, since EVERYONE here has said how bad the entertainment is at Tonga Room and how there's a cover after 8 and it's super packed, who are the people going in the later hours to endure that? Tourists or regulars?

J

On 2016-08-01 11:37, mikehooker wrote:
Thanks everyone for all the great tips. It's awesome that all these tiki bars are so busy all the time and presumably doing very well, but I get crazy anxiety in big crowds and will assuredly not enjoy my time if I have to be in a standing room situation. I much prefer a quiet, relaxing evening where I could shoot the shit with my bartender and not feel rushed cuz someone's waiting for my seat. So I plan to do all my bar visits earlier in the day to try and avoid the congestion.

I don't know how early in the day you were thinking, but Pagan Idol opens at 4:00pm and Smuggler's Cove at 5:00pm. For Smuggler's Cove, you really do need to be there before they open if you want a seat. And if you really want to chat with the bartender, it should be early in the week, like a Monday or Tuesday. Also, there are a total of about 10 bar seats between the street-level and downstairs bars, so don't dilly dally once you get in the door or you'll end up sitting somewhere that you can't chat with the bartender, and there are no servers, so you'd have to go to the bar each time you want a refill.

On 2016-08-01 11:37, mikehooker wrote:
Curious though, since EVERYONE here has said how bad the entertainment is at Tonga Room and how there's a cover after 8 and it's super packed, who are the people going in the later hours to endure that? Tourists or regulars?

Tourists for sure.

M

So went to Tonga Room - much cooler than I thought it would be. Had a great time from 5 to 6PM. Also went to Trader Vic's in Emeryville. Sadly, they sat us in the lounge where they have killed the vibe with 4 big screen TVs playing sports. It's a shame because the location is primo and most of the rest of the place is spectacular.

H
Hamo posted on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 9:23 PM

I needed a little getaway in March and decided on SF because I could combine a few sightseeing desires into one trip. I stayed at La Luna Inn on Lombard, which meant I was within walking distance of the Palace of Fine Arts and the Presidio, and easy bus rides to places like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Wharf. If you're looking for additional ideas for things to do, and somehow your interests are as weird as mine, here are some things I did and suggest (in no particular order):

  • See the Palace of Fine Arts
  • Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Stroll through Chinatown
  • Climb up the hill to Coit Tower
  • Get dinner and drinks at the Tonga Room, then wander through the rest of the Fairmont Hotel
  • Explore the Fisherman's Wharf area, including the Musee Mecanique, Maritime National Historical Park, and Ripley's Believe It or Not
  • Ride a cable car, and stop at the Cable Car Museum
  • Pilgrimage to Mission Dolores
  • Stop and smell the flowers in the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park
  • Watch the sun set below the Pacific Ocean from Cliff House

I'd already been to Alcatraz on a previous trip, and recommend that, too. I didn't make it to Trader Vic's, Smuggler's Cove or Pagan Idol (because I was in the middle of a special diet and couldn't drink the entire trip) so I guess there's still reason to go back.

Thanks again everyone for all the wonderful suggestions. I'm about a week out from my trip and something just dawned on me. I could probably find lots of rums in Cali that aren't available in Texas that I could bring home. One that immediately comes to mind is the new Plantation OFTD which Mr. Cate had a hand in developing and is presumably available now in the Bay Area. So with that in mind, what are the better liquor stores I should be visiting?

J

Bitters + Bottles in South San Francisco likely carries it. You might also try Cask Spirits downtown, K&L near downtown SF, and Ledger's in Berkeley. Call ahead to ask if they have it to save some time. I've heard Bitters + Bottles has a very good rum selection, so you might want to go there anyway if you have a car.

We set sail for SF tomorrow! So excited. I belive the one thing we never touched on is what drinks I absolutely can't miss. Assuming the list below is my bar itinerary, what are the one or two mandatory cocktails from each that I'd be a fool to return home without trying? I assuming the rum barrel at SC is pretty special since that's the one recipe Martin wouldn't reveal in the book.

-Smuggler's Cover
-Pagan Idol
-Trader Vic's
-Forbidden Island
-Tonga Room
-Whitechappel

And thanks Jen for the tips above.

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-10-31 12:24 ]

J

On 2016-10-31 12:23, mikehooker wrote:
We set sail for SF tomorrow! So excited. I belive the one thing we never touched on is what drinks I absolutely can't miss. Assuming the list below is my bar itinerary, what are the one or two mandatory cocktails from each that I'd be a fool to return home without trying? I assuming the rum barrel at SC is pretty special since that's the one recipe Martin wouldn't reveal in the book.

-Smuggler's Cover
-Pagan Idol
-Trader Vic's
-Forbidden Island
-Tonga Room
-Whitechappel

And thanks Jen for the tips above.

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-10-31 12:24 ]

Smuggler's Cove - my favorites are the Pampanito, Port Royal, Kona Cocktail, and Puka Punch. However, I haven't had some of the ones that were recently added to the menu since I moved away. Really, there have only been 2-3 drinks I've had there that just weren't my cup of tea, so you're highly likely to get a winner no matter what you choose.
Trader Vic's - Have the 1944 Mai Tai, just for history's sake. Also have the Navy Grog because it's amazing.
Tonga Room - Last time I was there they still had a Martin Cate drink on the menu. It's the Smuggler's Gold Punch, or something like that. That's your safest bet if it's still on the menu.
Whitechapel - Narc Angel should be your first choice.

Wow what a trip! Will sum it up in multiple posts and lengthy descriptions as time permits, to the best of my recollection of course...

DAY 1

We arrived on a Tuesday, went directly to our hotel (The Phoenix), changed clothes, walked to Smuggler's Cove. Got there about 15 min before opening and there were a few others waiting already. Got a seat at the bar. The others who were there were in the rum club with one of them nearing the 500 mark. Impressive feat.

I started with the Pampanito and it was excellent. Wife had the rum barrel which she enjoyed. It was very unlike the Mai Kai's version which we're very accustomed to. This one had much less potency and a strong pineapple flavor.

Round two I had the Three Dots and honestly didn't care too much for it. Wasn't terrible or anything but the allspice dominated and masked the other flavors. Still drank it fairly quickly. Wife had the Jamaican Milk Punch and loved it. She considered ordering a second one but wanted to explore the menu further.

We'd been there only an hour or so at this point and frankly weren't really feeling "welcome." I was excited to have a seat at the bar as I always enjoy watching bartenders in action and talking with them but he barely paid us any mind. Granted the other patrons were obviously regulars who have spent exorbitant amounts of money there but it's not like we looked like typical tourists or had just come for a drink after work. We were dressed in our aloha best. After traveling so far to be there and making it a point for this to be our first destination, it felt disappointingly clique-ish, which was silly considering how few people were actually there that night. Just to get some water was a task and felt like we were inconveniencing him. We decided to have just one more round and cut out when finally the bartender (I believe his name was Steve) started opening up to us and asked where we were from.

So we settled in for more. I ordered an Undead Gentleman. I think this one was in the Zombie Horde book and likely in Exotic Cocktails as well but I've yet to try it at home. It was tasty and went quick. Wife had the Naked Ape. Don't recall her take on it.

Since the vibe had become a little more inviting and neither of us felt particularly tipsy considering how much we'd consumed in a relatively short amount of time we figured we might as well continue on to round four. My wife went with the Center of the Galaxy and I had the Formidable Dragon with the new Plantation OFTD. The bartender told me that's the only drink they're using it in so far but once Martin's back from the book tour they'll work it into more.

It's very unusual for my wife to have four drinks in one night and I know when she's near her limit and she didn't seem to be even close to there yet which is curious. We kept saying to each other how we don't feel as drunk as we should. Not that that's the goal, but growing up in Ft Lauderdale and going to the Mai Kai where a rum barrel has four ounces of rum in it, four drinks typically puts us in quite a state. I don't know how much booze was going into the drinks we had at the Cove but they just didn't seem that strong. Martin has definitely mastered the art of making yummy cocktails that aren't so powerful you need to stop yourself after two or three. For him, he sells more drinks. For us, we get to try more things in one sitting without getting plastered. I'm OK with it.

Didn't think there'd be time again on this trip to return so figured what the heck, try one more. The Kona Cocktail...

Overall reflections of the Cove: Music and decor were spot on but our visit was somewhat disappointing. I had set the bar extremely high here. I absolutely adore Martin's book and expected the drinks and service to blow me away. Besides the unbalanced Three Dots, everything we drank was good to great and the space was really cool. If we had been treated more hospitably it would have been a 5 star experience, but unfortunately that kinda service lingers with me and is my lasting impression of Smuggler's Cove.

But our night was not over...

White Chapel was on the same block as our hotel so we decided if the bar wasn't too busy we'd pop in for a night cap. Luckily we were able to get the last two stools at the bar and Carly took SUCH good care of us. She complimented our attire and was super sweet, playful and fun. And extremely helpful in regards to their overwhelmingly large menu. We told her the flavors we like, and she helped us decide what drinks might suit us. We ended up staying for 3 drinks each and I didn't want to leave even then. The vibe there is incredible. I love the airy, vintage subway feel of the space and the attentive staff, attention to detail, and quality of the cocktails really impressed me. I don't recall the names of all the drinks we had as I wasn't taking pictures of the menu like I did at Cove but I remember enjoying a Ginfushion and my wife a Ramos Fizz with a very impressive head. EDIT: Found my receipt and the other drinks we consumed were Classy Lassy, Blushing Monarch, a "Tiki" gin & tonic and a Last Word.

Oh, and the Bitterballen were to freakin' die for. We had two orders and contemplated a third.

Day 2

Left early for a side trip to Yosemite. Saw some big ass trees.

Day 3

Went hiking.

More to come...

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-11-13 08:32 ]

OGR

Well written and great photos...looking forward to more. Thanks for bringing us along.

DAY 4

More hiking at Yosemite to see Vernal Falls, explore the Happy Isles area and check out the cemetery.

Hit the road before 1 to arrive at Trader Vic's Emeryville for our 5 o'clock reservation with a window seat to watch the sunset. I've never been to a Trader Vic's and was super stoked on this night. The decor did not disappoint. Fabulous, towering tikis everywhere, tapa covered walls, tiki lamps on the tables, and hanging fish floats galore. Even some Hinky Dinks stuff.

I started with the '44 Mai Tai cuz I just had to have one at a Vic's. It was less than stellar, as I expected. Pretty sure they used the Mai Tai mix in this in lieu of fresh ingredients. My wife had the Moku Nani. She said it tasted like fruit punch. It was served in a port light glass.

I then tried a Navy Grog since Vic's version is an all time favorite to make at home and a friend of mine who has been to the Atlanta location numerous times said it was his favorite drink there. Sadly this one disappointed. The rock candy stick was nice though.

My wife had the Passion Punch next. It came in a bowl big enough for two and had a gardenia in it. She liked it better than the previous but said it was like a peach slushy, not unlike a Wallaby Darned at Outback.

For food we started with the cheese bings which were basically just mozzarella sticks. For our meals we wanted to get something from the Chinese ovens so my wife had the 5 spice half duck and I had the pork chop. Neither was spectacular but they weren't bad by any means. I had brussel sprouts for the first time in my life and enjoyed them.

We skipped dessert, despite how awesome the suffering bastard menu looked.

I had a Samoan Fogg Cutter before we left and it was the best drink of the night. Dropped 100 bucks on ceramics and glass ware. Overall it was a very expensive outing but was glad for the experience. I didn't have high hopes for the drinks going in and didn't feel cheated in the slightest when we left.

Onward we go to Forbidden Island!

Was worried about parking and it being too busy since it was a Friday night but we got a spot a couple blocks away and two seats at the bar. The bartender was super nice and right off the bat was giving us coasters, swizzles and back scratchers to take home. My wife began with a Planet of the Apes which was basically a banana milkshake and delicious. I for the life of me can't remember the first drink I had and photo evidence became much scarcer by this time of night. EDIT: Found my receipt, it was a Navy Grog and I remember now it was much better than the one at Trader Vic's.

Upon finishing that, I happened to notice two bottles of old yellow label Lemon Hart on the back bar.

I asked if they still use the LH in anything and she said they just did for a special Halloween zombie with the 151. "I'll have that!" I declared. It was hands down the best zombie I've ever had. She told me of one of the "secret" ingredients and of course I can't recall what it was.

This being my fifth strong drink of the night I started feeling pretty tipsy, unlike my experience at Smuggler's Cove. My wife decided to stop drinking after her first one there (third of the night) since we were actually driving tonight and had to cross the bay safely.

I was enjoying it there. The atmosphere was that of a neighborhood dive bar. They had some cool tiki stuff but you're not totally submersed in it. There was a TV playing cool clips of tiki bars and other fun stuff. I decided I was going to have one more drink and use their Lemon Hart 80. They let me get a sip of it neat and then put it in a Three Dots and a Dash. I think I enjoyed this one a lot but by the time I was done I was full on drunk like I haven't been in a long time. I mean really drunk. And it was getting really crowded so my wife was happy to head out.

Cue: bed.

More to come...

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-11-13 08:48 ]

H
Heath posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 8:29 PM

I really appreciate all the time, photos and effort you have put into this, and what you and the missus have put your livers through in the name of research, but this so far is my favorite part of your vacation...

On 2016-11-10 15:56, mikehooker wrote:

Day 2

Left early for a side trip to Yosemite. Saw some big ass trees.

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-11-10 16:05 ]

Thank you!

DAY 5

Time to check out the big city. We started off at a vintage shop in the Mission district called Stuff that was enormous and had many pretty things. Wife found a somewhat rare promotional Pyrex bowl to add to her collection.


(For those in the know, or those who want to know, the "Balloon" pattern was only manufactured in 1958 as part of a chip and dip set. We now have the chip. Need the dip.)

Shot over to Haight St and stopped at the first food place we saw: The Lodge. $42 later we had breakfast in us.

Realized we were close to Painted Ladies so went over there and admired the old digs. Then made our way to Amoeba. Found some Arthur Lyman, Jerry Byrd and Billy Mure LP's I needed. Went over to the coast, popped into Cliff House, stared at waves and examined the remains of Sutro Baths. Went in a beach cave.

Then drove up to Sonoma to have dinner and stay with friends up there. People have surprisingly bad driving manners up that way.

DAY 6

The plan was to hit Muir Woods on the way back but dear god there were lots of people there. We drove two miles past the parking lots looking for a street spot before giving up hope. Made our way to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and stopped to look at a bridge.

Popped into the Marine Mammal Center to say hi to some rescued seals. Considered adopting one but then remembered we recently spent $42 on breakfast.

Then went up to Point Bonita to scope out the old lighthouse and get another view of the bridge. We had to go through a cave. And apparently I really like cave photos. What of it?

I believe at this point we went back to the Phoenix to check in for the third time. For what it's worth, that hotel is awesome. The front desk staff was the most courteous I've ever encountered. Orlando greeted us by name with a huge smile and open arms every time we came through the lobby. And we didn't find the tenderloin to be scary at all. Lots of people warned us how bad it was but there's a lot more aggressive homeless in downtown Austin. Only two people approached us for money (one in a very friendly way) and another person just said to us with a huge smile and great sincerity as we were walking by "You all have a wonderful night!" It was charming. Sure there was fecal matter of unknown origin all over the place, and people sleeping in front of businesses that had closed for the night and there was an alarming amount of emergency vehicles abound but it didn't seem dangerous or any worse than any other grossly populated city I've been to.

We rested a bit then Lyfted to Tonga Room. We got there just after 6 and got a table by the water. Our waiter addressed me as Mr. Hooker and demonstrated that old school hospitality that is so lacking in this age. He thanked us constantly and took amazing care of us. According to their Instagram, they launched a new drink menu the week before so I was excited to see if they were any good as I'd heard the drinks there left a bit to be desired. I began with the Planter's Punch which was served in a tiki mug and had falernum, allspice and grenadine in it. It was sweet, spicy and delicious. Wife had a Tonga Kong which had nice flavors and was really nicely balanced.

For starters, we ordered the pupu platter with chicken wings, crab rangoon, spring rolls and pork rib. It was all very good.

Prices were pretty hefty there so we decided to order one more drink, the Rainmaker bowl for two. It wasn't as good as either of our previous drinks but was certainly passable as a nice tiki drink. No complaints at all with the drinks here.

For our entrees we both went with pork, my wife had the smoked Kalua pork and I had the red curry pork loin. We both enjoyed our meals and the service there. Decided we couldn't pass up trying their Mai Tai creme bruele and so glad we got it. Heavenly.

After our meal we walked around and scoped out the decor. They had some nice pieces but the walls and ceilings are definitely more scarce than say the Mai Kai, Trader Vic's or some of the modern day revival bars. But overall I give this place a solid A.

The rain seemed to go off every 20-30 minutes. Not sure if it's automated or goes off whenever someone orders the Rainmaker bowl.

This guy was in the actual hotel near the bathrooms

We got out of there at a quarter to 8 so didn't have to pay the cover or be tormented by the house band.

We were kind of far from the hotel but needed to walk off the giant meal we had so we headed in the direction of Tiki Bob. Boy that poor green bastard sure made my day.

Someone seriously needs to go in the middle of the night and paint him back to normal. I doubt the crepery that's presently there would even care. Does anyone know if they are even the ones who painted him green? I imagine it happened a couple tenants ago and the current owners may not even know the history of him. Original colors might even draw more attention to their business. As it is, most people probably don't even realize there's a face on the pillar and just walk by unfazed.

By now we were only a mile or so from the hotel so we decided to just continue walking rather than hitching a ride. When we got back it was still early. My wife wanted to call it a night but I was craving a return to White Chapel. I told her I'd go for one... just like we planned the first time...

So I go by my lonesome, again figuring if it's packed I'll just call it a night and head back to the hotel. I walk in and it's nearly empty. I think there were only six people in the entire place so I grabbed a seat at the bar and the bartender, who I wish I remembered his name, was super friendly. I ordered a Saturn as Jentiki and I had discussed this being a favorite drink of ours in another thread and I wanted to taste it the Cate way. It was yummy, pretty much the same as when I make it at home.

The bartender and I chatted a lot since he didn't have many people to take care of. He said it was unusually slow for a Sunday and he even cut one bartender. Of course he got slammed a few minutes later but only for a short while. He was simultaneously making five drinks while carrying on a conversation about his favorite hiking spots and working with lightning speed. I gotta say, I was damn impressed. We were talking about tiki and how I was much more smitten with the gin bar than Smuggler's Cove when he started pushing the Modern Prometheus on me.

It was basically the gin cousin of a Zombie with I believe the equivalent of 4 ounces of booze. I wasn't planning to have a second drink, no less the most powerful one on the menu. But he said no one ever orders it and he really wanted to make one so he'd buy my first drink if I have one. OK, fine, twist my arm.

Holy crap that's a powerful but well balanced drink. I was feeling pretty tipsy maybe a quarter of the way through it so I took it reeeeaaaal slow from there with a chug of water between every sip.

Again, I wanted to stay for more but knew better of it. Had to get some rest cuz there was one more action packed day and our last tiki stop ahead of us before we were to hop a plane back home.

Tomorrow, the dramatic conclusion of our Bay Area tiki tour...

DAY 7

Early rise. We caught a Lyft to the wharf, watched the sea lions act silly, grabbed a bite from one of the street vendors (chowder bread bowl and fish and chips), then went to the Musée Mécanique coin operated arcade which was a highlight of the trip for me. That place is seriously awesome and I wish we had more time to spend there but we had to catch the ferry to Alcatraz.

I really didn't know much about the island other than it was a former federal prison. We spent a few hours there doing a Ranger led program and an audio tour. Was great to learn that it was a military prison in the late 1800s and how there was an Indian takeover after the penitentiary closed due financial burden.

I was also surprised by the beauty of the gardens and the landscaping. Glad it's in the hands of the National Park Service. We had a great time out there and even thought the touristy wharf area was fun. Atleast early on. By the time we got back over there it was getting much busier and there were awful street musicians so we quickly made our way over to Ghiradelli for ice cream then went back to the hotel. Got changed for our last night out starting with dinner at X&Y in Chinatown (as recommended by the concierge). It was real good and most importantly, just a few blocks from Pagan Idol.

I think it was after 8 by the time we got there so I was super worried since multiple people said you have to be there when they open cuz it gets so crowded. Well luck was on our side as the after work crowd had just dispersed and there were plenty of stools available at the front bar. I began with the Sparkle N Froth served in their very large signature tiki mug which I also purchased. Wife liked the sound of the Rum Monkey which is a bowl drink and the bartender was gracious enough to make a single serving for her complete with garnish. Both drinks were excellent with the Monkey being similar to the Planet of the Apes from Forbidden Island but more boozy and interesting.

Round two I had the Planters Punch and wife got the Pineapple Express with Stiggins, egg white and a pineapple stenciled on top with bitters. Again, we both very much enjoyed our drinks.

If it were up to me we would have stayed there til we drank the entirety of the menu but we had to be up early to cross the bay bridge, return our rental car and catch our flight in Oakland so we were gonna call it a night when the patron next to us ordered a Banana Life, a snifter full of rum, freshly blended banana, multiple sweeteners and topped with plantains that my wife had been eyeing on the menu. The bartender said it was his favorite and the guy who ordered it said it was delicious so we decided to go ahead and get one to share. It did not disappoint. At this point we hadn't even left our stools so we got up to look around and the bartender, JP, came out to give us the grand tour of the back room which has two bars. There were some really fantastic and large carved tikis along with some less than stellar generic ones. But the big boys were quite impressive.

The walls all around, and even in the bathrooms, were covered in tapa print, bamboo and matting. The ceilings were black with shimmering stars, there were thatched huts for patrons who want privacy. Really impressed with the decor and layout.

This is the prize of the owners collection.

They also have a big volcano scene that erupts. Oh, and the plant life and foliage was quite nice. Music selection was great as well. As far as revival tiki bars go, this one was my favorite. The menu isn't as vast as Smuggler's Cove, but the drinks we had were all tasty and strong, the service and ambiance were top notch and it gives you more of an escapist feeling than any of the others.

In conclusion, I think each place we visited had it's own merits and was worth checking out. Overall White Chapel won my heart. Yes, the gin bar we almost didn't go to was my absolutely favorite. I think Pagan Idol is next best for having the total tiki package and it's a toss up for me between Smuggler's Cove and Forbidden Island. Because of the prices, Tonga and Vic's would only be reserved for very special occasions.

It was an action packed trip with the perfect balance of touristy indulgence, nature and night life. We had a blast and I enjoyed revisiting it all in this thread. Thanks for coming along!

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-11-13 14:50 ]

H
Hamo posted on Sun, Nov 13, 2016 4:59 PM

Glad to see you enjoyed the Musee Mecanique, and jealous of all the tiki places you experienced. Also glad to hear that the Tonga Room has a new drink menu; I wasn't too impressed with the Mai Tai I ordered. I'd walked past Pagan Idol, and now having read about your trip, I'm kinda sorry I didn't blow my diet to check that out, too. Thanks, Mike!

Thanks for your recap Mike! My husband and I visited SF a few years back before heading to my brother's wedding in Big Sur. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy on the East coast our trip was one day shorter than the brief one we had planned but we still got to see Alcatraz (amazing!) and Forbidden Island and Trader Vics. Your report brought back some really fond memories and I cannot wait to get back one day! It's a long trip from NJ so it's gonna be a while but posts like this let me live vicariously through others. Mahalo!

J

I'm glad you tried some of my recommendations. Sounds like it was a good trip.

You know, I lived in the Bay Area for 45 years, and never once went to Alcatraz. Go figure.

On 2016-11-11 20:29, Heath wrote:
I really appreciate all the time, photos and effort you have put into this, and what you and the missus have put your livers through in the name of research, but this so far is my favorite part of your vacation...

On 2016-11-10 15:56, mikehooker wrote:

Day 2

Left early for a side trip to Yosemite. Saw some big ass trees.

[ Edited by: mikehooker 2016-11-10 16:05 ]

Thank you!

My wife sent me this pic of me showing off my measly wing span beneath what's left of the Dead Giant in the Tuolumne Grove...

And here are some of the goodies I took home from the trip that I forgot to post earlier...

Mike, thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. I am glad that you enjoyed it.
Cheers

R

A great read. Thanks Mike.

(First off, an apology. I wasn't sure which was the greater sin, to hijack an existing thread for a similar topic or to start a new one. Since Mike's trip seemed like such a successful one, I picked good mojo over visibility but if it's a faux pas lemme know and I'll be happy delete this post and start a new thread.)

My gal and I are embarking on a tiki-centric trip/pilgrimage up to the Bay Area the end of this month. Strictly with the intent to crawl through some of the best tiki-esque locations that the Bay Area has to offer. We plan to spend 2-3 days in San Francisco and then cross the bridge and spend a couple of days in the East Bay.

In San Francisco our priorities are the obvious ones:

-Smugglers Cove
-Pagan Idol
-Tonga Room

But if we have time, we might hit up Bar Agricole and maaaybe Bamboo Hut(?)

The hotel we are staying at is right around the corner from the Tonga Room and about a 5min walk from Pagan Idol. We'd really like to limit our destinations to places within a half-hour walk/45-minute drunken stumble from our hotel.

Once we cross to the East Bay we will be more open to travelling farther though. Our hotel is pretty near Trader Vic's and so far our list of destinations for that region are:

-Trader Vic's
-Forbidden Island
-Kona Club

(We're mad as hell that Longitude decided to shutter their doors a couple of weeks before the trip we planned a month previously.)

Lot's of great advice already in this thread, but is there anything that's out of date (like Longitude's closure) or has any groovy new sites popped up since Mike's trip? Any great advice or cool ideas are welcome!

Mahalo in advance!!!

Skip Bamboo Hut and get a 2-hour table reservation at Bourbon & Branch. Such a nice drinking experience. You are right by Rickhouse as well. Stumble up to Li Po Lounge for a Chinese Mai Tai. A quick happy hour libation at Harry Denton's Starlight Lounge is nice for the view, as is Top Of The Mark and that place in Marriott Marquis. Redwood Room for a real throwback thing of beauty. Palace Hotel to see The Pied Piper. And Cask on 3rd for your hotel bottles.

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