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The Kon Tiki, Oakland, CA (bar)

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Name: The Kon Tiki
Type: bar
Street: 347 14th Street
City: Oakland
State: CA
Zip: 94612
country: USA
Status: Opening Soon

Projected opening is November 11, 2017.

The Kon Tiki is in the same location as the recently closed Longitude

[ Edited by: Hakalugi 2017-10-26 21:54 ]


Not sure I will ever truly get over the loss of Longitude but I am looking forward to seeing what Kon Tiki has to offer.

The team seems to have good cocktail and restaurant credentials, but clearly are newbies to Tiki. But, they seem willing to learn. Let's hope for a fabulous opening, but in the case where tweaks might be helpful hopefully they will listen to the customers.

I'm really looking forward to this location. It's potentially the best tiki location for me (coming from Fremont) since it is BART friendly (Pagan Idol is also BART friendly).


I'm with you, Kevin - this location is only 5 BART stops away for me in El Cerrito, a 15m ride. So incredibly convenient.


My friends have liked the drinks thus far, so that's good. Here's a new writeup on Kon Tiki, but I have just one issue... can we repaint the fucking tiki to not be clowns?! Make Tiki Brown Again! :D


We visited the Kon-Tiki during a soft-open prior to their official grand opening. As such, the bar (on a Wednesday evening) was not overly crowded but there was a lively vibe. We sat at the bar and the service was outstanding. When our drinks were low we were politely asked if there was anything else we’d like. We tried an off-menu Mai Tai (made with Denizen’s Merchant Reserve and so very fine), their Navy Grog (strong but good), and the Somaoan Fogcutter (tasted great with brandy). The best drink was the Tropical Itch which comes with a small backscratcher and tasted great; complex and fruity.

The decor here borrows from the former Longitude but is definitely more traditional Tiki. Music was on point with a number of Exotica classics, some surf-tinged songs, and a few lounge songs. For sure the music and decor here are right down the middle in terms of what you want in a tiki bar. There’s room for more immersive or elaborate elements but for sure this is a great start. The upstairs wasn’t open when we visited.

We ordered the Pupu Platter which included their excellent Crab Rangoon Dip, Texas Toast, fried Prawns, BBQ ribs, Macaroni Salad, Mushroom, and Fried Pork Belly. I really loved the Crab Rangoon Dip, but thought to Ribs were not too meaty (more bones and fat) and the pork belly was pretty fatty too (I’ve never had pork belly before, though). My wife liked the Macaroni Salad and the mushrooms. Definitely want to try their fried chicken sandwich and burger next time.

It was kind of funny watching the bartender prep the drinks, referring to a cheat sheet about the drink ingredients and garnishes for the drinks, but the drink menu seems like a great place to start (and the fact that my off-menu Mai Tai used Denizens is a great indicator). They seem to have a large rum collection and am looking forward to a rum club that surely seems probable.

The owners and staff are very personable. This seems like a great start for a new tiki bar and I certainly hope this grows into a formidable player in the Bay Area tiki bar scene. The location is two blocks from the 12th St. BART station so for many of us this is a very convenient tiki bar location.


Look -: forward to visiting next time in the Bay Area. Went to Longitude once, it had more of a Safari vibe to the place. Nice they got to save a lot of the old décor & Tiki up the place. This was posted today as one of three new bars in Oakland to check out: http://abc7news.com/food/3-cool-new-bars-to-check-out-in-oakland/2992793/


On 2018-01-28 05:20, Thortiki wrote:
This was posted today as one of three new bars in Oakland to check out: http://abc7news.com/food/3-cool-new-bars-to-check-out-in-oakland/2992793/

From the article:

The Kon-Tiki comes courtesy of the same team behind Longitude, which previously occupied the space.

That is totally news to me.

That is totally news to me.

TV news doesn't always get the story right.

Same location, different people than Longitude.


Back in the late 40’s, Thor Heyerdahl made his epic voyage across the Pacific Ocean on his balsa raft called the Kon Tiki. I’m guessing Thor Heyerdahl never thought about someone opening up a tiki bar based on his amazing journey, but in 2017, that’s exactly what happened! My good friend Kevin Crossman paid a visit to The Kon-Tiki and came back with this incredible write up. I’ll let Kevin take it from here…

Oakland is special place in the history of Tiki, thanks to Victor Bergeron who opened Trader Vic’s in 1938 and of course when he invented the Mai Tai in 1944. While Trader Vic’s is no longer in operation in Oakland, there’s a new tiki bar well worth a visit. The Kon-Tiki opened in November 2017, taking over the building after adventure/tiki bar Longitude closed earlier that spring. Owned and operated by Christ Aivaliotis and Matthew Reagan, you’ll usually find Christ serving as a bartender, master of ceremonies, and the public face on The Kon-Tiki. “Coming at it from a bartender’s perspective instead of a chef like most restaurants, has been really helpful because it’s more about hospitality rather than the thing you’re serving,” said Aivaliotis when I spoke to him about the venture.

Aivaliotis has been in the bar industry in the Bay Area for many years and was deeply interested in opening a bar in his hometown. The location in the northern end of Oakland’s Chinatown is just two blocks from the 12th Street BART station, making it a convenient location for East Bay Tikiphiles like me who would rather not fight rush-hour freeway traffic just to visit a tiki bar during the work week. The takeover of the Longitude space seems to have come together quickly and though a series of fortunate events. “I wasn’t even looking to open a Tiki Bar”, Aivaliotis told me. But once the venture got going, Aivaliotis went all in. “I wanted it to be derivative of all the tiki bars that I’ve love and have never been to because they closed years ago. I wanted to open a tiki bar because I love the drinks and I love rum.” Decor here is classic tiki bar all the way, with no “clown tiki” or modern variances on the genre. Tikis are everywhere.

And do you know what else is everywhere? Rum. Lots of it. The Kon-Tiki recently launched their Rum Club, the Kon-Tiki Expedition. Aivaliotis said he is a collector by nature. “I wanted to have every rum I could get!” Aivaliotis told me, and said that it was always part of the plan to do a rum or tasting club. “We decided it would be a big one, with 100 rums to start. The rums were chosen to be exemplary for the rum type or style, and then some variations within that. For example, I have three Clairins, the Haitian Agricole rum, because I think they are different enough from each other but also interesting as a category to have them all on there.” After people complete the 100 rums they will be immortalized on the wall with a plague made by artist Woody Miller (Kon-Tiki’s mug designer), custom glazed mugs as a prize, plus discounts. Aivaliotis told me there is a woman who claimed she didn’t like rum but now she is so enthusiastic that she’s completed half the rums already and is looking to be the first woman to complete the program (one brave and hearty soul has already finished the 100 rums in less than a month!).

When The Kon-Tiki opened, the cocktail menu leaned heavily on tiki classics such as the Zombie, Jet Pilot, Navy Grog, and Samoan Fogcutter. Interestingly, the Mai Tai has not appeared on their printed menu, though they’ll happily make you one with Denizen Merchant’s Reserve rum if you order it. The Mai Tai also often appears on the happy hour menu, made with Plantation Dark rum. The highly trained bartenders can make anything you ask for and do so without any attitude. The friendly personality and hospitality of the staff at The Kon-Tiki is important to Aivaliotis who told me “if you make someone a good drink they might come back, but if you give them a good time they’ll definitely come back.”

Earlier this year, the cocktail menu had a makeover. Many of the classics were dropped in favor of Kon-Tiki originals or more obscure cocktails from other bars. I’m a big fan of the Rum Old Fashioned variant called Rum & Honey that is made with St. Benevolence rum (a rum that funnels all profits to support medical and education services in Haiti). The new menu also expanded the communal drink selection, and added aperitifs and non-alcoholic selections. I recently tried a couple of the “straight-edge tiki” drinks and while I didn’t love the Coca-Coconut (Coke and coconut creme), I thought the sparkling Tropical Lemonade with passionfruit and mango was delicious. The new menu also features souvenir Mai Tai and Zombie glasses as well as the Kon-Tiki’s signature Tiki Mug. These glasses and mugs are all top-notch. Aivaliotis told me he expects to continue to change up the cocktail menu from time to time and that “there is always an eye to quality over… profitability (laughs). I will use a more expensive ingredient if it makes the drink better – compared to most bars who are focused on the bottom line for better margins.”

One of the more interesting aspect of The Kon-Tiki is the food menu. While not an extensive list, the selections vary from their amazing Burger with pineapple-maui onion jam and kewpie mayo to more exotic items such as pork bellies, smoked trout dip, grilled trumpet mushroom and a rotating selection of Filipino-inspired dishes from chef Manuel Bonilla. On our last trip, my wife and I loved the scallops made with ponzu, apple, and radish sprouts. And I could not resist the Burger which I think is amazing and maybe the best thing in the building – a high bar when there are top-quality tiki cocktails and a selection of over 100 rums! Aivaliotis told me the food program was really important, especially since tiki drinks are so strong.

Of course, The Kon-Tiki isn’t the only tiki bar in the Bay Area. In fact, there are a number of classic and upper-echelon bars ranging from The Tonga Room to Smuggler’s Cove. But Aivaliotis doesn’t view this as a competition as much as being part of the community. “I just love that in the tiki scene that it doesn’t feel like it’s a competition – it feels like we’re part of a family. I love seeing Doc Parks (Pagan Idol and the upcoming Zombie Village) come and Michael Thanos (Forbidden Island) comes a lot. And I go to their bars. And I think it’s nice to see everybody treating it like we’re friends rather than as competitors trying to hunt down every last nickel from a person who wants a Zombie.”

When I asked Aivaliotis what was coming up in the future for The Kon-Tiki, he told me he’d like to have more music events, and more “trinkets and stuff” as a takeaway from the visit. They have more glassware coming and there will be a charity aspect inspired by The Kon-Tiki’s regular Wednesday Ohana night that celebrates the tiki community. He also said that he is looking to do more community events and a vending presence at local festivals and events. He also said they are looking to expand their perception as a restaurant and so may do some special culinary events at the location.

The Kon-Tiki has come a long way in a year and I’m more than pleased to call it the closest thing I have to my “local tiki bar,” even though I’m not there every week (I live in a black hole of tiki in the Bay Area, about a 30 minute BART ride from The Kon-Tiki). The varied cocktail menu is really top notch and the food is interesting and appetizing. The semi-regular rum nights with various rum producers has been a big draw for me and others in the community. The 1 year anniversary celebration is on November 10th. If you’re visiting the Bay Area and doing a tiki tour, do not miss The Kon-Tiki. And if you’re a local and haven’t been? Well, you need to get yourself over there right away.

Hamo posted on Sat, Nov 17, 2018 7:26 PM

That's a great writeup, Kevin. I'll be in the Bay Area in a little less than two weeks and was planning on visiting the Kon-Tiki, but only for a short time. Now I'm interested in spending more time there. Thanks.

On 2018-11-17 19:26, Hamo wrote:
That's a great writeup, Kevin. I'll be in the Bay Area in a little less than two weeks and was planning on visiting the Kon-Tiki, but only for a short time. Now I'm interested in spending more time there. Thanks.


[ Edited by: kevincrossman 2018-11-21 15:49 ]

Nice review, Kevin.

My experiences with Kon-Tiki have been wildly varying. The ambiance is fantastic, the music is pretty spot on for chilling out ("Margaritaville" alert!), and I really dig their events programme. I've just found them very inconsistent, which is very frustrating because when they're good, they're very, very good indeed. Some nights were excellent, some were just so-so, and a couple were "I just might never come back after this" bad. I've had heavenly, well balanced cocktails and I've had a mai tai shaken literally once with wet ice. I've had excellent service on the floor every time and have had some of the most singularly inattentive service that I've ever had whilst seated at the bar. Over a dozen visits later, the inconsistency has baffled me more than irritated me because there's so much to like.

I appreciate that they continue to develop / tweak the menu, though they appear to have lost or heavily pulled back from the heavy agricole influence from the earlier menus that seemed to set them apart from the other local tiki bars. They had a reliance on a few particular bottles early on which could make the drinks seem a bit samey over time (Barbancourt and Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still in particular) but they've improved on that quite a bit. And MAN - that Rum & Honey IS absolutely fantastic...hopefully they'll still make a Samoan Fogcutter if I ask nicely cos theirs was great.

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