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Name:Kanaloa
Type:bar
Street:311 Travis
City:Houston
State:TX
Zip:77002
country:USA
Phone:
Status:unknown

Description:
From Houston Eater
Tiki Bar Kanaloa Is Coming to Downtown This Summer
Look forward to a menu of shareable cocktails and nearly 100 rums

When Kanaloa opens this summer in the former Market Square Bar and Grill at 311 Travis Street, the plan is to provide a full-on tiki experience. “We want this to be a hidden oasis in downtown,” Kanaloa’s Keith Doyle told Eater.

Here's the text of the article in case the link goes bad. I'm a little troubled by the lack of mention for Howie's Tiki, but that may be a case of Houston ignoring the suburbs. Or something:

by Adele Chapin Mar 8, 2018, 1:45pm CST

When Kanaloa opens this summer in the former Market Square Bar and Grill at 311 Travis Street, the plan is to provide a full-on tiki experience. “We want this to be a hidden oasis in downtown,” Kanaloa’s Keith Doyle told Eater. The new tiki bar is from the owners of the super adorable bungalow and garden bar, Wicklow Heights.

Doyle along with partners Roland Keller and Tyler Barrera have traveled around the country checking out tiki bars, and they’re currently hard at work sourcing tiki gear for the restaurant (think custom-made treasure chests). The hope is to open at the beginning of May within a completely transformed space featuring an outdoor patio and an event area upstairs.

The menu is going to be great for groups, with shareable cocktails for up to eight people and a full menu of shareable plates like chicken skewers and tropical shrimp. There’s going to be a huge emphasis on rum obviously, with plans for nearly 100 different options. Chalk it up to Houston’s rum renaissance — Kanaloa will join tiki bar Lei Low and the rum-focused High & Dry.

“With a city the size of Houston we think there’s enough room for another tiki bar,” Keller says.

Since there's been next to no discussion of Kanaloa in Houston either here or on FB, I decided to take one for the team a few weeks ago in Houston. Here are some photos to give a feel for the place:

I have a full write-up on my blog but for those who want the Cliff's Notes version:

  1. Tiki decor is legit, but spare in places. They cribbed the glass fishing float ceiling idea from False Idol, but it looks good and that's not a cheap investment. The four huge tiki heads on the wall opposite the bar could easily have gone Clown Tiki, but aren't. Their backlit, color-changing eyes are a nice touch.

  2. Occasionally, the lights flicker and thunder rumbles through the bar. Nice, old-school tiki touch.

  3. The cocktail menu is small, but the drinks we sampled were well-made. They have a huge rum list, though. I suppose that's to compete with High & Dry, and upscale rum bar a block away.

  4. Food is provided by OhMyGogi! a Korean fusion outfit that's popular around Houston. And for good reason. Our victuals were delicious.

  5. Kanaloa is located near the theatre district, just outside of downtown. Which means street parking, which is terrible. Garage prices vary, as does walking distance.

  6. Music was some kind of generic pop/club mix. Very off-putting. I complained about Pilikia in Dallas only playing Reggae, but that was a thousand times more appropriate than what Kanaloa was playing. Ugh.

My takeaway is that Kanaloa has potential, but isn't there yet. It might never get there. The bar staff was friendly and attentive and seemed to be into the tiki concept, but the current management isn't. The impression I got is that the owners--stop me if you've heard this before--opened Kanaloa because tiki is trendy now, but aren't really tiki people themselves and don't get that a tiki bar is more than just a regular bar with island trappings. They've got good drinks and even better food, but will that be enough for the long haul? I dunno.

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