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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Kon Tiki, Tucson, AZ (bar)

Pages: 1 2 85 replies

Name:Kon Tiki
Street:4625 E Broadway Blvd
Phone:(520) 323-7193

This is a restaurant and bar which was built, according to it's owner, in 1963. It is located in a shopping center and is heavily saturated with vintage tiki decor. Hours are: Monday through Saturday, 11AM-12:30PM; Sunday 4PM-12PM. At the time of this writing drinks are not served in tiki mugs, however, t-shirts have recently become available at $15.

[ Edited by: tikijackalope on 2004-09-01 23:18 ]


I was just there a month ago and they have ordered mugs with logos. At the time I was there you could pay extra for the same mugs without logos for the drinks. The place is under new mgt (A young rock-a-billy type), They told me that they also grew up around the Kon Tiki and hope to bring back to what it was. However, they also told me that someone found a bag full of vintage kon tiki bowls and the guys turned them down on buying them. I guess they did not need a few hundred of my dollars.....

When I was there last October, the (then) manager told me he was ordering some of these and gave me this sample.

The mug is made by Libbey and is not imprinted with the name of the bar.

Is this what they offer now?

(edited to restore former shutterfly photo, 2/11/07)

[ Edited by: tikijackalope 2007-02-11 05:57 ]


any relationship to the KON-TIKI of STEPHEN CRANE

Stephen Crane's Kon-Tiki (aka Kon Tiki Ports) was a chain, but this place was not a part of it, it is an independant establishment.

I stopped in today. Kon-Tiki still does not have logo mugs; at this time they have a ceramic bamboo mug by Libbey, but not the tiki mug shown in a previous post. They do have women's t-shirts for $15, but are presently out of mens shirts.

Kon-Tiki finally got in some men's t-shirts. I photographed one front and back on a friend of mine who took a liking to it. I believe the back artwork is taken from Stephen Crane's Kon-Tiki. There is a white shirt with different artwork I'll try to get a shot of.

(edited to restore former shutterfly photos)

[ Edited by: tikijackalope 2007-02-11 06:02 ]

Drink menu front:

(edited to replace former Shutterfly photo)

[ Edited by: tikijackalope 2007-02-11 06:05 ]

The new white men's t-shirt front and back:

There is also a women's version that reads "Kon Tiki Girl", although the women I talked to seem to prefer the men's shirts.

(edited to replace former Shutterfly photos)

[ Edited by: tikijackalope 2007-02-11 06:11 ]

TNTiki posted on Wed, Jun 9, 2004 4:11 AM

[ Edited by: TNTiki on 2004-11-06 18:11 ]

(humina humina)

[ Edited by: Tikitortured on 2004-06-27 00:36 ]

This is the sign along Broadway. They just painted the lines to make it look like bamboo within the past few months:

The main sign, right outside the business. The manager told me they might get the gas torches going again; apparently because they never disconnected the gas, they'd be permitted to do so. I think the sign might be based on The Islander in Los Angeles, which existed at least four years before Kon Tiki (Book of Tiki, page 12). Is that the case or did both signs have an earlier ancestor?:

This tiki by Milan Guanko is stationed on a sidewalk to the left of the building. It is pictured in the Book of Tiki on page 248 back when it was for sale at Gray's Nursery in South Los Angeles as was discussed previously in TC ( http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=6768&forum=6&vpost=79594 )

The approach from the parking lot; its actually a pretty small patch of land but gives a good feeling of transition from the asphalt.

I don't know if there was ever water in this pond, but it looks rather nice without it:

The tiki at the other end is pretty big, but most of its detail is from paint rather than contour. It looks best at night:

They have two of these small tikis; one is to the right of the door and the other i at the edge of the tile pond. I think they are made of stone:

This tiki is on your right as you enter the foyer, I'm betting it's another Milan Guanko. That hanging lamp was probably made by Orchids of Hawaii; I don't know who made the wall-mounted one:

And this one is on your left as you enter; its pictured in Tiki Road Trip and was discussed previously in TC as being by Milan Guanko. ( http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=6768&forum=6&vpost=79687 ):

This one is stylistically different than all the rest. Its left eye has broken off and they keep it behind the nearby host/hostess station. If I imagine it w/o the paint it looks like it could be from Oceanic Arts(?):

This guy is obviously along the bar:

This one inhabits the right-hand seating area along the wall:

This one faces the doorway and is placed in about the middle of the building:

Behind the one above, these two smaller pieces flank a fountain:

These are stylistically different than the rest. They've got three of them, one behind the bar near a TV and two facing each other in the entrance to the back left dining room. I think I've seen these in pictures of other places but I don't know who made them. Early Orchids of Hawaii, maybe? Would anyone care to volunteer their knowledge?:

This flat painted image of a tiki is inside the huge terrarium behind the bar. It used to hold birds, now a Nile monitor lives in there though it is seldom seen. I love the clam shells:

This is my favorite atmosphere shot of the place:

Detail from a back-lit panel in the back right dining area:

View of the back left dining area, nice Orchids of Hawaii dodecahedron lamp, but I don't know who made the one on the left:

Back wall of the back left room:

The ceiling in the middle of the bar:

Various walls:

A really huge scallop lamp; it must weigh a ton:

This next group of photos represents tikis that were placed, most in pairs, flanking entrances to seating areas:

I love this place. It has many of the flaws listed in Tiki Road Trip, especially during evenings the latter part of the week when its anything but a quiet village. One should remember though, the cash register at Kon Tiki is quite active in a time when other tiki bars struggle so I'd be disinclined to advise them to change their stratogy.

And in the early part of the week, especially during the day, it is rather placid and one can roam among the tikis, the flotsam and the jetsam unmolested by TVs, discordant music, and the latest lingo shouted at the top of drunken lungs. Its a museum to me, a 41 year-old nicotine stained poly-pop decor museum where they coincidentally serve food and drink.

(edited to replace former Shutterfly photos)

[ Edited by: tikijackalope 2007-02-11 09:04 ]

the place looks great without the flash of the camera!, kinda like looking at your self under a neon light!.

twowheelin'tiki wrote:

the place looks great without the flash of the camera!, kinda like looking at your self under a neon light!

Yeah, I like that effect. Kon Tiki is dimly lit and has dark walls and ceilings so light doesn't reflect much. It kind of adds to the "otherness" of it especially having come out of the bright AZ sun in a reflective parking lot. Most of those were shot as a mix of flash and slow shutter speed: weak flash to keep the tikis from being silhouettes or monochromatic orange under the very low color temperature incandescent lights and to allow wall detail to be seen (and to keep me from using a tripod in the aisles) but a very slow shutter speed (usually 1/15) to let lamps glow and to let ambient light wipe out some of the flash shadows. I shot the guys at the bar at some excruciatingly slow speed (even at ISO 800)...something like 1/8 or 1/4 sec. to allow for a decent aperture and some depth of field, but I had to brace my elbows on a table which was impractical for most of the rest of the place. Night shots of the sign have to be done with a tripod because its not all lit at the same time:

Btw, the owner told me they used to have puffer fish lamps but they were stolen years ago, dammit...I want a nice shot of a puffer all lit up.
Hey, twowheelin'tiki, you were the last TCer there; are they doing anything with custom mugs yet? They've talked about it since at least last October.
Did you try the ribs or the teriyaki chicken?...both surprisingly good.
How were the drinks? I have a drink menu and note that they are all $4-$6 with a mai tai being $4.50.

[ Edited by: tikijackalope 2007-02-11 08:04 ]

Actually, there are a few TC'ers there at least once a week....
No word on the mugs. Doesn't look like they're coming in any time soon. Only thing new is a few new colors on the t-shirts. The shirts seem to be selling really well- I'm staring to see people wearing them around town.

I'm a big fan of the Kon Tiki. My wife's family lives in Tucson and we visit the Kon Tiki every time we go. Its good to hear that they are reviving tiki mugs there. I spoke with the bouncer on my last visit and he said they were thinking about getting tiki mugs. It is a very cool place, a step back to the original encarnation of Tiki. There is also another small bar in Tucson that has a non-tiki but retro feel. I think its called the "bomb shelter" or something like that. It looks like it's been there since the early 60's. They even had an original JKF campaign sign where Kennedy's theeth lit up (I know, sounds weird). But someone recently stole it. What a shame that people steal artifacts from these rich pop culture "working museums"!

[ Edited by: Digitiki on 2004-07-28 10:04 ]

Ah, the Shelter. Another favorite of ours. As far as I know the light-up JFK is still there. Something JFK-related was stolen but on the marquee a few weeks later was a thank you to someone for returning it safely.
I'm not entirely positive but I think a previous owner (within the last 20 years) was responsible for most of the decor.

Hey Tucson TC people, did ya see this: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=9361&forum=1&vpost=95393 ? Does anyone have a report on whether the new tiki bar, The Hut, is still on schedule to open August 1? I was told by a Tucson Beer & Burger writer that I ran into this past May at Kon Tiki that The Hut would have tikis by Bosko. I'm eager to see more info about it on it's own thread.

The mgr did say mugs were in process.

I'll have to put up my Kontiki pictures from the mid/late 80's. I still have the old shirt. Maybe I'll wear it to Luana Lounge grand opening.


I talked to Louie the Mgr a few months ago, you can see my post in tiki events. At that time he was painting the sign with the bamboo effects. He told me of the changes that were going to be taken place. One of them was Tiki mugs. He showed me a example of a Libby mug. I told him to call Holden, in thoughts that they could work something out like the Purple Orchid. Well, I talked to him earlier this week to let him know that Devil Doll was going to be in town, and he told me that he took my advice. He called Holden at Tiki Farm and they will be releasing Mugs later this month. The first will have Kon Tiki in the glaze, and the one following that will be designed just for the Kon Tiki. I was also told that these will be posted on the Tiki Farm page, and I hope that people will be able to order them so we can show these guys in Tucson some support and that they need to keep the dream of Tiki alive. I was also told that they located the guy who put in most of the art work and they are trying to bring him back to give the art a tune up. So, stay tuned.......

Good move, Tiki Mo Fo, sending Louie to Holden. He mentioned he was working with them back in April and now tells me the first mugs may be in the bar the third week of this month. I can't wait to get reports from those of you in Tucson. I'd hope for mug design someday based on one of the Guanko tikis but thats probably too much to hope.


Mrs. Digitiki and I are heading to Tucson this 3-day weekend to see the in-laws!! Can't wait to stop by the Kon-Tiki!!


Ok, so I went to the Kon Tiki this holiday weekend and had a wonderful time...as usual. This is the first time I tried their food and it was very good!! I asked about their new mugs and they told me that they were getting mugs but they hadn't come in yet. So, I picked up the t-shirt. I can't wait to get a Kon Tiki mug!!!

We just shipped the Kon Tiki 125 customized cobalt X-Eyes. They look really nice. In January, they're getting their own custom mugs... it's mentioned somewhere in another thread I think.

Its good to see the Kon Tiki restart the mug thing! Are their custom mugs going to be like the original Kon Tiki mugs from way back?


While visiting friends in Phoenix we decided to take a ride to Tuscon to check out Kon Tiki. I don't think I can add anything to what everyone else has said. We only had about 30 min. to give everything a good lookover. I took some pics but nothing that's not already been posted. I did get the mug everyones been watching for as well as a drink menu:

We were there on a Sunday about 30 min after they opened so the place was pretty quiet. Just had drinks, no food. Wish I could've spent more time there.

I stopped into the Kon Tiki on May 20 and saw there'd been some painting going on. Louie, the manager, told me they did most of this earlier this year. Here are some of the more obvious examples. Compare the sign by the bar entrance, April, 2004...

...with May, 2005:

The sign out by Broadway, April, 2004:

Broadway sign, May, 2005:

Big tiki to the right of the door, April, 2004:

Same tiki, May, 2005:

A comparison with Humuhumu's pics taken in Feb, 2005 shows that repainting of the main sign had not been started, the Broadway sign was in progress and the tiki was finished.

I was impressed with Tucson hospitality when Tikitucson emailed me and asked if I'd like to meet them there. Here they are with the new (just out of the case when I arrived and not even available at the bar yet) mug and shot glass from Tiki Farms.

We were also joined by Cheeky Half.

Louie said the exclusive Kon Tiki bowls by Tiki Farm mentioned in this thread, http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=10980&forum=7 , are "on the water" and should be available soon.

They also seem to be introducing new shirt designs with some frequency so if like that sort of thing, you might check every couple months. They've had three distinct waves of shirts, by my count, in the last year and a half.


I spoke with Louie a few times in the last few months. I helped with guiding him on a recent trip to CA to get ideas on expansion. So, as things move on with that I will post. I also sp with Louie about two weeks ago and he is looking at some big surpise this spring. Keep tuned.

Did a roadtrip to Tucson, and visited the venerable Kon Tiki. I picked up a Kon Tiki mug during my visit. The mug is made by Tiki Farm (with the mug designer being 'Squid'?). 'Kon Tiki' is printed on the front, and 'Tuscon, AZ' on the back.

You get the mug when you order the Kamehameha for $11.00. The drink is nothing to write home about, but the mug is cool!





If you have not had the opportunity to visit the lovely Kon Tiki, run...don't walk and visit this tiki treasure! :D

I have been remiss in posting this, but my hubby and I made a quick trip there while visiting family in early November and we had a blast! Louie, the manager, has the tiki vision and is full of aloha! :tiki:

Mahalo Nui Loa, Lou, for a wonderful time! The staff is wonderful, the drinks are swell...(you gotta try the Lunchbox, it's out of this world!)and the tiki vibe is authentic...:tiki: just toss on some Martin Denny and you can almost feel the ocean breezes!

We hear from Lou there are big plans on the horizon for this little gem, so listen for the call of the Moai and be sure to stop in and say Aloha to Lou and his team!

P.S. Lou was so gracious during our visit, we now have a whole host of Kon Tiki loot, including the cutest little mugs you ever did see :sheckymug: ...will post pics of all the goodies once I figure out how to download our pics from the new digital coconut, until then, I'll be enjoying my mai tai ( hey, maybe THAT'S why I am having trouble downloading these pics...to many mai tais!)

[ Edited by: tiki-tina 2006-01-21 16:41 ]


I second that emotion!

I've been going to Kon Tiki ever since I was a tot. My parents used to take us there for dinner occasionally. I can remember just being mesmerized by the exotic vibe of the place... pretty far from what I was used to as a boy growing up in Arizona! In fact, I think those early experiences are what made me such a tiki-phile now.

I try to make it in there every week or two for an other-worldly libation.

I hear Louie is ramping up for a big blowout party this April... sweet!


Does anyone have the full scoop on the bootstrapping this place has apparently undergone?

When I visited in 1999, it was a total dump, but had a lot of potential.

People have started raving about it so much in the past few years.

I can definitely believe that if new ownership or managemnt had come in and cleaned some house, that Kon Tiki could have risen from the depths to become a truly amazing Tiki bar.

And this appears to be the case.

What it the story?


I am glad to see that the Kon Tiki has been able to survive all these years!!!! Finally someone gets it!!!! Hooray Kon Tiki!!!!

On 2006-02-09 15:18, tikibars wrote:
Does anyone have the full scoop on the bootstrapping this place has apparently undergone?

When I visited in 1999, it was a total dump, but had a lot of potential.

People have started raving about it so much in the past few years.

I can definitely believe that if new ownership or managemnt had come in and cleaned some house, that Kon Tiki could have risen from the depths to become a truly amazing Tiki bar.

And this appears to be the case.

What it the story?


the KON TIKI is a true classic, 1960's ELI Hedley tiki bar. I've been doing a few things out here (hiding to some, sorry) and this place is awesome!!!!.
By next week, you locals will have a new bar to sit at and a few other details within.

Get ready for the "Kon Tiki re-dedication party on April, 22, 06."

(i'm on a lap top and it took me a freakin hour to type this. i'll re-edit when i get bACk home.)

Viva la KON TIKI !!!!!

p.s. and hi to Mrs. Boo and the lil' boos.

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff 2006-02-18 09:45 ]

On 2006-02-17 18:26, Kailuageoff wrote:

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff 2006-02-18 09:45 ]


what did you say??

KON TIKI HERE WE COME!!!! Ok, WooHooWahine and I have done some "research" for those interested in going to the Grand Re-Opening on April 22nd.....
The Smuggler's Inn is very close by and looks to be the best value for your money!
The rates are $59 per night or $70 for a suite!!! We arrrrrrrr going out there on Tuesday (4/18) thru Sunday (4/23). Check out the place!!! Cool Pool, bar, etc. Go to: http://www.packyoursuitcase.joystar.com (or PM woohoowahine) and look at the place for yourselves! I think it'll be a great place to hang out for a few days and get working on the tan (before Tiki Oasis!) You can also get a round trip airfare for between $149 and $185 (from LAX or LGB.) Anyway, I am just trying to make it easy and affordable for those who want to be there for the event!!! (At http://www.packyoursuitcase.joystar.com you can make both your room and air reservations!)

Update: I just spoke with the manager of The Smugglers Inn. There are plenty of rooms available for the weekend of April 21-23. Also included with the room rate is a Full Cooked Breakfast Daily and a Cocktail Reception Every Night. If you are interested in staying at The Smugglers Inn please PM me for more information. ~ WooHooWahine

Here is another pic from the Bamboo Ben Phase 1 Spruce Up Tour at the Kon Tiki Tucson.

Old Hostess Stand...

New Hostess Stand...

With Hostesses, before the roof was on.

Your handiwork will be apparent upon entering. Excellent work!


On 2006-02-28 12:39, WooHooWahine wrote:
I have a Block of Rooms Reserved at The Smugglers Inn for the weekend of April 21-23 for all TC'ers who will be going out to Tuscon to attend The Kon Tiki Party . If you are interested PM me for more details.

I just confirmed with the Smuuglers Inn that we (as the "tiki group") will get the AAA rate (their lowest) of $59 for a standard room and $79 for a suite!!! ALSO we will be given breakfast AND drink vouchers for each day of stay!!!
***I think that brings the suite price to a sweet price of around $40-50 after breakfast and drinks!!!

We have 5 rooms blocked right now and two spoken for. PM me if you want to get in on this deal.

On 2006-02-26 08:13, RevBambooBen wrote:
Here is another pic from the Bamboo Ben Phase 1 Spruce Up Tour at the Kon Tiki Tucson.

Old Hostess Stand...

New Hostess Stand...

With Hostesses, before the roof was on.

Well, I'm glad you installed Hostesses! There's nothing worse than when the contractors forget to install the Hostesses and no one notices 'til two weeks after the opening...

On 2006-02-24 17:12, WooHooWahine wrote:
Update: I just spoke with the manager of The Smugglers Inn. There are plenty of rooms available for the weekend of April 21-23. Also included with the room rate is a Full Cooked Breakfast Daily and a Cocktail Reception Every Night. If you are interested in staying at The Smugglers Inn please PM me for more information. ~ WooHooWahine

Well, Ben may be re-bambooing the Kon Tiki, but when I was 19, I spent most of an entire summer painting every balcony and stair-rail at the Smugglers Inn. I would start my day by picking up my painting supplies and a room key and then strecth out for a little nap in the AC. Do college girl hookers still hang out in the lounge and by the pool? :o

I said I was pissed I missed you when I was in HB (in a drunken sort of way). Glad you are straightening up the old pueblo though.

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff 2006-03-01 19:15 ]

WoooHoooo! The following people are in for The Tiki Central Takeover at The Smugglers Inn April 21st -23rd. If you are interested in booking a room (Standard Rooms $59 or Suites $79 with Breakfast and COCKTAIL Reception Daily) PM me ASAP!!:

Soccer Tiki
WooHoo Wahine
Lovevw181 + 1


You should come back to Tucson to check out how that paint job is holding up, maybe around April 22nd.

I can't guarantee hookers though.

cheeky half

I would love to come to Tucson, but my travel funds are committed until next year. I wish I had been into tiki when I lived in there, but after growing up in Hawaii I thought Polynesian-themed businesses in the desert were simply ridiculous and paid them no attention. What a fool I was. When I was in the Southwest, I mostly listened to the Grateful Dead, drank Tequila and rolled my own cigarettes...

Of course now my tastes are much more sophisticated. I mostly listen to vintage Hawaiian music, drink rum and smoke cigars.

I do remember there being a big Moai on Speedway in front of a mini-golf or something, and may have passed by the Kon-Tiki but am not sure. There also was a motel that was Polynesian-themed that I remember. It is really cool that you guys are staying at The Smugglers Inn for this party. What a weird coincidence. Have fun and take pictures!

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff 2006-03-04 22:02 ]

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