Seattle did not avoid the tiki craze that swept the nation in the 1950’s and in some ways, it’s never left! GIs returning from South Pacific after World War II brought an affection for the islands back with them, and Tiki Fever caught on with the nation.
Seattle, being located on the Pacific Rim, has always had a special tie to the islands of Hawaii and the South Pacific. Where folks on the East Coast often vacation in the Bahamas and other Atlantic destinations, Hawaii is a popular destination for many people living on the West Coast. The absorption of Hawaii into the United States in 1959 represents the apex of the cult of tiki; when investment capital began developing Hawaii as a tourist destination, some of it boomeranged back to the mainland. Tiki may represent the first stirrings of the notion of the Pacific Rim.
Looking for some Tiki Bars in Seattle or a place to have a good tiki-style cocktail? This list is constantly changing so please double-check the website and call ahead to make sure they’re still open and/or doing Tiki.
Hula Hula’s on Capitol Hill
I’m not sure how long this will be open, but enjoy it while it lasts. I attended the opening in 2006 after my friend Edie Whitsett, a set designer for the theater and opera, designed and painted the interior.
A classic Tiki bar with lurid citrus walls, bamboo accents, pufferfish lights and hand-painted, black velvet, tropical mural under black light that create the backdrop for exotic cocktails. The food is good too, but they rarely play tiki or lounge music and I’ve been there when they’ve had country western music and karaoke so that was a little disappointing.
1501 E. Olive Way, Seattle WA
Phone: (206) 284-5003
Three 9 Lounge in West Seattle
This popular West Seattle tiki bar may not thrill Tiki purists, but the folks who run the place are sweet and their hearts are in the right place. They try hard with the drinks and the food is excellent. They have Zombie’s and Jungle Birds coming out of their ears and the Puu-Puu platter (featuring Ponzu steak tips, seared curry shrimp, karaage chicken, lumpia and Island macaroni salad) is AMAZING! My favorite thing about this place is it’s located in a BOWLING ALLEY!!! The address is 4505 39th SW, Seattle WA 98116
Hotel Albatross in Ballard
A safe harbor for marooned souls
Not technically a tiki bar, they do have a flaming volcano drink ( I had one, it was pretty good!) and some interesting “exotic” food items. The puffy tacos are delish, but not exactly tiki fare. One thing I’ve never seen on a menu before is Frogs Legs. Would that be French Polynesian? The rest of the menu items span Korea to Africa to Texas. I think this place is more the spirit of Tiki, rather than any desire to be authentic. Enjoy the tale of the Hotel Albatross on its website. Quite creative. We saw the lounge band Lushy there and it was quite a magical evening. Hope to go there again soon!
2319 NW Market Street, Seattle WA 98107
Rumba – “The Northwest’s Premium Rum Bar”
They have delicious drinks and food anytime, but Wednesday’s are billed at their Tiki Nights with fresh pineapple and cocanut drinks. Any day of the week, they make delicious rum-forward craft drinks with freshly squeezed juices, house syrups, and good quality ingredients.
“Not in the mood for a cocktail? Get to know the Caribbean islands through their vast array of rum! Rum is the world’s most varied spirit, with flavors from Abuelo to Zacapa. Let us help you pick out a rum or a flight from our collection of 500+ sugar cane spirits to suit your particular tastes. Ask for a Rum Map and tour the Caribbean through 60 rums of your choosing. Complete our map and you’re a member of our Rum Society! You will receive your very own Rumba DTO coin, your name on our wall, and bragging rights for life.”
Rumba features very cool menu’s designed by a friend, Tony Canepa. You can view the illustrations and buy one for yourself at The Art of Tony Canepa.
1112 Pike Street, Seattle WA 98101
No Bones Beach Bar in Ballard
I think this is the world’s first vegan Tiki Bar, at least in Seattle. So you’ll not find any cocanut shrimp on the menu, but you will find Eggplant Fries, Cauliflower Wings and Beer Battered Avocado Tacos. To accompany the vegan fare, find drinks made with fresh fruit juices and spirits from local distilleries. They offer Mai-Tai’s, of course, but also some more unusual drinks such as “Hemingway’s Vacation” (White Rum, Grapefruit Juice, Lime, Dash Of Simple Syrup & Giffard Pamplemousee Rose, Served Chilled).
5410 17th NW, Seattle WA 98107
Lava Lounge in Belltown
Lava Lounge isn’t exactly a Tiki Bar, but Seattle has such a dearth that we pretend it is. There was a time when it tried harder and it had a few tiki drinks on the menu and I remember an awesome Black Velvet Painting show they had about 15 years ago. I also remember a fundraiser there put on my Larry Reid and Charles Krafft and they somehow got a hold of a glass Chihuly and they auctioned off chances for $10 to smash the Chihuly to bits in the back alley with a sledgehammer.
The most tiki thing about it now is probably the awesome mural by Joe Nix in the front, though the inside is rather Witkoesque with lots of dark carved wood.
2226 2nd Avenue, Seattle WA 98121
Ohana Hawaiian Restaurant in Belltown
This place has been in Belltown for over 17 years and it’s still going strong. They have an outpost in Issaquah (!) and their very own condo you can rent in Maui.
They have karaoke Sunday -Tuesday and live music every Wednesday night.
Lots of tiki drinks on the menu, plus a Wasabi Bloody Mary that will kick your you-know-what.
For food, expect a mash-up of Hawaiian, Mexican and Fillipino food, all held together with Spam.
2207 1st Avenue, Seattle WA 98121
The Anderson School Tiki Bar and North Shore Lagoon at McMenamins
Finally, a reason to go to Bothell! Built in 1931 as Bothell Junior High and later named after the school’s first Principal, Mr. Anderson, the art-deco style Anderson School is now a Pacific Northwest resort of mammoth size and of particular interest, of course, is the Tiki Bar and Pool!
Moi monolithic Polynesian statues greet visitors to the North Shore Lagoon. Carved sandstone from Bali points your way inside. Head upstairs to view the paneling made from recycled teak and the 100-year-old Balinese fishing boats and see the fixtures made from Balinese chicken cages and hand-blown glass. VIew masks from New Guinea, sit on a a bench of a Teak tree trunk pulled from a river in Bali, or the oil drum furniture from Indonesia, or the hanging boat, or bar made of Balinese Monkey Pod Tree.
Below, take in the grandeur of the swimming pool-McMenamins first full-sized pool, flanked with Hawaiian plants and the Balinese lychee tree sun carving looking down upon the waters. The elements are welcomed in through numerous massive skylights, so feel the rain, or sleet or sunbeams as you cast yourself in this 89-degree water.
Float or backstroke through the intriguing waters of the pool, open every day, which may just take on a South-Seas inlet in your mind.
There’s seasonal outdoor dining at Wegner’s Garden adjacent to the pool – and you can order the specialty rum cocktails and menu offerings from the North Shore Lagoon while you sit outside for that one month in August where you can standit.
You can drink here all night and then STAY, as there’s a hotel on the 5-acre campus too. Three restaurants. Three small bars. The Art-Deco school building with classrooms-turned-hotel-rooms. A movie theater. Weekly music. Fire pits. One-of-a-kind art. This is a great McMenamins Washington addition and is a destination and gathering place for all. Has going back to school ever been such fun?! We went to several events there and are hoping to host a Tiki Night there soon!
McMenamins Anderson School – 18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell WA 98011
Seattle had many tiki and Polynesian themed businesses over the years, and leading the pack was Trader Vic’s, located on the first floor of the Westin Hotel.
Trader Vic’s was probably the most famous tiki restaurant in Seattle. It closed in 1989. There was one that opened in 2006 in Bellevue at Lincoln Square. Of course, it’s Bellevue. And it can be nothing but a pale imitation, so it closed a few years later. 🙁
Trader Vic’s in Bellevue at the Seattle Times
There’s a long list of long-gone tropical tiki has-beens in Seattle and around Washington State. Many people remember the Polynesia Restaurant.
The Polynesia cost $500,000 when it was built in 1961. It was situated on Pier 51 in downtown Seattle, overlooking Puget Sound. It closed twenty years later in 1981, when the government condemned the pier. It wanted more space to expand the ferry terminal at Coleman Dock. The building with three A-frame roofs (minus interior fixtures and furnishings, which had been removed) was put onto a barge and moved to a temporary site on the Duwamish River. It was later burned down for practice by the Seattle Fire Department.
Seattle Area Home Lounge Tour 2008
(Click HERE for photos)
Seattle’s lost many Tiki establishments throughout the years, including the fabulous Leilani Lanes in beautiful downtown Greenwood.
In October 2005, the bowling alley was sold to a developer for $6.2 million. In March 2006, the bowling alley’s 36 lanes went dark forever to make way for apartments and shops.
It’s a turbulent farewell for Leilani Lanes bowling alley from The Seattle P-I.
Wrecking ball to silence bowling pins at landmark Leilani Lanes / Seattle Times
2007 Home Lounge Tour
Produced by DJ Terence Gunn
Five incredible home lounges were on the tour over two days.
The 2007 Home Lounge Tour started off at Peter Andrijeski’s Monkey Skull Voodoo Lounge.
On the second day, we the bus pulled up to Marlow Harris and JoDavid’s Dead Elvis Lounge on Capitol Hill.
The third stop was the Starlight Lounge and Cabana Bar owned by Tammy Williams.
Stop number four was at Pat and Sandi’s Fantasy Island home in West Seattle.
The last stop of the night was at Terence Gunn’s Shrunken Head Lounge.
Every year, a group of tiki aficionados gather in Portland for the Tiki-Kon, three days of faux-Polynesian themed tours, dancing, shopping, and socializing.
More Seattle tiki spots of the past and present
The Kalua Room — This restaurant was located in the Hotel Windsor; there is now a large shopping and restaurant complex where the hotel once stood.
The Luau Barbecue Restaurant — Now the home of the Broadway Grill.
The Kau-Kau — Polynesian/Chinese restaurant located in Downtown Seattle. Still there!
Want to read more about vanishing Tiki Culture? Visit Critiki, a reference resource for the collecting, travelling or researching tikiphile, with information on over 500 locations, and as many pictures.
Tiki torches, lava lamps, native islander masks, cocktails, micro-brews. Sometimes, live music. Once in awhile, a special art event or Polynesian/Tiki Theme party. No food, but you can “dine” down the street at Mama’s Mexican Kitchen and eat in the Elvis Room, which also has a slight Mexican/Elvis/Tiki theme.
Happy Hour 3-7 daily. Open 3pm – 2am. 2226 2nd Ave. in Belltown.
The Luau Lounge
Formerly at Green Lake/Tangletown, they had frou-frou cocktails. They had food dipped in macedamia nuts. And they had a puu-puu platter. What more could you want?
2207 1st Ave, Seattle Belltown
Ohana is advertised as a Japanese/Polynesian Grill and Bamboo Sushi Lounge. Could be. “Ohana” means “family” in Hawaiian. Check out Ohana with its surfing paraphernalia, tiki hut bar, colored lights and a little bamboo. Its Japanese and Hawaiian food is very tasty. Sushi bar. Full bar.
Ohana offers music every night with DJ’s; Wednesday night is live traditional Island music and on Sundays is karaoke.
Formerly at 96 Union St., Downtown, it was decorated with bamboo and flowered patterned chairs. Menu items included sushi, stir fries, noodles and combo plates. It also offered access to a wonderful rooftop in front of it, for one of the best views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains.
Waimea Brewing Company
Formerly at 111 Central Wy, Kirkland, it was spacious, and had a thatched-roof bar and a small rock pond/waterfall It served Hawaiian and American food and almost 50 kinds of beer.
More restaurants and fine tiki drinking establishments (some more tiki than others…..)
Thanks to www.SeattleDining.com
Kauai Family Restaurant 206-762-3469
6324 6th Ave S., South Seattle
This Georgetown spot offers authentic Hawaiian foods in a casual atmosphere. Opened in 1993, it’s still going strong and is a family place all the way through. Reality is that Spam is part of the Hawaiian diet, but it seems the same thing as offering Tang. There are so many other good options. Specializing in Hawaiian, Polynesian.
1188 106th Ave NE, Bellevue
Large windows, dark furniture, pale yellow walls and jazz make this a pleasant place to enjoy a meal. The sushi bar is up front and center along an interesting sand-like wave wall (you’ll have to see it yourself) and the dining room is a few steps down past a curved wall. Sushi is very fresh and the menu includes lots of rolls and interesting options. The daily special sheet combines Japanese and Hawaiian culinary treats.
Specializing in Japanese, Sushi, Hawaiian
Kona Kitchen and Yuji’s Lounge 206-517-5662
8501 5th Ave NE, Seattle (Maple Leaf)
A low-key place with American Colonial-looking wood tables and chairs and lots of kitsch offers some Hawaiian specialties like roasted pork, loco moco breakfast, Hawaiian sweet bread French toast and plate lunches with two scoops of rice and mac salad. They also offer burgers and biscuits and gravy. Yuji’s Lounge is their bar and has a very large TV along with the above-bar TV and a corner for music that includes a mini-disco ball hanging from the ceiling.
Specializing in Hawaiian.
NORTHWEST TIKI: Vancouver Trader Vic’shttp://eu-acho-que-vi-um-gatinho.blogspot.com/2011/04/trader-vic-vancouver.html
Click HERE for a tour of five home bars and lounges in Seattle, some tiki, some exotic!
Otto von Stroheim and Roq La Rue Gallery held a “Tiki Art Now!” exhibit in 2006.
Shag (aka Josh Agle) is a painter of swank scenes and hipster motifs, including the tiki and lounge scene. He’s from L.A. but has visited Seattle in the past and shows at Roq la Rue Gallery.
Up-to-the-minute tiki news on Tiki Central.
Humu Kon Tiki -Blog from intrepid tiki explorerer Humuhumu.
Tiki Farm – Purveyors of Polynesian Pop Culture.
Konakai – Pages and pages of all things tiki.
Don Tiki – Keeper of the Flame of the almost extinct volcano of Exotic Music.
Tiki Central – Open 24 hours a day for all your tiki needs.
Tiki News – Otto Von Stroheim’s First Journal of Tiki.
International President’s Circle
Coldwell Banker Bain Associates
1661 E. Olive Way, Seattle WA, 98102
Business: (206) 329-3795
(Photographed at the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs)
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