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Any Fun Tiki Restaurants?

I'm looking for a FUN tiki/Polynesian dinner place for a friend's 40th birthday. I had hoped for a Polynesia dinner & dance show, but it looks like we don't have any in the SF area (I can't find anything recent about the "Taste of Aloha" supper & dance show in SOMA).

Any suggestions for a great tiki restaurant, other than Trader Vic's in Emeryville? Any other fun dining options? I also considered the Dark Dining deal, but scheduling is an issue.

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  1. I don't know of any "great tiki restaurants". The usual suspects:

    Tonga Room and there is a Trader Vic's in SF, Civic Center area. Not sure if you don't want Trader Vic's or just didn't want the Emeryville location.

    Neither is particularly great.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Scott M

      Yeah, Tonga Room is everything but fun. For example, it IS a great way to spend $8 on a bottle of beer and $24 on a $6 plate of chow mein from next door, in a tired old gimmicky room.

      These numbers are not exaggerated for entertainment purposes.

    2. The Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, sounds exactly what you are looking for. There are shows on a floating tiki hut and rainstorms on the hour over a center pool. It is really old school kitch. Really fun and good food.

      The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

      The Tonga Room offers a tropical and festive atmosphere with live entertainment, dancing and a rain storm. The Tonga Room serves exceptional Pacific Rim Asian Cuisine in a tropical setting. It is the perfect escape after a busy day of meetings or shopping along Union Square. Be sure to try the Mai Tai, regularly recognized as the City's best!

      Hours Of Operation:
      The Hurricane Bar
      Sunday through Thursday: 5:00 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.
      Friday and Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

      Tonga's Award Winning Happy Hour
      Monday to Friday: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

      The Happy Hour includes an extensive buffet of Pacific Rim delicacies with items such as spare ribs, vegetable chow mein, pork buns, pot stickers, chicken drummettes, cheese, fresh fruits and crudités. The all-you-can-eat buffet is a 'steal' at only $9.50 per person with a one drink minimum. To complement this feast fit for kings and queens, the tropical restaurant and bar serves tantalizing cocktails at Happy Hour prices.

      As you marvel at the exciting decor, be sure to hold on to your drink during the surprise thunder and lightning.

      The Tonga Room Restaurant:
      (featuring Pacific Rim cuisine)
      Sunday to Thursday: 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
      Friday & Saturday: 6:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m.

      Dress Code:

      Reservations for dinner are recommended. Please call the Tonga directly at 1 (415) 772-5278, or reserve via the Internet.

      2 Replies
      1. re: beewings

        I have fond memories of the Tonga Room. When we were growing up, a trip to San Francisco was always made more special seeing it rain into the Tonga Room lagoon.

        I went here 10 years ago for dinner. Entrees were $13 each for not that great Chinese food; plus they tacked on $3 per person because of the band, and cokes were $3.

        Four years later we headed back for the happy hour buffet. Back then it was $6 per person with a one drink minimum (cheapest drink then was $5). We felt like the buffet was the superior deal with dim sum, Chinese American standbys, and things like teriyaki chicken wings. The food was still mediocre, but the decor was fun as always.

        1. re: beewings

          Hey, do they still play the theme from Hawaii Five-0 when the band comes floating out? Last time I was there was maybe 15 years ago...sounds like the place hasn't changed! Good place to get some slow dance acrtion, every 3rd song was a slow one! gotta go back for old times sake.

        2. All these types of places are cheesy... that is kind of the point.
          So I can also recommend the smallish
          Trad'r Sams
          Richmond District
          6150 Geary Boulevard
          (between 25th Ave & 26th Ave)
          San Francisco, CA 94121
          (415) 221-0773

          1 Reply
          1. re: beewings

            Some of us (tiki aficionados, that is) do not find tiki to be cheesy, kitsch, or tacky -- I think it's important to realize that. I find the decor and design of most of these places to be splendid and gorgeous. I feel at home in this environment.

            San Francisco's own Otto von Stroheim is one of the world's experts on the history of tiki/Polynesiana, and he puts things much better than I can.

            That said, I really like the Trader Vic's in Emeryville for dining and drinks both, and Tonga Room for drinks only. I wish they had a much, much better band at Tonga Room. The design of the SF Trader Vic's is really unsuccessful for me. Too bright, not enough atmosphere. I prefer an undersea-grotto-like atmosphere.

            Forbidden Island in Alameda is supposed to be fantastic.

          2. Well, just as a completely different suggestion (ie. not Tiki). Maybe something like belly dancing at El Mansour might work for the birthday. I haven't been personally but just thought I would throw the idea out there and see what others had to say about any experiences they may have had.


            1. I'd second the Tonga Room for happy hour and drinks. It's about as Tiki kitsch as it gets w/o going down stream. However if you want Hawaiian, I'd check out Hukilau (Geary/Masonic) owned by some Bruddahs from Hawaii. Fun place, live music on fridayweekends but no hula show. The SF location is basically a bar with about 15 tables for food. There's also Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda. I wouldn't make a trip if you're coming from SF.

              1. Thanks all. I'm quite familiar with the Tonga Room, but it slipped my mind. I love it's cheesiness and I think the happy hour is a great deal. That's a strong possibility. I really like the Hukilau and go there a bunch, but it's not quite what I'm looking for for this event. Bellydancing is a possibility. Al Masri - the Egyptian place on Balboa -has great Egyptian style bellydancing. I just wish there was a good "luau" type of place with a show around here. I have fond memories of going to some dinner show in Miami as a child. C'est la vie.

                4 Replies
                1. re: kresge86

                  Temple Bar on University in Berkeley is pretty Hawaiian. It has a fairly small stage, in fact the entire place is rather small and may not be as upscale as you are looking for, but I've heard the music there and it seemed authentic to me. The food is pretty good, too. Better than the Tonga Room. The decor is fun and very Tiki. It might be a great place for a birthday party, depending on what you're looking for. Very nice people.

                  1. re: Glencora

                    Temple Bar is cozy, friendly, and run by actual Hawiians but they seem to only
                    be open on the rare occasions when Kaluannuunohonionio rolls over in his
                    watery grave. Which is to say I went there three years ago and even though I
                    pass by there almost daily and want to go again, they're always closed.

                    Website says they're open pretty normal hours, but I'd call first:

                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                      They do private parties a lot. Calling ahead is a good idea.

                  2. re: kresge86

                    You might check the site tiki central for more info ... if any.

                    Another idea is to go down to the Flower Market in San Francisco. A few of the flower vendors are Hawaiian and post about events like local luaus. don't remember which vendor and it was quite a while ago that I saw this. I just came back from Hawaii and had trouble losing the Aloaha Spirit and was buying Hawaiian flowers when I noticed the postings ... BTW, this was when the first Bush was president ... so don't know if those vendors are still there. They were toward the end where you pay.

                  3. If you want high quality drinks go to Forbidden Island. Excellent drinks, excellent staff and the decor is top notch.

                    The Hawaiian store in Japantown is opening up a dining place and where looking for dancers. I think it is called Honu but I don't think it is open yet.

                    Forbidden Island
                    1304 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: alohatiki

                      Thanks alohatiki! I'll have to keep an eye out for Honu, as I love Hawaiian/Polynesian food, music and hula.

                      I also like the Conga Lounge in Oakland. It's great for drinks, but a little cramped for dinner. I went to Forbidden Island a year or two ago when they had a big tiki sale, but I've yet to try it for drinks. Definitely cool decor. Perhaps we'll just hit up Tucker's Ice Cream with the kiddies, and then head over to Forbidden Island for the adults' only portion of the birthday celebration.

                      1. re: kresge86

                        That's a great idea! Tucker's makes delicious ice cream and Forbidden Island makes wonderful drinks. Not much food to speak of, but the sweet potato fries were pretty good. BTW, if you're going on a Friday or Saturday, get there early as it can get crowded fairly quickly. My girlfriends and I have started a birthday tradition of drinks at Forbidden Island and I love that the staff is willing to tweak the drinks to your liking. Also, the menu has little bottles on it to indicate how boozey drinks are. Just be aware that the drinks ain't cheap (I think my favorite is $9) but some of us only need one as they can be rather large. Oh, and they have about 25 different varieties of rum you can try as well. Happy Birthday and have a great time in Tikiland!