Best Tiki Bar?
Forbidden Island's bartender / guru Martin Cate left last month, I haven't been back to see if the drinks are still as stellar.
Reminded of this by the Adesso discussion: Kona Club is a mellow place, but the drinks aren't as good as the ones at Forbidden Island.
The Tonga Room may not survive the hotel's conversion to condos. Drinks are average, food is medicore, main draw is the campy Disneylandish entertainment.
Anybody tried Tiki Tom's, on the Oakland side of the 29th Ave / Park St. bridge?
I really like the Trader Vic's in Emeryville. Beautifully appointed, gorgeous setting. Lunchtime fare is decent and I like the cocktails. We went to the big Father's Day buffet they held last year. Can't wait to go back this year.
AFAIK the rest of the staff is still pretty much the same and they should still be making about the same drinks. (Martin didn't make most of the drinks I've had there and they've still been terrific.) I suspect the real "test" will come as the bartenders who worked directly with Martin start moving on and he's not around to train their replacements, but for now I hold out hope.
I've never tried Tiki Tom's, but I'll have to give it a shot sometime. (And I suppose I'll have to visit the Tonga Room out of a sense of tiki history!)
We went to Tiki Tom's a few weeks agon for a Friday night happy hour. Missed out on the 9.95 Prime Rib special, but it looked tasty. They were sold out at 5:45, so that's a good sign of the quality. Did manage to make the Mai Tai happy hour, and they were delicious. The food we ordered was good, service was pleasant and a fun environment. We will definitely return!
For Mai Tai's and good Polynesian drinks, go to Silver Palace in Montclair Village in Oakland. The owner was a bartender at Trader Vic's and his daughter has follwed in his footsteps. If Wendy is bartending, her drinks are to die for (don't have more that two, trust me) and the food is good. Fire-fire beef, sizzling tofu and veggies...good stuff and there is a round fireplace! What more could you ask for!
Critiki is the best World Wide Tiki Bar site, I've found - http://www.critiki.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi? - its got a very complete list of tiki bars and excellent commentary.
We were at the Tonga Room for a birthday party last week. Even though the space is in beautiful condition and the service decent; the food is really awful and the drinks are too sugary even when level-setting for tropical drinks.
I'll stick with Li-Po for mai-tais and Forbidden Island for ambiance.