First, the bad news: 90% of the establishments from Tiki’s heyday in the 50s and 60s are long gone.
Many that remain have been heavily renovated, containing only vestigial remnants of anything remotely identifiable with America’s Polynesia craze.
Like Tiki himself, these remnants stand as echoes of a distant past, of a time that once was.
The great new is that there are still quite a few very well-maintained Tiki establishments from yesteryear that have gone all-out to preserve their original vibe, décor and fare.
And not just restaurants, mind you.
There’s the Shady Dell resort in Bisbee, AZ; the Tradewinds Motor Lodge in Eureka Springs, AR; the Sip-n-Dip Lounge in Great Falls, MT; the Mission Tiki Drive-in Theatre in Montclair, CA; the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego; the Akua Motor Hotel in Anaheim; and the Kona Pali Apartments in Los Angeles.
Those are just a few.
Yet the fact remains: to truly step back in time and to a place far, far away, any true Tikiphile must experience the few (and best) remaining Polynesia-themed restaurants from Tiki’s glory days.
- Alibi Lounge in Portland, OR; est. 1947
- Bali Hai in San Diego, CA; est. 1953
- Bahooka in Rosemead, CA; est. 1976
- Hala Kahiki in River Grove, IL; est. 1966
- Jardin Tiki in Montreal, QC; est. 1970
- Kon-Tiki in Tuscon, AZ; est. 1963
- Kowloon in Saugus, MA; est. 1950
- La Mariana Sailing Club in Honolulu, HI, est. 1955
- Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, FL; est. 1956
- Omni Hut in Smyrna, TN; est. 1960
- Tiki Ti in Los Angeles, CA: est. 1961
- Tonga Hut in Hollywood, CA; est. 1958
Last but not least are the original, Trader Vic’s restaurants in Beverly Hills, Chicago and Munich. (Although many others closed during the 70s, 80s, and 90s, over 20 new ones have been built worldwide since the beginning of the 21st century.)