The 14 Best Tiki Bars In The US

There are few ways to escape modern day problems, but what if there was a place that took you to another world? The ultimate feat in escapism. And so enters: the tiki bar. No, not an oceanside retreat with sugar-laden drinks; rather, a true tiki bar embracing cinematic levels of theming, a bit of Polynesian flair, and most importantly, expertly crafted and balanced cocktails.

As detailed in another Mashed article, tiki culture first became popular in Hollywood in the 1930s, thanks to a man named Donn Beach (originally, Ernest Gantt). The forefather of tiki was a World War 2 veteran who saw the need for the world to "get away" for a while — and so he opened the Don The Beachcomber restaurant. The post-prohibition crowds marveled in its exotic atmosphere, South Seas inspired food, and of course, the drinks. His restaurant (which expanded into a chain) is credited with inventing cocktails like the Zombie, Navy Grog, and the Three Dots and A Dash — all of which remain staples of tiki bars to this day.

As disco ushered in the 1970s, Americans sadly turned up their noses on tiki culture. Tiki may not be exactly like it was in its glory days, but neo-tiki culture is helmed by a few ambitious entrepreneurs and mixologists who very well may be as inventive as the Beachcomber himself.

So turn on some Don Ho, grab your collectible swizzle sticks, and venture with us to the 14 best tiki bars in the United States.

The Golden Tiki - Las Vegas

The good times indeed roll in Vegas. With no shortage of debauchery to be had, it's a trip off the strip that will transport you from the mundane of everyday life (and the cacophony of sounds from the slots) to a tropical paradise. The Golden Tiki is hidden in an unassuming strip mall, but once you enter its doors, you're instantly taken to one of the most fully immersive tiki bars of today. The restaurant offers everything we loved about the tiki of yesteryear, but adds modern day enhancements, like an animatronic bird show.

It doesn't rest on atmosphere alone, though. The cocktails are fantastic and run the gamut of what a mid-century tiki menu should offer — from the classics, like a 1944 Mai Tai, to new age libations, like a tiki mule. In a nod to its location in Vegas, it honors some of the town's greatest performers with commemorative shrunken heads — including Carrot Top. This spot gets extra props for its solid happy hour every day of the week and the fact that it's open 24/7.

VenTiki Tiki Lounge and Lanai - Ventura, California

Tiki was born on the West Coast, so it's no surprise that some of the very best modern day interpretations can be found there. Located in the small beach town of Ventura, just north of Los Angeles, VenTiki Tiki Lounge and Lanai is an unexpected gem. Inside, a classic tiki oasis awaits, complete with custom art from local artists; but outside, the lanai patio sets this joint apart from the rest. With ornate tiki torches, a cascading waterfall, and a fire pit, you can bask in the gorgeous Southern California weather while sipping on an extensive collection of rums.

We were impressed with their thoughtful menu of Mai Tais, including the Channel Island Mai Tai and a classic Trader Vic preparation. VenTiki is also dishing out inventive food items from their punk rock kitchen — like the Spamageddon. Toasted Hawaiian sweet rolls are loaded with their famous slow-roasted kalua pork — a perfect pairing with one of their booze-forward concoctions from the bar. VenTiki also partners with artists in tiki to create limited-edition, unique ceramic souvenir tiki mugs worthy of being added to your home bar.

Tonga Hut - North Hollywood, California

Los Angeles was the birthplace of tiki nearly 100 years ago, and still remains the epicenter of some of the very best tiki spots. Tonga Hut has two locations, including one in Palm Springs, but its North Hollywood location remains a classic since 1958. Stepping inside is like a walk back in time to someone's mid-century living room, complete with a bamboo-laden drop ceiling. It's utterly intimate yet comfortable, with seating in classic booth-style coves lining the walls or high top swivel chairs that draw you in to belly up to the bar.

Don't let the laid-back atmosphere throw you for a loop — the oldest tiki bar in Los Angeles is crafting some of the best cocktails around. All the classics can be found there, including a potent, straight-forward interpretation of the Zombie. 

In recent times, Tonga Hut has added an outdoor, covered seating area and food trucks, but we have a soft spot in our hearts for the inside of the restaurant with its taste of the good ol' days.

Smuggler's Cove - San Francisco

Located in San Francisco, Smuggler's Cove may be the most elaborately themed tiki bar of the modern age — complete with vintage tiki artifacts. The multi-level establishment, themed as a pirate ship, will have you feeling like you've walked straight onto the set of The Goonies. Nautical elements aside, it's helmed by none other than the godfather of modern tiki himself, Martin Cates. The passionate rum expert and author is credited with educating the masses and keeping today's tiki renaissance alive and well.

Since opening in 2009, Smuggler's Cove has grown to house one of the largest collections of rum in the world, with over 700 varieties. That passion is taken one step further with their Rumbustion Society, a free-to-join rum club that explores the liquor's interesting roots. The restaurant's menu of over 80 cocktails features greats of both the classic and modern era of tiki, with all house-made ingredients and fresh-squeezed juices. The Smuggler's Rum Barrel is a favorite — it features Caribbean spices and comes served in a souvenir ceramic mug.

Three Dots and a Dash - Chicago

Many wouldn't think of the Windy City as being home to one of the best tiki bars in the country. Yes, Chicago is known for its incredible pizza and sports, but hidden in an alleyway is one of the immersive bars to be found. Three Dots and a Dash is part speakeasy, part tiki bar that draws in thirsty locals and inquisitive tourists, alike. Once you find it, a skull-adorned stairway leads you to this expansive establishment. With a lively and exuberant atmosphere, this is exactly the place you want to waste away an entire evening (or weekend). Perhaps a bit more flashy than the tiki haunts of Beachcomber's time, Three Dots and a Dash delivers with its incredible cocktail menu.

Syrups — the cornerstone of a great tiki drink — are all hand-crafted on-site, while the herbs, sugar, and spices are sourced from all over the world, ensuring the freshest ingredients are used. Their large-format cocktails are a must-get here, like the treasure chest, which is served in (you guessed it!) a treasure chest filled with aged Venezuelan Rum. For the ultimate experience, The Bamboo Room is tucked away (a bar within a bar) and offers its own exclusive menu of high-end rums and cocktails that are poured table-side.

Mai-Kai - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

At the height of tiki culture in the 1950s, large-scale Polynesian establishments could be found all over the country — with elaborate décor, next-level cocktails, and nibbles with South Pacific flair. Sadly, when the tiki culture fanned in the 1970s and 1980s, most of these grand-scale establishments shuttered. Today, the longest-running Polynesian show remains at the Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Having opened in 1956, The historic landmark is part tiki bar, part restaurant, and a full impressive Polynesian show with incredible, flame-throwing performances.

The property, a towering landmark visible from the nearby highway, is gorgeous and expansive with eight dining rooms, a bar, stage, gift shop, and tropical walking paths complete with waterfalls and lush vegetation. The Molokai Bar is a favorite, modeled after a turn-of-the-century seaport saloon with its dozens of specialty cocktails served by their bikini-adorned waitresses. 

The Mai-Kai has experienced a series of hardships in recent times, including destructive water damage to their kitchen in late 2020, but the future proves promising thanks to its fans and new partners who are committed to returning the Mai-Kai to its well-known glory.

Tiki-Ti - Hollywood, California

For over 60 years, Tiki-Ti on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood has been serving up some of the best tiki cocktails out there. Opened by Ray Buhen, one of the original Don The Beachcomber bartenders, the heart and soul of the bar continues with the bar's father/son duo, Mike Sr. and Mike Jr. Buhen. The local landmark may be small — just 12 seats at the bar and a few tables along the wall — but it makes up for it with its big personality (and rich backstory). No inch of its walls have been spared from traditional tikis and tropical décor.

The cocktail menu is expansive (94 drinks to be exact!), with classic tiki cocktails and wildly creative cocktails you won't (and can't) find anywhere else. The one thing you won't find here? Beer. The most popular drink at this cash-only spot is Ray's Mistake — a lethal but secret combo made with passion fruit and dark rum. Not sure what to order? Leave it up to the tiki gods and spin the "wheel of Tik-Ti drinks" to have your fate decided for you.

Hidden Harbor - Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh lands itself on the pop culture map thanks to pierogis and Mr. Rogers, but it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood of Steel Town U.S.A. thanks to Hidden Harbor. The décor may be a little more bare bones than the rest of the bars on our list, but this is one spot not to be overlooked thanks to their excellent cocktail list. The menu is a mix of classic drinks — like a Cobra's Fang and Jet Pilot — but also includes cocktails you can't find anywhere else, like a rum old fashioned that uses their own custom-blended rum distilled in bourbon barrels on St. Lucia. The menu is rounded out with some tropical selections, including a menu of daiquiris that include a classic preparation as well as the Hemingway Daiquiri that switches up the classic by adding grapefruit and a maraschino cherry.

While the drinks stand out, their food menu can hold its own, and may be reason enough to visit. The globally-inspired menu features everything from a Moroccan chicken plate and tofu banh mi to fried calamari and olive oil cake. Eclectic to say the least, this is a true gem in a region otherwise void of true tiki experiences.

Aku Aku - Orlando, Florida

Orlando certainly has no shortage of places to let yourself loose. And while the city's downtown may have seen its heyday in the 1990s, a couple of ambitious bar owners are breathing new life into the neighborhood. Located in the local haunt Stardust Lounge, Aku Aku embodies the kitschy atmosphere we adore with classic tiki — and you can bet that includes plenty of bamboo rattan. The name is a nod to the former Aku Aku in Las Vegas, a massive tiki establishment located at the Stardust Casino during the peak of tiki culture.

The cocktail menu is all-encompassing with plenty of options to wet the whistle of the hardcore tikiphile — like a standout Jet Pilot and Zombie — as well as options for those just dipping their toes into the wonderful world of tropical creations through fruit-forward scorpion bowls. All-in-all, Aku Aku is well worth the short drive from the house of the mouse.

Trader Vic's Emeryville - Emeryville, California

At the height of tiki, there were two men leading the charge: the previously mentioned Donn Beach, and Victor Jules Bergeron ... also known as Trader Vic. While the original Trader Vic passed away in 1984, his namesake restaurant chain (and his version of the Mai Tai, the 1944 Trader Vic's made with quality Jamaican Rum, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, and lime juice), lives on. 

Trader Vic's is a chain of Polynesian-themed restaurants that operates in places throughout the world, including London, Dubai, Atlanta, and its flagship location in Emeryville, California. 

Trader Vic's Emeryville is like stepping into a time capsule. An utter relic of the past, the location is still serving up the classic Polynesian fair that the chain is known for (think crab rangoon and barbecue pork ribs) in its shabby chic interior. With over 200 signature cocktails to choose from, you can find the very cocktail that landed Trader Vic on the map (you know, the Mai Tai). Any visit isn't complete without a purchase from the expansive branded ceramic mug collection. A must for any tiki collector and fan. 

The Bamboo Room - Savannah, Georgia

The historic city of Savannah, Georgia is known for its vibrant history and gorgeous architecture, so it's not the most obvious choice for a tiki bar, but the relative newcomer to town, The Bamboo Room, has been welcomed with open arms and rave reviews. Hidden in plain sight in the heart of downtown, this tiki spot blew us away with its incredibly detailed décor. Sure to impress even the most hardcore tiki fan, this escape is loaded with items from the owner's personal collection, including hand-carved, one-of-a-kind tiki pieces sourced from around the world.

Keeping in line with its authentic nature, the menu reads like a love letter to the tiki gods, chock full of classic drinks, modern interpretations, and tropical cocktails. Everything is crafted using house-made syrups and fresh juices, including their standout classic version of a Saturn. It's a true modern day oasis in one of the most seemingly unlikely places.

Adrift Tiki Bar - Denver

Speaking of unlikely places, you may think of Denver as more of an outdoor Mecca, but it's also home to one of the hottest and fastest-growing cocktail and food scenes in the nation. And there, in the midst of the Mile High City, a neon glow beckoned us inside Adrift, a modern, tropical-themed tiki bar. Its backbone is craft cocktails with passionate drink enthusiasts at the helm. Traditional tiki drinks shine, like a Jungle Bird and Zombie, as well as their original twists on classics that could hold their own — like the Adrift Mai Tai made with toasted almond orgeat. Other creative concoctions include the Betty White, a unique mixture of aged rum, gingerbread spices, biscotti liqueur, and house coconut cream. For the non-imbibing customers they also serve the Hawaiian favorite POG juice, a blend of passionfruit, orange juice, guava, and soda.

With solid drink selections, the experience is further amplified with standout food options that feature a bit of Big Island flair. Favorites include spam musubi, gochujang glazed meatloaf, and a Big Island rice bowl. For the tiki fan who likes to "go big or go home," there's a 32-ounce marinated tomahawk steak board with charred broccolini and soy-glazed shiitake mushrooms.

Hale Pele - Portland, Oregon

The genius of Martin Cate strikes again — but this time it's in Portland, Oregon. Hale Pele embodies everything that makes a great tiki bar — one where expert mixology meets a tiki design that's vintage and timeless. The applauded bar is not just a bar, but an entire experience. Once inside, you'll forget all mentions of time and place as you sip on any one of their expertly crafted cocktails in an atmosphere that's utterly transportive. The menu features all the standards, like a Suffering Bastard and a Zombie, plus they even list the cocktail's origin place. Learning and libations, how fun!

Their food offerings shine alongside the cocktails and are inspired by both Asian and Polynesian cultures, like fresh, sushi-grade ahi-poke tuna that's flown in from Hawaii. Hale Pele's rum club invites enthusiasts to earn the designation of being a "master fire drinker" after sipping on 50 different pours of rum. Once such feat is completed, you could call yourself a distinguished member of the Loyal Order of Fire Drinkers ... which earns you a special medallion and a 20% discount on food and drinks every Sunday.

The Tonga Room - San Francisco

San Francisco's Tonga Room is both nostalgic and fantastical. With its concept executed by a top Hollywood set designer, the space feels grand and is truly like nothing else in the current dining landscape. Guests dine and sip around a large lagoon, which was once an indoor pool, that features a boat housing the restaurant's band. The mood is further embodied though interactive rain, thunder, and lightning storms that "blow through" the dining room.

First opening its doors in 1945, The Tonga Room was touted as "the greatest place in the history of the world" by the late, great Anthony Bourdain, and for good reason. Polynesian-fusion is executed to perfection — not a surprise given its location in the San Francisco culinary world — and paired with excellent cocktails. All the classics can be found here, including an original Fog Cutter, plus some modern touches. If you're feeling fancy, you can have your drink served in a freshly-cored pineapple or topped with an ounce of 151 rum. Old world meets new at one of the most unique tiki bars out there.