Hanford chats at Trader Vic's Palo Alto

6th Annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl: Day One

Hanford & I (mostly Hanford) just finished throwing a massive, four-day party — the sixth annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl. This year, 12 different tiki locations were visited by a roaming horde of modern-day savages. It was incredibly fun, both to put together, and to actually do.

Here’s a thread on Tiki Central that focuses on the Thursday events, and here’s a photos thread that has tons of pictures from every night of the crawl, including this one. Here’s a short run-down of day one, Thursday, when we visited locations in Silicon Valley:

Carving on slit drum at the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden
Carving on slit drum at the Papua New
Guinea Sculpture Garden

Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden, Palo Alto
This was the perfect place to kick off the festivities. Most people were seeing this spot for the first time — it’s a cluster of tikis carved by Papua New Guinea artists in 1994 at the invitation of the Cantor Arts Center. It is situated in a shady stand of trees on the northish side of the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto. You can see my crawl pictures here, here is its entry in Critiki and I also profiled it earlier in this Critiki News post and this thread on Tiki Central.

Hanford chats at Trader Vic's Palo Alto
Hanford chats at Trader Vic’s Palo Alto

Trader Vic’s Palo Alto
Surprisingly, this is a place that very few of the local tikiphiles have visited, at least recently, and many were surprised at how much they liked it. That said, it’s important to have realistic expectations about this Trader Vic’s — it was the first of the new wave of Trader Vic’s to open, and it’s the least like the beloved older Trader Vic’s, with cleaner lines and brighter lighting. What it does have, however, is a great collection of Papua New Guinea art, from the personal collection of the owner of both this Trader Vic’s and the neighborhing Dinah’s hotel. We all gathered on the barside front patio, where the weather was lovely, and we got to take some time to catch up over Mai Tais. What more can you ask for? By coincidence, Trader Vic execs Hans Richter, Sven Koch and Eve Bergeron (that’s Vic’s granddaughter) were there, and Eve showed us around the restaurant. The crawl pictures from this stop are here, here’s the Critiki entry, and here’s a Locating Tiki thread on Tiki Central.

Martini Monkey at the San Jose Airport
Martini Monkey at the San Jose Airport

Martini Monkey, San Jose
Our third stop was probably the biggest hit of the day, and perhaps the surprise find of the whole crawl for many — Martini Monkey. Martini Monkey is off most people’s tiki radar, largely because it is located at the San Jose Airport, which conjures up all sort of off-limits thoughts. In reality, it’s very simple to visit (parking is cheap and directly across from its location in Terminal C), and well worth the trip. The place feels more lounge-y than tiki, but the entire back of the bar is one of Mark Ryden’s popular tiki paintings, giving it a definite Polynesian Pop vibe. The number one reason to come to Martini Monkey is simple: the drinks, crafted expertly by bartender Jay. The cocktails here are simply stellar. I could go on and on about Martini Monkey, and I will in another, dedicated post in the near future. For now, the crawl pictures are here, the Critiki entry is here, and here’s a post on Tiki Central about Martini Monkey.

Crawlers at Smoke Tiki
Crawlers at Smoke Tiki

Smoke Tiki, San Jose
Well, every crawl has to have a stinker location, and this was our not-unexpected dud. Smoke Tiki is simply targeting the younguns, and is a thumping nightclub. It might be a better place to visit earlier in the day, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the Sculpture Garden or Trader Vic’s — whaddya gonna do? At any rate, we still had a great time, we just carved out a corner for ourselves on the back patio and chatted with each other ’til the wee hours. Here are my crawl pictures, the Critiki entry, a Tiki Central thread, and an earlier Critiki News post detailing our previous Smoke Tiki experience.

Posts detailing the other three days of the crawl are on the way!

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