Before crawlers arrive at the Bamboo Hut

6th Annual Tiki Central Tiki Crawl: Day Two

On Day Two, Friday, we visited tiki locations in San Francisco — in years past, Saturday has been the day for the city, but with the opening of Forbidden Island and Kona Club in the East Bay in the past year, it was clear that switching the days would be the way to go. Sure enough, we were rewarded with unusually pleasant conditions, both in terms of the bar visits and the lovely weather.

Again, here’s the Tiki Central thread for the Friday events, and here’s the thread to check out tons of photos. Here’s my quick recap of Friday:

Sweetpea and Suzanne dancing at Trad'r Sam
Sweetpea and Suzanne dancing
at Trad’r Sam

Trad’r Sam
This longtime San Francisco institution wasn’t always a dive bar — it started life as one of the many elegant bamboo bars that dotted the country in the pre-tiki 1930s. Today, it’s a great place to go people watching, as a broad assortment of folks pass through its doors looking for a drink. We met up there in the late afternoon, before most people were off from work, which meant that we got a rare look at a quiet Trad’r Sam’s, allowing a clear view of the gorgeous rattan & bamboo bar and booth framings, and letting Sweetpea load up the jukebox with only the good stuff. Here are my pictures from the crawl, and the entry in Critiki.

Crawlers take pictures at the Tonga Room
Crawlers take pictures at the Tonga Room

Tonga Room
From there, we made our way to the historic Tonga Room, in the Fairmont hotel. Ah, the Tonga Room. As ever, the service was bizarrely bad — as I mentioned in a post on Tiki Central, they have taken poor service to the level of performance art, and it has become part of the fun of a Tonga Room visit. They do everything they can to make sure you know that they really would rather if nobody came into the restaurant at all. Despite this, it’s completely worth every visit to the Tonga Room, because the decor so so jaw-droppingly well-done, and it’s so fun to see the faces of those who are seeing it for the first time. My pictures from the crawl can be seen here, and here is the entry in Critiki.

Before crawlers arrive at the Bamboo Hut
Before crawlers arrive at the Bamboo Hut

Bamboo Hut
This was the most wonderful surprise of this year’s crawl. In previous years, the Crawl has made its Bamboo Hut stop mid- or late-night on Saturday, and it’s been jam-packed and loud, in full danceclub mode. This year, we visited at 8 p.m. on a Friday, and it turns out this is the perfect time to see it — its an actual bar at that time! And it’s far more lovely than I realized, too — with massive pufferfish, an outrigger canoe hanging from the ceiling, and that famous massive tiki by the entrance. Many were saying that it was the best visit they’d ever paid to the Bamboo Hut, and if I’d realized it could be so nice, I’d have visited more often. Here are my pictures from the crawl, and here’s the Critiki entry.

Enjoying a Rum Barrel at Trader Vic's S.F.
Enjoying a Rum Barrel at Trader Vic’s S.F.

Trader Vic’s San Francisco
Our final stop of the evening was the elegant San Francisco Trader Vic’s, where the management had kindly prepared a spread of appetizers for us, and reserved the back room and bar for us. Our ranks really swelled at this stop — everybody was done with work, and after all, this was the best place on the tour that day to get drinks. Thanks to bartender Lars and his crew, we were all well taken care of on that front. My crawl pictures are here, and here’s the entry in Critiki.

Stay tuned for more posts about the crawl!

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