Since opening in April, Forbidden Island has racked up plenty of fantastic reviews. (It’s currently ranked #3 of all tiki places on Critiki, behind only the great Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, and legendary tiki outfitters Oceanic Arts in Whittier.) The latest review comes from the Contra Costa Times, and it’s notable because the reviewer openly states a distaste for tiki bars, and went in expecting to hate it, but loved Forbidden Island, right from the get-go. It’s a great demonstration of the importance of quality and thoroughness of effort in creating a tiki bar.
Forbidden Island is a hit not because it’s a tiki bar, but because it’s a well executed tiki bar. It chaps my hide when statements are made that tiki bars are only viable if compromises are made — like bringing in modern music, and cutting corners with the drinks to make them quickly and cheaply. Scores of people make the trek to Forbidden Island night after night because of the quality of the tiki theme. The esoteric nature of tiki is irrelevant — everybody can appreciate quality.
Alameda is arguably a terrible place to open a tiki bar: it’s a sleepy bedroom community, tucked away on an island in the middle of an area where there are thousands upon thousands of other bars and restaurants to compete against, and there are nearly a dozen other tiki bars already in the area. But Forbidden Island has succeeded nonetheless, because the owners know what they’re doing, and they’ve taken the time to address every aspect, from minor details to major drivers, of creating a great tiki bar.
Anyway, it’s a great review, especially if you, like the reviewer, are skeptical about tiki bars. Check it out.