Seattle has a new tiki bar, near the Seattle Center, called Hula Hula. It’s in the space nextdoor to Tini Bigs (once upon a time, this space was a nightclub called the Romper Room, and I spent many an evening there shaking my tiny hiney). Hula Hula is run by the same folks who run Tini Bigs. Seattle once had a rich tiki history, but now virtually all traces of vintage tiki are gone; those holding their breath for a comeback of true tiki in Seattle will have to keep biding their time at the new Trader Vic’s in Bellevue. Hula Hula looks to be more about tiki as kitch.
The drink menu holds lots of familiar names (Mai Tai, Navy Grog, Shark’s Tooth, Zombie), but sadly the recipes are anything but familiar. Or rather, they’re the sad side of familiar — that familiar sinking feeling you get when you see that the tropical drink menu you’re staring down is nothing but a pell-mell assortment of alcohol and pineapple juice. Don’t take my word for it — I haven’t been able to check this place out myself yet, obviously — but a look at their online drink menu doesn’t exactly have me excited. From what I’ve been able to gather, the local tikiphiles aren’t exactly beating a path to the door, either; the general reaction I’ve heard so far from folks in the area is something along the lines of “meh,” which is telling in a town that doesn’t really have much to offer in the way of tiki in the first place. The website has one of the sure “tells” of a letdown of a tiki place: the website trumpets “EVERYDAY $2 PBR”.
But, like I said, don’t take my word for it. It’s hardly fair of me to judge a place so harshly without setting foot in it myself. Go out there and check it out yourself, and let me know what you think of it (rate it on Critiki, while you’re at it). There are plenty of tiki bars out there that have won my heart despite lackluster drinks (though it takes some pretty kick-ass decor [see: Bahooka, the Alibi, Kon-Tiki]). I would be extraordinarily pleased to hear that there is something loveable at Hula Hula.