Any time we hear the word "tiki" we have a smile on our face.
Tiki is all about good times, sunshine, the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore, relaxation and escaping form the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
One cocktail can transport you to the islands. Plus, who doesn't love a tropical cocktail served in a unique glass with a fun garnish?
Don the Beachcomber is credited as the first tiki bar in the U.S., which opened in Hollywood, California in 1934. The bar was named after none other than Donn Beach-Comber a.k.a. Donn Beach (born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt).
Donn spent time in the islands of the South Pacific, fell in love with the culture and thought it would be the perfect theme for a bar - providing patrons an escape from reality with exotic cocktails and warm hospitality.
Tiki culture soared after World War II when soldiers returned form the South Pacific. Then a shift in culture in the late 60's and 70's all but killed tiki vibes. Recently, there has been a resurgence of tiki culture and we are reaping the benefits.
With perpetually warm weather and a laid back beach vibe, San Diego is the perfect tiki hub. We've developed a bit of a tiki obsession so we decided to check out the best tiki bars around town.
Fairweather - East Village
Fairweather was our first foray into San Diego tiki. Located in East Village behind Petco Park, it's easy to miss this hidden gem. Enter through Rare Form, head through the bar to the back stairwell and emerge into a tropical paradise. Fairweather is all outdoors, bright and airy. The bar is to die for and the drinks are the perfect mix of tropical and crafty.
False Idol - Little Italy
False Idol, a speakeasy tiki, is connected to the newly remodeled Craft & Commerce. Enter through a freezer and you are transported into a tiki oasis. The drink menu offers classic tiki cocktails accompanied by a modern day take on the original. The small space is impeccably designed from the buoys on the ceiling to the water wall by the entrance.
The Grass Skirt - Pacific Beach
Grass Skirt is the newest addition to the San Diego tiki collection. Also a speakeasy design, you enter through neighboring restaurant Good Time Poke, walk down a misty hallway and emerge into the spacious bar. The neon Polynesian dancer on the moss wall is our favorite part of the decor but there is so much more to love. Not a rum fan? Try the Boozin' Susan's, similar to a Piña Colada but with vodka.
Bali Hai - Shelter Island
Bali Hai is a staple in San Diego and the longest standing tiki bar in the city so you could argue it has less flare than the others. Located on Shelter Island, Bali Hai has 180 degree views of the downtown skyline. Bali Hai is also home to a world famous Mai Tai. This cocktail is no joke, and so strong they limit two per customer since their mixture is pure alcohol! It's not for the faint of heart.
Miss B's Coconut Club - Mission Beach
Miss B's has our favorite barware of all the tiki bars. Each bar creatively servers their cocktails but we can't get enough of the copper flamingos and pineapples. The bar has indoor and outdoor space and is a great choice for a day time cocktail. Miss B's has more Cuban flair than Polynesian giving a new take on tiki.
Cat Eye Club - Downtown
Cat Eye Club pays homage to the golden age of tiki. This tiny bar is located down the street from Petco Park and is a welcomed escape from the usual Gaslamp bars and clubs. Cat Eye club may be small but is packed with charm from the fireplace to the palm frond wallpaper. Cat Eye Club has live music on the weekends.
No trip to San Diego is complete without a delicious cocktail.
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