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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki JOHN-O's Zombie Road Trip...
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JOHN-O's Zombie Road Trip...
JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2693
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2012-10-17 12:33 am   Permalink

The Unloved Tiki Bars...

Here's a couple of vintage Tiki bars that I recently revisited that get scant attention here on TC. I NEVER see them on the "to do" lists for Tiki tourists visiting the Golden State.

Granted you won't find any of the following at either:

1. Tropical craft cocktail mixology
2. High TIPSY factor and over-the-top Polynesian decor
3. Presence of fellow Aloha shirted kindred souls

Nevertheless do either of these places have any true Tiki merit that warrant your time and money?

I say YES !!

Let's discuss.

First, Trad'r Sam in the Richmond district of San Francisco...



Not much love for this place on TC. Usually the comments are "Drinks suck, crowd sucks". Well I won't argue that but what about the historic pedigree? Opened in 1937, this is the oldest operational Tiki (pre-Tiki actually) bar on the entire planet. Did you hear that? Let me repeat it... It's the frigging OLDEST Tiki bar in the universe !!

The old-school circular bamboo bar hasn't changed much since the days of our early Tiki forefathers...



And to me ANY bar on the West Coast with that much longevity and staying power should be cherished. Plus this place actually serves Tiki drinks !! Ok, so they're really bad (I drank beer, haha) but the fact they've been continuously on the menu for 3 quarters of a century is pretty darn amazing.

Go now because you'll have to wait 74 more years before Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel (who BTW co-opted their brand ) can make that claim.


Next, the Hawaiian Room in Bellflower (Los Angeles)...



Well this place isn't so much unloved as it is ignored. Early Tiki Centralites took a brief interest in this place a decade ago but I doubt if the current class of Poly-Popsters is even aware that it exists.

Yes this place is a blue-collar "dump" (which to me is actually a plus) but it does have the authentic mid-century bones (since 1964). Now some people here have argued with me off-line that just because a place is old, that doesn't make it "historic". Well, I'll argue that in addition to its age, there is historic Tiki significance at the Hawaiian Room.

Based my visit and
trip report from last year, the Hawaiian Room may very well house the only remaining remnants of the long defunct (and Tiki spectacular) Tahitian Village in Downey !!...


(Postcard courtesy of Dustycajun)

And where else are you gonna run into long time locals who can wax nostalgic about that place? I've had people at the bar reminisce about the Tahitian Village when it was in its 1960's Tiki heyday, through its late 70's Disco devolution, and then its last legs in the 1990's when it became a place to score crack. Try to get history like that from the hipster sitting next to you at Smuggler's Cove.

Last but not least, the thing I like about these 2 places is that they belong to the vanishing breed of Tiki DIVE bars.



I know many here prefer their Tiki experience to be clean, well-preserved, and/or Disneyfied but for me the best way to get my historic jones on is for it to be a little dirty, sticky, moldy and have disgusting bathrooms.

And I don't want to hear any whining about the quality (or lack) of Tropical cocktails. It will not kill you to drink a beer once in a while !! Not every place can be the Mai Kai. Try to appreciate these places for their unique Tiki qualities.



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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6116
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2012-10-17 12:45 am   Permalink





 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2012-10-17 08:04 am   Permalink

This has got to be one of the best threads on TC EVER! O-John, you have done excellent research!

Now, if we can just get you to stop listening to surf and ska music!!!


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2693
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2012-10-17 5:05 pm   Permalink

Thanks Lucas, but Ska?

I'm not into Ska.

Oh and here's a bonus photo from the Hawaiian Room.

It's Roger (aka HB Tiki) wielding a vintage Tiki that Jenny our bartender brought out for us from the storage room.



When Tiki Oasis gets around to a Star Wars theme, Roger will be our very own "Tiki Wan Kenobi".


 
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Chippy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2010
Posts: 282
From: Sunny Southern California
Posted: 2012-10-17 5:46 pm   Permalink

He is kind of like a Jedi Knight.

I heard the Hawaiian Room was fun.


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4320
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-10-17 6:12 pm   Permalink

John-O, champion of the blue collar Tiki bar! I really enjoyed the history of Tradr Sam's last time I was there. Have not been to the Hawaiian Room, will definitely stop by my next time down south.

So, Miller Lite, that explains your svelte figure.



DC


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6116
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2012-10-17 8:25 pm   Permalink

John, Your more of a "Cocktail Adventurer" then Archaeologist
I need to get you a whip.

[ This Message was edited by: Atomic Tiki Punk 2012-10-17 20:26 ]


 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 1091
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2012-10-17 9:02 pm   Permalink

John-o THe Hawaiian room is dirty , smells, and the drinks are awful. The beer is cold ,the old tiki stuff displayed has a decent pedigree and Jenny is a sweetheart. I was fortunate (and old enough) to have patronized the Tahitian during it's heyday, not to mention The Tiki's in Monterey Park AND Don the Beachcomber on McCadden place in Hollywood (just trying to establish my creds) I like the Hawaiian room!
Thanks for another thoughtful thread John-o
Davi

[ This Message was edited by: nui 'umi 'umi 2012-10-17 21:04 ]


 
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TikiVato
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 03, 2009
Posts: 400
From: Whittier, CA
Posted: 2012-10-17 9:41 pm   Permalink

Nice post John-O. I have not been to Trader Sam's up north but it is on my list. The cocktails I had at the Hawaiian Room were good. Of course I stood with a basic drink, Jack on the rocks, a heavy poor for a mere $3.50.

_________________
Mahalo,

TikiVato

[ This Message was edited by: TikiVato 2012-10-17 21:43 ]


 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3818
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2012-10-17 10:47 pm   Permalink

Palm thatching, bamboo and a Pabst neon sign.
The Hawaiian Room attracts blue collar types, yet has stayed true to its Tiki roots.






 
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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5051
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2012-10-19 08:31 am   Permalink

WTF John!, You were in NC and ATL and no word? We could have hung out togetehr! I could have educated you on BBQ...

Do NOT let this happen again!

I would apprecate a dive Tiki bar if we had it. If it was old. PBR in a can is okay by me.
_________________

Announcing Swank Pad and Crazy Al's Molokai Maiden!


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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2693
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2012-10-19 4:05 pm   Permalink

Sorry Swanky, I was squeezing in some limited Tiki (and BBQ) time during a business trip.

My Trader Vic's Atlanta excursion was actually done inside a 6 hour layover at ATL.

The Hapa Haole Hideaway is still on my Tiki To-Do list !!


 
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bigtikidude
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 8904
From: Anaheim,Ca.
Posted: 2012-10-23 1:00 pm   Permalink

By the way John O,
Trader Sam was on the Nor. Cal. tiki crawl for a few years.
But I think that because of the lack of drink quality, they nixed it from the must do list.

Jeff(btd)



 
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Luckydesigns
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2187
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2012-10-23 1:39 pm   Permalink

I went to Trad'r Sams about 7 years ago. It's definitley worth a quick look. But yeah, the drinks and the crowd both suck, unless things have changed since then. The sign is certainly the best part of the whole place though. I wish they'd renovate and get that place to where it COULD be.

What about the Bamboo Hut in SF, John-O? Kinda the same status as Trad'r Sams. Worth a visit on the way to one of the many historic (ahem) nudie bars on that same street there.


I played the Hawaiian Room with Lucas and Kevin during the Resurection of the Hawaiian Room, nine years ago, in 2003. I remember it being a pretty cool room. Maybe we can do another event there again?


Nui 'umi 'umi - I'm sure we'd all love to hear more stories or memorites of place like The Tikis in Monterey Park.
_________________
Spike
www.facebook.com/thehulagirls
www.thehulagirlsmusic.com



 
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Luckydesigns
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2187
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2012-10-23 1:39 pm   Permalink

Oh, and John-O this is still one of my favorite threads on TC!
Keep up the good work, buddy!
_________________
Spike
www.facebook.com/thehulagirls
www.thehulagirlsmusic.com



 
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