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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki The Conga Lounge, Oakland, CA (bar)
The Conga Lounge, Oakland, CA (bar)
Official Man-About-Town  

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 323
From: Sunnycupertoga, CA
Posted: 2003-07-27 1:02 pm   Permalink

Name:The Conga Lounge, Oakland CA
Street:5422 College Ave.
Hours: Th/F/Sa 5pm til ? (other hours by arrangement; also available for private parties)

The Conga Lounge opened in 2003 in Oakland, in the Rockridge area of Oakland. (College Avenue, between highway 24 and Broadway). Opened by two brothers, Michael and Mano, they are attempting to provide the "authentic" tiki bar experience by using authentic drink recipes and music (in addition to decor.)

Size: smallish... capacity of perhaps 50 people?
Condition: excellent (as it is a new place), with the amount of "tikiness" continually increasing. (Examples: recent addition of more bamboo and furniture.)

[ This Message was edited by: mig on 2003-07-27 13:03 ]

[ This Message was edited by: mig on 2003-07-27 13:18 ]

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Official Man-About-Town  

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 323
From: Sunnycupertoga, CA
Posted: 2003-07-27 1:16 pm   Permalink

My first visit to the Conga Lounge was yesterday, and I was quite impressed! The decor was very good-- many tikis, lots of bamboo, etc. (And from what I hear, it's still improving every day-- another patron there told me that the amount of tiki had been significantly increased just since the opening.)

There were a few items of non-tiki decor-- e.g., a sombrero, and a mod scooter album cover-- but these did not detract; it still worked, and worked marvelously. Even the bathroom was decorated; and the owners have plans for the only still-undecorated area, which is the ceiling.

The owners are brothers from South Africa. (Michael-- "congamike" on TikiCentral, and his brother Mano are the two we met.) They have a deep love of "true tiki" (if that can be defined), and they are doing a lot to give an authentic (i.e., non-Buffett) vibe. Examples: great old movies playing on a TV screen, and-- even more importantly-- actual EXOTICA music. (This should please the kids greatly!)

Drinks: although I am not the "expert" that others here on TC are, I was impressed. They have done research into tiki mixology and are well-prepared to make "true" tiki drinks. The "Gilligan's Island" has become a de facto house special, and the one I had treated me right!

Food: although I did not have any, I was told by a good authority that the food is excellent, so I can't wait to try it next time.

Location: as always, a key to a business's success. This location is in a hip and well-traveled district, so hopefully it will bring them success.

A few things I'd do if I ran it: I would glue/cement EVERYTHING down so it wouldn't walk away. I'd also put a big sandwich board out front... and I'd flyer the entire neighborhood. But those are just some minor suggestions... really, I can't find anything to complain about with the Conga Lounge, except that it's far from my house. But that's not their fault.


[ This Message was edited by: mig on 2003-07-27 13:17 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 01, 2003
Posts: 461
From: Thrillville
Posted: 2003-08-01 4:37 pm   Permalink

I wholeheartedly concur with Mig - the drinks get stronger, the decor cooler, and the whole vibe cozier every time I walk in there (which is often, as it is now my neighborhood tiki bar). I love the video comp of film clips running constantly (and silently) behind the bar with scenes from flicks like "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" "Paradise Hawaiian Style" TV shows like "I Dream of Jeannie" and even quasi-exotic cinema like "King Kong" and "Jason and the Argonauts" - lotsa lounge, Elvis, cartoons, segments from various cable shows on people like Shag, etc. These guys really know their stuff, and they're pitching their new place directly to hardcore tiki festishists as well as the casual drinker. This is why we need to patronize this place and claim it as our own so it doesn't turn into another tiki sports bar (like Tiki Tom's in Walnut Creek - a nice place, with good food and drinks, but the non-stop sports on the TV ruin the atmosphere, even when they have Hawaiian music playing live, which isn't often enough).

I have no problem with the oft-mentioned sombrero since they are going for a general "exotica" atmosphere - and everyone here knows that to the postwar white guy (that includes us) "tiki" often denotes everything from hula girls to voodoo dolls to the Mambo. Les Baxter and others combined music from Africa, Asia, Cuba and South American in their exotic excursions, along with Tahiti and Hawaii. I think the owners, Michael and Mano - who are Greek via South Africa - are right-on in their assessment of Exotica, American Style. Still, the decor is mainly Polynesian in keeping with tradition, which is their whole objective: tradition.

I might also mention all the food items are outstanding, especially the tuna poke and salmon cerviche, and they play nothing but classic lounge/surf/pop music, and the diverse drink menu features many regularly rotating specials. I love their house drink, "The Gilligan's Island" (heavy on the banana flavor, served in an Easter Island mug). They just introduced a Scorpion bowl which is also outstanding.

Otto plans a regular monthly DJ gig there soon, and I also plan semi-regular Thrillville movie nights. Things will only improve there, and they're off to an unusually strong start. They want your input, too, open to any and all suggestions, so don't be shy. Do the Conga, baby!

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Joined: Aug 06, 2003
Posts: 8
From: The Atomic Lounge
Posted: 2003-08-06 12:57 am   Permalink

I had the privilege of visiting the Conga (with AquaZombie and the Tiki Goddess, no less!) shortly after it opened, and I was quite impressed with the drinks and decor even then. However, I was completely sold upon hearing the resident TJ (Tiki Jockey) spin Annette Funicello's "Pineapple Princess"...and watching my husband's disbelief as he discovered I could sing right along with it. I definitely look forward to visiting again soon!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 01, 2003
Posts: 461
From: Thrillville
Posted: 2003-09-16 5:54 pm   Permalink

The Conga now has its own web site, check it out!


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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2005
Posts: 97
From: SF Bay Area
Posted: 2005-02-20 2:16 pm   Permalink

A handful of friends and I visited the Conga Lounge last night, and you can colour me a convert to this one!

It's pretty "cozy." It seems the right size now, though I wonder if this will be a future problem. The place did fill pretty well. Still, no-one seemed stuck without a seat, and our little group never felt crowded.

The ambience is great. It has certainly added since some of the various photos I've seen on the web, with plenty of knickknacks and such everywhere. Not all of it is strictly tiki-themed, but as mentioned before, it doesn't detract. The music, too, was not expressly tikiesque (there was no "TJ" there at the time), but most did fit the theme well amongst a staple of Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, James Bond themes, and so forth. Still, some martin Denny would have been good.

Playing on the TV (without sound) was Casino Royale which, (again) while non-tiki also seemed to fit all fine and well.

The drinks were excellent. We had the pleasure of sampling their Mai Tai (really good, but not the best I've had), the Blue Hawaiian (okay, but it's a Blue Hawaiian), the Mojito Cubana (very good, different), and the Zombie (the only one of these served in a mug. VERY potent, and well done).

We also had food from the restaurant downstairs. The pizza was given high marks, and the jerk chicken while tasty (and quite sizable, portion-wise) could have stood for being a bit spicier.

Service was excellent. Our server was very attentive, and one of the owners did come over to make sure we have all the ambience we could (turning on the large plastic moai and a small lamp near us). We definitely felt taken care of.

One concern we all had before going was that the location would be, shall we say, "trendy" or "yuppified." It didn't feel such, however, in contrast to its neighborhood. I would certainly go to the Conga Lounge again, given the opportunity.

Oh -- here's a couple photos as well. One of the decor along one wall, the other of a freshly served Zombie.

Gwen Smith

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Molokai Mike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 26, 2003
Posts: 507
From: the birthplace of the Mai Tai
Posted: 2006-02-25 12:33 pm   Permalink

Conga Lounge has a brand, spanking new web site, designed by the one and only Humuhumu !!
Check it out...http://www.congalounge.com
Humu has also created a Flickr photo link, so if you have photos of some great times at the Conga, add them to Flickr with the tag "congalounge" and share them with all.

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Joined: Apr 21, 2011
Posts: 10
From: Cary, NC
Posted: 2011-09-30 5:24 pm   Permalink

Cheers to the Conga Lounge! I have been in on multiple occasions. The drinks and vibe are just great! I actually prefer that the footprint is smaller - kind of cozy but just cool. If you live in the bay area but have not been to Conga Lounge then shame!!!
Try the classic Mai Tai or the signature Dark n Stormy - they added a needed degree of dimension to this fantastic drink!


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Sistah Rose

Joined: Jun 29, 2012
Posts: 3
Posted: 2012-06-29 11:36 am   Permalink

Always a pleasure to go to the Conga! Besides the chillin' hang of its usual mood, it threw a huge (for that space) party celebrating Oakland as the home of the original Mai Tai a few years back, complete w/ city council member to make it official. I rented it as venue for my husband Bruddah Tom's milestone birthday (won't say which one) & had 50 friends from all over join us for a wonderful event. Bartenders are fantastic, and the coziness sublime!

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