True, Trader Vic's is a chain in 17 countries where you can expect your tiki cocktails to lean a bit too sweet. But it would be remiss to not include the legendary restaurant and bar that ushered in Polynesian and tiki culture in the 1930’s, alongside Don the Beachcomber in Los Angeles. Though the original Oakland location closed in 1972, the Emeryville one opened that very year and is Trader Vic’s headquarters, jutting out into the San Francisco Bay surrounded by boats. This piece of history still inspires with kitschy décor and the lights of the San Francisco skyline twinkling in the distance.
THE DRINK TO DRINK:
As the home of the “Original Mai Tai®,” a proper ode to tiki history is to drink a Mai Tai here. There is even an entire section of Mai Tai variations. They veer sweet, as do other tropical drinks, grouped in sections like coconut, sour and strong drinks.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Live bands on Saturday nights—often playing Hawaiian or Cuban music—enhance the Bay view and beach vacation mystique.