Shameful Tiki Room
The Shameful Tiki Room recently opened its mysterious doors on the ever-renovating strip of Main Street Vancouver in March (2013). Even before its official opening it was being whispered by many in-the-know as being the savior of all things tiki north of the US border. Trader Vic's Vancouver had passed into the distant memories of old salty dogs that paid homage to Polynesian lore and decor when it closed nearly two decades ago. Few locals ever knew it existed. Then there's the Waldorf Hotel Tiki Bar.
The conundrum with the Waldorf Hotel Tiki Bar is found within this crude assessment - if there is only one girl in the room then it's safe to say she's the prettiest girl in the room. Fellas craving companionship have blinders on and approach her as if she were Helen of Troy. Without a legitimate tiki bar in site we were all quick to deem the Waldorf Hotel Tiki Room a champion carrying the North & South Pacific island experience to the doorsteps of the Canadian Pacific Northwest. We may very well have been wearing imported beer goggles.
Enter the Shameful Tiki Room.
Coming out of the gates much has been discussed by Vancouver media in regards to the inception of the Shameful Tiki Room. We're not going to go into the history of how it got here. All you need to know is that it was necessary. Very few establishments can say they've arrived to fill a void but Shameful Tiki Room is doing just that.
When you arrive at the Shameful Tiki Room there is little at the "store front" to let you know you're in the right place. Sure there's a stout mural under the front facing pane of glass but no big neon sign (ala Frankie's Tiki Room) beams down to lure passerbyers away from wherever the were originally going to enjoy a cocktail. Owner Rod Moore laughs about being advised that there should at least be a sandwich board on the sidewalk. Maybe with a big arrow pointing to the door? What Rod knows is that authentic tiki rooms on the Mainland rarely come with that desperate Call to Action. If the joint is worth it's salt word of mouth will do the trick. Shameful Tiki Room's opening weekend sans advertising proved that demand for its offering indeed exists.
Inside the 50 person capacity (one more than famed Smuggler's Cove of San Francisco) room you can see that they did not skimp on the decor. Renditions of tiki gods from Lono to Kane stand guard at every bamboo laced turn, including Kanaloa who commands the light switches in the bathrooms (note the strategically placed phallic switch). Sea glass and bloated urchin like puffer fish float overhead and if you squint through the comfortable darkness you find something new on every pass through the walls of the Shameful Tiki Room. Vintage menus, posters, flyers, and renditions pulled from the matchbook covers of famous tiki haunts from Southern California in the 50's and 60's are everywhere. Attention to details reigns along with the ancient Tiki gods at this establishment. For those looking for more of a show, the stage up front lets you know that on any given night you may be treated to the quirky sounds of surf music. If so, grab Gidget and hit the dance floor.
The bar itself welcomes you to hop on a stool and join in conversation with the aloha shirt clad staff while behind them a black & white TV loops classics like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The drink menu is as expected from a tiki themed watering hole but if it's your first time you'll be egged on to order the Mystery Bowl - a tropical concoction of everything and the kitchen sink served aflame for two in a big ceramic shell. While the drink menu isn't as expansive as some of the 80 plus options served at the Best Tiki Bars in America we expect that Shameful Tiki Room will widen its menu once it wets its beak for a few more weeks.
Shameful Tiki Room also serves some delightfully themed pupus (appetizers) and snacks so bring a slight appetite before you start pounding back Zombie's and Mai Tai's. Finally, don't forget to grab a custom tiki mug or t-shirt (when in supply) before heading home.
The Shameful Tiki Room nails the combination of Polynesian design and vintage Southern California kitsch and even though its too early to call it, we're calling it - one of the Best Tiki Bars in America.
Spend a few hours in Vancouver's Shameful Tiki Room and you may very well forget where you are for the moment. Do yourself a favor and don't go outside to remember.
Wanna' bang a gong? Order the Mystery Bowl and they'll bang it for you
Article & Photos by Marcus Maraih - Visit Marcus Maraih on Google