Andrew and I don't get to go on vacation very often, but we've been trying to plan one big trip each year. Last year we went to New Orleans (you can read about it here), and this year we decided to go to Las Vegas. It was the first time we were in Vegas without it being for work in the form of Viva Las Vegas or the MAGIC Tradeshow. So naturally we planned our trip around food and drinks.... lots of tiki drinks! This is the story of our tiki drink adventure in Las Vegas.
We arrived early at our hotel, the Rio, a bit too early for check in? We took the free Rio shuttle to Bally's Casino and went on a scavenger hunt for tiki. We first found ourselves at Island Time Floats in the Grand Bazaar Shops of Las Vegas that specializes in Dole Whip. Of course we had to order a small tropical spiked 'whip to start us off. Island Time Floats has two locations in Vegas but they are expanding and I can understand why, their drink/desserts are delicious. Even though they are a small outdoor walk up tiki bar the decor made you feel like you just walked up to a bar from the beach. I especially loved the colorful glass lighted floats above the bar.
Andrew and I still hadn't eaten anything for the day, so we were starving. (You wouldn't like me when I'm angry, I turn into She-Hulk.) We needed to find a tiki bar with food, so we journeyed to the The Miracle Mile Shops and heard the siren song of the Cheeseburger Restaurant. (Not literally, they called us in, saying "you belong here".) I stumbled upon this place online because they used to offer a fun tiki mug in the shape of a tiki holding a cheeseburger (you can see it here). Alas they don't carry that mug anymore, but they do have food and tons of vintage tiki eye candy on the walls from mugs, to fezzes, Hawaiian shirts hanging from the ceiling, even a tiki themed fish tank. I ordered a Maui Mai Tai and it was very pretty but a little too syrup-y sweet for my liking. Of all the drinks on our Vegas Tiki vacation, this one was my least favorite, but the place was pretty, my fish tacos were tasty, the service was great, and there was tiki in every corner.
Now that we are satiated, on to more tiki! Next stop - The Golden Tiki. I've only heard great things about this place since it opened little more than a year ago, and I couldn't wait to see it for myself. It is located in Chinatown, within easy walking distance from the Rio, so we hoofed it on over! Described by The Food Network as one of the "Best Tiki Bars in America", it lived up to our expectations. It was large and dark inside with a faux light-up night sky, velvet paintings, wood carved bar stools, a back room with light up skeleton, and lots of nooks and crannies to get lost in. I ordered a Dark and Stormy and it had just the right amount of ginger. Andrew stuck with a happy hour Mai Tai, and later tried The Golden Tiki signature drink, which he really liked. Though no GT souvenir mugs were available (Munktiki mugs were available for sale) the experience was the take away, especially since we sat at the "Pirate Booty" table.
*Phew* that was a tiki filled first day. The next morning we checked out the Neon Museum, did some vintage shopping at Glam Factory (where they had tons of vintage barkcloth deadstock!) and various other shops on Main Street. We grabbed lunch (our next blog will probably be about all the tacos we ate), then headed over to the Vegas mecca of all tiki - Frankie's Tiki Room. It's a MUST every time we come to Vegas. We have all the souvenir tiki mugs from Frankie's and the drinks are consistently good. Plus it was nice to step into a cool tropical getaway from the 110 degree heat outside.
Even though we spent time researching for our trip, we managed to stumble upon other tiki bars... One of the discoveries was the Masquerade Bar, right inside the hotel we stayed at (The Rio). We were loured inside by the tiki flags hanging on the outside, so we went exploring to see what it was all about. I was very excited to see a Painkiller on the menu, as it's one of my favorite tiki drinks, so I had to order it. There wasn't much decor at this bar aside from tiki flags, and fake bamboo background. I think I give this bar more credit than I should because I don't get Painkillers very often. The drinks were not bad for a casino bar.
We started Day 3 off early because we wanted to take advantage of the VooDoo Beach Pool at the Rio. Although not specifically a "tiki bar" they did have poolside drink service. It was Mai Tais and Mojitos for us, along with food from the new Guy Fieri Restaurant El Burro Borracho--very tasty. (It seems like Mai Tais were on a lot of menus in Vegas.)
After lounging poolside all morning, we decided it was time to get a move on to the next tiki bar. Specifically the Center Bar at the Mirage. While not a tiki bar with bamboo, or tacky tropical kitsch, they DO have a signature tiki mug from Tiki Farm celebrating the Center Bar's inaugural opening in November 2015! We ordered their signature drink - the Typhoon. It was delicious and had a "craft cocktail" feel--plus they light it on fire!
Finally to end the day we had a fancy meal at the VooDoo Steakhouse on the 50th floor of the Rio Hotel. This is an honorable mention simply because after dinner we were so full, we couldn't order the Witch Doctor Cocktail that everyone raves about. But next time we are in Vegas, you know it will be at the top of our tiki list!
To round out our last tiki stop in Vegas was Margaritaville next to the Flamingo. Yes, you heard that right. We like a chain bar every so often. Believe it not, of all the drinks we had in Vegas, my margarita and Andrew's Zombie drinks were some of the best (and the strongest and cheapest) AND we got a free show with a flair bartender. (On a side note, we don't really like flair because booze spills and that just seems wasteful!)
Thank you for joining us on our Tiki Vegas vacation. I hope this is a helpful guide to anyone that's into tiki, and I'm sure with the tiki lifestyle becoming more and more popular there will be even more bars popping up all over!
Remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! Mahalo!