It used to be that Seattle was the perfect place to be if you wanted anything alternative.
Now, however, that alternativeness seems to have solidified into a few different well-worn tropes that most people don’t leave. While this is comforting for some people, it means that anything that doesn’t fit in this narrow spectrum simply can’t be found within the city.
Want hipster coffee? There are 2,824 options.
Want b-level craft beer? There are 3,293 options.
Want a decent tiki bar? There are 3 options. Or, at least, there are 3 tiki bars.
Seattle’s Tiki bars are so few and far between that, if that’s your scene, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Or maybe just mildly disappointed.
There are a few tiki bars in Seattle worth mentioning. While most of them don’t rival what you can find elsewhere, they’re still a welcome diversion from the other things in the PNW (trees and coffee-swilling-hipsters).
But which ones are best? Well, first off, let’s lay down some ground rules.
What Counts As A Tiki Bar?
A tiki bar is a type of bar that is themed after the Polynesian cultures of the South Pacific.
Tiki bars typically feature tropical décor such as palm trees, grass skirts, and thatched roofs. They may also serve traditional Polynesian drinks, such as piña coladas and Mai Tais.
While tiki bars were once popular in the United States, they fell out of favor in the latter half of the 20th century. However, they have experienced a resurgence in recent years in many parts of the U.S.
With limited travel in recent years more and more people have looked for escapes from the humdrum of daily life and, for myself and other, tiki bars just might be the answer.
Tiki bars are a fun and festive escape from the world, especially when you’re tired of the Seattle rain (or the dreary winter) and want to feel like you’re someplace else.
Tiki bars may seem at odds with the vibe of hipsters and craft beers of the PNW…and it’s true…it’s a break. It might even be better.
So whether you live in Seattle or you’re here for a quick visit, let’s talk about where you should spend your night.
Best Tiki Bars In Seattle
I’ll be honest here. When it comes to tiki, Seattle just doesn’t have it.
The “best tiki bars in Seattle” are probably not in Seattle at all and you’ll have to drive a bit if you want a really great experience.
1. Hula Hula
Hula Hula was the only tiki bar worth mentioning in Seattle for many years. Even now it’s probably the one that will be mentioned if you ask anyone local for a recommendation.
As far as my objective analysis of Hula Hula, I’d say that it’s “fine”.
The decorations and vibe are okay and the drinks are just a little bit less than.
My biggest gripe with Hula Hula, however, is that it’s a karaoke bar. And not a good one. If you don’t want to listen to people sing, don’t go here. If you actually want to sing karaoke, don’t go here. Not only do most people get tired of whiney inebriated pop, every time I’ve been here the karaoke is run so inefficiently that you’ll wait in line for an hour or two to be able to sing. Especially if the staff keep letting their friends cut in line.
The drinks at Hula Hula are predictably on the expensive side (it’s Seattle…) but are a bit weak and not quite up to snuff. They are served in tiki mugs though and everything tastes better that way.
The bar also offers a variety of food options, including Hawaiian-style seafood dishes. I can’t vouch for the food as I haven’t tried it but my friend enjoyed what they got.
All in all, Hula Hula would be a very average tiki bar in another city but, since beggars can’t be choosers, it’s about all we’ve got in Seattle!
It’s still worth a visit and there are many people who love it. People who are tiki fanatics just aren’t among them.
To get to Hula Hula, start by heading to Pike Place Market. From there, walk north on 1st Avenue until you reach Pine Street. Make a right on Pine Street and walk two blocks until you reach Melrose Avenue. Hula Hula will be on your left-hand side. The easiest way to spot it is to look for the bright orange façade and the thatched roofs.
It is especially accessible if you’re staying in a downtown hotel such as Inn At The Market which is just down the street.
2. Three 9 Lounge
From the outside, the Three 9 Lounge feels like you’re visiting a bar in a strip mall. It hardly has an established feel which isn’t really surprising since it shares the building with a bowling alley.
Having said that, this is probably the best place in Seattle to get tiki drinks.
The vibe here is a work in progress. It’s got a little bit of a Hobby Lobby vibe right now instead of the cluttered slightly grungy vibe I love in older tiki bars.
However, the drinks are worth it. The bar’s extensive menu includes classics like the Mai Tai and the Pina Colada, as well as original creations like the Three 9 Punch and the Hawaiian Sunrise. In addition to its signature drinks, Three 9 Lounge also offers a selection of small plates and appetizers.
As of writing, Three 9 Lounge is less than a year old so I’m hopeful that something that is already pretty good is only going to get better!
One grip, however, is that it’s not in a very interesting area. There is a bunch of residential space around so, unless you’re planning on bowling, you might not have anywhere else to go that night.
To get there, take I-5 North to exit 168 for NE 65th St., merge onto N 85th St and turn right onto 3rd Ave NE. The Three 9 Lounge will be on your right.
If you’re coming from the south, take I-5 South to exit 168 for NE 65th St. Follow the signs for N 85th St and turn left onto 3rd Ave NE. The Three 9 Lounge will be on your right.
From the east, take I-90 West to I-5 South and follow the directions above.
Coming from the west, take I-90 East to I-5 North and follow the directions above.
3. Inside Passage
If you’re in town and want to really impress someone, take them to Inside Passage.
Inside Passage is actually a small-ish private-ish tiki-themed area inside of another bar which we’ll get to below).
Inside Passage is accessed through a secret door inside of Rumba…in other words…through a “passage” from the “inside” of another bar. Very cool.
However, its coolness doesn’t come without a couple of drawbacks.
First off, it can be difficult to get into. It’s a small space (like, Seattle apartment sized) and is very popular. Because of this, they limit time to inside to 90 minutes.
On most nights there will be a significant wait to get inside. To get the ball rolling you’ll want to talk to the host/hostess at Rumba and get your name on the list for Inside Passage. On a busy night, you’ll need to do this 1-2 hours before you plan to get in. Once there is room available they will send you a text and you’ll need to hustle back and they’ll admit you.
The drink at Inside Passage are very good, even if they’re a bit spendy for the amount of ice that there usually is.
Oh and the ceiling octopus? Probably the coolest tiki decoration ever. Its name is Kiki.
All in all, Inside Passage might be the best place for Tiki in Seattle. It’s just too bad that everyone else thinks so too.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that’s about it as far as tiki bars go. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t excellent bars in Seattle. The food and drink scene in Seattle in actually quite good.
However, if you’re thirsting for only tiki, we have a few other places that you could add to your list. While they aren’t perfect, they might scratch your itch.
“Not Really” Tiki Bars In Seattle
Unfortunately, even with the dearth of tiki bars in Seattle, we’re losing the few that there are. Due to the pandemic, we lost both the Lava Lounge and the No Bones Beach Club. That has led me to cast my net a little wider in the hopes of providing you with a couple more options.
Hotel Albatross is often mentioned on lists of tiki restaurants in Seattle…but it’s just not.
They have a naturical theme and an extensive cocktail list but the vibe is more “1950s cruise ship” than full tiki.
You can get a Mai Tai here as well as some creative drinks such as “Pirate’s Grog” and “Tiki Punch” but that’s about the extent of the “tiki-ness.”
However, it’s still a cool bar that’s well worth a visit.
Navy Strength is another bar that often is mentioned in relation to tiki. Overall, I found them to be part of the tasteful craft cocktail scene than a full escapist tiki joint. The drinks are good but the atmosphere is slightly underwhelming.
Bars With A Tiki Night
Seattle is home to many bars, but Rumba stands out from the rest. The dance floor is always packed with people of all ages and backgrounds, and the music ranges from salsa to reggaeton to cumbia. The drinks are strong and affordably priced, and the bartenders are always happy to make recommendations.
Also, Rumba is home to Inside Passage if you need a bit “more”.
Rumba’s Tiki Night is currently weekly on Wednesdays.
2. The Diller Room
Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, the Diller Room is a modern bar that offers a unique take on the traditional drinking experience. The brainchild of local entrepreneur Dave Diller, the Diller Room combines the best of both worlds, with a comfortable and inviting atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a few drinks with friends.
The space is also home to an impressive collection of art, including paintings by local artists and multimedia installations by world-renowned artists.
In addition to its visual appeal, the Diller Room also features an extensive menu of both classic and contemporary cocktails, making it the perfect spot for enjoying a night out.
The Diller Room’s Tiki Night is currently on a Tuesday and they bring out a special cocktail for the weekly occasion.
3. Sol Liquor Lounge
This hidden gem is located in the heart of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and it offers a wide selection of both classic and innovative cocktails. The bartenders are skilled mixologists who are always happy to make suggestions based on your preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing gin and tonic or a rich and decadent old fashioned, Sol Liquor Lounge has you covered.
Also, if you’re looking for something to nibble on with your drink, the lounge also offers an impressive menu of small plates. From charcuterie and cheeses to olives and house-made pickles, there’s something for everyone.
3 Great Tiki Bars Within Driving Distance Of Seattle
If you’re up for a bit of a trip, there are several great tiki bars within an hour of Seattle. Although going 30 minutes out of the city to drink does make it more than a casual night out it’s still a solid way to spend a weekend in the PNW.
Devil’s Reef (Tacoma)
Nestled in the heart of Tacoma’s Ruston Way, Devil’s Reef is a tiki bar like no other. From the moment you step through the door, you’re transported to a Polynesian paradise. The walls are lined with exotic woods, and the ceiling is draped with flowing fabrics. Tropical plants and vintage surfboards complete the scene. As for the menu, it features everything from Mai Tais to Scorpion Bowls. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed happy hour spot or a festive party atmosphere, Devil’s Reef is the perfect place to be.
North Shore (Bothel)
The walls are adorned with palm fronds and bamboo, and the ceiling is strung with twinkling lights. The bar itself is made from polished wood, and the bartenders shake up tropical cocktails in ceramic mugs. As you sip your drink, you can watch the sunset over the water through the open-air windows. The North Shore bar is the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Tacoma Cabana (Tacoma)
Washington’s Tacoma Cabana is more than just a tiki bar – it’s a destination. At least according to them.
Located in the heart of the city, the Cabana offers a taste of the tropics in the Pacific Northwest. Featuring both indoor and outdoor seating, the bar is perfect for any weather. And with a menu that includes both classic and modern cocktails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or to celebrate, the Tacoma Cabana is a great choice.
If you take your food seriously, Seattle is a great city with great restaurants. You’re also in luck in you like craft beer and coffee. Or vegan food. Or pretty much any niche you can think of besides tiki bars.
Maybe it’s the rainy northwest vibes, maybe it’s just the cost, or maybe it’s just because most Washingtonians don’t know what they’re missing.