Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge
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Opened in 2006
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
Oct 4, 2008
Jun 25, 2008
Apr 20, 2007
Sign for Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda
April 2006, photo by Humuhumu
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Forbidden Island is a new tiki bar on the island of Alameda just east of San Francisco, but it has the look and feel of a classic old tiki bar. The bar is the creation of Martin "Martiki" Cate, a longtime tiki devotee and onetime Trader Vic's bartender, and "Conga Mike" and Manny Thanos, who are part-owners of the nearby Conga Lounge. Cate has also been responsible for much of the organizing of the wildly popular annual San Francisco Tiki Bar Crawl.
Forbidden Island has a unique commitment to quality, with only fresh-squeezed juices and premium spirits used. The drink menu features dozens of tropical cocktails—a mix of classics such as the Sidewinder's Fang and the Zombie, and new creations like the China Clipper and the Fugu for Two. There is also an extensive list of premium rums.
The decor is filled with many layered details, and was crafted primarily by Bamboo Ben and Martin Cate. There is an abundance of bamboo and thatch, and the walls are lined with wood, giving the appearance of the inside of a ship. There are several artifacts from tiki lounges of the past, including a war club from the Kahiki in Columbus, floats from Eli Hedley's Island Trade ship, which were used tat he Pago-Pago in Tucson, Koa wood tabletops and large peices of bamboo from the Lanai in San Mateo, and several carved pieces including two large carved poles by Ken Pleasant that were used at the Kahiki Moon in Burlington, Vermont. The logo tiki was carved by Tiki Diablo, and presides over a water feature in a cozy corner. There are three hut-like booths, and a long bar with comfortable seating. A rear patio is open until 9p.m. (after 9 it closes to minimize noise for the surrounding residential neighborhood).
Music on the jukebox is predominantly pre-1964, and was specially selected to fit in the vintage lounge environment, with no shortage of Exotica available. A small selection of snack food is available.
Some parking is available in back, and there is plenty of free parking on the street. Alameda has a speed limit of 25 MPH throughout the whole island, and it's strictly enforced. Forbidden Island is open Tuesday through Sunday, and the area tikiphiles have a tradition of meeting there every Wednesday.
In early 2009, Martin Cate left Forbidden Island.
How to find it:
Forbidden Island occupies a brown, one-story, flat-front building on the south-west side of the street. The closest cross-street is Sherman St. Look for the hanging sign with "Forbidden Island" in white letters.
Forbidden Island has a small parking lot with room for about eight cars behind the building (the entry is just to the left of the building). If the lot is full, it isn't hard to find free parking on the street.