Hala Kahiki

Bar & Store
2834 River Rd
River Grove, Illinois, United States
Ph: (708) 456-3222 - Website
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Mon & Tue 7pm-2am
Wed & Thu 4pm-2am
Fri & Sat 4pm-3am
Sun 6pm-2am
Opened in 1966
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
Paradise Club, Chicago 2.3 mi
3.7 km
Chef Shangri-La, North Riverside 6.2 mi
10.0 km
The Tiki Terrace, Des Plaines 6.9 mi
11.1 km
Lost Lake, Chicago 7.2 mi
11.6 km
Tong's Tiki Hut, Villa Park 8.2 mi
13.2 km
matchbook, 251
photo, 244, 250-253
text, 250, 252
Large Witco fountain at Hala Kahiki in River Grove
July 2009, photo by TikiMonkey
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Humuhumu’s description:
Hala Kahiki was opened in 1966 by Stanley and Rose Sacharski when they decided they wanted to get out of the funeral home business, and is still run by their family. Tucked away in a quiet suburb, Hala Kahiki is a beautiful classic tiki bar. The layout is sprawling but feels subdued and intimate. Witco carvings are featured heavily throughout the dimly-lit bar. The extensive drink menu tends toward the sweet and low-octane... consider bringing a flask to perk your drinks up a bit. The gift shop is large and includes a section of vintage clothing. Hala Kahiki was one of the stops during Exotica 2003, where Sven Kirsten gave a presentation on the art of Witco.
There are 8 comments.
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April 8, 2009, 9:24 AM
Along with the Mai Kai, this is the best example of a Polynesian Paradise there is. Going in winter with a foot of snow on th eground is incredible!
Swanky has visited Hala Kahiki.

March 1, 2010, 12:59 PM
This is a great out of the way place. As a visiter to Chicagoland I was amazed buy the number of people that had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned it. Finally I would get a response like "Oh, that place. I have been driving by there since I was a kid but never stopped in"

For god sake people-stop in. You have a Tiki gem right in your backyard!!
shaff01 has visited Hala Kahiki.

July 25, 2011, 7:56 AM
I was amazed at the size and detail of this place. A great example of an original tiki bar that has remained successful for 45 years. You can grab a tasty cocktail from their extensive menu, and then walk from room to room admiring the decor. Every inch is a surprise. The courtyard is lovely, and don't miss the gift shop! They have mugs, lamps, tchochkes and new as well as vintage shirts and muu muus. A must see, and the staff are super friendy.
Luau Lou Lou has visited Hala Kahiki.

December 2, 2011, 10:20 PM
Decor-wise, Hala Kahiki is a masterpiece. Drinks and music wise - they have a lot to improve upon. The Mai Tai I had there tasted more like some sort of sour mix drink, and the juke box has no exotica/surf/Tikiness whatsoever. Lots of bad 80s/90s music.

Being from Chicago, I hate to break bad on the Hala Kahiki, but they really need to step up their game on the drinks/music front.
Chappy is a semi-regular at Hala Kahiki.

February 3, 2012, 11:12 PM
Everyone raves and raves about the decor of the Hala Kahiki. The collection of Witco is great. But, as I sat at a table drinking a tepid mocktail, I looked out upon a courtyard of cheap white plastic chairs. At that point, my "experience" was officially DONE. This experience was only enhanced by a very cluttered, dirty and kitshy gift shop.

Hopefully, someone will step back and give the Hala Kahiki an honest assessment and polish this "should-be" tiki gem. Start with discarding the cheap white lawn chairs in the courtyard and completely revive the gift shop (with some creative and cool Hala Kahiki products). Oh, and hire a master mixologist, please! Let me know when you do and I will be there!!!
Vince Martini has visited Hala Kahiki.

January 9, 2013, 3:52 AM
Very easy to get to from O'Hare International and absolutely worth a visit if you're going to be at the airport longer than a couple of hours...maybe 10 minutes from the airport car rental offices, so it's super-easy to get to. You're not likely to find much better decor anywhere within a 100-mile radius of this place. While the exterior of the building may leave a little something to be desired on a tiki 10-scale, the interior is wonderful. There were, by the way, NO plastic white chairs that I could see anywhere on the grounds during my visit in January 2013, and I looked the place over front to back.

Bartender Jimmy (the Greek) was very friendly and attentive, serving me up several tasty drinks during my 2-hour visit during a layover. Drink menu was deep and varied, and the drinks themselves were sufficiently strong and tasty. Of the drinks I had, the Zombie was about a 6 or 7, the Suffering Bastard was a 7 or 8, and the Surf Rider (of which I have no basis of comparison) was probably about a 6. There are no hot food items served here, and what was on offer (exotic chips and some canned salsa w/ pineapple/mango added) was nothing special, but better than no food at all.

Background music was 90% Hawaiian (and all of it fine), 10% "other" (when the jukebox kicked in). The "other" music seemed oddly out of place, but was thankfully very sporadic. Overall, it cast off enough of a tiki vibe to greatly enhance the overall mood.

The gift shop was cluttered and kitschy, yes, but isn't that the way it should be? I would rate their gift shop as on par or slightly better than the gift shop at the Mai Kai. The tour of the gift shop that I received was maybe a bit too exhaustive, but was nonetheless appreciated. There was very little in the way of "branded" merchandise, which to my way of thinking was just fine. Very decent selection of clothing and a wide variety of mugs, jewelry and decor.

If I lived in Chicago, I would definitely be a regular at the Hala Kahiki.
Tiki Wachee has visited Hala Kahiki.

May 20, 2014, 6:29 PM
The décor of this place is wonderful inside and it is absolutely huge! Nice collection of Witco throughout the entire place.

The music is hit or miss, at times they played Hawaiian or Exotica, but it was mixed in with really bad 90's music.

Sadly, the drinks are terrible. I ordered a Mai Tai and it arrived within 30 seconds of ordering. This place totally uses a quick mix to shell out these drinks quickly, which was disappointing.

The gift shop had some fun items, but the women working the store was like a character from SNL and just kept talking and talking and talking about nothing.

If they had a real mixologist and hired people that actually cared about the tiki culture, this place could be magnificent. However, I will always stop in when I am in the area, especially since this place usually has a groupon for half off.
thedrunkentiki is a semi-regular at Hala Kahiki.

May 21, 2014, 9:37 AM
We go here once or twice a year, so probably have been a dozen times now. It's a tiki classic! Now with the Des Plaines Rivers casino nearby (quite nice) may get here even more often!

A few people here really hit the nail on the head... it *IS* a genuine tiki classic! Without a doubt, it's what a tiki bar should be decor-wise. That cluttered, tiki stuff everywhere feeling that you could spot new things around, behind and above the bar with each visit. The place seem intimate in each room, but there are many pockets and all decorated to the hilt. I love it for THAT reason alone.

Unfortunately, the music is terrible; a jukebox filled with everything from classic rock to classic rock. A few Elvis tunes, and a scant few oldies and Hawaiiany classics (meh, not enough). Sometimes too loud, sometimes too quiet.

I like the drinks okay and they definitely look authentic and tiki, but a bit weak, as others stated. The Scorpion, however, wowza. Packs a punch!

The service, for us at least, has been decent on our best day and beyond terrible on other visits. Slow, rude and downright absent. They have no food here and as busy as they may get, it's still relatively small? It is hard to navigate through a crowded, tight spaces, but still takes a really long time to get drinks on most weekend nights so order early is what we've learned.

Why do we come back? Simple: TIKI in abundance! It's all about that. Knowing their shortcomings we have learned to roll with it... it WILL be tough to a get a table on a weekend night. It will be a wait to get your drinks. It may not come with much of a smile. Bring CASH for the jukebox and program it with the right stuff (I spotted Andy Williams 'Blue Hawaii'!). I can't help it, we still love this place despite the negatives and will be back!

I hear they added a tiny bit of food now (been about a year, i think?).
Bad Shirt Good Times is a semi-regular at Hala Kahiki.

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