Shameful Tiki Room
4362 Main St, Vancouver, Canada
The view: An ideal way to transport yourself somewhere tropical on the often-rainy days in Vancouver, The Shameful Tiki Room has no windows and is dimly lit. Like a late-night in mid-century Rarotonga, thatched palm fronds hang overhead, the walls are plastered with tapa cloths and carvings, and neon lights are reflected in the lacquered table tops.
The vibe: We went early as we heard this place gets super-busy. It was a relaxed atmosphere with a mixed crowd that started to pack out as the evening went on. Somewhat kitsch, the decor speaks to the style of the first-ever tiki bar, "Don the Beachcomber", which displayed collections of tropical artefacts. The Shameful Tiki features kooky items picked up in Fiji and Tonga.
The chat: Our server was knowledgeable and welcoming, recommending drinks to suit our tastes.
You don't go to a tiki bar for the food but this place makes great snacks - including a deliciously rich crab and artichoke dip with super-crunchy homemade tortilla chips. We also ordered forgettable steamed vege dumplings that were enhanced slightly by the ponzu sauce. There's a range of beer and some wine options but, of course, the main focus is on the largely rum-based, tropical cocktails served in flamboyant vessels with fruity garnishes. The menu is aesthetically pleasing with lots of cool pictures and a "strength key" - this is very helpful. They also have drinks served in giant clam shells, designed to share. We watched a group at another table all leaning into one and slurping away with giant straws.
The expectation: Recommended to us by friends who are Vancouver locals, we were totally impressed. I started with a Skull and Bones cocktail, a "mysterious" recipe with cinnamon, grenadine and two types of rum, then stepped up to the most popular drink on the menu, a Pain Killer. It was divine, with a blend of rum and coconut. My partner enjoyed a 1960s-inspired Pago Pago: rum, various citrus fruit, bitters and honey.
The reality: We loved the vibe, the drinks and the great glassware and cups. They weren't missing a trick either with their take-home souvenirs available to buy.
- Stefanie Blithe