Tiki & Baseball at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field marquee

One of the big things Mr. Baseball and I planned for our Chicago trip was a Cubs home game—my first! Much to my Southside-born-and-raised family’s chagrin, I had a wonderful time. I know most people love the brick and the ivy, but I was enamored with the marquee…

Dixieland band in front of Wrigley

And the brass band playing Dixieland music. There was even a banjo player!

The manual scoreboard

Mr. Baseball took me around Wrigleyville for a bit beforehand. We went to the batting cages above Sluggers and drank some Goose Island’s 312. I figured that and Bud/Old Style at the park would be the extent of the day’s beverage selection.

Wha?!

I went to the concession stand to pick up some classic snacks like Cracker Jack (it was invented in this town!) and a hot dog, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I scanned the board. They serve Mai Tais here?!

Mai Tai at Wrigley Field

So, of course, how could I not get one, right? And there’s a baseball embossed on the souvenir cup, to boot. (It’s laughable that it’s billed as “The Original World Famous Mai Tai.” I think Trader Vic would have something to say about that…) The Mai Tai was made with Fresh Island mix—pretty tart and not that great, but I suppose it was worth it for the sheer novelty.

Outside Wrigley Field

I was so tickled to find another serendipitous convergence of baseball and tiki. Even better, the Cubs beat the Brewers so we got to sing the “Go, Cubs, Go” victory song by Steve Goodman. Good times.

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Hala Kahiki – River Grove, IL

Outside the Hala Kahiki

For the third and final stop of the day in our Pre-Birthday Chicago Tiki Blitz, we headed back out to the suburbs to the Hala Kahiki in River Grove. (Part one was Tiki Terrace, and Part two took us to Trader Vic’s Chicago).

The bar of the Hala Kahiki in River Grove

The bar had lots of lanterns and nautical touches, it was probably my favorite area of the Hala Kahiki. There was a group of folks there that seemed to be having happy hour after work, and several couples showed up later that seemed to have made special trips to check out the tiki temple.

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They don’t muck about trying to serve anything edible (besides bowls of pretzels)—it’s strictly beverages only. The sheer amount of variations is impressive; there are classic martinis, several fruity incarnations of pina coladas and daiquiris, and even alcoholic ice cream floats.

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This tiki bar is apparently pretty popular with the kids on the weekends (lines out the door, even), and there are several rooms to go get lost in.

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Like Chef Shangri-La, there’s a nice collection of Witco wood carvings.

Hala Kahiki garden

The patio had a bit of a tropical vibe with its fountain and hibiscus, but the Midwest summers are just too humid to sit outside. I also checked out the souvenir shop, which stocked tchotchkes, made-in-China Hawaiian-themed things (which you’ve already seen plenty of if you’ve been to Hawaii) and a Mai Tiki or two.

Planter's Punch

I had the Planter’s Punch (a blend of rum and fruit juices, per their menu) and it appeared to be half foam. It wasn’t bad, but I would go for something else. I’d had my eye on a different cocktail, I think it might have been the Hawaiian Caress, but I went with the punch as they said it was less alcoholic. (It’d been a long day of drinking!)

Hala Kahiki

Hala Kahiki
2834 River Rd.
River Grove, IL 60171
708-456-3222

Hala Kahiki on Urbanspoon

Trader Vic’s – Chicago

Trader Vic's Chicago

For the second stop of my pre-birthday tiki tour, Mr. Baseball and I went into downtown Chicago to check out the new-ish Trader Vic’s.

The bar of Trader Vic's Chicago

The original Trader Vic’s Chicago was housed in the Palmer House Hilton for almost fifty years before the hotel’s new owners closed it. This location in Newberry Plaza, a petite building mostly made up of condos and a few offices, opened a little more than six months ago.

A tiki in the bar

We sat at the bar since we weren’t interested in eating because a) we were still stuffed from lunch at Tiki Terrace b) the menu at Trader Vic’s Chicago is identical to the one at downtown LA’s Trader Vic’s.

The dining room of Trader Vic's

We got there around 4 p.m., just as they were opening so there was nobody in the dining room yet. Pretty swanky, I must say. (Nothing at all like the now-gone Trader Vic’s Las Vegas).

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The other side of the dining room looked out over a courtyard garden where there were a couple tiki poles lying down, sort of like an archaeological display. (Or maybe they just fell over?)

The Chicago Trader

I ordered the Trader Vic’s Chicago signature drink—The Chicago Trader—made with rum, lemon, grenadine and orange curaçao. I remember it being pretty potent but not particularly tasty because the mint garnish was overpowering. The drink also came with a rock candy lollipop for some reason.

Mr. Baseball committed the cardinal sin of drinking beer in a tiki bar, but it was a bottle of Goose Island’s 312, so I must forgive him.

Trader Vic's tiki mugs

Again, the bartender trotted out all the Trader Vic’s tiki mugs they had so I could choose one as part of my b-day present from Mr. Baseball. Tiki Farm is producing a custom mug called “Rapa Nui Louie” for this location but unfortunately it hadn’t made its debut by the time of our visit.

Outside Trader Vic's Chicago

6/8/11 Update: Sadly, this Chicago location of Trader Vic’s has also closed.

Trader Vic’s – Chicago
1030 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
312-642-6500

Trader Vic's on Urbanspoon