Tiki & Sea Lions on Pier 39, San Francisco

In keeping with our tiki/baseball vacation theme, day two of our San Francisco trip included going to see the Cubs beat the Giants at AT&T Park. As you can see, the view was just gorgeous on that uncharacteristically sunny day. As an LA native, I’m supposed to despise the Giants, but I do have a soft spot for their former team mascot the Crazy Crab. (Rehab the Crab!)

Afterward we headed down to Pier 39 to check out those famous sea lions. It seems our timing was impeccable as just a few months later the animals made a mass exodus and only a few dozen have since returned, so says USA Today.

Along the pier there were the usual tourist trap restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump, plus this thatched hut outpost of Maui Wowi Hawaiian Smoothies. These coffee purveyors have been popping up at malls and farmers markets along the California coast (and in a few other states), but I’ve yet to try any of their wares.

Guarding the entrance was this garish tiki that kind of looks like a monkey. With all the expansion that Maui Wowi seems to be doing, I think they also need to invest in getting some better carvings—this dude is just not doing it for me.

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Trader Vic’s Warehouse Sale

Once in a great while, the folks at the Trader Vic’s warehouse in Richmond, California, graciously open their doors to the riff-raff like us.

And one of these sales serendipitously fell on the particular weekend in late September that Mr. Baseball and I were heading up to San Francisco for a weekend of tiki and baseball. (It actually was a real coincidence, as we had picked the date months before since the Cubs would be in town.)

It was amazing to see this treasure trove of tikis. They were lined up along almost all the available wall space.

The “Trader Vic’s Warehouse Girls” (Kier and Michelie, I believe) were overseeing the stock for the sale and they were extremely patient with my constant questions.

I believe I was told that this Barney West tiki (unsurprisingly not for sale) came from the Trader Vic’s in Berlin, but I could be wrong. The unfortunate shuttering of that restaurant was the reason they were hosting a warehouse sale that weekend.

Trader Vic’s saved the decor from ending up in a dumpster (which used to be a common fate for tiki bars) and shipped it back in a container to their warehouse. In addition to the tikis, they also had masks, immense glass fishing floats, woven fishing traps, tee shirts and even a random phonograph.

Most items were out of my price range, but we did pick up some Trader Vic’s branded glasses, a white shell bowl and Menehune swizzle sticks. As an early Christmas present, Mr. Baseball bought me one of the carved Maori candle holders you can see on the middle of that table. (If you look carefully, you can also spot them in my photos of the dining room from Trader Vic’s Chicago.)

I was intrigued by all the nautical things, like the wheel helm in the previous photo and this thing. I’m not even quite sure what it is (a cowl vent?), I just think it looks neat.

I also bought a handful of these vintage advertisement coasters, and as a parting gift the ladies gave us poster prints of the Trader Vic’s menu.

Trader Vic’s Warehouse
623 South 32nd St.
Richmond, CA 94804

Tiki-Ti Featured in Saveur Magazine

Doctor’s offices aren’t known for having stellar selections of magazines, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the latest issue of Saveur on my MD’s coffee table. The March 2010 issue is devoted to the Los Angeles dining scene, and I recalled that my buddy the Gastronomer had contributed an article on KFC (Korean-fried Chicken) at Kyochon.

After giving that a gander, I flipped forward a couple pages and what do I find?

A short profile on the Tiki-Ti bar in Los Feliz entitled “Spirits of Polynesia” (click the link for full text) written by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. Maybe this will make all those foodies and mixology buffs take (more) notice of tiki…

(Bonus: The Saveur web site also includes recipes for the Puka Punch and Cuba Kola. Makes me want to get my bartending skills up to snuff.)