Forbidden Island – Alameda, CA

So I’m finally wrapping up my weekend tiki tour of San Francisco, which included the Trader Vic’s warehouse, Pier 39, and the Tonga Room. (I’m kicking myself for missing Trader Vic’s Emeryville before they closed for remodeling, but anyway…) We’ll file this post under “Better Late than Never.”

Forbidden Island was opened in 2006 by brothers Michael & Emmanuel Thanos (Conga Lounge in Oakland) and Martin Cate (who left to open Smuggler’s Cove). It’s located in Alameda, a city just south of Oakland that I’ve mostly only heard of as a test site on “Mythbusters” (but thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that it’s also famous for Victorian houses and an awesome-sounding 1920s-era amusement park called Neptune Beach).

It was all done up by the amazing Bamboo Ben and other tiki design masters and features a long bar, a few booths and an outdoor patio. Sidenote: There’s just something mesmerizing to me about light-up fish floats, love ’em!

We experienced some wicked traffic on the way out of San Francisco, which left us with only enough time for me to do a quick lap around the vendor tables at their annual parking lot sale and pick up a few Doug Horne mini-prints.

Dollar bills and drink umbrellas dot the thatched hut’s ceiling inside, and according to their FAQ: “It started as a local tradition soon after we opened, and has been going strong ever since. In WWII, sailors shipping out to the Pacific would leave a dollar at their local bar to get a drink when they got back. Don’t forget to leave a message on them!”

In fact, it was such a short trip (and the bar quite packed with parched folks from the event) that I didn’t even get a chance to try any of their many libations. For shame, I know. Just gives me another reason to come back!

Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge
1304 Lincoln Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501


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