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).


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

Trader Vic's on Urbanspoon


Trader Vic’s – Las Vegas


Our trip to Vegas a few weeks back might be considered the kick-off to this summer’s Baseball/Tiki Road/Plane Trip (though the baseball element was missing in this leg). We stayed at the Bellagio, so it was quite convenient to stop at the Trader Vic’s in the Miracle Mile Shops across the street before we went to go bet on the ponies. (Our strategy is to bet on the horse with the most hilarious name…It actually works out often enough.)


For being a Trader Vic’s in Vegas, of all places, the decor is pretty understated. Not so sure how I feel about these modernized tiki touches in the bar area, but I do love glass fishing floats in any situation.


For me, these giant dudes are the saving graces of the restaurant. They’re larger than life, now that’s what I expect in this town!


I might have insisted on sitting outside so we could see the fountains (Mr. Baseball doesn’t understand what’s so captivating about a water show), but it was ninety degrees out and I’d never really gotten a good look at the inside of Trader Vic’s.


Picking my poison was a rather difficult process with all the choices. I kept second guessing myself and finally went with the Tonga Punch ($9.50), made with light rum, Curaçao, grenadine and orange juice. It was ok, but I wouldn’t order it again.


Mr. Baseball got a ciabatta sandwich from a special insert on the lunch menu that offered more straight-forward American stuff without much Polynesian flair.


Happy hour lasts from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and as we were on Vegas time and having a rather late lunch, we were able to get two of the pork sliders with plum sauce for a buck a piece. The rest of the specials included very un-tiki 2-for-1 well drinks, $5 baskets of wings/calamari and $15 buckets of Corona.


I had the Hawaiian Poke ($11.50)—ahi and hamachi tartare with avocado and taro chips. There’s something indulgent about ordering seafood in the middle of the desert—definitely not locavore-friendly!

Next time I make a visit to Vic’s it will be for Mai Tais at night on the patio. Cue the fountain show!


6/5/09 Update: As the great Sam Butera once sang: “There’ll be no next time!” The Las Vegas Sun has reported that the Trader Vic’s Vegas is closing. This is precisely why I’ve been trying to visit so many tiki sites on these trips…you never know when they’re gonna get shut down!

Trader Vic’s – Las Vegas
Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood
3663 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Trader Vic's (Planet Hollywood) on Urbanspoon