Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco. Nov 16, 2016
By Jeff Ballard
So I had a second chance to visit one of the best tiki bars in the country, Smuggler’s Cove (#smuglerscovesf) in San Francisco. In fact it was recently chosen as the BEST tiki bar in the country. And I cannot disagree. Now depending on what you are looking for in a tiki bar, your opinion may be different, but I can tell you this place is great.
Of the 5 criteria I rate tiki bars on they certainly come out at the top!
Drinks They have great drinks! They not only feature true tiki classics, but they have several drinks that are specific to Smugglers Cove. Now, the ONLY knock I can put on them is purely a personal preference. They only have 1 drink in their entire catalog that is spicy! Ah well. They do taste great!
Music They have some great tunes playing in the back ground but the way the place is set up it is hard to hear over the din of the crowd.
Decor They Knock it out of the park. Love the mix of tiki and nautical. The bar is FILLED with tiki stuff but it does not overwhelm you. It is awesome and an inspiration for anyone wanting to create their own bar - excess...in moderation.
Swag The only place I can truly knock them as both times I have been here they have been out of the killer mugs. And in fact this time they were out of all mugs. Grr! Now they do have t-shirts. They are ok. Would rather have more stylings to them, but they are classy and cool. And in addition to the shirts, they wrote the book on tiki - literally! The owners have written an amazing book on the tiki culture and is a must read for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in all things tiki. You must know your history!! I would have dropped them to a 3 but the book boosted them back up!
Ohana/Vibe So, two things. First is that the staff is friendly, knowledgable on all things tiki and they are great to hang out and talk to. That is very important. You can’t have a cool tiki bar with stuck up staff. Or staff that is just punching in and doing time. These guys know tiki. And they have been here a number of years! That does not normally happen and bars. But at Smugglers Cove, they are lifers - and tiki pro’s.
Second, it is an awesome, laid back place that you can truly relax and enjoy the tiki life. As I sit here I know that right outside is a beautiful beach where I can relax and kick back in one of those cool Corona commercial chairs. OK, that is NOT the case, but I feel like it is. Which is an important part of going to a tiki bar. It is *supposed* to be a vacation. And Smuggler’s Cover certainly is. So when you get to San Fran, let me know. I will probably still be here!
So the overall rating is 23 out of a possible 25 on the Tiki Trail scale. So, in there words, it’s a place you gotta get to!
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