After our disappointing trip to The Temple Bar last month I was beginning to think that Trader Vic’s in Emeryville was our only option for tiki bars in the East Bay. Until yesterday.
Sarai and I were at a coffee shop in the Elmwood area of Berkeley yesterday afternoon and, since it was so nice out, we decided to take a walk and explore a little. We walked from here a mile or so down to the Rockridge area of Oakland, finding lots of great looking restaurants and cafes along the way. Then, across the street, I saw a Shag (or Shag-like) painting reading Conga Lounge. We went inside (actually upstairs) just in time for happy hour.
The Conga Lounge bills itself as “Oakland’s Only Tiki Bar”, a claim the bartender defended when I asked if it was true. The bartender was friendly and made a great Mai Tai. As you can see in this picture, the drinks were good sized and came with an impressive array of garnishes. What you can’t see is that they were also very strong. The bar itself was just as impressive, with a great selection of tikis, Martin Denny record covers, and other island paraphernalia. A film called The Secret of Easter Island was showing on the TV behind the bar. The bar was empty when we walked in around 6:00 but we were closely followed by two girls, apparent regulars, who engaged the bartender in talk of Elvis movies and Graceland. The bar was beginning to fill up a little more by the time we left a couple hours later.
I had two $5 mai tais and their signature drink, a Gilligan’s Island, which is made with coconut rum, banana liqueur, and a variety of fruit juices. Good thing we weren’t driving.