January 7, 2007

Hula Hula, New Tiki Bar in Seattle

Filed under: News,Seattle,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:50 am
Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website
Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website

Seattle has a new tiki bar, near the Seattle Center, called Hula Hula. It’s in the space nextdoor to Tini Bigs (once upon a time, this space was a nightclub called the Romper Room, and I spent many an evening there shaking my tiny hiney). Hula Hula is run by the same folks who run Tini Bigs. Seattle once had a rich tiki history, but now virtually all traces of vintage tiki are gone; those holding their breath for a comeback of true tiki in Seattle will have to keep biding their time at the new Trader Vic’s in Bellevue. Hula Hula looks to be more about tiki as kitch.

The drink menu holds lots of familiar names (Mai Tai, Navy Grog, Shark’s Tooth, Zombie), but sadly the recipes are anything but familiar. Or rather, they’re the sad side of familiar — that familiar sinking feeling you get when you see that the tropical drink menu you’re staring down is nothing but a pell-mell assortment of alcohol and pineapple juice. Don’t take my word for it — I haven’t been able to check this place out myself yet, obviously — but a look at their online drink menu doesn’t exactly have me excited. From what I’ve been able to gather, the local tikiphiles aren’t exactly beating a path to the door, either; the general reaction I’ve heard so far from folks in the area is something along the lines of “meh,” which is telling in a town that doesn’t really have much to offer in the way of tiki in the first place. The website has one of the sure “tells” of a letdown of a tiki place: the website trumpets “EVERYDAY $2 PBR”.

Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website
Hula Hula, a new tiki bar in Seattle, photo from Hula Hula website

But, like I said, don’t take my word for it. It’s hardly fair of me to judge a place so harshly without setting foot in it myself. Go out there and check it out yourself, and let me know what you think of it (rate it on Critiki, while you’re at it). There are plenty of tiki bars out there that have won my heart despite lackluster drinks (though it takes some pretty kick-ass decor [see: Bahooka, the Alibi, Kon-Tiki]). I would be extraordinarily pleased to hear that there is something loveable at Hula Hula.

9 Responses to “Hula Hula, New Tiki Bar in Seattle”

  1. Swanky Says:

    I am wondering if those are my puffer fish in there, or maybe Thatch. I shipped 8-10 large ones up to the Seattle area last year to a guy who was re-selling them. I may just have to get up there and investigate in person!

  2. elbow room Says:

    I can’t believe anyone would write a review of a place they have never been. That is like buying a used car without ever seeing it.

    No wonder no one wants to open a tiki bar in seattle

    You should try it.
    SP
    Bartender

  3. Humuhumu Says:

    As an avid tiki consumer, I form opinions, and I share my opinions. It’s my schtick, it’s what I do — and I’ve got a pretty darned good record of being supportive of new tiki bars. I was pretty clear in my post that I haven’t been to the place, and the opinion I’m sharing here is that I’m just not excited about checking it out. What, I’m supposed to lie and say it looks great, just because it’s a tiki bar?

  4. Blansten Says:

    Yes, those are puffer fish lights! I was in there last week around 6:00 on a weeknight, so it was pretty dead. The music was awful (top 40 R&B circa 1988) and most of the light was coming from the TV. Even so, the general visual ambience of the place was outstanding, the TV was at least showing a surfing show (maybe just a coincidence) and the drinks and food were tasty if not strictly authentic. Big ups for serving them in kooky mugs (soon liable to be stolen). Spoke with the bartender and he told me the whole place was still evolving, so I’ll be back.

  5. Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » Seattle: Lushy at Hula Hula Says:

    [...] Lushy, a darling bossa/exotica, loungey-but-dancey band based out of Seattle, is playing a show at Hula Hula on Wednesday, February 7. Lushy sounds so good in nice, intimate spaces, and Hula Hula’s space is probably just about perfect for them. It’s a great opportunity to give Hula Hula a whirl — early reports are that Hula Hula is a neat space, but that the modern/rock music played there is a mismatch — and my guess is the Lushy will give the place the mojo it may be missing. Lushy’s eponymous album [...]

  6. dogbytes Says:

    we’ve been to Hula Hula twice now, and its a wonderful space ~ and yeah, we can gripe about the music, but really, its non intrusive, and more often than not, a funky song catches your ear, and we sing along … and, i’m partial to 80′s R&B…

    i’ve posted on Tiki Central ~ Hula Hula Happy Hour, Third Thursdays after work, hope to see you there!

  7. Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » Color Me Pleased Says:

    [...] My hopes for Hula Hula were not high, but I’m so happy to hear that the local Seattle tikiphiles have made a couple visits to Hula Hula, and they like the place a lot. It sounds like some changes are coming to the drink recipes, and it looks like the place is darker and moodier than the Hula Hula website would suggest — and you regular readers know what a sucker I am for a dark bar. The music selections still sound incongruous to the decor, but as mentioned earlier, booking Lushy to play a show there is a huge step in the right direction. [...]

  8. Stanton Gene Kawaihinano Otero Says:

    Dear HumuHumu,

    I was born and raised in Hawai’i, and I am Native Hawaiian by my ethinic blood line and cultural upbringing. I live in Seattle Washington with my wife (both of us having attended state university here), and I must say, from a Native Son of Hawai’i Nei, “Hula Hula”, like ALL Tiki Bars, is offensive…period. “Tiki Culture” is something that is perpetuated by an extremely ugly (and quite frankly, very outdated) colonialist mind set. It is nothing more then Polynesian–Pacific Islander “Black Face” on parade for those people who are not of Polynesian–Pacific Islander decent to exploit, and enjoy, and marvel in they’re inability to
    have anything of any cultural signifigance for themselves to exploit, and therefore run amok with appropriating other peoples culture and making it into an obscene novelty, consuming as you say (“I am an avid tiki consumer”), so very unaware of your own colonialist — emperialistic mindset that you go so far as to appropriate and bastardize the Hawaiian name of my people’s state fish (the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a), into a nickname for yourself, “HumuHumu”

    Wow…very obscene and offensive.

    You can write, and articulate, and appear to possess some degree of analytical and critical thinking…may I suggest you look into the actual cultural and religious history of Tiki’s,…a good place to referrence a comparison that is probably familiar to you, would be Indiginous Native American / 1st Nations People’s and the religious and cultural signifigance with Totem Poles.

    Aloha No HumuHumu,

    Stanton Gene Kawaihinano Otero

  9. Bop Says:

    We LOVE this place. I grew up in Seattle but have been away my entire adult life. My fiancee had a conference and I jumped at the chance to accompany him. We happened upon this quite by accident and loved it. Now, it’s a must see on every visit. The drinks pack a punch. The appetizers are way over priced. I think chips and salsa were $8 but it was almost forgivable because the drinks are so good. Not a fan of karaoke though so we make our exit for the evening way too early.

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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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