I’m back from a wonderful holiday with my family in the Midwest. I received many thoughtful and beautiful tiki gifts, which I will share in future posts.
But this weekend, I want to talk about Pittsburgh.
In a previous post, I promised to rate the tiki level of cities I visit. Pittsburgh, my hometown, is not a place known for its exotic Polynesian atmosphere; it’s more associated with Iron City boilermakers and sandwiches with the French fries already inside. If it weren’t for one thing, Pittsburgh would receive an abysmally low Bottle-Opening Bird Tiki Rating.
But there’s that one thing.
The Tiki Lounge.
Located on Carson Street in the pleasantly bar-dominated So’side, the Tiki Lounge is, if you’re willing to put up with the Loud Music advertised above, a first-rate tiki joint. I mean, you enter by walking through a giant tiki head. That’s class right there.
I visited with my dad on Christmas morning, and what a Christmas present it was. It’s a big space, and the tiki just keeps going. There’s a basement bar, a funky blue makeout grotto, cannibals behind glass, and on and on.
The drinks are pricey, but you get to keep the mugs. I’m so in love with my new monkey mug, which came with a banana drink called the Horny Monkey.
Let’s take a moment here to talk about bathrooms. It’s always disappointing to stop off at the restroom in an otherwise stunning tiki bar, only to discover, behind the WAHINES sign on the door, a normal boring old restroom where you have to pee like a chump. The Tiki Lounge does not make this mistake.
Look at the ingenious system of bamboo pipes that dispenses water to the sink! Just look!
Also, behind the upstairs bar: a shrine to Scott Baio. I rest my case.
In fact, I was so delighted that I returned that same night with my whole family.
From left to right: my aunt Kerry, my mom putting away the better part of a flaming volcano bowl, me, and my infinitely patient husband Andrew. And here’s my brother Conor, a former So’side resident who introduced us to this miracle.
As you can see, the traditional Family Christmas Midnight Bar Crawl was a rousing success. In fact, the Tiki Louge alone was not enough for us, so we stopped at its sister bar, the Lava Lounge, afterwards. The Lava Lounge is more Land of the Lost than tiki, but we had a fine time in its below-ground passion pit anyway.
Obviously we’d enjoyed several delicious holiday beverages by the time this photo was taken.
Pittsburgh is, as I said, not a tiki city. Under other circumstances, it would probably score the lowest possible Bottle-Opening Bird score. But the presence of the Tiki Lounge alone jacks its tiki rating all the way up to Acceptable. There’s that much love there.
Merry Christmas, Tiki Lounge!