Story and photo by Debbie Hadley
Kon Tiki is not the kind of joint you frequent for the food, although lunch and dinner are served at the oldest Hawaiian lounge in town. The main draw is a strong drink, Polynesian flavor decor and rockin’ island jams.
Opened in 1963, Kon Tiki at Broadway and Swan has been a Tucson favorite for more 45 years. With bamboo-covered walls and an ornate fountain topped with a life-sized swordfish, Kon Tiki is pumped with Hawaiian style in every available space.
The bar is in real Tiki form with palm tree branches hanging over the bar roof and logs of bamboo making up the bottom half of the bar.
Patron Taylor Roberts calls the decor “distinctive island flair.” Every inch of wall space is covered with large conch shells, strings of bamboo or stacked coconut shells. Beach ball-sized multi-colored light fixtures, each enveloped in fishing nets, provide lighting.
The drink menu is a trip, with a variety of cocktails creatively named. There are several secret ingredient drinks available, such as The Lunchbox or Mystery Drink. The more aptly named Tropical Itch with rum and whiskey and Barrel of Rum are ready to order as well.
The most popular drink, according to waitress Alisha Shelton, is the infamous Scorpion bowl, a mix of rum, gin, brandy and other liquors. Labeled as the largest drink in the world, it can be ordered for one or two. “Girls order the strawberry, guys get the regular,” Shelton says.
She notes that regulars come to Kon Tiki as a “pit stop to get a drink and then go on to the next place.”
Kon Tiki serves lunch, dinner and dessert. Restaurant hours are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 4-9 p.m. The bar closes Monday-Thursday at 1 a.m., Friday-Saturday at 2 a.m. and Sunday at midnight.
Next weekend, when the island gods are calling, try Kon Tiki for the best assortment and taste of any cocktails around.
Address: 4625 E. Broadway