While the history of Tiki in North America can vary depending which area of the continent you live in the idea is the same; an escape from the crazy hustle of everyday life. Made popular at the end of WWII Tiki relies on the Polynesian culture with a westernized twist. Its enjoying a cocktail under a palm tree, relaxing to the sound of beach music and imaging the waves crashing on the shore with each sip.
A resurgence of Tiki has begun in the last 15 years and Toronto’s own movement has been bolstered by the opening of three different Tiki Bars over the last 12 months. The Shameful Tiki in Parkdale owes its success from the passion of a true tiki acolyte. Having already conquered Vancouver with the original location, owner Rod Moore has now graced Toronto with a bar as close to authentic as possible.
Partnering with ex-Harbord Room bartender Alana Noduega, Moore has hand built a stunning bar full of Tiki nostalgia. Staying on point, bamboo and wicker surround, masks and souvenirs fill every conceivable spot while palm and straw shadow the already dim lit space. There is a discovery at every turn.
What may deter a busy neighbourhoods’ walk by traffic but is ultimately the essence of the bar is the blacked out windows and minimal signage. Tiki is about escapism so Moore and Noduega try to keep the exposure to the outside to the smallest measure possible. It does however add to the bars mystery.
If walking in and absorbing massive amount of Tiki decor doesn’t knock you off your feet then the cocktail menu will. An extensive list of genuinely authentic tropical cocktails are coded for potency by a “number of barrel” systems. The stronger the beverage the more barrels besides it name. If your group feels industrious order one of the massive “bowls”. Entertainment value aside these easily lubricate 2-3 guests at a time. Ask the expert bartender to tell you more about the drinks as each has an entertaining history right down to the garnishes used. And if the prices make you cringe be reminded that the amount of booze per drink makes them highly reasonable.
The menu is geared towards a drinking crowd. Share plates and snacks are available and flavours are studded with Polynesian flair. These Luau Sliders are punched up with slices of spam, pineapple and sweet BBQ sauce. Everything on the menu from drinks to eats encourage guests to relax, take it easy and enjoy the time in the bar.
The Shameful Tiki is open seven nights a week and with a semi regular rotation of live bands and future events the entertainment value soars while staying true the Tiki way.
The Shameful Tiki
1378 Queen Street W, Toronto