Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tiki Tuesday: The Kon Tiki, Tucson, Arizona

On our epic roadtrip of the Southwest, the hubby and I visited just one lonesome Tiki bar...there's not much Tiki out there in the desert, where they need it the most, in my opinion!

The Kon Tiki, in Tucson Arizona, opened in 1963.  It has a great history, and used to host big celebrities back in it's heyday, such as Clint Eastwood.

A pretty fun sign (please ignore the tacky banner in photo, left)
We pulled our rented RV up to this little glowing gem, and it was like an oasis in the desert, beckoning with promise of tropical drinks!

The Kon Tiki supposedly boasts  "the largest collection of Milan Guanko tikis in the world"...perhaps these are a couple?

The decor is pretty cool & authentic, including the obligatory Tretchikoff Chinese Girl.

He's happy there are no piranhas around!

In the entry way there is a big tropical aquarium (I'm such a sucker for a pretty fish tank) which apparently used to house piranhas!!! Pretty awesome. I think it's illegal to have those, now...

The Kon Tiki is a restaurant as well as a bar, and it's really big inside with lots of little rooms, each with a slightly different variation on the tiki decor. The Yelp reviews say the food is pretty mediocre, but hey...you don't go to a bar for the food, am I right?

 You go for the drinks!!! The bartender, Marcos, made me a mighty-tasty Mai Tai. It's a little odd to drink a Mai Tai in the middle of the desert...oddly delicious :-)

The Kon Tiki was an interesting spot. On the one hand, it has a fun history and lots of great, authentic details like this fab lamp.

Mr. Tiki says "please don't use me to hide junk!"

 On the other hand, it has things like the offensive-to-the-eyeballs giant banner out in front that advertised some drink special, and the junk stashed behind the tiki in the front entrance next to the trash-picker-upper and bucket combo. The freebie newspaper stand is a nice touch, too.

Me, in Mai Tai buzzed RV'ing mode
 Paradise? Perhaps not, but it'll do. We're lucky it's still around, and maybe someday the Kon Tiki can get away from the frat-bar thing and back to what I imagine might have been it's original form!

If you're in the Tucson area, definitely stop by the Kon Tiki for a Mai Tai and tell Marcos I said "Hi!"


  1. NICE!!! When we were in Tucson a couple of years ago, we only drove by The Kon Tiki...we had a baby with us and very little time. Next time I'm in AZ, it will be on the list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Great photos! I hope I make it by there one day. This is making me very thirsty ;-)

  3. This place looks COOL!! My friends have a house that has a backroom that opens on to deck and looks over a lack, they turned the back room in to a retro Tiki Lounge that is a homage to Elvis.

    Ali of


  4. Check this out!!!!!! http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Brown-Tucson-AZ-Kon-Tiki-Mug-Fire-Hut-MFG-1960s-/191281700389