When I traveled down to Houston in early March for the Lei Low Bar‘s anniversary party, Mark, the owner of Howie’s Tiki, made mention of a guy he had met who said he was opening a Tiki bar in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. You could have knocked me over with a feather – I swore he was either pulling my leg, or the guy he had met was not really serious. After all, the Tiki revival had been in full swing for a couple of years, and Dallas still had only a few once-a-week Tiki-themed nights, and one really awful nightclub pretending to be a Tiki bar. Needless to say, I was skeptical, but Mark gave me the guy’s phone number, and encouraged me to give him a call.
Once I got back from my trip, I called the number, and spoke to JP, one of the four “kahunas”. He confirmed that indeed, he and three partners were opening up a real Tiki bar, aptly named 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge. He went on to tell me the story of how and why he was inspired to open the bar, that he had been following my blog (Yay, I’m famous!), and that he was hoping to have 4 Kahunas open by summer of 2018. After getting over the initial excitement, I decided to stay in touch with him, and be available to offer as much support as possible.
I feel very fortunate – I stopped in several times over the course of the buildout of the bar, and with each visit, the feeling that this was truly happening here in DFW became more and more palpable. When I met the other three “kahunas”, Randy, Scotty, and CP, it finally came together – each one of them had something important to bring to the table, and the sum of their parts made for one well-thought out whole package. I had to keep my knowledge of 4 Kahunas hush-hush for a while, until all their inspections and legal requirements were completed, and let me tell you – that was one HARD secret to keep!
Finally, the bar was finished, and ready to open its doors. In mid-June, they had a soft opening, and judging by the positive reviews, 4 Kahunas has been a big hit. They have chosen to feature a lot of wonderful Texas Tiki artists among the nautical bar decor, such as Aloha Texas Tiki Co, and The Boozy Doodler. You’ll find fish floats, mermaids, and even a cozy little “undersea grotto” seating area. Be sure to check out the custom Tikis adorning the bar – each carved idol represents one of the 4 Kahunas. They have a flat-screen TV at the bar, but for those of you whose first thought is, “TVs don’t belong in a Tiki bar!”, don’t fret – you’ll never see sports, talk shows, or other such nonsense on the screen. Usually, they will be playing some Natural Geographic-type underwater show, or an appropriate film with no sound, so it won’t spoil the feel of the place. What you will hear are the delightful sounds of Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and the usual Tiki/Lounge/Exotica suspects we all know and love playing throughout.
The bar program is nothing short of ambitious. There are twenty-eight drinks on the menu, along with three bowl drinks. You might think that it’s quite a bit to take on, for a bar still in its early infancy. However, 4 Kahunas manages to pull it off very well, judging by the positive reactions and reviews on social media. JP has one of the best Tiki bartenders in DFW at the helm of the bar – my friend, Brad Bowden. You may remember him from a previous post I made about Dallas Tiki-themed nights. Brad is far too modest to agree with me about how awesome he is, but if you are lucky enough to be served by him, your opinions will definitely mirror my own.
4 Kahunas’ menu offerings include Tiki classics like the Zombie, the Navy Grog, and 3 Dots and a Dash, as well as some liquid revelations, such as the Blackbeard’s Ghost, Three Hour Tour, and the Life Preserver. My favorite drink, however, is the one they named after me – the Lady Angelica. I never thought in a million years I’d be lucky enough to have a drink named after me, and I feel so honored by it. If you like citrus-y drinks, give it a try! Right behind that one is their Pearl Diver. I was blown away by Brad’s recreation of the Don The Beachcomber original. Oh, and because I know you’re wondering, they don’t have their own custom mugs or swizzles yet – but those are in the works, from what I’m told!
I’m so excited to even be able to write this, because I’ve wanted for Dallas to finally end the drought, and have a real Tiki bar. Yes, it is in Arlington, and while for some it might be a bit of a haul, let’s face it – this is a real, immersive experience created by four guys who are doing this out of a real love for Tiki. It’s not the creation of a corporate-backed hospitality group that is haphazardly recycling a space for the sake of a quick profit. Sadly, this is the state of things in Dallas lately, and 4 Kahunas is a much-needed breath of fresh air for our neck of the woods. There are no pretensions – it’s just a place where people can relax, feel welcomed, and hopefully experience a temporary escape from the world, just like how it was in the mid-20th century, when Polynesian Pop was born.
Want to meet for a drink?
4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge
506 E. Division St
Arlington, TX 76011