From the outside, El Encanto looks rather uninteresting, but you enter to find a large shady patio that absolutely merits the name. Small waterfalls splash into a large pond with turtles basking on the surrounding rocks. They also serve very good Mexican food, offer a wide range of tequilas, and serve some good margaritas.
6248 E Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331 - (480) 488-1752
I had few expectations of the Bikini Lounge -- I envisioned just a dive bar with a cardboard thick devotion to the tiki theme. I was delightedly surprised.
It certainly is divey, as many of the best tiki bars are, and it has its insensate, day-glo tiki after-thoughts. But it also has aged charm and quirky appeal. Duane, the bartender (and member of the band Iconoclast, although I imagine they spell it differently), happily told us a few stories of the place, with many of the items dating back to its 1947 founding. The centerpiece hula girl painting behind the bar is said to be to have the head of the original owner's wife and the body of his mistress. While it was owned by a gay couple, the hula girl apparently had her breasts painted over and the grass skirt added, then the subsequent owner restored the bosom to its former glory.
The New Times claims that this is the oldest bar in Phoenix. Basically,
it has an earnest quantity of tiki, and everything a you need for a
dive bar of integrity, including the location in a dicey neighborhood. I
don't imagine that I will ever go to Phoenix again without stopping in.
Hula's is a swank, mid-century place with good tiki drinks and very good food. We met fellow tiki aficionados Mike M. and his wife, who were very friendly, as tiki people generally are, and compared notes on Phoenix and Tucson (from whence they had just come and we were just heading).
Hula's has some familiar sites for the tiki crowd -- glass cases of
Munktiki mugs under the bar, a Tiki Tony carving, a Bosko shield. It's
romantically lit and as full of mid-century shapes and angles as a Shag
painting. The concept is well executed and the people are friendly.
It's a great exception to the strip mall, chain store dreariness of so
much of the valley of the sun.
TRACE is the revamped lounge and restaurant where Earth and Ocean used to be in downtown Seattle's W Hotel. The name represents of a theme of being able trace back (locally sourced) ingredients to the place they were grown.
It is fairly swanky, as you would expect, and it serves fairly good cocktails, with fairly good food, on the slightly pricey end of the scale.
Update: The Empire Lounge closed in late 2012. It was replaced by the Ampersand Lounge, run by the Copper Cart team.
Among the many exciting changes in this place since it was the Copper Cart are ..... er .... um .....
The place says that it is "the ultimate in a sophisticated music lounge. With its
modern, sophisticated furnishings complemented by multiple billiard
tables, HD projectors and plasma TVs. [sic]."
113 Bell St., Seattle, WA, 98121 - 206 239-0830
Est. March 9, 2012 - Building constructed: 1930
Previous bars in this location: Copper Cart Cafe coppercartcafe.com - link - yelp