When you’re looking to escape for the night, venture to the jungles of the historic Zaferia District of Long Beach to visit our favorite tiki bar: The Bamboo Club.
Upon entering, you’re greeted by a large bamboo-covered bar and tropical decor–designed by award-winning “Bamboo Ben” Bassham–that immediately engulfs you in island vibes. Tiki bars are known for its cocktails, many of which have been cult favorites since they were made famous in the 1950s and 1960s by pioneers like Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron and Don the Beachcomber. Decades later, The Bamboo Club boasts the same charms that first turned food and beverage enthusiasts on to tiki culture.
We strongly believe that taking a sip of a tiki cocktail while sitting in a booth that feels more like a hut is a great way to take a vacation without using any of your PTO. First, we ordered a Mai Tai and a Navy Grog, two classic cocktails that were both created by Don the Beachcomber–although Trader Vic has also set claim to the Mai Tai. Next, we ordered the highly popular Jungle Bird and a new classic The Bamboo Club calls the River Dragon. Starting with a base of Whaler’s Original Black Rum, the Jungle Bird makes opposites attract with the combination of bitter coconut-washed Campari and sweet pineapple and lime. River Dragon is made with baijiu, which is a traditional Chinese liquor that is said to be the world’s most consumed spirit and is infused with Sichuan peppercorn and Thai chili. Baijiu is combined with white rum, lime, passion fruit and Aperol to create a delicious drink unlike any you’ve likely had before.
As if the cocktails weren’t stellar enough, the food is absolutely outstanding. For our appetizer, we chose the two least spicy flavors of their the restaurant’s four types of wings and the Hawaiian staple, Spam Musubi. The Laka wings are made with a salty, sweet and tangy combination of citrus, garlic, honey, cilantro, grilled onions and chilis, and the Lono wings are crafted with a classic pineapple teriyaki sauce topped with chives and sesame seeds. The wings were succulent and extremely flavorful; we could have had two plates more! Now, we love a fancy meal, but one bite of Spam Musubi will have you questioning why Spam is stereotyped so unfairly. The Spam is grilled and placed on top of a block of rice and wrapped with nori. The Bamboo Club adds crispy shallots , cilantro and spicy mayo to up the ante on the traditional handheld snack.
Next, we ordered the vegan spaghetti squash Pad Thai, which is a lighter yet equally tasty take on the original. After tasting the combination of fresh spaghetti squash and rice noodles, onions, carrots, garlic, bean sprouts and homemade Pad Thai sauce, we understood why this is a fan favorite. Next up, the Scorpion Burger comprises a 6-oz. beef patty, cheese, house-made hoisin BBQ sauce, house pickles, sautéed chilis and topped with onion rings; this isn’t for the faint of heart or the small-mouthed! The Thai tea-brined chicken sandwich is brined, breaded and fried, making it delightfully crunchy and flavorful upon arrival. Hawaii is famous for its mac salad, and The Bamboo Club’s version did not disappoint!
To finish our evening in the tropics, we ordered the bread pudding with sorbet for dessert. The Bamboo Club starts with a brioche base and tops it with house-made Whaler’s rum-salted caramel sauce, pineapple flambé and powdered sugar. The result is a soft yet crunchy texture with sweet and salty accents. To sweeten the deal further, the Long Beach restaurant hosts a monthly comedy night dubbed Tiki Ha Ha that occurs every third Thursday of the month from 7 to 10 p.m. on the heated outdoor patio. Tickets are limited to 80 guests in order to create an intimate night of food, drinks and laughs.
The Bamboo Club is open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and happy hour, Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.
For more information about The Bamboo Club, visit www.bambooclublb.com.