Kitsch makes a major comeback: As promised, the Trader Vic's chain of tiki bars returns to Portland after a 15-year absence (the "original" PDX outpost of Vic's was housed in the Benson Hotel until 1996). And though larger-than-life tiki statues are a central theme, the spot incorporates a bit of the local Pearl aesthetic, coming off more swank-meets-thatch lounge than Rainforest Cafe (though yes, a small tiki god and tiki salt and pepper shakers hold court at each wood-topped table).
Trader Vic's boasts 250 seats, including a private dining room that holds 50, but the horseshoe-shaped bar is the restaurant's main focal point (so are the 80 cocktails, including a signature mai tai, available on the bar menu). In the dining room, a massive custom-built Chinese wood-fired oven provides dinner and a show, as chefs lower meat into the barrel in an enclosed glass room inviting public view. (Entrees from the oven run from $21-40, while bites from the lounge/bar menu range from $7-15.)
Trader Vic's will "soft open" for preview dinners (they're open to the public) beginning Thursday, July 28. A grand opening celebration is planned for August 1, and from then on, tiki enthusiasts can get their drank on until midnight during the week (or 1am on Friday and Saturday), with happy hour available daily from 3-7pm and 10pm-close).
· Trader Vic's [Official site]
· All Previous Trader Vic's Coverage [Eater PDX]