Set Sail for Paradise at Longitude

Tiki time at this downtown bar balances kitsch and class.


Rum-centric drinks and finger foods offer a tropical vacation feel for Oaklanders.

Photo by Lori Eanes

Oakland’s downtown may seem like an odd location for a tiki bar, but Longitude is not your average, over-the-top tiki bar. The green columns straddling the entrance and large sepia maps adorning the outside windows are just another odd building facade in a city of odd facades, but inside it’s a little slice of paradise.

Somewhere between Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Hollywood’s Cocoanut Grove—between kitsch and classy—Longitude achieves a balance that invites first dates, after-work happy hours, and Saturday night birthday bashes alike. Longitude rides this meridian between casual and opulence by keeping the décor pervasive but understated. Orchids, masks, and an insistence on greens and tans give a touch of the tropics beneath views of the Tribune clock tower. A tiki hut begs for loud revelry while plenty of palms surrounding the two-tops provide romantic privacy to get lost in flowery rum drinks and finger foods.

The rum-centric cocktail menu isn’t afraid to stray from the standard tiki drinks, offering colorful concoctions filled with grapefruit and lime juices as well as ginger, Caribbean spices, coffee, and wasabi. The Peter Love Grog balances sweetness with spices yet still packs a rum punch. If that’s too sweet, go for the Navy Grog, which is heavy on spices and tart fruit juices.

After a few tropical libations, set sail for the bar menu, which is dominated by appetizers—plus a few heartier options such as a ploughman’s lunch and bangers and mash—most of which find their way onto the Pu Pu Platter for Two. Fun to say, fun to eat, its fried offerings include vegetable spring rolls, crab rangoon with a hint of the briny sea, and coconut shrimp, with a crispy exterior surrounding perfectly cooked shrimp. The star of the platter is the teriyaki beef skewers you char over a flaming mini hibachi. The beef couldn’t be more tender, with just enough sauce to caramelize over the sputtering flames.

The daily grind may not afford a tropical vacation, but with the right attitude and Longitude, paradise can be found in downtown Oakland.

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