Drinking

Take a Daycation to a Suburban Tiki Paradise: 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge

From left: the Yellow Rose, Zombie, Tiki Torch, Head Hunter and Cobra Fang at the new 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge in Arlington.
From left: the Yellow Rose, Zombie, Tiki Torch, Head Hunter and Cobra Fang at the new 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge in Arlington. Susie Oszustowicz
Working kind of sucks. Responsibilities kind of suck. This heat really sucks. Tiki things, however, do not suck.

A tiki paradise is waiting for you in a somewhat unexpected place: Arlington. Yes, you read it right, DFW's first tiki-dedicated establishment popped up in Arling-fun, complete with straw umbrellas, tiki mugs and even a grotto.

4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge is a tiki respite. It has all the kitsch you expect from a tiki spot but has done things a different way. Owners didn't research for years or plan every ounce of booze according to books. They decided they wanted to do something fun, so they did — and then figured out how to do it.

While guzzling grog at Frankie's Tiki Room, a popular tiki bar in Las Vegas, these four friends — 4 Kahunas J.P. Hunter, Scott Smith, Chris Powell and Randy Shepherd — decided they needed a tiki spot where they could hang out in DFW. Why Arlington? Because it's accessible to everyone and gave them the chance to keep costs low.


click to enlarge Brad Bowden, bar manager of 4 Kahunas. - SUSIE OSZUSTOWICZ
Brad Bowden, bar manager of 4 Kahunas.
Susie Oszustowicz
To help the four friends create a respectable tiki program (because, yes, it can be done wrong), they brought in Brad Bowden. Bowden started the weekly tiki program at Lounge Here and has made a name for himself in the Dallas tiki scene. (Yes, it's a thing.) He brings his laid-back elegance to the program and doesn't take any shortcuts when it comes to ingredients — think fresh-squeezed juices and housemade orgeat and syrups. The lounge even makes its coconut cream, and it's decadent.

The cocktails are tiki beyond over-the-top garnishes and sugar water with rum thrown in and set on fire. (Lest you be discouraged, there are flaming drinks.) And beyond just good, they're thoughtful. The menu offers some traditional tiki cocktails — the Fog Cutter, Zombie, Missionary's Downfall, etc. — alongside quite a few originals. A couple of standouts: the Yellow Rose, a whiskey cocktail complete with a lemon and pineapple rose, and the Lady Angelica, with rum, cream sherry and vanilla with a lemon peel garnish carved into a butterfly. The namesake for the Lady Angelica is the Instagram tiki fiend that got owner Hunter into tiki. Call it a tribute of sorts.

While the menu isn't final yet (you'll see some handwritten notes or price changes), we're excited about where it is. And where it is, price-wise, is even more pleasing. Being in Arlington lets the owners offer tiki starting at $8 and only going up to $14. Go all in for one of the three "group drinks" for you and a few friends for $28-$36, and you'll be lauded with a bang on the huge drum. 4 Kahunas doesn't serve food, but you can order in from local businesses.

click to enlarge The Lady Angelica, a 4 Kahunas original - SUSIE OSZUSTOWICZ
The Lady Angelica, a 4 Kahunas original
Susie Oszustowicz
Expect a happy hour to be launched soon, and with it, the chance to show up in a tiki getup to get those happy hour prices anytime. Also on the horizon is a BYO-mug night, when you'll get the featured cocktail for a deal. Even more exciting for the rum-lovers among us is a rum program in the works with unique bottles and a rum club to boot. Just don't expect anything stuffy or boring from these guys; that shit just won't fly in this tiki bar.

4 Kahunas, 506 E. Division St., Arlington
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Susie Oszustowicz