TIKI TOLTECA NEW ORLEANS

If I was a tiki fanatic, and had some money, the bar at Tiki Tolteca is the bar that I would build in my backyard. Bartenders work inside a hut with a thatched roof and bamboo poles adorned with tiki string lights. Roomy, leather-backed cane chairs circle a bar paneled with a woven grass facade. The rest of the room is dotted with similar leather chairs and tables, grouped into sections that make conversation easy. Large barrel-shaped rope and wicker lanterns illuminate the room Easter Island statues line the walls, peering into the lively crowd.

If you visit, make sure to try your luck at the “Wheel of Fortune,” where a $10 spin can either yield a well-priced MaiTai or the Escorpian Punch. Though you can order traditional tiki drinks here, Tiki Tolteca bartenders encourage you to try their specials. My favorite is the Columbus in Limbo, which comes with a postcard that the bar will mail for you. If the recipient brings the postcard to the bar, they get a free drink. (And, yes, they do put it in the mail. I’ve sent several and they all made it to their destinations, despite their slightly illegible addresses.) In 2014, Tiki Tolteca was named Food & Wine magazine’s People’s Choice Best New Bar in the U.S. Though I haven’t visited all the nominees, Tiki Tolteca certainly holds its own as the kind of place you wish you had in your backyard.

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