by Steven Doyle
The allure of the tiki is primal. Sweet rum cocktails flowing from interesting vessels, often donning their own faces that stare back unabashed, often with revelry. Tiki bars have made a resurgence after laying dormant hitting their peak in the 70’s that rode on high with class favorites such as Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s.
Don the Beachcomber traces back to its Hollywood roots in the 1930’s when Donn Beach (Earnest Gantt) a former bootlegger opened for business and served powerful concoctions with alluring and exotic monikers such as the Zombie, Navy Grog, Samatra Kula and Tahitian Rum Punch. These seemingly Polynesian drinks were complemented by appetizing taste treats. Enter the PuPu Platter with it’s melange of tidbit that could be warmed by patrons under an open flame tableside.
Both Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s lay claim to the original recipe for the lustful Mai Tai. Both also had outposts in Dallas, Texas.
The tiki bar made a resurgence in the 1990’s, and again gained popularity over the past several years with patrons looking for kitschy fun and flaming cocktails that could be shared by the gallon replete with a half dozen straws for sipping.
Houston has a few fine examples of the tiki including Ley Low (opened in August 2014) and the newest addition, Howie’s Tiki. Howie is longtime restaurant pro Mark Voros who opened his his tiki bar in February of 2016 in Spring, Texas, and plays the theme expertly.
Not only will you find the requisite cocktails aplenty, but also is serving up great bites. Try the Banzai Burger made with 44 Farms Beef (locally grown and superb), garnished with cheddar, grilled pineapple and a pineapple glaze ($12). The Pulled Pork Sandwich is another must-try, laden with Howie’s housemade blackberry BBQ sauce ($8).
Don’t forget the Pu Pu Platter ($24) that is served with a sampling from much of the menu, including some fantastic from-scratch dumplings, several sliders (Pulled Pork and Crab Sliders, along with BBQ drummies. Perfect pairing for the Blood of the Kapu Tiki ($24) that serves five comfortably.
You will often find Howie slinging drinks and is good for a salty tale if you are in the mood. And after a perfect Singapore Sling, which implements Ford’s Gin to perfection, you will most definitely be in the mood for just about anything.
Howie’s Tiki | 4334 FM 2920 Spring, TX | 832.299.6991