Check Out a Boat Load of Photos (and the menus) of U Street’s New Tiki Bar – Archipelago

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1201 U Street, NW

While it was sad to learn of the Islander’s closure the replacement, Archipelago, looks freaking amazing especially if you want to be transported out of the District for a few hours. The details are just everywhere. And they are awesome. They’ll be soft opening this weekend and having a proper opening Tuesday and they’ll be open Tuesdays-Sundays from 5pm-close. You gotta check it out for yourself. This is another one of those wild transformations if you remember what the inside of the Islander looked like. Also, did I mention the shrine to Magnum PI…

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Tons more photos and menus after the jump.

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islander
Previously The Islander

42 Comment

  • +1 on the url! I love the Magnum P.I. shrine.

  • That looks like the coolest place ever! It’ll be hard to get in there for a while.

  • maxwell smart

    Oh man. I have been SCREAMING about this for so long. DC needs more cool, tacky and kitsch bars JUST. LIKE. THIS. No more craft cocktails. Give me kitsch or give me death.

  • I appreciate the nod to Magnum P.I. but the cheapest drink on the menu is $12 which is nuts. I may go once to pay homage to TM and neck down a $14 Mai-Tai but I doubt I’ll make a habit of it. Best of luck to them, I guess.

    • The good thing about a Mai Tai is that you really only need one Mai Tai. So you save some money that way.

    • maxwell smart

      Yeah, tiki drinks tend to be 5 different shots of rum + some juice. So if they are made right, if you can make it through 3 drinks, then hats off to you. I do really hope they add a flaming punch bowl to the menu.

    • Not specifying the spirit used at those prices is a little suspicious, too. Granted, everything tastes the same with enough fruit juice and sugar, but $12 and up for something out of a bottom shelf 1.75L plastic jug would be a serious rip off.

  • The prices are high, it’s true. Still: I want to go to there.

  • $30 bucks for two Mai Tai’s. Hope they come in a hallowed out coconut or something and are a decent size.

  • Trader Sam’s at the Polynesian Hotel in Orlando is less expensive than these prices. And that is Disney pricing! Not to mention Trader Sam’s – the Lexus of Polynesian bars – has an exploding volcano behind the bar. So yeah, let me know once the prices drop for U Street. You may be crowded on Friday and Saturday night at these prices, but if you lower them you will be crowded 7 days a week.

  • Does a soft opening mean that they will be open to the public tonight? I’m dying for a drink in a hollowed out pineapple!

  • Yeah, this is “I’ll visit once just to see the space” kind of place. $14 nachos? $7 for a can of local beer? $9 for a glass of house wine? (I know, those three things aren’t necessarily why one would visit this bar, but still!) Maybe they’ll have a fun happy hour.

  • I don’t really care for rum, but I will order the “Truck Bed Funeral” based on the name alone.
    .
    This place looks awesome. I’ll definitely be checking it out!

  • You know, with all the controversy surrounding cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity these days (see, e.g., the Redskins controversy) I’ve always wondered why tiki culture seems to get a pass. Tiki seems to me to be the epitome of cultural appropriation, but for some reason, people just don’t get worked up about it. I don’t much care either way. Out of all the challenges facing racial minorities in this country, I think cultural appropriation isn’t really at the top of the list, but I never really understood why people will breezily sip a mai tai out of a tiki mug one minute, but then lose their sh!t whenever Gwen Stefani wears a bindi…

    • The Polynesian Anti-Defamation League is not a very powerful lobby.

    • It is weird isn’t it? Many people who go here would probably walk into a Steers (weirdly Native American themed restaurant chain in southern Africa) and cringe. But honestly it never occurred to me until you said it! Maybe we are just so removed from Pacific cultures that we don’t have the same reaction that an Australian might?

    • If we’re going down that road, maybe all of you with no Italian heritage had better think twice before patronizing an Italian restaurant that has appropriated Italian-American culture. And so on, and so forth.

      • Meh. I think Italian culture is reasonably embedded enough into the American cultural fabric at this point that the power dynamics just aren’t the same.

    • I once dined at a Mexican restaurant in New Delhi and was serenaded by an Indian dude singing Garth Brooks in a perfect southern (US) accent. I’m not really trying to make a point about cultural appropriation. It was just one of those odd and wonderful travel experiences.

    • You obviously don’t understand what Pop Polynesnian is about and what this kind of “tiki” revival stems from. Check out Sven Kirsten’s recently published Tiki Pop or his Book of Tiki (if you can find one). I think you’ll find it enlightening. Tiki culture is about escapism, not racism.

      • A lot of people, particularly in these parts, have a very difficult time resisting a knee-jerk PC reaction to anything that isn’t culturally benign.

      • Are you really citing a book that traces the roots of tiki, in part, to the exoticism of Paul Gauguin? A man who preyed on underage Tahitian girls and deliberately distorted Polynesian culture for personal financial gain? Thanks for proving my point.

  • Seems like El Rey with a different theme, a little pricier, minus the retractable roof. If they drop prices a little they will make a killing. They have just enough time to get their name out there before spring hits. This place will be a tacky destination to balance out the dark overdesigned places that keep opening.

  • I Dont Get It

    Looks fun! I might actually go to this one and you don’t need a street car to get there!

  • Four of us went in and between us sampled 10 of the Tiki drinks, three of the Bites and one Sandwich. Everything was spot on delicious and different. My favourites of the drinks were the Drowsy Gator, the Eternal Flamingo and the Mai Tai — the last a Scotch based drink with smoky peat and pineapple which I would never have thought of combining, but was amazingly good. The Demerara rum in the Drowsy Gator also gave the drink a nice deep tone. If you have a truly adventurous palates, the Oil Can Boyd is a must try. For those familiar with the Mexican herb epazote or used to using fish sauce, you’ll recognize that push-pull element that is so intriguing. You’re not sure until the second sip if you love it or hate it, but I was won over quickly.

    The ham & cheese sliders were delicious w/ a tiny bit of glaze to the ham and those yummy rolls – my favourite “Bite.” The deviled Chinese Tea eggs were also very good, but be warned the filling is a bit runny, so tip up between bites. The shrimp toast was also good (nice and briney), but the jerk chicken sandwich was really, really good. Very fresh, very tender chicken — beautifully marinated and perfectly cooked — so full of chicken it was a bit messy, but who cares when it tastes so good. All the dishes we tried really went well with the drinks.

    The atmosphere is uplifting and the server was a welcoming and and attentive (without being intrusive). I’m hoping to make this a weekly indulgence.

  • Archipelago: for those of you who always wanted a restaurant that lumped *all* the islander people together.

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