Kona Tiki Bar (Ormond Beach, FL)

As a somewhat frequent business traveler, sometimes business travel is pretty good: I get to go to some interesting parts of the country (and sometimes world), meet interesting people, and explore some restaurants that are quite different from those around my rural New England home. Usually, a trip is one part work and one part pleasure. Well, my June trip to Daytona Beach to do some testing at Embry-Riddle? It definitely wasn’t one of those business trips that went well. Pretty much everything went at least a little askew. Work booking the wrong hotel. The wrong hotel somehow screwing up the room reservation ending up with my stuff in a box, and my rental car getting towed since they showed me as having checked out. Flights back home getting canceled and having to scramble to find a way home to not miss a vacation I was due to depart on. Pretty much, this was the exact opposite of what a good business trip generally is. But there’s one place this trip really shined, and partially made up for all the headaches, and that was on the culinary front.

The first place that I found was a bit subtle. Located on Granada Boulevard in downtown Ormond Beach, the front of the house is Grind Gastropub, a somewhat upscale pub lightly modeled after the British tradition: a large bar, a good beer selection, some upscale pub food, and a fairly good rotation of live music. But it’s the patio behind Grind that was my actual destination: their back deck is done up as the Kona Tiki Bar, and they’ve got the basic Tiki vibe down pat: a nice outdoor space, with woodwork, bamboo, palm fronds, fans, and a selection of just-garish-enough-to-be-cool Tiki heads, and a reasonably good bar food menu as well.

And, while I’m a bit disappointed that a nominal “Tiki” bar didn’t seem to have all that good grasp of various classic tiki cocktails, for the cocktails they do provide, they didn’t disappoint. My mint and jalapeno mojito was actually a quite pleasant and piquant take on the classic cocktail, and a good way to relax after what had already been more than a slightly stressful day from the hotel kerfuffle. The Rum Runner that followed it was actually quite well composed: a nice, fruity tropical cocktail.

I’m somewhat used to casual Tiki bars not having much in the way of food (and much of that being the typical American-Polynesian pu pu platters and the like), but Kona has a pretty good overall menu. I ended up settling on the Kalua Pork Tacos, and these were actually quite good: the pork itself being some flavorful, well-executed Kalua-style shredded pork, but the surprise here was a nice apple-based pico de gallo. It gave the resulting taco a bit of crunch and sweetness that combined well with the pork and the pepper sauce topping. I’d definitely get this again.

Overall, Kona was quite an enjoyable, casual Tiki bar, and another nice reason to visit Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach’s more laid back sibling to the North. It was a great way to recover from the overall travel drama, and I’d definitely want to come back, and maybe even check out the gastropub as well.

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