Recently I found myself a little sad to say goodbye to the comfortable, inviting spot that was Villa Cafe & Imbibery. Owners Robyn Murphy and Jason Alexander served up solid drinks and tasty tapas at a place set off the beaten path by downtown standards. But they weren't calling it quits at all. Instead, they decided to dramatically up their game with Tacoma Cabana & Rum Bar (map).
The new restaurant, bar, and tiki lounge is on Pacific Ave. between 8th and 9th -- right in the middle of one of the most popular downtown blocks for nightlife. But, to be sure, they won't be of freshman standing among upperclassmen. At a preview the other night they plan (and do) bring their A-game to this area of Tacoma.
We sampled food and drink with a couple dozen other familiar Tacoma faces for a few hours to get an impression of what Robyn and Jason plan to offer -- and it's all good! The Cabana meat ball skewers tasted like comfort food slathered in naughty with that pineapple sake teriyaki sauce. Curry coconut chicken skewers offered a bit lighter a bite but still tingled my tongue with the lime and Thei peanut sauce they had going on. Even the Ali'i sunset salad was a total delight with its balance of sweet and spicy (jalapeno ranch dressing? yes please!) and I'm always a fan of sunflower seeds! The rest of the menu looks like a total blast too especially remembering the tastes from Villa Robyn and Jason cooked up but always wanting more.
Now, the drinks. Oh my -- mai tai, really! Jason will be slinging the rum-heavy menu there with probably some of the, shall I say, best value per dollar drinks in town. I tried the Fiji Blackout to start mostly because I wanted in on the "limey grog" therein. Second, I went for the Zombie which Jason has wanted try on me for a while now secretly hoping the mixture would knock me flat. He calculate that, in my two drinks, he served me 7 ounces of liquor and 1 ounce of 150 proof. Though I was not fit to drive my walk home was still manageable. Everything tasted great though! Both drinks were absolutely refreshing and, though thoroughly spiked, didn't burn of alcohol. For around $9-12 a pop they're well worth it.
Tacoma Cabana's decor alone is a sight to be seen. Tropical and surf-related chairs, tables, plants, thatching, cups, and knick-knacks are everywhere and the lighting is colorful and fun. They even have a giant stuff marlin on the wall caught by Jason's mom! The layout is inviting, lively, but overall comfortable and should be great for anyone looking for a good time and/or to kick back a bit.
Opening day is next week on the 25th so check it out and enjoy!