OK, so the high tide of Trader Vic’s was probably back in the first half-dozen years after the end of WWII. And sure, it’s not exactly high on anybody’s list of places to get Thai red curry. And yes, it’s just a franchise operation that wants to sell you “branded limited-edition (sic) mugs.” But there really was a “Trader Vic”, a one-legged gadabout who imagineered what was once San Francisco’s coolest restaurant–and put it in Oakland. And that paragon of bad taste and absence of self-awareness, Donald Trump, once called Trader Vic’s “tacky“. So if you love Tiki-bar culture like I do, then every once in a while you should pay proper homage to Vic Bergeron, the man who started it all, and drop in to the Trader’s for a couple of mai-tais and a bowl of his fantastic Bongo Bongo soup. (Be careful in LA, though–this delicious concoction isn’t on the menu at Vic’s lounge in the Beverly Hilton. Got to trek downtown for that.)
It’s a sign of something–I don’t know what–that there are almost as many Trader Vic’s outposts in the United Arab Emirates (5) as in the entire U.S. (7). Whatever it is, it speaks well of the emirs, who clearly have better taste than Trump, however low a bar that may be.