It’s ironic, given our sub-tropical climate, that we see little Pacific Rim food on the Gold Coast. Tupe-Aloha Bar and Grill goes some way towards remedying that.
Hawaii meets the Caribbean in this live music venue. Step in off our famous Kirra Beach and you’d be mistaken for thinking that you’d stepped into a tiki bar on a tropical island resort. Quirky and eccentric, it’s a tongue-in-cheek take on the ‘island way’. The décor’s an eclectic mess of kitsch paraphernalia drawn from 70s collectibles through to Pacific Islands souvenirs, from garlands of plastic flowers to painted surfboards.
Is this the home of a cruise ship doyen, a timeless beach house of an arty surfer, or has Cavill Avenue’s famous Shell Bar come back from the 70s to haunt us?
All and none of the above. It’s more of a tribute to all things tiki.
Owned by siblings Tipalowe and Rory Oberman and Roy’s partner Cassia Burgett, the bar is a tribute to their family heritage and passion, a makeshift museum of vintage treasures collected by Tip’s dad Rodney. Some of both parents’ paintings adorn the bamboo mat clad walls, their naïvity drawing inspiration from Paul Gauguin. Add to that pineapples and a good dose of humour, and Tip has given the place her own spin.
We’re sitting under the life buoy aboard the good ship Tupe-Aloha. In my imagination the hula dancers sway. It’s a perfect place to unwind with a spiced rum cocktail served in a coconut, with beers and a Coconut and lime margarita, the glass rimmed with salt and adorned with a cocktail umbrella, as we journey through the menu.
Full of dishes made to share, the influences on Tupe-Aloha’s menu are drawn from a latitude circling the globe from Mexico to Tahiti.
We begin with a Hokie Pokie, a ceviche-like dish made from fresh raw tuna cured in lime, soy, wasabi mayo and pickled ginger ($18). It’s an awesome starter, followed by an assortment of Tacos (fish, shredded beef and pulled pork, at $5 each), a Quesadilla filled with black beans, corn and capsicum served with a jalapeno-laced guacamole ($12), Shredded beef nachos ($17), Luscious BBQ corn dripping with butter and spices ($8), and Curly fries ($8), each dish sporting its own umbrella.
It’s a lounging menu which complements drinks very well: beers for a summer afternoon, a Kraken spiced rum served in a coconut shell as a chill creeps into the late afternoon air. Visit Tupe-Aloha between 3pm – 6pm daily and you’ll be in time for Taco Happy Hour! What better place to nibble on a taco while overlooking the iconic Kirra surf break.
Eccentric, individual and unusual…they’re all adjectives which come to mind when we think of Tupe-Aloha. Items in the collection key into snippets of memory from my youth: the coloured glasses we drank from at Nan’s, drinking from a coconut shell on a Pacific Island holiday, a tribal mask brought back from Dad’s business trip to PNG…
In philosophy, this place is light years away from a slick city café, but that’s part of its charm. The Oberman family do not follow the well-worn road; instead they dare to make their own path. In doing so, the venue’s ultimately trendy!
Fun, fresh and uncomplicated, Tupe-Aloha’s colour and kitsch brings us back to things we hold dear to our hearts – sunny days, beach holidays and happy memories of family.
Shop 1/ 1 Douglas Street (Corner of Musgrave Street), Kirra; Open: Mon – Fri 3pm – 11pm; Sat – Sun 12noon – late;
Ph: 07 5536 4870
NOTE: This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.