The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash

Main entry to Three Dots and a Dash

Back of the bar

The bar

My rum tasting plus The Black Tot

A “modern style” tiki cocktail

An experiment concocted just for me


***** (5 stars)

I’ve been to many tiki bars over the years, including originals back in the ’70s and many new ones created during the current Tiki revival. But I’ve never been to one as spectacularly wonderful as the Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash.

If you’ve been to Three Dots and A Dash, you know it has some of the greatest Tiki decor anywhere, and some very good cocktails. My problem with it has always been the cacophonic noise level, the result of its great popularity and high seating capacity. So even though I only live two blocks away, I only visit at off hours (which there aren’t many of!)

The Bamboo Room solves all of that. It has nice decor, and the perfect Tiki bar ambiance, with appropriate surf music and other interesting selections and an intimate volume level conducive to conversation and learning.

And learning is really what it’s all about. I can’t urge you strongly enough to opt for the $50 guided tasting at the bar. You will experience cocktails assembled at a level seen almost nowhere, and you will be guided through a sampling of different styles of rum.

Your visit will be tailored to your tastes, interests, and level of experience. Mine began with a complimentary daiquiri, then a spectacular zombie, a rum tasting, and then several other wonderful cocktails that I’m glad my camera remembers! I was also able to taste (at extra charge) a small sample of the famous “Black Tot”. If you’re a true Tiki aficionado, you know how special that is.

At the Three Dots and a Dash main room there is a somewhat limited selection of cocktails, and by necessity, they can’t all be prepared from scratch. Here every component is lovingly assembled. My bartender described himself as part bartender, part florist! I really appreciated the way the component rum bottles were displayed with each cocktail, so I could understand where the flavors were coming from. And there are plenty of non-rum experiments as well.

The food is the same as in the main room, and is not a highlight. If you want a Tiki bar with interesting food, check out Lost Lake. But here it is all about the art of the perfect Tiki cocktail.

You will definitely get your money’s worth in the Bamboo Room, and if you can keep your head about you, it will come away with a new understanding of the whole tiki experience.

The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a
435 N Clark St
Chicago, IL
(312) 610-4220

Lost Lake

cabbage slaw with chicken

drink menu 3

sipping rums

A photo at Lost Lake

A photo at Lost Lake


drink menu 2

drink menu 1

back room lighting

interior booths


***** (5 stars)

The three most important characteristics of tiki bars, in no particular order, are drinks, food, and ambiance.

Lost Lake scores particularly high in the drinks category, with some of the most complex, subtle, varied and interesting cocktails I’ve encountered. Also, be sure to request the rum list. Although it has not been kept up to date, there are hundreds of interesting rums to choose from. About half are available, and there are many more that haven’t been added to the list. If you’re a true tiki fan, then rare rums are a particular delight.

Most tiki bars offer the same pseudo-Polynesian fare, so it was interesting to see the menu at Lost Lake, which avoids all of that, and has some truly nice offerings. I hear from regulars that the food has improved over the years, and we certainly liked everything we tried. The Orange Sesame Cabbage was a particularly good slaw, and didn’t even need the chicken we added. Pork dumplings and chicken wings were also both good. Our favorite was the green chili dip, which had just the right spice level. It was served with crispy wontons, radishes, and sweet potato slices. It was so good we had two orders.

The weakest aspect of Lost Lake is the decor, which is okay, but not at the spectacular level of Three Dots and a Dash or the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale. The bar area theming is little more than banana leaf wallpaper, but the farther you go back the more interesting it gets. The back room has rock walls and puffer fish light fixtures.

For tiki mug collectors note that they offer unbranded tiki mugs; only the glassware carries the Lost Lake branding.

Service was friendly and attentive. If you’re a tiki drink fan, Lost Lake is definitely a place that should be on your list to visit.

3154 W Diversey
Chicago, IL
(773) 293-6048