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Palmetto Cocktail Bar and Steakhouse Brews Tropical Rainstorm in Uptown Oakland

The new spot from the Kon-Tiki team nears opening, promising rum cocktails and ribeye steaks, pastel pinks and neon lights

The volcano bowl at Kon-Tiki
The volcano bowl at Kon-Tiki
Patricia Chang

Palmetto, a new tropical cocktail bar and steakhouse, just announced plans to open next month in Uptown Oakland. It’s from the guys behind the Kon-Tiki, a dimly lit cocktail den known for volcano bowls and fried chicken sandwiches (we’re talking Kewpie mayo). Owners Christ Aivaliotis and Matt Reagan are East Bay locals, and they jumped at the chance to also take over the old Flora space, in the art deco Oakland Floral Depot building near the historic Fox Theater. Like a tropical storm brewing on the horizon, Palmetto will descend in mid March, with promises of ribeye steaks and rum drinks, as well as pastel colors, neon lights, and lush plants.

The menu is by chef Manny Bonilla, who’s coming over from the Kon-Tiki and, before that, Hawker Fare. The vibe is classic steakhouse steaks and chops, but rubbed down with more spices and brightened with fresh fruit. The full menu is still TBD, but highlights include beef carpaccio with fermented chili aioli, and chilled prawns with tomatillo cocktail sauce. A mojo pork chop comes with gigante beans and oranges, and ribeye steak with cumin and chimichurri. Most exciting for old-school steakhouse fans, every Wednesday, the restaurant will roll out a prime rib roast with all the fixings. Co-owner Christ Aivaliotis crafted the cocktail menu, which likewise will blend classics like martinis and Manhattans along with rum punches and other tropical drinks.

Wylie Price Design totally reimagined the 2,700-square-foot space, going from Flora’s polished deco details to pastel colors, neon lights, and lush plants. They’re currently moving in a pink marble bar, light blue booths, gold-flecked Formica tables, and green diner chairs. The name of the restaurant will be lit up by a big neon sign, and a live palm tree will sway in the center of the room. Just next door, there’s another bar tucked on the side: Where Flora had its little sister bar Fauna, Palmetto will now include the Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto. Decked out like a ship, the bar will be filled with barrels, boxes, ropes, and lanterns. It won’t be the full menu, but shipmates can sustain themselves with zombies and mai tais and a shorter menu of snacks, like jerk-spiced almonds and tuna crudo.

Palmetto plans to serve dinner and drinks six nights a week, Monday through Saturday, while the Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto will keep it to cocktails and snacks. Stay tuned for more rum and ribeye updates.

Palmetto under construction Palmetto
Palmetto under construction Palmetto
Nautical detail at Palmetto Palmetto
Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto under construction Palmetto


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