Happy 60th birthday to the Mai-Kai Polynesian restaurant of Fort Lauderdale, Florida!
We've been a bit under the weather and off the road for the past few months, but we could not let the day go by without wishing a very happy 60th birthday to a true eccentric roadside attraction wonder, the Mai-Kai Polynesian restaurant of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They'll be celebrating with book-signings by authors of Mai-Kai and tiki culture books Sven Kirsten and Tim Glazner, an extended happy hour featuring three "lost cocktails" revived from the Mai-Kai's original 1956 menu, a new tiki statue in their outside garden, and a new Polynesian dinner show. Here's what we had to say when we visited back in 2014:
Even though we've traveled thousands of miles across the USA, we've
never made it to Hawaii. And if we never do, we think we've found a
worthy surrogate -- the Mai-Kai Polynesian Restaurant of
Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dating back to 1956, it's been Dole-ing out
(as in the pineapple) powerfully intoxicating exotic drinks from ceramic
coconuts, tiki heads and rum barrels to go along with the (mostly)
Chinese food and thick steaks on the menu and the South Pacific native
dancers' floor show. Originally located in an empty field along a
then-two lane stretch of Route 1, it's lush acreage is now surrounded by
the hustle and trafficy bustle of outer Fort Lauderdale sprawl, and its
old-timey oasis-like feel is quite refreshing. Easter Island-like
sculptures mingle among the flaming torches, lush palms and waterfalls
of the Mai-Kai's grounds with a thatched tiki roof on their A-frame and
retro neon sign thrown in for good measure, hearkening back to the
glorious post-World War II era when America was gaga for all things
South Seas. They've expanded many times over the years but the fun,
1960s retro vibe (when tiki was at its "peak-i") has not been lost. You
can dine outdoors, or go for a Zombie, Mai-Tai or Sidewinder's Fang
served by pretty bikini-topped, sarong-bottomed waitresses at the
Molokai Lounge. But for the full Mai-Kai experience, you must take in
the Polynesian Islander Revue, the longest running Polynesian dance show
in the continental U.S. Pretty girls shaking their hips in grass
skirts? Got 'em. Beefy guys in warrior paint walking on fire? Got 'em. A
rockin' hula band with Hawaiian drums and ukuleles? Got 'em! And all
for only $12 a head more than your meal. For devoted fans of tiki, this
place is mecca. For everyone else, we say "Be there. Aloha."
And as an unrelated side-note, we haven't posted anything on this blog in over three months but we had over 27,000 page views last month. That's more than we ever got when we were posting regularly. Go figure!
This blog is devoted to old fashioned American roadside attractions... the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see travelling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!