Mai Kai Restaurant – Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Mai-Kai Restaurant / 3599 N. Federal Highway / Fort Lauderdale. FL / 954-563-3272
Since 1956, Mai-Kai restaurant has transported guests to a one-of-a-kind South Seas Polynesian paradise.
Everything about Mai-Kai makes my heart beat faster. When I step inside Mai-Kai, with its low ceilings, dim lighting and distinct nautical smell I become giddy. I appreciate every little detail. The way the host is dressed. The creaking sound of the wood floors. The glow of the red lights.
This is the REAL DEAL tiki aficionados.
As a fan of Polynesian kitsch and tiki culture, I could NEVER get enough of fish float lamps, hula dancers, fire twirlers, grass skirts, tiki mugs, exotic cocktails and Asian cuisine.
Oh yes, sit me at a dimly lit bar, fisherman’s net dangling above my head, the sounds of a retro surf band playing in the corner, and hand carved tiki statues and wooden mermaids surrounding me and I am I am a happy woman.
After all, I STILL gets excited over repeat episodes of The Brady Bunch when the boys find themselves lost in Tiki Cave and I can still watch Elvis’s Blue Hawaii over and over (and over) again.
Need I say more?
Mai-Kai features 8 Polynesian style dining rooms, the Molokai Bar, a gift shop, tropical gardens and, of course, the spectacular Polynesian revue.
Each room reflects a different region of Polynesia and overlooks a waterfall or lagoon. You can stroll by giant tiki sculptures standing guard over the gardens.
The Molokai Bar is a South Seas saloon with over 51 signature cocktails.
I have been lucky enough to experience Mai-Kai several times over the past several years and each time I check out the revue, which owner & show choreographer Mireille Thornton updates each year (Mireille began as one of the original dancers in the Islanders Revue back in 1961, making her part of the longest running Polynesian dance show in the continental United States).
The show creates new interpretations of village life in the South Pacific at the turn of the century and always spotlights Polynesia’s rich heritage. One of the highlights of the show is when the Mai-Kai dancers invite audience members to hop on stage and join them!
Children under 12 years old enjoy the show at no charge and there is a children’s menu available. Each child receives a lei and Polynesian activity book.
Also, during the summer months (staring in June), the Mai-Kai features a Kids Show every Sunday evening.
You can experience this exciting show nightly (except Mondays when they are closed). Click HERE for Mai Kai’s current schedule.
Reservations are recommended.
There is just SO MUCH to love about Mai-Kai.
Allow me a moment for a reflective sigh……
Between the venue itself (which is like the Disney World for Polynesian enthusiasts), to the impressive collection of genuine Polynesian artifacts (some are more than 100 years old), to stepping into the dimly-lit Molokai Bar, which is like stepping into a 200 year-old sailing vessel, where bartenders and waitresses wear colorful sarongs.
The ship even has sheets of water constantly cascading down the outside of the windows to simulate a heavy rainstorm.
Pretty cool, right?
As Pia Dahiquist, Mai-Kai’s Director of Sales and Marketing states, “Mai Kai offers an escape from everyday life and stress. It’s like escaping to Polynesia without leaving home.”
The evening my wife and I dined at Mai-Kai we ate off there special dinner and show package menu, which included an appetizer, entree, dessert and show (we chose the 7 PM seating – vs – 10 PM seating – shows are approximately 50 minutes).
For the appetizer we chose the pupu platter which came with a combination of Shanghai chicken, egg roll, crab rangoon and Tahitian Cheese Tangs.
For my main entree I chose the Hawaiian chicken (panko crusted breast of chicken topped with a tangy, tropical fruit sweet & sour sauce) served with fried rice and pineapple.
My wife, Jennifer, ordered the Teriyaki combo (tender chunks of beef tenderloin, chicken and shrimp, with white mushrooms, shittake mushrooms and pea pods in a special Teriyaki sauce).
Jennifer also enjoyed a signature Mai Kai which, judging by the huge smile on her face, she enjoyed very much! As a non-drinker, I “wasted away” with my delicious virgin Pina Colada! 😉
The food was very good and served in a timely manor and we were able to enjoy desert (coconut ice cream) while watching the show.
We also took a stroll through the tropical gardens which is brilliantly done. You really do feel as if you have been transported to some tiny Polynesian island.
Take your time exploring the cascading waterfalls, tiki torches, tiki statues and beautiful flowers.
The Mai-Kai gift shop is also worth a visit for that special souvenir to take home.
Gay & Lesbian Factor: Fort Lauderdale is one of the top gay & lesbian travel destinations in the world. Mai Kai is an absolute must experience when visiting the area.
Gay Travel Information was welcomed with open arms and treated wonderfully from beginning to end. This would make the perfect spot for a special celebration or fun night out with a group of friends. I wholeheartedly “OUT” Mai Kai as Lgbt friendly and worthy of our business.
If someone would’ve told me ten years ago that someday I would be writing a review of Mai Kai for a blog that I ran, I would say, “I wish”! Well, here I am – doing just that. I fell in love with Mai Kai the first time I stepped foot inside back in 2003. I raved to all my family and friends about this special place and now I rave to you, our readers.
Do not miss out on this one-of-a-kind American treasure, visit www.maikai.com for more information.
Owner / Editor in Chief