classic

Mai-Kai

Fort Lauderdale, FL
Bar, Restaurant, Store & Floor Show
172
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3599 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Opened in 1956
Open daily at 5pm
dinner til 10:30pm Sun-Thu
til 11:30pm Fri & Sat
All ages in restaurant,
21+ only in bar
(954) 563-3272
Fire dancers,
flaming Kona Coffee Grog,
Mystery Drink,
flambeed desserts

Critiki ratings

Mai-Kai

9.8

Overall

by 308 people

1

10

Detail
Everyone You
Decor 10
Drink Quality 9.5
Drink Selection 9.9
Food Quality 9
Food Selection 9.6
Mood 10
Music 9.9
Service 9.7
Tikiness 10
Tilt 10
Vibe 9.9

Upcoming Visits

Regulars & Visitors

View all 442 Mai-Kai regulars & visitors

Humuhumu’s description

The Mai-Kai is perhaps the last of the grand Polynesian palaces still operating from when tiki was at its peak in the late '50s and early '60s. That the Mai-Kai not only still exists today, but is vibrant and thriving, is something we should all be very grateful for—but not take for granted.
The Mai-Kai was opened in 1956 by two brothers from Chicago, Bob and Jack Thornton, in an age when roadside attractions were springing up all over Florida; eventually Bob took over the business. Like many of these attractions, the Mai-Kai grew over time to be quite a spectacle—it includes eight dining rooms, a bar that on its own would stand as perhaps the best tiki bar in the world, tropical gardens with walking paths and waterfalls, a stage in the center to showcase the Polynesian floor show, and of course, a gift shop.
Today, experiencing the Mai-Kai is much as it was in the '60s. The experience begins as you listen to the wooden slat bridge you drive over to reach the porte cochere and valets. As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by an elegant maitre'd. Be sure to bring some singles when you visit the restroom, as the bathroom has attendants on hand to assist you. The Mai-Kai's manager is Kern Mattei, who took over the position from his father.
When you're drinking at the Mai-Kai, you're drinking tiki history. The bar program here was created by legendary bartender Mariano Licudine, who came from the Don the Beachcomber
history
Don the Beachcomber
Chicago, IL
Bar & Restaurant
10
in Chicago, and brought Don the Beachcomber drinks with him.
Bob and Jack have passed away, and the restaurant is now run by Bob's wife Mirielle. Bob met Mirielle when she joined the Mai-Kai as a Tahitian dancer, and still today she runs the Mai-Kai's Polynesian revue. As new dances are added to the show, Mirielle first visits the island where the dance originates to ensure it will be performed properly and will be blessed by its people. All dining rooms overlook the popular show, and dinner reservations are recommended.
The enchanting nature of the female form is something that is celebrated throughout Polynesian pop, but perhaps nowhere quite so extensively as the Mai-Kai. The beautiful waitresses to this day are attired in bikini tops and wraparound sarongs. For many years, a Mai-Kai calendar was offered featuring the many beautiful women of the Mai-Kai. This worship reaches its zenith with the Mystery Drink, delivered by the Mystery Girl, an experience that must be witnessed to be fully appreciated, so I will not describe it here, but rather urge you to visit the Mai-Kai yourself and order one.
In February 2015, the Mai-Kai was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Comments

robertjpeterson
robertjpeterson has visited Mai-Kai.
July 6, 2018, 11:00 AM
I'd heard of the Mai-Kai before, and it was as good as the hype. The detail was off the charts, the staff was warm and welcoming, the food was delicious, and the drinks were ... well, outtasight. I was in town in business, and I managed to spend four hours there! Can't wait to go back!
Bretwith1t
Bretwith1t has visited Mai-Kai.
May 27, 2018, 9:04 AM
Menu had a wide selection, and the food was decent, but overall a disappointing experience.
The interior needs a lot of TLC to make this feel like a well run establishment. The state of disrepair in the decor and lighting was disheartening. Such a classic restaurant, and it isn't being maintained well.
Then when it came time to ordering, the service was also disappointing. There was only two of us, we both asked for drinks and apps, and only one of our drinks made it to the table. It wasn't until midway through the entree that the other drink came out. We were hesitant about ordering desert, because we wanted to leave before the show started, but it took 20 minutes for the desert to come out, and the server said she had to add the show to our check since we were there when it started.
I might give it another chance, but I would need to hear news of new management before I go again.
May 10, 2018, 7:35 PM
No question this is the Tiki-est place on earth, and you must visit regardless if you ever have the chance. That being said, the food and cocktails are lacking. Happy hour the drinks are half price but I tasted half the alcohol. I was not going there to get smashed but there was little in the way of flavor, much less depth. The show is fantastic, this is one reason alone to come even if you do not eat or drink however, you must buy one entree per person to see the show. The portions were the size of appetizers. Good thing we loaded up on the half price appetizers at the bar first. Again, a must visit, just do not expect much in the way of killer cocktails or astounding food. Its a busy place and it showed in the attitude of the staff. While they were all very nice, polite and patient, you can tell they had one job and it was not being laid back or being relaxed with guests.
View all 35 comments

Articles in Critiki News

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Upcoming Visits
Prikli Pear
visiting on
Sunday, July 22, 2018
for the first time
Making our first visit to the legendary Mai Kai. Will be arriving at 4 p.m. for the 6 p.m. show with the family. Looking forward to it!
Tikiwolverine
visiting on
Saturday, September 8, 2018
for the first time
Regulars & Visitors
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  • Mik-Tai
View all 442 Mai-Kai regulars & visitors