Frolic amid Mai Tais
Spam and tiki culture at the Bali Hai on San Diego Bay
Why: Because two Bali Hais are better than one. Brush up on your Rodgers and Hammerstein (“Bali Hai may call you / Any night, any day”), then come away to this San Diego tiki icon, the Bali Hai restaurant.
What: Tiki bars have been a Southern California phenomenon for generations, and San Diego — with its sunny days, palm trees, ocean views and strong Navy heritage — is a perfect fit for the kitschy fad, tiny umbrellas and all. Starting in the 1930s, faux-Polynesian themed bars and restaurants sprang up in the cross-border region from Tijuana to San Diego. The tiki scene started to dwindle in the 1960s, and despite a resurgence of sorts, most of the old cheeky palaces have faded away.
But not Bali Hai. At age 63, it’s still proudly shaking its hula skirt, aided by a waterfront location, fun ambiance and, yes, seriously powerful mai tais.