Look for the thatched palm, A-frame roof along Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale and you’ll know you’ve found this little piece of the Pacific. Mai-Kai is a kitsch temple to all things Polynesian, and the restaurant opened in Fort Lauderdale back in 1956. Each of the different dining rooms here is dedicated to a different Polynesian island, and there’s a central lagoon where you can pose for photos and pretend you’re in paradise. All of the dancers in the nightly fire shows hail from various Polynesian islands and sport elaborate and authentic costumes decorated with shells and flowers (there’s an extra fee for the shows). The Chinese restaurant does decent food, but what you’ll really want here is one of the oversized rum cocktails, served up with a presentation that’s as tropical as it gets.
By Terry Ward, AFAR Local Expert
While the Mai-Kai restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale is an experience all in itself, with a dance show, interior décor like no other, and a gift shop sporting Polynesian paraphernalia—not to mention that the drink menu is pretty delish. I opted for the (virgin) Maui Sunrise, and was transported to a peach, banana, and passionfruit paradise. I have yet to cross Maui off my destination list, but if this drink even comes close to the joy that a Maui sunrise can bring—I'll be there in a heartbeat.
By Riley Wilson
3599 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308, USA
Sun 4pm - 12am
Tue - Fri 5pm - 12am
Sat 4:30pm - 12am