3599 North Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308
By Mike Miller October 10, 2023
Mai Kai is a historic restaurant that is as much a tourist attraction as it is a fine dining and entertainment establishment.
It has been one of the most popular places in Fort Lauderdale since it opened in 1956. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The theme of this restaurant/night club is Polynesian and you instantly feel like you are in a tropical place on some South Sea island when you step inside.
The restaurant was inspired by the original "Don the Beachcomber" in Hollywood, California, the first "tiki bar" when it opened in the 1930s.
This fine restaurant has an extensive menu with many selections including duck, beef, chicken, pork, seafood and even vegetarian selections.
All food is prepared with Asian spices using Asian cooking techniques.
Their drinks - especially their rum specialties - are huge and it doesn't take more than one to get you in the mood for the fantastic Polynesian stage show you will enjoy after dinner.
Dancers show their stuff to fantastic drum beats with lots of fiery torches and other exciting touches. The beauty of the dancers along with their grace and skill is breathtaking. There is a cover charge for the show, but children 12 and under can see it for free.
Reservations are needed for the main dining room and the Polynesian stage show, but you can visit the Molokai Bar for a drink without needing a reservation. It has live music and good bar food including the famous PuPu platter.
Many of the Mai-Kai staff have worked there for years. Some of the staff of more than 150 employees have been at the restaurant for more than 40 years.
This is a family owned establishment and the staff seems like part of the family. They also make you feel very welcome.
Service is top notch. The dress code is elegant casual. Dress up a little bit, no tee shirts and baggy shorts.
No coat and tie is required, but dress like you are attending a private country club by wearing a shirt with a collar and some nice shorts or casual slacks.
If you come by car, there is only a valet parking lot. Go ahead and enjoy the luxury. The entire place is fun to visit.
The grounds are loaded with tropical plants, Polynesian statues, beautiful water pools and wooden bridges gently lit by torches.
It feels like a fantasy land.