The most expensive restaurant built in 1956, this Oakland Park “grand Polynesian palace” was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. Created by brothers Bob and Jack Thornton, Mai-Kai was inspired by both Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber, even stealing away much of the staff from the latter’s Chicago location. An immediate hit due to South Florida’s growing tourism industry, the family-run spot remains popular today for its surfboard bar and bikini-clad servers. More seriously, it features authentic Polynesian artifacts, gardens with tropical palms over 50 years old, live dance shows and the iconic “Mystery Drink.”
Image: Ed Schipul (Flickr)
What to drink
The Mystery Drink, beloved by Johnny Carson, presented via a gong-backed ceremony courtesy "The Mystery Girl."
The "Hukilau"—one of the world's top tiki celebrations—is held here every June.