When you think of Hawaii, you probably think of sipping…
The Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island is a San Diego Tiki institution. The restaurant was named after a song in the musica “South Pacific” and opened in 1955, specizlicing in Polynesian food and Tiki cocktails. The restaurant has been owned and operated by the family of Tom Ham, who opened the restaurant, for more than five decades. In the past few years, the restaurant has been updated to restore it to its original glory, and they currently serve an Asian-inspired menu that is probably a lot more sophisticated than the food that first came out of the kitchen!
We think that the Bali Hai is a must-visit if you’re in San Diego. The location is absolutely fabulous and the views are outstanding. There were a total of three different wedding events (two rehearsal dinners and one reception) being held the last time we were there, if that gives you an idea of how photogenic the location is – and how spacious the restaurant is. Even if there are special events, you can still head upstairs to the main room, which is built around the bar. They’re famous for their Mai Tais, but you can’t go wrong with any of the drinks. We happen to be fans of the Goof Punch which is like an adult cherry limeade.
You’ll be able to pick up two tiki mugs based on the two original tiki figures at the restaurant: Mr. Bali Hai and The Roof Goof. Mr. Bali Hai greets guests walking in, while the Goof grins down somewhat creepily from the top of the roof.
You can go for the drinks and view alone, but they also have a fantastic happy hour where you can get some really good prices on their excellent apps. We enjoyed the Fire Cracker Ribs, which were fall-off-the-bone tender and covered in a spicy-sweet sauce, Vegetable Spring Rolls and Wasabi Fries, which were dangerously addictive.