We had a great Thanksgiving lunch at Makai Island Kitchen & Groggery in Santa Cruz. We’d been meaning to check this place out now that indoor dining is available, so this was a perfect opportunity for a little road trip over the hill.
There is a lot that’s great about Makai. The interior is very nicely appointed with a combination of Hawaiian, marine, and tiki elements. The back bar and seating area sit on a rotating platform, which circulates every 30 minutes. So all diners sitting at tables get an ocean view. Staff was friendly and service was great.
We enjoyed the food, including burgers for the kids and a poke bowl for Mrs. Mai Tai. My Mahi was not traditional for Thanksgiving but I loved it, and the Spam Misubi was excellent.
The non-alcoholic drinks Mrs Mai Tai tried were quite good, and priced accordingly ($5). She especially liked the Hibiscus Lei.
Unfortunately, the two cocktails I had weren’t as good. The 1944 Mai Tai was not balanced – far far too lime forward (you know I lean sweet but this was not a personal preference – it truly had too much). The limp mint would have been better off being omitted. Better was the Mr. Makai served flaming in the gorgeous skeleton surfer mug that I took home. Still too lime forward, but at least I got a little bit of the rum and the dragonfruit-ginger syrup. They do have a modest but high quality collection of rums on site for cocktails or for sipping.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit. The location at the end of the Santa Cruz pier is picturesque. We always like dining indoors even if windows are a feature, but Makai does have outdoor seating. There’s also a nice private dining room called the Captain’s Table that has more nautical elements and porthole screens. We’ll be back.