In part one I said that Max’s South Seas Hideaway is America’s grandest tiki bar – that’s currently open. With the Mai Kai being closed, Max’s is the winner hands down. And if the Mai Tai was still open, it’d be easy to favorably compare Max’s overall considering the much higher quality cocktails and somewhat lower prices.
Max’s is a very large establishment. There are two levels with unique decor in each area. On the lower level there’s even a second bar with it’s own lovely decor (this bar wasn’t operating on our visit, but otherwise the place seemed around 2/3 full). I really liked the upstairs decor, including an aquarium and the bar shaped like a boat. Downstairs has a fountain feature that’s not currently operating but there is a large wall of tiki mugs and other artifacts galore. Eye candy everywhere you can see.
The crew at Max’s was super friendly, from the hostess to the waiter to the food runners to the bussers. The service at the table was super fast and friendly, dishes were cleared quickly, and our waiter Tyler treated us very well when we asked about merch options and such.
The patrons all seemed to be having a great time and hey we even saw “tiki people” at the tiki bar. Such a contrast from our visit at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago.
I can’t recommend visiting Max’s more enthusiastically. Totally worth driving 3000 miles for. We hope to return again!
Few tiki bars do both decor and food/drinks excellently, but Max’s South Seas Hideaway is one such example. We loved our dinner, including some Crab Rangoon that were full of cream and crab. So very tasty. I saw sushi on the menu and had some wonderful California Rolls. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai had the Spicy Salmon Roll that was on special during our visit. We finished with a wonderful Matcha tea cheesecake and chocolate coconut Gelato. Everything was heavenly.
Cocktails were similarly excellent. Mrs. Mai Tai had the blue Juan Ho Royale with Tequila, Marooned with the Movie Star cocktail that featured ginger beer and fresh ginger (Ginger… get it?), and the banana-forward Astrochimp. Julie loved these, and made a new friend with the monkey that came with the Astrochimp. My sampling of these resulted in a similarly impressive conclusion.
Meanwhile, I found the Pearl Diver to be quite excellent, with a rich taste that I savored. I had the standard issue Mai Tai and found it to be fair, but nothing special. As is often my plan of attack I ordered a second Mai Tai with Appleton 12 and extra Orgeat, and this one was better but still not amazing. Bummer.
Overall, the food and drink offerings at Max’s were outstanding. Prices are commensurate with the quality offered.
Everything they say is true. Max’s South Seas Hideaway is by far the grandest tiki bar currently in operation in North America.
Saturday night in Grand Rapids was a perfect time for a visit. We arrived right on time for our reservation and were seated immediately in a cozy booth. The artwork here is incredible. There were 24 pieces just in our one booth! There is a series of large Shag prints in the staircase and hallway leading to the restrooms. And a wall of tikis carved by Gecko. Simply breathtaking.
I also want to highlight the music, which was a mix of classic exotica paired with upbeat songs such a “Pineapple Princess” but still were thematic and period appropriate. Best music mix in any tiki bar I’ve been to. But please drop The Monkees song.
As I understand it the downstairs design was led by Bamboo Ben and upstairs by Notch. Each is unique but both are amazing.