Makai in Santa Cruz

Finally made it over to Santa Cruz’s newest tiki bar and restaurant. Mrs. Mai Tai and I took a drive and ended up in Santa Cruz. Makai is on the wharf and in addition to online orders has two dining modes in person. We chose the take-out window and the very well-spaced picnic tables nearby. Ordering is efficient and the staff member working the window was very nice, but all alcohol is only canned/bottled. So, no Makai cocktails are available.

I had the Spam Musubi and it was truly fantastic. Freshly grilled and topped with sauce, this was the best I’ve ever had. I also enjoyed the Ahi Sliders which were also very good. Julie said her Corn Chowder was very good also. I’ve heard that cocktails are not the strong-suit at this restaurant, but the food most certainly seems to be a strength.

Makai is also currently offering table service for outside seating in their covered parklet out front and also around back in the sun. I was told the full menu is available from this mode, including cocktails. It is a bummer that cocktails aren’t available from the to-go window, but we did lessen our seating time and personal interaction with this mode and so that was the right decision for us right now.

We’re looking forward to returning when infection rates go down.

Makai Island Kitchen and Groggery Open in Santa Cruz

We have a new tiki bar opening, now that Makai is now open in Santa Cruz.

Initial reports are that this is a pretty good tiki bar, considering its touristy/general audience location. We’ve added it to our write-up of Tiki Travels: Central California.

Makai Island Kitchen & Groggery

Located on Santa Cruz’s picturesque wharf, Makai offers a good tiki experience while still appealing to a wide audience. The interior includes work from Bamboo Ben and the bar rotates. Food is family-friendly and reasonably priced, including Pupus, sandwiches,  bowls, and island-inspired entrees. Cocktails aren’t comparable to craft cocktail tiki bars, but are more than worthy considering the general-audience clientele. They serve a large variety of classic tiki drinks, including both a 1944 Mai Tai and an Island Mai Tai, along with a few originals.

Photo courtesy Alexis Antionio /

Original Mai Tai with Hampden Rum