Bali Hai Restaurant – San Diego, CA

The Goof on top of Bali Hai Restaurant

After our quick stop at Trader Mort’s Liquor, we went to have dinner at Bali Hai on Shelter Island. The restaurant is more than fifty years old and seems to indirectly owe its origins to Clark Gable, a definite plus in my book. (That disembodied head on top of the roof is known as “The Goof.”)


We still had some extra time, so we took a little stroll around the garden and grounds. I didn’t find the hidden tiki mentioned in their gallery, but we did find these dudes guarding the dock.


Mr. Baseball poses in front of the sign. I think one of my favorite things about him has got to be his maturity…


As you enter you’ll see Mr. Bali Hai, the very distinctive headhunter-esque mascot of the restaurant. He’s a face you won’t soon forget!


Inside were lots of fun things to look at, as well as a gift shop that was closed during our visit.


Our dinner coincided with a high school prom and SDSU’s graduation, so the dining room was filled with families and kids in unfashionable formalwear. There also seemed to be a family reunion going on on the lower level of the restaurant.


Good for Bali Hai for still packing ’em in during a recession!


I have to admit that when I first saw Mr. Bali Hai, I thought he was pretty ugly. Of course, as I grew in tiki knowledge I began to appreciate his history. The tart Mr. Bali Hai drink ($15.50 and ya keep the mug) was made with light rum, pineapple juice, blackberry, sour mix and Lemon Hart 151.


I ordered the “Chicken of the Gods” ($17)—breaded chicken in orange cream sauce, which was just ok, but I was already full from eating our starters of clam chowder and salad. I actually liked both of those more than the mains. Our server had said that the house dressing was pretty tasty, and he was right.


Mr. Baseball had the beef and pea pods ($17) that were “combined to create a mouth watering delicacy on thin noodles.” At work, I pretty much read menus all day, every day, and most places don’t really use that kind of hyperbolic language anymore, so I found it amusing. Especially since the dish was kind of bland…


Bali Hai is certainly worth a visit. The view is quite lovely and now I’ll know next time to just go for the spiciest-sounding thing on the menu.

Bali Hai Restaurant
2230 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106

Note: Bali Hai underwent extensive renovations and re-opened in April 2010. Stay tuned for a revisit to check out their new look and menu!

Bali Hai on Urbanspoon


Trader Mort’s Liquor Store – San Diego, CA


A couple weeks after Vegas, Mr. Baseball and I went down to San Diego for Memorial Day weekend, kicking off part two of the summer Baseball/Tiki Road Trip.

After a truly epic traffic jam, we finally checked in to the hotel and then headed in the direction of Shelter Island, which was blessedly not too far from the Gaslamp District. We were on our way to our dinner destination, Bali Hai, but we had a little extra time so we stopped to check out Trader Mort’s Liquor Store.


Mr. Baseball stayed in the car and listened to the baseball game while I went to explore and take pics. You can’t really see in any of my photos, but surrounding the store were tiki torches that lit up at night.


While I do dig the tiki design here, I also love the idea of giving personality to otherwise generic/utilitarian places (like a liquor store).


The guy working here was super nice about me sneaking around the store, and even suggested I check out the upstairs. There wasn’t too much up there, but you could look down through the A-frame opening at the boat model in the previous shot.


I liked the toucan and all the bamboo, and also this intense tiki outside. He’s iconic enough that Munktiki produced a mug with his likeness that catches a pretty penny on eBay.


Trader Mort’s Liquor
2904 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106

Shag “Vice Tester” – Frankie’s Tiki Room


When we were at Frankie’s Tiki Room, I was tickled to discover the “Vice Tester” with illustrations by Shag. (You might have noticed that I really dig Shag.)

And the machine revealed to me that my secret vice is…I have no vice! Ha!


Mr. Baseball on the other hand…


Well, to protect the not-so-innocent I won’t reveal his results. So, what would be your secret vice? I suggest you go to Frankie’s and find out—it will only cost you a quarter. That’s gotta be one of the best deals in Vegas! 🙂