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


3 responses

  1. Hi tiki chick, wanted to let you know that we have undergone a complete remodel and will reopen mid April. After reading your review as the chef I would live to hear what you think of the new Bali Hai experience. Thanks for enjoying our atomsphere and would love to have another faithful foodie follower. Hope to hear from you soon. Chef Christopher Powell, Bali Hai Restaurant, Aloha

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