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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

The Grass Skirt, San Diego (Pacific Beach), CA (restaurant)

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Name:The Grass Skirt
Street:910 Grand Ave
City:San Diego (Pacific Beach)

Asian Fusion Restaurant / Tiki Bar & Pupu's located in Pacific Beach in San Diego. Enter through Good Time Poke through a freezer door. Reservations available on their website http://www.TheGrassSkirt.com. Operated by the SDCM group.

Pictures from the soft opening. The actual open date is today, November 7, 2016.

kkocka posted on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 2:59 PM

Fireplace looks more like the Eyes of Mara than tiki

it struck me sitting in the grass skirt a few weekends ago, that this was the closest i've ever felt to having a 21st century version of what it must have been like for those people going to a don's or a trader vic's in the 30s or 40s. i mean, back when people would have looked at chili queso dip and crab rangoon as incredibly exotic. The Grass Skirt is one of those rarest of places that could thrive as either a restaurant or a bar, it's offerings are that good on both fronts, but manages to combine them both in a setting that captures traditional tiki flare with the benefit of modern technology and design.

first, for lunch we stopped in at Good Time Poke for a bit of the raw. most of the store front is dedicated to food prep and there is just a counter and small cooler next to the door. you could get a sense that there was a sleeping giant nearby. a happy inside joke. the staff was very friendly. the poke was delicious and fresh, and they showed us dinner menus to encourage us to return. we didn't need much convincing.

with a reservation, we got right in. unlike the entrance to False Idol, which really is a functional walk-in cooler, the passage from Good Time Poke into The Grass Skirt is just a facade. but the effect is not lessened because once you enter you are transported into a tropical paradise of perfectly balanced historical and natural kitsch (bamboo, netting and hula girl lamps) with updated features like a huge gas lamp and neon. the dining room is cleverly designed to be partly open, preserving the near-beachfront atmosphere, while also being fully contained to maintain the escapist allure.

the drinks are top notch for what they are. i always distinguish between bars attempting to offer faithful recreations of classic drinks from establishments taking liberties with the exotic cocktail canon and exploring new territory. this one is clearly in the latter camp.

the first drink i had, The Misty Mountain Top, was tasty if a bit muted. i am always intrigued by drinks that have passion fruit but don't taste like fruit bombs, as a demerara dry float is apt to do. The Tipsy Tentacle, featuring three quarters of a banana, is the standout presentation, and a competent pina colada-style slush. but it is the Grass Skirt Daiquiri that is the must-have imbibe of any visit here, just don't expect any of the traditional flavors. nay, this daiquiri is made from plantation's stiggins pineapple rum and hamilton's navy strength, which impart such a pleasurably smooth complexity to this otherwise simplest of drinks that i had to have another just to make sure i wasn't imagining it.

another curious menu item is the oaxacan dead, a pun on several levels. first, it is a tribute to don's zombie, the cocktail that launched a thousand tiki bars, hence the "walking dead" allusion. but in addition to rum, this drink is made with oaxacan mezcal so the reference actually means something -- though, ultimately, what it means is that the smokiness of the mezcal overpowers all else, even to the point that the absinthe is virtually undetectable. not at all a classic tiki drink, but a wild ride for brave palates nonetheless.

as these new-fangled variations on the exotic cocktail theme play for your attention, you're soon initiated into the qualities that put The Grass Skirt among the finest establishments what give call to the name "tiki." at the bottom of every hour, the lights dim, a faint rumble grows into a great din, and the flames rise as the lights behind the bar blink in patterned succession. then they serve the food.

if you already eat a lot of japanese food and baos, you probably won't find the food here incredibly exotic, but certainly well crafted. for most diners, though, i suspect albacore tataki, okonomiyaki fries and ginger salmon cones are offerings that would transport. the dishes we started with were the Fiji Poke and the Kimchi Fried Rice. not being quite the poke expert, i am told that the seaweed in the poke dish is a rare delicacy seldom seen and certainly much regarded on this visit. the portions weren't huge, but easily shareable. if the simple presentation was in any way lacking, the overall execution of the food itself more than compensated.

and then a curious thing happened. having fortified ourselves with delectable nutriment, we were then able to get more drinks and more food -- which we did! i wish i could tell you more about the porkbelly rice bowl i ordered, but other than the fact that it disappeared very quickly all i can say is that it left only a lingering grin of my sated appetite.

i have seen the promised land and it is The Grass Skirt.

Orange County Westways Magazine, January/February 2018


I’m looking for to check this and False Idol out in a few weeks!

[ Edited by: davidphantomatic 2018-01-06 18:10 ]

I like it
Modern twist
No smoke :)

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