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Could Mai Tai Bar have the best happy hour on O'ahu?

Calamari Appetizer
Calamari Appetizer
Camilla Carboni

Very centrally located on the top floor of the Ala Moana Shopping Centre, the Mai Tai Bar is a hip, local hangout for after work drinks and ‘pupus’ – it’s inexpensive, popular and ‘chilled’ – the perfect Pau Hana (post-work) location.

Although it’s about as local a hangout as it comes, Mai Tai Bar Ala Moana is actually a sister location of two other Mai Tai Bar’s – one in Daytona Beach, Florida and one in Long Beach, California.

The word ‘Mai Tai’ is Tahitian for “good” and the drink it is named after was allegedly created by Victor J. Bergeron at the Trader Vic restaurant in Oakland, California in 1944 and titled when his friend claimed that it was “"Maita'i roa ae!", literally, "very good".

You can toast to his invention during Happy Hour from 4pm to 7pm daily, where the deals are remarkable: $4 martini’s (the Lychee and Pink Lady are particularly good) and $5 Appetizers (that really are quite large portions) – you just can’t go wrong.

For bar food caliber, Mai Tai Bar certainly serves some delectable dishes. The onion rings come in a super-sized stack and are gently crumbed to remain both moist and crispy; the chicken chinois is seasoned, grilled and served with traditional Hawaiian huli huli dipping sauce; the firecracker shrimp is tender and spicy; the popcorn shrimp is juicy and served with tart vinaigrette; and the house special calamari (by far my favorite) is a hot medley of crumbed calamari, jalapenos and peppers. Excellent for $5!

At 7pm you can head out for dinner elsewhere, or for some evening shopping, and then come back for late night cocktails, as the second happy hour (but this time offering drinks only specials) begins at 8pm until 11pm every day of the week! To top it off, there is live local music between 4pm and 7pm and from 9:30pm to 12:30am nightly.

In addition to Happy Hour, all throughout summer 2010, Mai Tai Bar brings Honolulu 'Pau Hana Tacos and Aloha Tuesdays' between 4pm and 8pm each week. During this time they serve up $1 tacos (pork, steak or chicken), $3 Blue Moon glasses and $9 pitchers!

With these incredibly well priced food and drink specials, Mai Tai Bar is consitently voted the best Pau Hana spot on the island and is consequently always busy. It is far easier to make friends with someone who already has a table than to find your own one, and it's much quicker to get service if you head to the bar tender rather than trying to hunt down a server amidst the lively crowd.

Parking is free and ample at the Mall and Mai Tai Bar is open from 11am to 1am Monday's through Saturday's and from 8am to 1am each Sunday. If you can bring an island style attitude, let your hair blow in the lanai (balcony) breeze and relax into the local grooves, you are guaranteed a good time.

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