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don the beachcomber huntington beach

By Colleen Fliedner

Huntington Beach--The moment you step through the door of the recently opened Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Huntington Beach, you feel as if you have been swept thousands of miles across the sea to the Hawaiian Islands. From the fern laden grottos, bamboo railings and furnishings, to the thatched roofs covering private dining areas, colorful flowers, and cascading waterfalls, the restaurant provides an authentic Hawaiian experience, likely unmatched anywhere this side of Waikiki Beach.

A trio of Hawaiian musicians performed Island songs on a small stage in the main dining room, while dancers swayed to familiar Hawaiian tunes. Although there is live Hawaiian music most nights, you need to call ahead to find out when they have scheduled one of their big Polynesian dancing extravaganzas. I booked reservations at Don the Beachcomber (DTB) on a night when they were having the full-blown show and buffet, and although the tickets were $39.95 each ($12.95 for kids 12 and under), it was well worth it. There were quite a few children in the audience, and many of the little ones stood beside their tables and jumped and wiggled to the rhythms of the Tahitian drums and New Zealand’s Mauri Haka dancers. It was the performance with the flaming knife that made everyone gasp nervously…if only a little.

Of course, outstanding ambiance and entertainment don’t matter much if the food isn’t good. Because DTB served a buffet dinner that night (a sort of indoor luau), I had a chance to sample a variety of dishes. I’m happy to report that everything was excellent. Besides the usual luau faire, like shredded Kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, and a variety of seafood, there were dishes that weren’t particularly Hawaiian, like an excellent shrimp ceviche salad, homemade cream puffs, chocolate mousse and shrimp cocktails. The Spam sushi, an Island favorite, was actually surprisingly good. Of course, when they’re not serving one of their elaborate buffets, there’s a nice menu with a wide range of prices and selections.

Personally, I love those sweet cocktails topped with fruit chunks and tiny umbrellas. But if you prefer wine or hard liquor drinks, DTB has a nice selection and a downright awesome bar that looks like it was plucked out of “Bloody Mary’s” from the musical South Pacific.

Don the Beachcomber’s occupies the unique structure on Pacific Coast Highway that could double for Disneyland’s Tiki Room, which had been home to Sam’s Seafood for years. After a costly renovation, the new Hawaiian-themed restaurant, an offspring of the fabulous Don the Beachcomber on the Island of Oahu, is certainly worthy of its famous parent restaurant’s name and reputation.

Don the Beachcomber Restaurant
16278 South Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Dress: casual (Hawaiian shirts are very appropriate, though not necessary)
Reservations: Always a good idea, especially for the buffet and show.




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