Founded in 1936, Trader Vic's restaurants have been serving up tiki-style drinks for decades—they even claim to have invented the mai tai in 1944. Inside the Trader Vic's at LA Live, lush decorations whisk guests to an island retreat—carved tikis, stools trimmed in bamboo, and plush booths upholstered in green fan out beneath hanging canoes and other Polynesian-influenced decor. As eyes drink it all in, chefs immerse taste buds in a menu that fuses Hawaiian, Chinese, and other exotic flavors. They stir-fry char siu pork, sear Hawaiian tuna in a pink-peppercorn-sesame crust, and braise mu shu pulled duck with hoisin sauce.
Live music on Friday and Saturday nights adds to the festive atmosphere, as does a list of more than 90 tiki cocktails. Like the best fourth-grade tea parties, the restaurant also has a dress code—no shorts, T-shirts, or flip-flops in the dining room.