Friday, February 7, 2014

Jimmy Hula's

Can I postulate an axiom? It would tentatively go something like this: "The potential enthusiasm of a Tiki Bar increases with distance from the ocean."

I love all my Florida Tiki Bars, of course, but it has to be said that compared to the classic ones of the good old days, they're rather weak - either on ambience or customer service or the menu itself, or all the above. The not-very-Tiki-ish (but delicious!) Tiki Joe's in Sarasota comes to mind, as does that insufferably crappy place in Jax Beach I'm too nice a guy to name. But I'll take what I can get in this day and age.

Having said that, I also keep discovering great new places that are nowhere near the surf and yet, somehow, counter-intuitively, they kick ass over their coastal counterparts.

Why? Apparently because the owners are painfully aware of the uphill battle in trying to create a beachy vibe in the absence of a beach, they try way too hard and in so doing often acheive something truly epic. Jimmy Hula's in Orlando is one such place. They're not quite on the pure "exotica" tip but rather try to personify the "Cool Key West Hangout" feeling - and in an over-the-top way that you might expect from someone who's never actually been there but only heard about it thirdhand. Regardless of the source of their inspiration, the place works, it totally works, and it joins Chewy Boba Company among my Top Five Reasons Why I No Longer Hope Orlando Falls Into a Giant Sinkhole Forever.

I had a pitcher of Sweetwater 420 IPA and a specialty burger called the "Burnt Reynolds" - it's a burger topped with bacon, egg, and potato chips. If my life ever turns into the movie Groundhog Day, please let it be my day at Jimmy Hula's that I keep reliving over and over.

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