In Bora Bora, it's 85 degrees, with a light northwest breeze. In Seattle, the low on this day is 29, with a predicted high of a balmy 38. At the bar at the Luau, near Green Lake, everyone's talking about black ice. It's mid-afternoon, and the treachery is still out there. "It's the angle of the sun," someone says; parts of city streets are being held captive in freezing-cold shadow all day long.
Inside, however, some early Bob Marley is playing, and there's the sweet sound of the blender, and then you've got a piña colada. It's served in a ceramic coconut shell, and it's got a little paper umbrella with an orange and a cherry impaled on it. Because it's happy hour—and the Luau's weekend Hula Happy Hour is the world's longest, from noon to 6:00 p.m. (3:00 to 6:00 p.m. weekdays)—it costs $5. You'd prefer a mai tai, all tropical-bright in a tall glass shaped like a fat stick of bamboo? It's also $5, and it also has a paper umbrella. It's made with Myers's dark rum, guava, pineapple, and more, including "the Kaha secret." Kaha means "over there," among other things, in Hawaiian; the bartender won't say what the secret is. Not secret: The guava and pineapple juice come from a can. These aren't craft cocktails, but the taste puts you poolside.
The Luau's pulled pork sandwich is all right—while the meat could use more seasoning, the portion's unstingy and the Macrina roll is fresh. The island-style creamy macaroni salad is better than most, with a slight spicy heat and a ton of paprika on top. There's a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch, too, with a Spam option available. What's extra-super-delicious at the Luau: the house-made potato chips, not too greasy, some slightly thicker than others. You could eat a mountain of them.
The thermostat at the Luau is set to 75. Over in one corner, under the fronds of a woven palapa roof, a few stools wait in the afternoon sun that's slanting valiantly through the window. Don't look outside—where the bereft, barren patio sends chilling signals to your brain—just drink through your straw. The carved tiki gods are watching you. The Luau's carpet is leopard-print, the bar has a bamboo railing around it, and paintings on black velvet show Polynesian lovelies coyly hiding their bare bosoms. Part of one wall is a shrine to Luau-style fun: Memorabilia includes a recent Jimmy Buffett ticket stub and a Qwest Field Fan Code of Conduct Violation ticket issued for smoking at a November 8 game. Above one booth is an Elvis reliquary, with Elvis photos and an Elvis snow globe bedecked in plastic leis. Through a doorway, the marlin on the wall of the Bora Bora Room shines.
Luau, 2253 N 56th St, 633-5828