Just outside the heart of Downtown is one of the newest additions to Columbus’s nightlife. The Grass Skirt Tiki Room at 105 Grant Avenue is a unique new bar and restaurant promising an experience you won’t find anywhere else and one Columbus hasn’t seen since the days of The Kahiki way back when.
The passion the owners had for creating the Hawaiian environment in this themed bar is clearly evident. From the large tiki statues near the entrance, to the dim lighting illuminated mainly by the skull and bones light fixture and puffer fish lamp, to the woven mat look of the walls, they definitely went above and beyond in trying to create the perfect tiki atmosphere. I personally found it all very beautiful but a bit visually overwhelming, as every inch of the place seems to be saturated with any and everything tiki-themed you could imagine. Over the speakers, 50’s surfer rock music constantly plays, setting the fun, beachy atmosphere. While amusing at first, it quickly becomes repetitive and I would have loved if, instead of playing only surf rock, they would have alternated some “traditional” Hawaiian style tunes into the rotation as well to break up the monotony. While the environment was a little much for me, I would definitely say that anyone looking to really dive into the tropical escape that Grass Skirt is going for will certainly not be disappointed.
A friend and I went the first Saturday of Grass Skirt’s opening week and it seemed word about the new bar had spread fast; the crowd was pretty sizable. The host was very friendly, and helped seat us quickly. Perhaps because of the large crowd though, the waiter took a bit longer than we’d have liked to initially serve us; but once there, he was very friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable about their offerings, helping us make selections from the menu.
Grass Skirt’s menu is chock full of affordably priced eats that of course center on the Hawaiian palate, and all are under $10. Their small plates, described as big enough to “share a few with your group, or keep ‘em all to yourself,” feature such selections as the Thai Pineapple Fried Rice Bowl, Crab Rangoons, Edamame, and Teriyaki Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. Many bars offer sliders as a small munch-worthy companion to drinks. But if the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word “sliders” is a vision of White Castle burgers, lose it; White Castle burgers these are not. Served on King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls, Grass Skirt’s Menehunes are slider-sized sandwiches that come in such intriguing flavors as Shiitake and Red Peppers, Curry Chicken Salad, and even Spam and Swiss. For all their latest menu updates, check out Grass Skirt’s Facebook page.
Being a fan of any fruity and colorful cocktail, I was immediately drawn to Grass Skirt’s drink menu. I ordered the Grass Skirt Mai Tai and must say I was pleasantly surprised at how strong it was. I had a decent buzz by the end of it, and there was definitely more liquor in that drink than I’ve gotten anywhere Downtown for $6.50 in a while. The sprig of mint was also a nice decorative touch. The large volume of opening week customers seemed to catch them off guard, and therefore availability on some menu items was limited. The Coconut Sangria my friend ordered, for example, was all gone by only 10:15pm. The Tiki Tea ($4.50) she ordered instead didn’t seem to have much liquor at all, and the tea flavor was also a little weak. Like the food menu, the cocktail menu is constantly being updated though, so there are always new drinks to try.
At about a month in, it’s still in its early stages of development and though it had a few first week kinks to work out, I definitely think Grass Skirt is worth checking out. I don’t know that it’ll be my new every weekend hangout spot, but for something that’s unique and is a good breather from the typical Downtown bar scene, it’s definitely a good choice. There’s certainly nothing else like it around.
More information can be found online at www.GrassSkirtTiki.com.