We went to La Mariana last week for the first time and, being a tiki freak, I could not wait to settle into my wicker chair and dive into a Mai Tai. Having heard about La Mariana from the Anthony Bourdain cooking / travel program, ""No Reservations"", we were pretty excited about drinking at the lone surviving Tiki restaurant in Honolulu- especially since Mr. Bourdain seemed to be in his cups and really enjoying himself when he was there (our server told us he got quite drunk).
As is often the case when you go somewhere to eat / drink with inflated expectations, however, you are disappointed. We were. La Mariana is not exactly conveniently located- being on Sand Island out near the airport. And since it has a vaunted reputation for serving ""killer"" troipcal cocktails, this means you will need a designated driver. The place had lots of character and genuine tiki ""kitsch"" to amuse, but seems to be in a state of decline.
We learned that the owner of La Mariana had indeed just passed away a month or so ago, and so one wonders what will happen to it. There was an air of neglect and fatigue to La Mariana. More importantly the drinks were O.K. They were strong, so they don't cheat you on the booze- and the prices were reasonable, being slightly cheaper than a Waikiki beach bar. But the canned juice aftertaste was a big disappointment.
The food and the slow service were also a problem.
We had a plate of nachos that was basically Cheese Wiz and oily taco chips with a few olives and diced tomatoes on top and they were pretty awful. Granted anyone can screw up a plate of nachos, and perhaps their other menu selections are better; but I wonder. The service was pleasant, but ""dozey"" even by the ""chill, dude"" Hawaiian standard. Once we had our cocktails and nachos our server basically deserted us. If you are in the area around Happy Hour, however, stop by and see for yourself. Just don't expect all that much.