Go Eat! Seattle's own tropical oasis

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By Julien Perry

SEATTLE -- If you can't make it to Hawaii this summer, head to Seattle's own tropical oasis - Luau Polynesian Lounge.

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"It's a neighborhood hangout," says Thomas Price who opened Luau with his wife, Jessica, 10 years ago. "We're just trying to make the place that we like to go to.

"When we started, we were definitely at the forefront of the reinvention of the genre, because people thought we were crazy."

Thomas describes the menu as "island soul food."

"I call our food 'Wild Ginger-meets-Jones Barbeque'."

Which looks a lot like...

"Rum-braised beef short-ribs. I like the spicy Ahi Poke. We do a wonderful wilted spinach salad with macadamia nut-crusted goat cheese and fresh grapefruit segments."

Did I mention Luau boasts the longest Happy Hour in the city?

"Everything that's on the Happy Hour menu is price promoted between 12 p.m. to 6 p.m, seven days a week. I think it's the longest Happy Hour in the city - some might dispute me."

As for the decor, it's a nice balance of kitchy and classy.

"I've got, you know, empty magnums of Chateau Latour 1990 up on the same shelf (as) a kooky polynesian album from the 60s."

And there's a reason for those bottles of wine -- Thomas moonlights as the sommelier at The Metropolitan Grill.

"So, I'm on the floor there in a tuxedo selling wine, and setting stuff on fire three or four nights a week."

So, it's probably not surprising that Luau has a pretty great wine list.

"With our 30 selections, I don't know too many places where you can get a 1990 Vouvray with your pulled pork sandwich. I just try to keep it fresh."

The couple actually sold Luau in 2004, only to buy it back a year later.

"We got tired of it for awhile, and that's why we sold it. But being away for a little while really made us realize how much we missed it."

Thomas says he and his wife learned their lesson.

"I think we've definitely done a good job at rebuilding the trust between our guests and us and finding new guests, too."

Places Thomas likes to Go Eat!: Kisaku, The Met, Jones Barbeque, Wild Giner, Seastar, La Carta de Oaxaca.

For more information:  http://luaupolynesianlounge.com/

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