By J. Maury Harris
location > 4622 Park Boulevard, San Diego TUCKED INTO UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS like a hidden beach, Lei Lounge is rarely seen as a prime perch for San Diego socialites. Regulars prefer the seclusion. The scene is marked by a pink, backlit entryway that attracts nighttime foot traffic to the door——like tourists to the shore.
phone > 619-813-2272
web site > leilounge.com
VIBE: Centered in a diverse locale, Lei woos a mixture of middle-and upper-class visitors with its island charm. Breezing into this retreat, loungers experience a North Shore décor stitched with Fifth Avenue fashion sensibilities and welcoming attitudes. The trickling waterfall backing a lengthy bar glistens down a distressed-bronze wall, furthering the free-flowing atmosphere. Ambient house music fills the air.
DÉCOR: Modern styling and eggshell tones help kick the kitsch feel of most themed lounges. Flowers, tiki masks and bamboo shoots become artistic touches. At the rear, an enclave of grass-roofed cabañas and fire-pit tables draw guests to a pristine patio. Above the courtyard, dreamlike panoramas of oceanic and tropical scenery are illuminated on an expansive 90-foot screen, while fiber optics swash the canvas cabañas with rainbow hues.
EATS & DRINKS: Mixing tropical cocktails that compete with great vacation versions is difficult, but the mixologists at Lei shake up a solution. There are 25 eclectic creations——like a lemon-grass Collins and vanilla berry mojito——that hint of turquoise waves and white sand. With more than 40 tapas, Lei’s dishes often fuse multiple cultures into items such as the Philly cheese steak spring rolls and lobster pad Thai.
MISCELLANEOUS: Come on a Tuesday night, when the sunny-day drinks are half-price until 2 a.m. Though Lei is a relatively hidden treasure, catching a cabaña here is as hard as catching the perfect wave. A tip from the staff: Reserve a cabaña at least three days in advance for a weekend visit.