It’s unusually gloomy for a summer Saturday evening in San Diego. Clouds dot the sky and the streets are busy, a quick-paced mix of out-of-towners and locals alike.
The Pearl Hotel is midcentury modern on the outside, yet simple — like a classic motel you might see in old films from the 60s — where the buildings are pastel and muted in color.
But inside, we step foot into a tropical oasis, where festive garland finds itself strewn over the handrails and succulents rest tall up the walls ahead. There’s a box upon entry of vibrantly colored lays and a pool that rests in the center of the space where Hawaiian-print shirted folks sit along its outskirts. Their chairs teeter between conversations and taking a dip of their own into the light teal liquid below.
At the bar, we go with X Marks the Spot — made with rum, green chartreuse, falernum, orgeat, lime, and pineapple. Served in a tiki glass, we find a spot to sit with it and sip.
Beside us, there’s the scent of an entire pig that has been roasting since 8am. And we pile our plates with it — serving the roasted delicacy alongside Hawaiian macaroni and purple potato salad and pineapple fried rice with macadamia nuts.
After dinner, we sit with our friends, a dozen hands reaching out to grab bowls of warm rice pudding. A hula hoop contest narrates the background banter behind us. And when the young girl wins — the crowd, now boisterous from the layer of rum on their tongues — erupts into a fit of cheering.
Above us the sun has now set and the sky, no longer cloud-filled and hazy, glitters with the promise of luau stars.
Because like they say, it's a style that soothes, sizzles, and sustains.