“Would you like it clean or dirty?”

That’s the tongue-in-cheek question that patrons of Cabana Shores Tiki Bar & Grill frequently get asked by the restaurant’s bubbly staff.

“This means that anything grilled or sautéed can be ordered as ‘clean’ with an extra-light olive-oil base, or ‘dirty’ with a butter base,” explains Josh Taylor, co-owner of the Palm Shores restaurant.

Take, for example, one of the restaurant’s most popular menu items, the Cabana Steak, which is made with fresh grilled sirloin. Prepared clean, the steak is topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, green and red bell peppers and is sautéed in extra light olive oil and topped with mozzarella. Meanwhile, its dirty counterpart is topped with two strips of bacon, onions, green and red bell peppers and is sautéed in butter and smothered in queso cheese.

In addition to steaks, the restaurant’s diverse menu includes pastas, seafood and burgers. “Rumor has it, our half-pound grilled burgers are the best burgers people have ever had,” says Taylor.

A section of Cabana Shores’ menu is dedicated to Mexican fare, and offers tacos, nachos, quesadillas and fajitas with homemade guacamole. Each of these dishes can be enhanced with various meats including chicken, beef, steak, tuna, shrimp or mahi.

“I believe the secret to a good (meat-based) meal is always to sear the meat no matter what temperature, then sauté it to perfection,” explains Taylor. “This will bring out all the flavors the meat has to offer… that, along with the right mix of seasoning and freshness.”

Taylor calls Cabana Shores the result of a “consolidation all of our pennies and stones,” referring to the efforts that he and his partner and long-time friend, Ed Mason, made to get the restaurant off the ground. Prior to its April 2010 opening, Mason owned the river view U.S. 1 property on which Cabana Shores now sits and wanted to develop it into something special. Taylor, who holds a civil engineering degree from Florida Tech, was a builder of tiki huts and gazebos.

That said, it’s no surprise that Cabana Shores is designed virtually as an oversized tiki hut, complete with tables secured in sand for a laid-back, unpretentious setting. “Our tiki hut is all outdoors and fabricated ultimately from all biodegradable and eco-friendly materials including natural red cedar to fight bugs,” explains Taylor.

With its Key West-meets-“Cheers” atmosphere, join the solid crowd of regular patrons who stop in multiple times a week for cold drinks, nightly specials and live music at Cabana Shores.

Cabana Shores Tiki Bar & Grill
Address: 5240 N. Highway U.S. 1, Palm Shores (just south of the Pineda Causeway)
Phone: (321) 254-2004
Website: www.cabanashorestikibar.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
Features: Daily lunch specials; nightly specials; live music; 10 percent discounts for active military, police, fire and emergency workers; private parties available