10 Best places on Kaua`i for the most fun and affordable happy hours
By Jade Eckardt
There may not be a better ending to wonderful day in Kaua`i than happy hour with affordable prices and great tropical drinks. Each side of the island is home to a good selection of bars and restaurants with awesome happy hour deals, that ranges in ambiance from the local dive bar to elegant eateries with exotic drinks. On Kaua`i you can play all day enjoying attractions and hitting the beaches, and when your winding down from the sun and scenery, drop into Kaua`i's best happy hours.
A classic Hawaiian staple in the restaurant world, Duke's Barefoot Bar in Lihue offers one of the best happy hours on the island. Of course, Duke's puts a unique spin on there's be renaming it "Aloha Hour." Here you can catch the sunset over Kalapaki Bay and take a walk on the beach after. Move on to dinner if you like or socialize at the bar.
For a local take on a dive bar, Tahiti Nui in Hanalei has a tropical low key ambiance where happy hour draws in visitors along with a dedicated local crowd. Hang around just for happy hour or wait for live music to begin later on. You'll get a good look at the local culture and enjoy exotic cocktails.
Look no further than this list for the best happy hour places in Kaua`i, and end your day with a mai tai or local brew.
10 La Bamba
Just the scent of La Bamba's authentic Mexican cuisine will have your taste buds dancing in anticipation of the good things to come. Substantial portions of all the hearty standards ensure that no one goes hungry, and you'll be hard-pressed to finish off a plate of chiles rellenos or aromatic fajitas in one sitting. It's even more trying given that all entrees come with sides of beans and rice. Still, no one complains since the abundance of food only makes the affordable prices that much nicer. (808-245-5972)
9 CJ's Steak & Seafood
Well-known for serving fantastic large amounts of food at an affordable price, Chuck's is a North Shore institution, thanks to its savory selection of Black Angus beef. Prime rib and top sirloin, carefully trimmed and perfectly cooked, are favorites, although broiled chicken, roasted rack of lamb, and rich, barbecued pork ribs are also succulent. Fresh seafood is superb as well and ranges from sweet lobster tail to sauteed shrimp, crab legs, and the fresh catch of the day. Rolls, rice, and the salad bar are included with meals, which are nevertheless delicious. This is a great end to a wonderful day on the North Shore so drop by on your way back east. (808-826-6211)
8 Bar Acuda Tapas & Wine
Hip, gleaming Bar Acuda is a chef-run business that has taken the island by storm. Intent on creating stylish atmosphere and scrumptious food, the North Shore place is a great destination for dinner and drinks with friends or with a romantic interest. Diligently searching out top ingredients, chef Jim Moffat crafts them into dishes like lobster-stuffed squid, roast chicken panzanella, and slow-braised beef short ribs. A carefully chosen wine list highlights vintages from western Europe and the western US, and a fantastic social scene is part and parcel of the goings-on. Note that the bar is closed on Mondays. This is by far one of the best spots for a groups of friends to hand out at night. (808-826-7081)
7 Nawiliwili Tavern
This relaxed neighborhood hangout is open late and offers plenty of late-night fun. Dancing, pool, darts, video games, TVs, and a rousing night or two of karaoke can all be found. Of course, sitting back with a cold one or a cocktail and taking it all in is permitted too. Friendly and laid-back, regulars make you feel right at home. Centrally located near the beach in Lihu`e, the tavern is located near many hotels, providing and easily accessible place to unwind. Kauai's gay community has made the first Saturday of each month their own with plenty of karaoke and drink specials. (808-245-1781)
6 Bouchon's Hanalei
Spacious and relaxed, this hip spot boasts an industrial feel, thanks to aged brick, exposed ductwork, and copper accents. It also features expansive windows, which fill the place with light and island views. Sushi and sashimi capitalize on fresh seafood, and entrees include pastas, fish, steaks, ribs, and chicken. In addition, live bands play several nights a week, everything from blues to reggae, rock to island-flavored tunes. Shows begin around 8:30pm or 9pm, although you're welcome to come and hang out at the bar with friends or have a bite to eat before the action gets going. A great North Shore gathering spot. (808-826-9701)
5 Rob's Good Times Grill
Having trouble deciding what to do with your night? Rob's is always a good choice, and you'll find plenty to occupy your time. Naturally, the bar can set you up with your favorite poison, and the bartenders will probably introduce you to a few island drinks you haven't experienced before. There's also food to munch, TVs to watch, karaoke to partake of, live performers to enjoy, and dancing to be done. This is the type of local bar where everyone knows each other, and it's a casual place. Reasonable prices and sociable patrons add to the fun as well. Open late to satisfy the night owls. (808-246-0311)
4 Keoki's Paradise
Illuminated by tiki torches and surrounded by trickling streams and tropical vegetation, this lively, open-air establishment proves irresistible to patrons. The welcoming ambience complements the menu, which boasts a wealth of fresh fish and steaks. Plus, Keoki's bar is a fantastic hangout for those who want to drink, socialize, and munch on appetizers and light fare. On weekends (usually Thursday to Sunday evenings), you'll catch live bands playing terrific Hawaiian tunes and folks dancing to the catchy rhythms. Fun and beautiful, the atmosphere is made up of a waterfall, stream, fish and turtles, and other man made yet natural wonders. (808-742-7534)
3 Hanalei Gourmet
Although this casual restaurant serves food all day, it's also known for its nightlife scene. The venue holds court in a former schoolhouse, and it almost seems like sacrilege to enjoy loud music in the space. Still, patrons kick back at the bar and rock to live music, which is played several nights a week. The repertoire varies, so you may encounter jazz, island folk, or even rock when you come. Enjoy what's available, and if the munchies hit, take advantage of burgers, appetizers, fresh fish, and other light fare. Call ahead to find out what type of music to expect. (808-826-2524)
2 Tahiti Nui
This colorful, relaxed place provides a healthy dose of local style and an authentic taste of traditional Kauai. The comfortable hangout welcomes folks craving homestyle sustenance, as well as those who come to enjoy a tropical drink and great entertainment. Every night, there's some sort of activity, be it karaoke performances, bands playing local tunes, or impromptu dancing. Fun-loving patrons and a casual ambiance guarantee its appeal in the eyes of North Shore natives and visitors alike. This is one of those tried and true local spots where residents have been flocking to forever. It's definitely a local watering hole. (808-826-6277)
1 Duke's Barefoot Bar
The bar, like the restaurant at Duke's Canoe Club, takes advantage of the place's beachside locale and open-air ambiance. It's a great place to hang out with friends on its own or either before or after dinner upstairs. On weekends, local performers entertain guests with terrific Hawaiian music, and the place comes alive with folks grooving, dancing, and chatting. If you're enamored of the tropical experience but don't do alcohol, they also offer a menu of virgin drinks, full of island fruits and goodness. You can take a romantic walk on the beach after dancing to cool off and get some privacy. (808-246-9599)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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