Chicken in a Barrel BBQ at Coconut Marketplace

Chicken in a Barrel - A Casual Atmosphere Serving Mouth-Watering Barbecue
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Chicken in a Barrel is a casual dining establishment that is a Hawaiian go-to when you're hungry for barbecue. Family-friendly, mouth-watering, finger-licking; this place offers some of Kauai's best chicken and pulled pork dishes and they do so at bargain prices. 

- The Local Expert Team

Chicken in a Barrel offers quality BBQ with a wholesome backstory. You’ll find this casual eatery at Coconut Marketplace.

Now a Hawaiian restaurant chain, Chicken in a Barrel used to be just that — chicken cooked in a barrel. The concept came from Mike Pierce who is and was at the time of the restaurant’s founding, a pastor of the local Calvary Chapel North Shore. Over a decade ago, he and his team started, as part of his regular community outreach, to cook and feed Kauai’s homeless and less fortunate. The crowds got sizable and so Pierce adopted the cooking and smoking techniques of local miners. That is to say, they re-purposed metal drums to smoke and BBQ rows of chicken out of. The results were delicious and soon a restaurant concept was formed. 

Today, there are five Chicken in a Barrel locations scattered throughout the Hawaiian islands and a sixth in Lake Tahoe. But this review is for the one located in southwest Kauai in the small fishing village of Waimea.

Chicken in a Barrel is more affordable than other sit-down dining establishments in the area, and it has the big benefit of having the only dining room in this town with an ocean view. There’s even a covered patio where diners can enjoy the cool ocean breezes and warm Hawaiian sun. This Waimea location also boasts a bar that serves up cold beer, wine, and handmade cocktails. Behind the restaurant, a long verdant lawn slopes down to the beach, making for a perfect place for rambunctious kids to run around as the food cooks. 

This menu here is simple, full of hearty classics like barbecue chicken and ribs. Chicken in a Barrel is well known for its big proportions, long list of side items, and offering a much more kid-friendly environment than other places in Kauai. 

A few popular dishes we recommend from Chicken in a Barrel include:

BBQ Chicken 
The classic. The signature dish. The must-have if you love barbecue and/or chicken. The barrel-smoking method they use leaves this chicken moist and juicy on the outside with a delicious crispy outer layer slathered in barbecue. 

Pulled Pork 
You can get the pulled pork on its own, as a sandwich, or with the Sampler platter. Any of these choices are great choices. Chicken in a Barrel’s pulled pork is a perennial favorite thanks to its flavorful seasoning.

Hoagie & Fries
Hoagie sandwich full of shredded pork or chicken topped with provolone or pepper jack cheese with onions! Choose to add beef for a small fee, and choose your own side!

Of course, to really appreciate the food at Chicken in a Barrel, you do need to know what to order. While yes, they do serve classic grill options like cheeseburgers and tacos, these are not staples. Remember, this business started as a chicken barbecue and smoking operation, and barbecue and smoked dishes remain their most highly rated menu items. 

Insider Tips:
-Remember, this is primarily a barbecue place. While the menu does list tacos and burgers, these items aren’t going to “wow” you. Go to Chicken in a Barrel when you’re hankering for smoked meats and not when you’re in the mood for a salad. 
-Chicken in a Barrel has a great happy hour menu that’s available every day between 3 and 5:30 pm. For example, you can get two smoked ribs and a side of fries for just $6! We doubt you’d find any better deal on the island (or even in most mainland establishments). Plus, there are drink discounts, with diners able to grab a fresh pint of Bikini Blonde Lager for just $3 or an island favorite Mai Tai for $6. 
-Keep in mind Chicken in a Barrel boasts a very casual atmosphere. When you walk in, go ahead and grab a menu and order at the counter. Then, choose your seating as you wait for the chefs to announce your food is ready.