Kauai has a lot of fantastic food trucks and small restaurants for the fast and delicious lunch and even dinner entrées. But when you want a more complete meal, a sit-down, and really enjoy the Hawaiian dining experience, then you want a seat at Duke’s Canoe Club and Barefoot Bar.
There are a couple of Duke restaurants in Hawaii, but this review is for the one located in Lihue on the island of Kauai. Duke’s Kauai features Duke’s Canoe Club and Barefoot Bar is a bi-level dining establishment located just off of Rice St. and between the Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club and Kalapaki Beach. This restaurant has two levels of outdoor seating that directly overlook that beach and offer diners stunning views of all things you’d expect to see in a tropical paradise: Golden beach sand, interspersed palm trees, deep blue oceans merging with a bright blue sky, and lush green mountains draping in the far background.
The owners of Duke’s Canoe Club named it in honor of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. A native Hawaiian, Duke is largely hailed as the father of modern-day surfing, a true champion that earned six Olympic swimming and water polo medals. He is renowned for traveling the world as a Hawaiian ambassador, introducing others to surfing and the Hawaiian lifestyle. When visiting Duke’s Canoe Club, you can learn more about Duke and the history of surfing thanks to the restaurant’s inclusion of memorabilia, including photos, news clippings, and surfboards, across some of the building’s walls. There’s even a statue of Duke in the restaurant’s lower courtyard.
We noted above that this is a bi-level dining establishment. Duke’s Canoe Club separates the floors by dining type. Up top, you’ll find the more formal dining room where the big dinner meals are served. Meanwhile, the downstairs floor is a more casual atmosphere, perfect for lunch dates. The bottom floor is also where the Barefoot Bar, which offers a very attractive happy-hour drink and appetizer menu, is located.
A few must-try menu items include:
– Hula Pie. Hula Pie is Duke Canoe’s signature dessert. This recipe was originally created and coined as, “What the sailors swam ashore for in Old Lahaina Town,” undoubtedly due to the extravagant nature of the desert. This beast of a sweet incorporates macadamia nut ice cream atop a chocolate cookie crust covered with hot and cold chocolate fudge.
– Slow Roasted Prime Rib. A local favorite, this slow rib entrée comes straight from the premier Double R Ranch and truly gets slow-cooked to perfection. However, due to how this meal is prepped and cooked and how popular it is among the locals, it isn’t always available.
– Mahi Mahi Sandwich with Side. A lunch item, Duke’s Canoe Club’s sandwich is crisp and delicious and nicely fits into that category of filling enough to prep you for a day of adventuring but not so filling as to leave you needing a nap.
-This is a very, very popular restaurant on Kauai. Reservations over the phone are strongly required and yet there may be times in which the staff gets so busy that the phone will go unanswered. As such, do not expect to get to-go food on any regular schedule, and do make your reservations during non-peak lunch and dinner hours. An alternative is to use the restaurant’s online OpenTable reservation system.
-Located just minutes from the airport, this is a good restaurant to go to when you want to grab a warm meal before a long flight, or you want a cool drink and a tropical backdrop when you first arrive in Kauai.
-Want to get an idea of the place before you make a big dinner reservation? Go to the Barefoot Bar during happy hour. That’ll give you a taste of the menu at a cheaper price, and you’ll get to enjoy all of those ocean and beach views. Just note that you’re not the only one doing this. The Barefoot Bar tends to be a busy place amongst both locals and visitors.
-Live entertainment often accompanies the late lunch, early dinner hours.