If you are looking for an authentic Kauaian experience, look no further than dining at the Tahiti Nui Restaurant in Hanalei. I use the word dining VERY loosely, however. The building is old with no air conditioning, the food is just okay and the service is inconsistent. Why, then, am I writing a blog about it? Because it has a lot to offer despite these things. After all, George Clooney made an appearance there in the movie, The Descendants!
Looking through the Yelp reviews, I found comments ranging from 2 stars to 5 stars and that didn’t surprise me. I have been to Tahiti Nui many times and each time is a different experience depending on who I’m with (some get right with the spirit, others not so much), how crowded it is, what music is being played ….. you get the idea. Here is one review from someone who obviously found the casual island activity and food enjoyable.
“I really don’t know why this restaurant didn’t receive better ratings, but my five friends and I had a great experience. It was a typical rainy day so we wandered in soaking wet to delicious drinks and food. The mai tais were strong and delicious and they had a yummy variety of craft beers that we tried. We ordered the poke chips, which was fresh and came with crunchy wonton chips. The salads were huge, with locally grown greens and really good homemade dressings. I got the Hawaiian pizza with Kona pork and jalapeños, which was fantastic! The best thing anyone ordered was the coconut macadamia crusted mahi with cilantro sauce. The service was superb and our waitress went above and beyond for us and had very good recommendations. The ambiance was super laid back and they had live music, which was a great surprise!” Christine 3-14-18
I love this video I found on YouTube – clearly a novice – but he wanted to document why he and his wife consider Tahiti Nui to be their favorite restaurant. It also gives you a glimpse of the interior of this cozy gathering place for tourists and locals alike.
So, I haven’t scared you off yet? Let us get down to business then. Tahiti Nui opened in May 1963 and for years was run by the Kauai legend, “Auntie” Louise. Now her son, Christian Marston, owns the restaurant and he continues the tradition of authentic island drinks, a talk-story atmosphere and local music.
Sitting inside or out on the lanai, one can order from a menu ranging from fresh catch of the day to Tiki Man pizza, which includes choices like Da Spicy Hawaiian and Huli Huli Chicken. The drink menu is extensive. Don’t miss their “world famous” mai tais. Live music is nightly from 6:30-9;00 and Hawaiian Slack Key guitar starts early on Fridays at 4:30 pm.
Tahiti Nui also has a wine bar called Iti’s which shares a wall with the restaurant. iTi is open every night of the week except Sundays. There are over 50 wines on the menu from all over the world and new wines appear every week. ITi’s tapas’ menu is available until 11:30 pm. It includes homemade pasta, local Kauai beef and produce as well as fresh island fish. Doors open at 6:00 pm.
For years Auntie Louise held a luau every Wednesday and Saturday night. The Family Luau is back on, every Wednesday night. Check in is at 5:00 pm, Mai Tais on the house until 6:00 pm. Cost is $80 per person for adults, $67 for seniors, kids $37 and teens $47. The luau offers an open buffet & dinner show!
Book online at http://www.thenui.com/kauai-luau
This video was created six years ago, but I am assuming the luau is much the same today.
Tahiti Nui is located in the heart of Hanalei Town, minutes from Honu Point. Parking is limited but there is a fairly large parking lot across the street.
5-5134 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
Phone: (808) 826-6277
So, if you go with the right attitude and have lots of time to mingle with the other people there, you are sure to have a good time. Don’t let the naysayers keep you from a local, island experience.
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