While other restaurants in Kauai capitalize on ocean views, Keoki’s Paradise compensates for its shopping village location by making the grounds look like a tropical oasis, starting with the entrance’s tiki torches, rock waterfall, and benches for relaxing while you wait for your table.
I’d suggest making reservations as this is a popular spot in Poipu, which is on the South Shore of the island where a lot of Kauai’s resorts can be found. (Meanwhile, the North Shore, with “The Descendants” tiki bar Tahiti Nui and the impressive shop Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art, is about an hour and change drive.)
On the right is the Bamboo Bar, which offers a separate, somewhat limited menu but with additional cheaper offerings like sandwiches and fish and chips. There’s also live music and happy hour every day from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. with $5 appetizers, $6 tropical cocktails, and $4 draft beers including options from Kona Brewing Company and Hawai’i Nui Brewing.
The restaurant has a lovely open-air setting with multiple levels of seating under soaring pavilion ceilings. The best seats in the house are the four-person booths under the thatched huts on the middle level or on the lower lanai where you can look out on the gardens and lagoon.
Another option if you’d like to save a few bucks — and don’t mind early bird hours — is the Chef’s Sunset Menu (three courses for $20.95) served in the dining room everyday from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
There are several “Island Traditions” tropical drinks designed to be made quickly for the masses. Their version of the Mai Tai ($8.50) consisted of orange, guava, passionfruit, gold rum, and a dark rum float — slight bonus points for serving it in a happy/sad tiki face glass. (If you want to go all out there’s the Poipu Pina presented in a “locally grown” pineapple.)
White dinner rolls and pineapple carrot cinnamon muffins are delivered to the table. And since entrées are served with salad (Caesar, spinach with bacon dressing or Kauai greens with lilikoi vinaigrette) we didn’t find much need to order any appetizers.
If you opt for seafood, you have a few choices of fish (mahi mahi, ono, ahi and opah) prepared in one of four styles: “Keoki’s Style” baked in a garlic, lemon and sweet basil glaze; herb grilled with mango cilantro salsa; Parmesan and herb crusted, sauteed with panko and served with lemon caper beurre blanc (above); and “Firecracker” baked in a spicy Southwestern glaze with black bean avocado relish. Our server had recommended the latter two for our opah ($29.95) and we weren’t disappointed with either.
The carnivores in our group ordered the Koloa ribs with plum barbecue sauce ($24.95) and the teriyaki top sirloin marinated in shoyu and ginger, served with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes ($24.95).
Keoki’s Paradise is part of the TS Restaurants group, which also owns Kimo’s and Leilani’s on Maui, and Duke’s in California and Hawaii, so you’ll find their signature Hula Pie on the menu. I decided to drink my dessert instead by getting the Frozen Mai Tai ($8.50). Made with passionfruit, vanilla ice cream, gold rum and a dark rum float, it was good though it strays even further from what Trader Vic intended. Why even call it a Mai Tai at this point?
Is Keoki’s a tiki bar? No, not really. (There’s bamboo and thatch but no tikis aside from the glassware.) Is it a tourist trap? Yeah, but sometimes that’s part of the fun of going on vacation.
Poipu Shopping Village
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Koloa, HI 96756