Food plays an important role in any of our family vacations; we, the kids included, like to eat well. So when planning our recent trip to Waikiki, I looked for a hotel that not only had a restaurant on-site (a nice feature when you have young kids) but one that had restaurants that appealed to me.
The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach delivered on both fronts. It was actually their restaurants that helped seal the deal when deciding between a few hotels located right on the beach.
The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach has not one but three main restaurants on site: Duke’s Waikiki, Chuck’s Steakhouse, and Hula Grill. We had a chance to try all three, many times.
Duke’s was the first restaurant we tried. Actually the Barefoot Bar was the first but it’s part of Duke’s. We stopped in at the Barefoot Bar for lunch our first day in Waikiki. There was no wait; we just walked in to any free table. The bar is open to Waikiki beach, giving it an airy, open feel with an amazing view.
Fare is casual throughout the day (it’s open from 11 a.m. until midnight), offering burgers and sandwiches as well as snacks (pupus). You can see a copy of the Barfoot Bar menu (pdf). I loved my Mango BBQ Bacon Burger ($11.95). It was made fresh and cooked just to my liking. And the waffle fries were huge. I almost couldn’t finish it all, almost. My husband also enjoyed the Duke’s Cheddar Burger ($10.95), made with real cheese, not American cheese (sorry, I’m a little picky about my cheese).
They also offered a kids (or kiki) menu with a surfing picture they could colour – great to keep the kids occupied. The food was pretty standard, pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers, but the quality was at the same level as the main meals; no frozen nuggets here. The pizza was thin-crust and grilled. Delicious. Kids could choose from waffle fries or fresh fruit (except with the pizza). My 4-year old choose fruit and she was presented with fresh sliced pineapple, mango, melon and strawberries. I also loved that flowers were used to decorate the plates, the same flowers used in leis. It was a nice touch. You can access the Barefoot Bar from inside the hotel as well as from the beach. There were a few people in beach attire enjoying a snack and drink when we had lunch.
We did have dinner another night in the actual Duke’s Waikiki restaurant which is open from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Similar to the Barefoot Bar, the restaurant is open to the beach on the front end so you have a wonderful view. If you’re lucky you’ll get a seat right at the railing to see the entertainment they have on the weekend. Even if you can’t see it, you’ll hear the music no matter where you sit. The restaurant can get pretty busy so I would recommend making a reservation. We still had a 5 to 10 minute wait but the staff was good at trying to seat us quickly. The dinner menu (pdf) had a nice selection of meat and seafood and each meal came with the salad bar, which had traditional salad but also some pasta, bean and other chilled salads. I loved the fresh fish selections. The kid’s menu was the same as the lunch menu with the addition of having access to the salad bar also.
At lunch I enjoyed local beer on tap but dinner was all about the Mai Tai (drink menu pdf) and they were really good. In the restaurant you had a server who handled your meals and another who handled your drinks; both were attentive.
Although the meal was very good, service fine and drinks tasty, I would have to say the best part about eating at Duke’s is dessert, specifically their famous Hula Pie. Ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, cookie crust and macadamia nuts, the hula pie is definitely worth saving room for. And it’s huge. One night we just ordered one to go and ate it in the room.
You can also enjoy breakfast (7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.) and lunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at Duke’s. Both are offered as a buffet only. We never tried them but you can see the breakfast buffet menu (pdf) and the lunch buffet menu (pdf) to give you an idea of items and cost.
I was excited that one of the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach was a steakhouse. I love a really good steak and Chuck’s serves really good steak. We were told you couldn’t make reservations at Chuck’s or at least they didn’t take them during their peak hours, but we never had a problem getting a table in the early evening (around 5:30 p.m.). The restaurant seemed to pick-up around 7 p.m.
Chuck’s has an inside seating area as well as an outside deck. The inside had a number of booths and larger tables if you were with a larger group but even with our table of five we were able to get seating out on the deck. The sound of the ocean and seeing the sunset was an amazing backdrop to dinner. Don’t worry, even if you sit inside, the restaurant is all windows so you’ll still get a nice view.
I was worried that being a steakhouse the dress code would be more formal than what we usually wear but sundresses and shorts were fine (the site actually states that it’s casual attire). The staff was wonderful, bringing an extra plate so our 4-year old could eat of my plate and cleaning up a little vegetable accident we had at the salad bar. Like Duke’s, Chuck’s Steakhouse also has the two server set-up (one for food and one for drinks). We would sometimes arrive just as happy hour was ending (when specialty drinks would be on sale) and our server would still put an order in for us.
I loved that the menu was on a bottle (though they also had printed versions available too). There was no children’s menu at Chris’ Steakhouse. Instead certain items were marked on the menu as being available in children’s sizes. As our kids are adventurous eaters, they loved this. My 8-year old enjoyed steak while my 6-year old savored grilled shrimp. If your child isn’t a big meat eater and you want to enjoy a really, REALLY good steak, they can always enjoy your all-you-can-eat-salad-bar (part of every meal).
If we ate breakfast at the hotel, Hula Grill is where we went open 6:30 am.m.to 10:30 a.m. I always started my morning with a nice big glass of fresh squeezed pineapple juice ($4.00). There were so many great breakfast choices (pdf) here: Banana and Mac Nut pancakes or Maui Pineapple and Coconut pancakes ($7.50) came with 3 large and fluffy pancakes topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
I could never bring myself to finish them even though they were delicious. My husband loved the Hula Grill Loco Moco ($9.00), which is an incredible combination of hamburger steak, fried egg, white rice and shitake mushroom gravy.
The kids menu, also on a paper colouring sheet to keep them busy, has standard children’s items like pancakes with chocolate chips and eggs. My 4-year old loved that she could order white rice and brown toast as her side instead of fried potatoes.
Like the other two restaurants located in the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, Duke’s and Chuck’s Steakhouse, Hula Grill also was open to the beach giving you a wonderful view whether you were catching the sunrise in the morning or the sun setting in the evening. I just loved hearing the waves. We ate breakfast at the Hula Grill a few times and were fortunate enough to get the same waiter. He was amazing at remember who we were and the children’s orders. It was a nice touch.
We also experienced dinner (pdf) at Hula Grill, open from 4:45 p.m. to 10 p.m., The offer a nice selection of meat and fish dishes; I usually tried the daily fish special and was never disappointed. Most of the railing seating was designed for 4 or less people but on our last night the restaurant was able to accommodate 5 of us, which was amazing. Watching the sun set and seeing the torches lit as we ate dinner was a wonderful way to end our day.
The kids were a little disappointed they couldn’t get their favourite Hula Pie here, but the desserts at Hula Grill were just as tasty (and large). It took all three of my kids to finish a homemade ice cream sandwich ($6.50) while I enjoyed my Island Bread Pudding ($6.75).
Hula Grill also has the Plantation Bar open from 4p.m. to 11 p.m. and offering a nice selection of sandwiches and light dishes (pdf) like Island Fish and Chips ($12.95) or Hoisin-Soy Pork Ribs ($9.95). The bar is closer to the inside of the hotel, not giving you access to the view, but if you’re looking for a quick snack, a cocktail or just a place to hangout while waiting for your table, the Plantation Bar is the spot, especially during happy hour.
We did venture out to try other restaurants around the hotel. We found a few great places for a meal under $10, but we always ended up coming back to the restaurants at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach. It’s one thing to offer your guests the option of eating on site, it’s another to keep them coming back when they have so many other dining options around them. We tried Duke’s, Chuck’s Steakhouse and Hula Grill and all three impressed us enough to want to eat there on many occasions (and sometimes to regretting a few off-site dining choices).
Even if I wasn’t a guest at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, I would certainly make eating at each of these restaurants part of my dining holiday.