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Kauai Underground Guide

“It made Kauai my favorite island.”
   — DD, Englewood, NJ


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Brennecke’s Beach Broiler

For more than fifteen years, Brennecke’s has been the front runner when it comes to the best reasonably-priced fresh fish dinners on Kauai. It also offers a varied menu, a first-rate salad bar, friendly service, and a memorable dining experience for the whole family.

In this second-storey restaurant across the street from Poipu Beach Park, you’ll find the atmosphere informal, so you’ll feel comfortable no matter what you’re wearing. But the informal ambiance is the result of the meticulous attention to detail which enhances every aspect of the dining experience.

The decor, for example, looks very plain a porch in soft grey and white tones but everything is spanking clean, the paint shiny and fresh looking, the chairs and grey formica tables immaculate, the flowers in the window boxes bright and cheerful. It’s the kind of porch where your child could retrieve a piece of bread from the floor and put it in his mouth and you wouldn’t have to look the other way.

The food receives equal attention to detail. Clam chowder ($3.95) is creamy rather than thick, generous with clams, and delicately seasoned. Teriyaki chicken stix ($7.50) are medium rare, tasty, and sizzling hot. In the newest appetizer, tiger eye sushi, fresh ahi is wrapped in rice and nori and quick fried, so that the fish is cool while the wrapper is hot.

Dinner entrees include beef, pasta, poultry, even prime rib in three sizes, as well as a host of sandwich baskets and munchies, but fresh island fish is the reason to come to Brennecke’s. Your fish, no matter which fin you choose, will be perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside, meltingly moist and delicious inside.

The secret to Brennecke’s flawless broiling is the grill, designed by owner Bob French and fueled by charcoal of kiawe wood. It burns extremely hot and clean, sealing in juices quickly, leaving no aftertaste.

Even the old standbys, ahi and ono and mahi mahi, are cooked so perfectly that they seem extraordinary. But at Brennecke’s you should try out new fins! Opakapaka, or snapper, could not be juicier or tastier. Grouper, or white sea bass, is also sensational, with a texture somewhat like lobster, garnished with homemade tartar sauce. If onaga is on the menu, try it, for Brennecke’s prepares it beautifully ($21.95).
Dinners include rice or herb pasta, sauteed fresh vegetables, and a visit to a first-rate salad bar — fresh, colorful, ripe, and appetizing. Instead of rice, try Brennecke’s pasta with your entree, or as a side order ($3.95). Not hungry enough for a full dinner?

Brennecke’s offers more than a dozen reasonably-priced options, including a huge platter of nachos ($7.95), burgers ($8.50) including a vegetarian variant, as well as several sandwich baskets, like an excellent chicken sandwich, cleanly grilled and served on a soft bun.

Vegetarians will enjoy kiawe broiled seasonal vegetables ($16.25), or a delicious fresh fish sandwich ($10.50). Or stick with the salad bar ($8.50/multi-trip or $4.95/single visit) and add a cup of seafood chowder ($2.95). The wine list is small and fairly priced, with a Kendall Jackson chardonnay at $23.95.

The ‘under-12’s’ have a great menu, with pizza ($7.95), spaghetti or burger/fries ($3.95), fish & rice ($5.95) or soup & salad ($3.95). They can have chocolate milk ($1.25) or a grown-up looking fruit punch ($1.50). Kid’s burgers, chicken, and fish are very successful, judging from the enthusiasm of six youngsters seated nearby. You can order coffee in a special Brennecke’s souvenir cup.

For the best in fresh fish, beautifully broiled and attractively served, it’s hard to find a better spot than Brennecke’s. The staff is friendly and professional, the dining comfortable and open to evening breezes. It may be noisy when full, but it’s busy for all the right reasons.

Since 1983,Brennecke’shas been one of the most popular restaurants on the south shore. Be sure to phone ahead for a reservation if you don’t want to stand in line, and you might check the fresh fish on the menu and reserve a portion of your favorite fin in advance!

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