I'm so excited to share our lunch at Duke's Waikiki with all of you! Duke's is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The restaurant is steeped in the life of Duke Kahanamoku, known as Hawaii's most famous citizen and the father of international surfing. Taking a walk around the restaurant you can catch a glimpse of his career as an Olympic swimmer and the strides he made to familiarize and popularize surfing in the U.S. and overseas.
Tanya Rames, the community relations coordinator for Duke's, gave us a tour of the restaurant and told us all about Duke's life and his accomplishments. It was really interesting learning about all of that Hawaiian history and getting to see lots of historical photos and artifacts, including some original wood surfboards, before sitting down to enjoy our meal. If you're interested in learning more about Duke, here's a timeline of his life.
Duke's Barefoot Bar and Restaurant is located at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel. You can get to the restaurant from inside the building from Kalakaua Avenue or you can get there from the beach. Just walk on up!
Here is the beach side entrance.
We visited Duke's at lunchtime and there was already a good crowd of people waiting to be seated. Jasper was enthralled with the giant aquariums in the seating area while we waited for our table to be ready.
The bar was bustling with activity with people grabbing a refreshment after a day in the sun.
The restaurant is open air but you can choose to sit all the way inside or get a table closer to the Outrigger pool deck for a better view and ocean breeze.
How beautiful is this setting? This lunch was one of the first things we did after arriving on the island (after getting caught up on sleep and visiting a grocery store!) and we agreed it was the first time that we truly felt like we were doing something quintessentially Hawaiian.
Duke's shares some space with the Outrigger pool deck which adds to the whole "vacation" feel of the whole place.
Yeaah I'm gonna go ahead and keep posting photos of this view.
You always know you're in Waikiki when you can see the Diamond Head tuff cone stretching out to the left.
We were seated at a table close to the pool deck. Though it was the hottest part of the day, there was a pleasant breeze to keep us cool and relatively comfortable.
This little guy is still slowly learning about new food textures and flavors, but I can't wait to teach him all about food so he can fully enjoy our restaurant excursions with us.
But for the time being, gnawing on the back of a spoon is WAY better than eating the food!
Duke's does a lunch buffet from 11:30am - 3:30pm and we thought that would be a great way to get to try many different things. Click here to browse through all of the menus available. I hear Duke's has an amazing breakfast/brunch, but sadly we weren't able to take advantage of that during this trip.
I took lots of angles on everything we tried. My favorite section of the buffet was all of the cold pasta salads, they were sooo good! Matt and I both thought that the sesame Asian slaw was one of the stand-outs. It's won bok cabbage and sesame seeds in a wine vinaigrette. It had sooo much flavor, we both went back for seconds.
Of course, we had to try the Kalua pork and cabbage, a classic Hawaiian dish. It was, of course, delicious. The pork was tender and juicy and together with the soft cooked cabbage... yum. There were also pieces of island style fish in a ginger cilantro pesto. I was impressed at how well-cooked the fish was. Typically the fish you get on a buffet has been sitting in the heated pans for too long and becomes overcooked and dry, but my fish was cooked perfectly!
Other favorites were the pasta pesto salad, curry couscous with cranberries (hellooo flavor!), and the hot veggie yakisoba noodles. The "panini of the day" was turkey pastrami.
Let's see, what else was there? Sliced fresh pineapple of course, along with lots of other fruit and salad bar fixins'. Things we didn't try were the tomato basil soup or the made-to-order pasta bar that would whip up a creamy pesto pasta or marinara pasta with your choice of added veggies - you could even add prime rib! We were all pasta'd out after all of the delicious salads and were trying to save some room for dessert, but I really wanted to try it.
Jasper was still so tired from the 6-hour time change and long travel day, but he tried the best he could to be a good sport.
And whatever you do, if you visit Duke's you absolutely must try the famous Kimo's Hula Pie. This is a monstrous slice of macadamia nut ice cream on a dense chocolate cookie crust, covered in fudge dotted with big ole chunks of macadamia nuts and then topped with whipped cream. It is as rich as it sounds and as delicious as it looks. The best bites are the ones that have a little of every flavor. No Hawaiian vacation is complete without a slice of this baby.
All too often the more "touristy" restaurants with beautiful locations and views suffer from being able to provide only mediocre food, but I can honestly tell you that this is not the case with Duke's! The food was absolutely delicious - well prepared and packed full of flavor. Matt, who is known on this blog for being way more critical than I am, kept commenting on how it was nice to finally enjoy good food while also enjoying a good view.
Contact & Social Media information for Duke's Waikiki
website - http://www.dukeswaikiki.com/
address + phone - 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116 Honolulu, HI 96815 (808)922-2268
parking - validated self-parking available at the Ohana East Hotel. Valet parking available at the Outrigger Waikiki. Saturdays & Sundays ONLY: 3 hours free parking at the Ohana East Hotel with purchase at Duke's. (Regular parking rates apply after 3 hours.)
hours - Breakfast Buffet: 7:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Lunch from 11:00 a.m.
Lunch Buffet: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: 4:45 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Barefoot Bar: 11:00 a.m. - Midnight
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We were provided with a tour and complimentary meal at Duke's in return for this blog feature. As always, we do not accept compensation in return for a fully positive review. Remember our motto: if it sucks, we'll tell ya!