Bar Acuda - Kauai, HI

Bar Acuda, KauaiThe bastion of hip on the North Shore, Bar Acuda is the place to be. The vibe is San Francisco cool meets open air Hawaii laid back which makes perfect sense given chef/owner Jim Moffat''s San Francisco restaurant roots. The food is tapas style and Moffat uses local produce and ingredients in delicious abundance. The stylish ambience primes you for the equally stylish food, each small plate a gem of innovative and well balanced art.

The menu changes often given Moffat''s passion for locally grown and produced ingredients, which makes it fun to go back again and again. Tomatoes in season? Try the amazing bruschetta which is unlike any I''ve ever seen. The tomatoes are roasted and charred whole, then smashed on lovely home baked bread with garlic and herbs. The small plates mean you aren''t limited to one impossible choice, rather you can try several delectable options. The honeycomb from the north shore with local Kunana Farms goat cheese, Mizuna greens and apples showcases the simplicity and sensibility of the menu, letting the stars shine for what they are.

The wine list is expertly chosen and also changes often. The wait staff is well versed in wine and food pairings, which is really half the fun. With the flavors of small plates ranging widely, the wine depends on the staff to keep up, and they do it very well.

One of my favorite things about this warm and inviting culinary heaven is the open kitchen, where Moffat and his engaging crew work elbow to elbow around a big wooden center table, calling out orders and playful banter with equal weight. Moffatt mans the wood burning oven and turns out perfect discs one after the other with fresh, local toppings in creative combinations. The kitchen is so well run and the staff so happy that there is plenty of room around the edges of the demands of a first class restaurant for the staff and owner to have a good time, which just makes it that much more fun to be there. On my recent visit, the friendly diner next to me who looked like he was part of the Bar Acuda "family" turned out to be one of the main fish suppliers for the restaurant, supplying much of their daily catch. This is what it''s all about there, and both the food and the personality of the place exudes it.

Tables outside are lovely, on a wide porch with an outlook over charming Hanalei town. Inside feels more like a hip San Francisco
vibe but with laid back ease. If you want to be where the action is, sit inside.
See Sample Menu