Kalaheo Steak and Ribs

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Kalaheo Steak and Ribs

By Anni Caporuscio

The Prime Rib. This was my first prime rib that wasn’t just a taste of a man’s meal. It’s actually much larger in person than it seems in the picture. Here is a short guide to prime rib for women who may have been too shy to order it: 1- Order it, you’ll love it, it’s so tender you barely need the knife. 2- Even though it’s juicy, they serve it with sauces to make it melt in your mouth. 3- It’s huge. Just eat it one small bite at a time, slowly. You can take a portion of it home, but if you find yourself eating the whole thing, you’re not a savage; you’re just a lady with a prime rib.

The Prime Rib. This was my first prime rib that wasn’t just a taste of a man’s meal. It’s actually much larger in person than it seems in the picture. Here is a short guide to prime rib for women who may have been too shy to order it: 1- Order it, you’ll love it, it’s so tender you barely need the knife. 2- Even though it’s juicy, they serve it with sauces to make it melt in your mouth. 3- It’s huge. Just eat it one small bite at a time, slowly. You can take a portion of it home, but if you find yourself eating the whole thing, you’re not a savage; you’re just a lady with a prime rib.

Something I love about Kaua‘i restaurants is that so many of them are history tellers. Not just in their locations, menu choices or in museum-quality antique photos. It’s the old fashioned service. It’s the blurb of “did you know” historical tidbits in menus. It’s the infusion of traditional Kaua‘i into contemporary styles. It’s an attention to legacy that gives Kaua‘i restaurants some real lasting class.

I had the pleasure of dining at Kalaheo Steak and Ribs last month, and was delighted to speak with owners Caroline Frederiksen and Ernie Kanekoa. Between the two of them, they have decades of restaurant and hospitality experience on Kaua‘i. They took over the Kalaheo Steakhouse in 2010 and renamed it Kalaheo Steak and Ribs, with the vision to revitalize the neighborhood steakhouse.

Caroline Frederiksen and Ernie Kanekoa, owners of Kalaheo Steak and Ribs, have perpetuated the old Kalaheo Steakhouse in the tradition of steakhouses everywhere, but in the Kalaheo way. ‘Hearty fare with a little island flair.’

Caroline Frederiksen and Ernie Kanekoa, owners of Kalaheo Steak and Ribs, have perpetuated the old Kalaheo Steakhouse in the tradition of steakhouses everywhere, but in the Kalaheo way. ‘Hearty fare with a little island flair.’

Kalaheo used to be a ranching town, so logically, it should have a steakhouse, right? Kalaheo Steakhouse was on the way home for many people, serving as the neighborhood watering hole for decades. Caroline and Ernie wanted to keep the neighborhood feel of the place and accentuate the ranching history of the area.

It was important for them that Kalaheo Steak and Ribs would cater to locals, and in doing so they diverted from a high-end steakhouse and serve burgers and a hearty meatloaf.

The restaurant is a traditional steakhouse with the whole cast of steaks, but with an island flair, serving chicken, fresh-fish and even some vegetarian dishes. The appetizer menu is full of local cuisine, like a game-changing poke, to get you ready for the main event — meat.

I was charmed by the ambience in the well-maintained old building — sturdy wooden chairs, private booths and scuffed redwood floors lit by a dying sunlight drifting through the windows. And Ernie and Caroline greeting guests, filling waters, sharing familiarities and walking around to the tables like a neighborhood patron would. The staff was outgoing and cheerful. “You can’t do it without your staff,” Ernie says.

The menu is a no-nonsense collection of healthy portions and favorites. Entrees are served with your choice of rice or baked or mashed potatoes. Dinner served between 5 and 6 p.m. comes with a free dessert of their Hawaiian Sweet Bread Pudding, served warm with cream and guava syrup. Linger and enjoy a long dinner.

Filet Mignon. A focus on the meat meal, served with garlic mashed potatoes, rice or baked potato. Filet is the Cadillac cut, some say, and here they do it right.

Filet Mignon. A focus on the meat meal, served with garlic mashed potatoes, rice or baked potato. Filet is the Cadillac cut, some say, and here they do it right.

Kalaheo Steak and Ribs has a full bar and lounge seating, an intimate dining room where you can enjoy dinner, and a saloon. That’s right, a saloon with bare wood walls, saddles and branding irons on the walls, a small stage for a band and a cleared-out floor for dancing. I’m told that in the not-too-distant past, paniolo would tie their horses outside and saunter in for a drink.

On Thursday and Sunday you can hear Wailoa, a Western/Hawaiian band, and Fridays alternate Not My First Rodeo band with karaoke night. The Saloon has its own bar and menu of, you know, saloon food.

Kalaheo Steak and Ribs is at 4444 Papalina Rd. in Kalaheo. Visit www.kalaheosteakandribs.com for more information. I recommend making reservations; the place fills up pretty fast. Use Open Table on their website or call 332-4444.

  • Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.
By | 2016-11-10T05:40:30+00:00 June 27th, 2016|0 Comments

About the Author:

Léo Azambuja, editor of For Kaua‘i, has won multiple journalism awards in the state of Hawai‘i, including investigative and enterprise reporting, spot news and feature writing, photojournalism and online reporting.

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