By Anni Caporuscio
Sports fans, you can find your people at 9th Island Bar and Grill, blessed with air conditioned and energetic entertaining!
On a football night, it was packed with shouting, cheering and breathlessly hopeful fans, most dressed in team jerseys, bluish and reddish. And the décor is festive with sports memorabilia, murals, autographs, flags and enough TV sets so that every seat is a good seat.
For all this, I expected average fried pub food (my guilty favorite), but the cooking is top notch; kudos to chef Jessica Fernandez. General Manager Gilby Olsen says the goal of the kitchen is “upscale bar food — down scale prices.”
That was the vision of owners Jeff and Tina Nash when they opened the place three years ago. Jeff and O‘ahu-born Tina made their home in Las Vegas for 30 years. When they retired to Kaua‘i, they brought with them a bit of Vegas, known as the 9th Island.
Look for Vegas’ history in the menu titles and food descriptions, from the Rat Pack to mafia legends, athletes and musical performers.
I know it’s easy to get tacos in Kapa‘a, but here’s some more to try. They’re absolutely loaded with local greens, kalua pork, Southwest steak or chicken (only on Tuesdays), topped with just enough cilantro-lime sauce or an aioli. Flavorful and fresh, and so loaded with the goods they double-tortilla’d it.
The Chili Pepper Chicken is new to the Plate Lunch section on the menu and it’s already the best seller. They are not shy on the spicy here, let me warn you that it creeps up on you like a good local chili pepper water should! One more time: it’s a spicy dish of very sweet, and very tender chicken.
9th Island is known for the mafia-themed burgers. There are some petite burgers, and some American sized portions, but they’re all made from locally sourced hamburger from Wailua Meat Co. The Lucky Burger is an imposing burger topped with bacon, barbeque sauce and onion rings; this burger is a patriot and a great meal.
Open seven days a week, happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. There are also daily specials like sushi on Saturday, 50 percent off wine on Thursday, and the ever more popular Wednesday Trivia Night.
On the weekends, they serve breakfast for the early games, opening at 9am on Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday (8 a.m. when the time changes). Check 9thislandbar.com and Facebook for details on specials and events.
Gilby says it’s an Un/Official Seahawks bar (which I found out is the bluish team), though all the teams are welcomed. Server LeChelle Hendershott roots for the Eagles. By the way, the Hawks dominated the ‘Niners 20/3. And the crowd went wild.
9th Island Sports Bar and Grill is at Kaua‘i Village Shopping Center in Waipouli, in the same complex as Safeway and next door to Starbucks. They can be reached at 822-7773.
- Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.