Restaurant: Verde, Kapa’a, Hawaii
So..day one in Hawaii was a big success. I was originally coming to enjoy the challenge of the Kauai Marathon, but things change and so do circumstances. With all that being said, the trip was, naturally, still on. The marathon would just be running without me this year. But, who says that has to stop the adventure, right?
Nothing really stops me. Things just slow me down is all.
After the longest flight ever (in retrospect, I’ve been on longer flights, but this one seemed particularly long due to the very annoying family traveling behind us who DID NOT SHUT UP the entire time and who do not have indoor voices or control over their children either!), we found ourselves in the humid, sunny atmosphere of the island of Kauai! HELLO GORGEOUS HAWAII!
After getting our rental car…returning our rental car…getting a different rental car…getting to the resort…not having a room…so going for coffee and a drive and some shopping…we got checked in…and settled and changed. We went to the beach (major props to Jenn and Cathy for helping me get out to those waves!)…we came back to the resort…and we were ready for some real food. Seriously, I had lived my day on 2 navel oranges, a Quest protein bar, and coffee…so real food was necessary…stat.
But Cathy was prepared with our dinner plans that evening. And, we were going to be enjoying a little Mexican flavor here on the Island of Kauai. I am a huge lover of Mexican food, and she found a great place located just up the street from our resort, located in the Kapa’a Shopping Center. The restaurant of choice – Verde. And it was hopping Friday night.
Never one to take a Celiac anywhere unknown, Cathy did some serious research before we headed to Hawaii…finding a lot of different and varied places to enjoy meals while we are visiting. Verde came with great reviews and a menu that boasts gluten free and vegetarian options. With the Friday night packing the little restaurant, we waited outside for about 10 minutes until a table opened up that could seat three of us comfortably inside. During the wait, the staff brought us water and menus so we could have an idea of what we might want to eat when we get seated.
Of course, me being me, had already scoped out the menu and knew what I would be eating that night. When one of the Verde staff took us inside to our table (and even carried my water for me!), they asked if we had any questions and when we didn’t, we just let them know that I was a vegetarian Celiac. With that not even being a problem…we placed our orders.
Jenn and Cathy both got the Garlic Shrimp Tacos ($13.95) (really…I think that they are just going to eat the same stuff everywhere we go, LOL!), which was cornmeal-crusted shrimp, local greens, cabbage, guacamole, pico de gallo, flour tortillas, and a roasted garlic-chipotle aioli. Jenn got hers with the guac and pico de gallo on the side (which…is totally Jenn), whereas Cathy kept her taco as a comprised dish.
I opted for the Vegan Tacos ($10.95). These intrigued me from the start. They are corn tortillas that are stuffed (and I mean stuffed) with green beans, spinach, broccoli sautéed in chipotle, and topped with pico de gallo. I had never had green beans in a taco before. Like I said…I was intrigued.
While we were waiting, a bowl of tortilla chips and fresh salsa were delivered to the table. I didn’t partake at first, because I never trust tortilla chips. Shared friers are very real and very scary to me. But Cathy flagged down one of the staff and asked if they were safe for me. He assured me they keep everything separate as his wife is Celiac and they make sure they take every precaution. YAY! It is so rare that I get to have a few of the chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. This sort of was an exciting moment for me.
The homemade corn chips were fried to perfection, completely crispy and not overly salty. I loved the nice balance that each crispy bright brought. And the red salsa that was served with it was mild and full of flavor. A nice way to whet the appetite before the main event.
And the tacos were not a disappointment.
Cathy and Jenn had these delicious looking bread shrimp tacos, greens, pico, guac and a heavenly aoili that topped it all off. They both raved about it…especially the aioli. I asked Cathy if they beat out my vegan shrimp tacos that I made (because I love to put her on the spot like that) and she stammered and stuttered and finally said they were two different things. HAHA! I told her it was okay if they were. But, both of them devoured their tacos with gusto and raved about. Cathy pretty much did that with every bite…so I say these definitely win out over my vegan version I sometimes do at home. HA!
Cathy also got a glass of the Hapa Limonada Verde ($4.00), a signature drink that Verde prepares that is a blend of Agua Fresca 4 Citrus Green Tea, Pink Lemonade, Lime, and Agave Syrup. Jenn and I each tried it…and wow…super delicious. The agave syrup as the sweetener was a nice touch for sure. Jenn and Cathy drank the rest of it up. I was sticking to water…which I didn’t get enough of that day (evident in the leg cramps that hit me that night!).
As for me…the vegan tacos were amazing. With a lightly fried corn tortilla holding a mound of fresh vegetables, cooked to perfection, I was in love at first bite. The green beans were the main base, and they had great texture and great flavor. The broccoli, however, was the true star, cooked in chipotle spices. The pico and the spinach were a nice addition, but the main veggies were definitely the main event. I devoured…seriously…devoured my two tacos, with the packed veggies that fell out getting eaten with a fork. No veggie left behind. It was a great meal and just what this weary and sore traveler needed, for sure.
We polished off the remaining tortilla chips and paid for our meal. We left content, full, and really pleased to have actual food in our bellies. The servings weren’t ridiculous, they were perfect. The food was cooked to order, safe for me to eat, and really, really delicious. I was so happy when I left Verde that evening to return to the resort and shower off and relax for a bit before turning in. My body is getting adjusted still to the time change. I think I made it to 8 pm before turning in.
What a great way to kick off the food experience of Hawaii. If any plans fall through while in Kauai…I’d go back there in a heartbeat.