We all know the usual spots: Aloha Kitchen, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Island Flavor. But for something off the beaten path, Hawaiian expats told me to head to the Summerlin area for Kauai Cafe.
Da Surf Rider ($15.95) makes you feel like you should be eating it on a warm, sandy beach. Coconut shrimp are the stars, with fresh, shredded coconut in the batter adding a deft sweetness. Macadamia nut-crusted scallops are the dish’s equivalent to popcorn chicken, and teriyaki beef rounds out the plate, along with the obligatory macaroni salad. This mac packs more punch than most.
I don’t think they’re cooking Kalua pork ($5.95-$8.95) in an underground oven, but whatever they’re using, it works—the smokiness shines through. There are a number of bento bowls featuring assorted meats over rice. The Kalbi short rib, teriyaki chicken and spam combo ($9.25) is filling, with the chicken a cut above the rest. Burgers are hand-formed and hefty. The waffle fries are homemade, somewhere between the classic version and a potato chip, a nice touch. As usual, it always pays to ask the natives.
Kauai Cafe 10140 W. Tropicana Ave., #122, 702-754-3559. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.