Before embarking on any surf adventure, the experts will tell you keeping your energy level up is essential. And, if you’re adventuring near Poipu, make sure it includes a stop at Anuenue Cafe. Their delicious surf-themed meals provide all the energy you need for a sweet day of wave riding.
Location: Tucked inside the Poipu Shopping Village, Anuenue Cafe is on the opposite side of the complex from Keoki’s. You’ll find it at 2360 Kiahuana Plantation Drive, Koloa.
Menu: The single-sided menu gets supplemented by a couple of daily specials, found on the restaurant sandwich board near the sign-in sheet. Many of the dishes listed pay homage to one of the island’s favorite past-times: surfing.
The Tow-In is by far the most popular menu item, and it’s easy to see why. A thick slab of bread gets converted into fluffy French toast, then topped with haupia and toasted . For those unfamiliar with haupia, the traditional Hawaiian dessert lands somewhere between a coconut flan and a curd. The combination is heaven for those who prefer a sweet start to the day, and portions fall on the hearty side. When you add in cooked-to-order eggs and some of the best Portuguese sausage found on the island, it’s difficult to beat.
For those looking for a savory start to the day, the Kalua pork fried rice makes an excellent choice. Is it actually cooked in an underground pit? Probably not. But does it have the smoky flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture that can only be brought about by a long, slow cooking process? You bet. And it’s only enhanced by the sweet shoyu-ginger, fresh basil, ripe pineapple, and green bell pepper laden rice. Plus, they must adhere to the late Anthony Bourdain‘s motto, “An egg in anything makes it better” because you’re blessed with a choice of preparation for two. Opt for a style with a runny yolk and mix it into the slightly sweet sauce topping the fried rice.
If neither of those options sounds appealing, don’t despair. Anuenue offers a variety of choices, including lighter ones like the tropical granola or the fruit and yogurt stuffed papaya. They also serve three different “Benedicts,” though they are very loose interpretations of the style. While they do come with Hollandaise and an English muffin, don’t be surprised when the egg arrives fried instead of the traditional poached. Or that the only bacon to be found is Hawaiian instead of Canadian.
It’s worth noting that like any protein with long preparation time, there are limited amounts of Kalua pork available. Ensure you arrive early to score a portion for your fried rice, burrito, or one of the “benedicts.”
Also, the restaurant politely declines substitutions. So if you want some avocado in place of the pork, you’ll be paying the few extra dollars for that side of avocado. Look at the menu in advance to avoid any dietary surprises or disappointments.
Thoughts: If you’re looking for a flavorful, unique island breakfast, then stop here. If you’re looking for pretense and fine dining, then move along. Everything about the place creates a laidback surf vibe, including the sign informing guests the restaurant reserves the right to close early if the surf is exceptional. Pretty sure it’s a joke, but you’ll notice the 6:00 am to noon hours do allow owners and staff to maximize afternoon ride conditions.
Almost all the seats have shade, but they’re still outdoors. As a result, the experience is a bit subject to the island’s rainforest weather; plan accordingly.
You’ll start by placing yourself on the wait list while the staff is busy bussing tables and serving meals. And depending on when you arrive, it’s not going to be a short list. Your best bet is to head straight to the restaurant, then spend your wait time browsing nearby shops for jewelry and souvenirs. Thirty minutes is not uncommon, and it can go as high as an hour during the high season. But the good news? Even if you miss having your name called, they’ll leave you on the list and seat you when you return.
The servers are fast and efficient, quickly outlining what items have already sold out (ahem: Kalua pork). They’ll happily offer suggestions if it’s your first time, and most seemed very knowledgeable about what goes into a dish. It’s a high-volume restaurant, but they handle it with grace; our water and coffee were never empty, and the first of the food arrived within minutes of ordering. Plus, all of the staff seemed genuinely friendly. Even though they were quite busy, they still had time to share a smile and a quick tip.
Price Range: Main dishes are in the $12 to $18 range, with sides averaging $6-$8. Beverages are all non-alcoholic and come in around $4. Overall, expect to spend about $25 per person, before tip.
Is this high for a breakfast place? Maybe. But the portions are hearty, and our party made it well into the afternoon before even being able to think about food. If you treat it like brunch, the price point is indeed reasonable. And it’s not unsurprising to find some of the same faces in the crowd if you opt to return for a second round.