Since we recently moved to Kapaa, the go-to place has become Bubba Burgers. It’s ironic, really, because I was never that big of a fan before. But now that we live nearby, and we’ve tried it several times, I love it.
It’s just a nice, friendly place. They greet you with a smile, scribble your order on paper, the old-school method, and shout your name when it’s ready. No wait staff here. Stand in line to order and pick it up yourself. The employees are not always the most talkative in the world, but that’s generally because they’re slammed and a line of customers is waiting out the door. It’s casual and relaxed, a good spot to take your time, talk story, do some people-watching from the front porch and enjoy life. The ocean is within sight, as is a short walk on Ke Ala Hele Makalae to work off some of the calories you just added.
Good sense of humor
“Bubba refuses to serve any burger costing less than a can of dog food,” says a message posted above the grill. And the golden M with a slash through it is impossible to miss. A challenge to the big guy.
Their logo includes the words, “We Relish Your Buns,” and “We Cheat Tourist Drunk & Attorneys.” Ask them to explain.
The basics begin with the Bubba Burger. For $4, it’s fine. Can’t go wrong. A solid burger. But for a little more, you can do better.
The Kauai Burger is everything you need a burger to be. The Double Bubba, $6, will fill you up. The Teriyaki Burger for $4.35 is already a favorite of ours. If you’re really hungry, go with the Double Slopper. It’s described as an “Open faced double patty burger, smothered with Bubba’s Famous ‘Coors Tavern’ Chili.”
Their burgers are not greasy, just as billed.
Now, you’ll be needing some sides. Go with the fries, always hot, crispy and fresh. The Caesar salad, at $4.25, is a good deal. The banana shake was excellent. Soda refills are 50 cents.
All told, for two of us, our bill was about $20. That includes a Kauai Burger, a Teriyaki Burger, fries, shake and salad. Not too many places you’ll find that, with an ocean view to boot.
One caution: It’s easy to eat too many Bubba Burgers.
Bubba’s has an old-time appeal, with bar stools so you can cozy up and watch the cook in action. They’ll chat with you if they’re not overseeing 15 burgers on the grill and a line of orders waiting behind them. Soak in the vibes of this place. It’s a bit iconic.
Take a look around when you’re inside and out. There are some cool old signs and pictures. Good energy.
Shirts, shorts, visors and hats are available near the door. There’s even a sale rack. And, to make the deal sweeter, they offer a free soda if you’re wearing one of their outfits on your visits.
There is more than one Bubba Burgers on Kauai. Another opened in 2009 at Kukuiula Village. It, too, has that same sense of fun, bright and light to match its fine fare. Not quite as a good a view, though, as Bubba’s in Kapaa.
Bottom line, eat at Bubba’s. Tell them The Garden Island sent you.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of TGI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.