Fresh fish served in old Kapaa town

  • Jessica Else / TGIFR!DAY

    The Kapaa tacos are just one of many fresh, island-inspired items on the menu at Mermaids Cafe in Kapaa.

  • Jessica Else / TGIFR!DAY

    Mermaids Cafe is tucked away in old Kapaa town and slings a variety of fresh foods including tacos, salads and breakfast. The lounge offers an out-of-the-way place for post-beach grinds.

Tucked away along the main drag in Kapaa town is a little outdoor cafe that’s home to the mermaids.

Painted in a mural that spans the building next door, the mythical creatures intermingle with local fish, dolphins and jellyfish next to a little surf-shack-style kitchen.

If that wasn’t enough to catch attention from the street, Mermaids Cafe boasts bright yellow umbrellas cover glossy picnic tables. Further back, a bar stretches back into the alley, seating four or five people next to an orange water cooler.

Open from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. daily, it’s situated between Olympic Cafe and Java Kai coffee shop. The breakfast menu boasts wraps, sandwiches and quesadillas — all loaded with combinations of eggs, chorizo, cheese and vegetables.

Lunch, served all day, includes things like the coconut curry plate with a choice of chicken, ahi or tofu; the sesame stir-fry noddle plate with ginger, garlic and shoyu; and the peanut satay plate with a special Mermaids peanut sauce.

Burritos and wraps are popular at Mermaids Cafe, and the ahi nori wrap is one that’s gained popularity with residents and tourists alike. Seared ahi is the staple of the dish and is rolled in a spinach wrap with brown rice, cucumber, nori, wasabi cream and shoyu.

The black bean burrito can come with seared ahi as well, and wraps black beans, brown rice, organic greens, Mermaids salsa, cheese and the establishment’s Aloha Sauce into a spinach tortilla.

For Taco Tuesdays, Mermaids pulls out all the stops and slings six different kinds of tacos with two types of fish to choose from, ahi or ono. Black bean tacos provide vegetarian options and there are keiki burritos for the kids.

Prices average $15 for lunch plates, burritos and tacos, and $10 for sandwiches. Drinks range from $4 for coffee to $6 for fresh juices.

Surrounded by boutiques and clothing stores, gift shops and a jewelry store, Mermaids Cafe is a shaded spot to rest and refresh after the beach or during an afternoon of shopping.

And when the sun goes down, Mermaids is a spot to watch the people and vehicle traffic weaving their way through downtown Kapaa — or to meet up for a night on the town at nearby bars like The Local.

The flavors are pan-Asian, the recipes are Kauai-originals, and ingredients are fresh and locally-sourced when possible. Catering and delivery are options for parties. Vegan options are available.

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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