Verde Restaurant opens in Lihue

LIHUE — Good food, good drinks and good vibes.

That’s what the managing staff at Verde Restaurant aim to serve up every time a customer walks through the doors.

And the customer is not disappointed.

“When people come in, they always tell me they feel at home when they walk in,” said Jessica Kerber, front house manager.

Verde, which originated in Kapaa, serves up generous portions of tacos, burritos, taco salads and tostadas.

“It’s not traditional Mexican food. There’s a different type of Mexican to offer. It’s cleaner and healthier,” said Nicole Stewart, office manager.

Verde Restaurant recently just turned 10 at its location in the Kapaa Shopping Village, and opened a second location in Lihue on Sept. 1.

“Kapaa is packed and customers wanted us to open on the Southside,” Kerber said.

The location in Lihue, fronting Kuhio Highway in the Hokulei Village, wasn’t planned, said Maris Manzano, owner.

“The opportunity presented itself,” she said.

It took about a year to get the leasing and building permits in order. And when office management signed the lease, the space was an empty shell. HD Construction and Ron Agor Architects were responsible for the design and construction, Manzano said.

“Permitting took the longest. We were at the mercy of someone else. We couldn’t start building until March,” Manzano said. “We were ready to place orders for equipment.”

The bigger space allows for big parties to rent it out for weddings and other events, which is happening at the Kapaa location.

In addition to providing more room, the Lihue restaurant will also have a full bar, which is not available in Kapaa.

Bartenders will be serving up seasonal drinks, based on what fruits farmers are selling. They will also use juice from Kauai Juice Company as mixers, said Kristin Yamagawa, chef.

Verde Restaurant prides itself in being sustainable by using local farmers to supply their ingredients, from fresh vegetables to 100 percent grass-fed beef.

“We work with farmers and use what’s in season,” Yamagawa said.

The eatery also partners with local businesses like Makaweli Meat Company, Kō Bakery, Kauai Roastery Coffee, My Kauai Honey and Papalani Gelato.

And a new item on the menu in Lihue is Papalani Gelato.

While patrons of the restaurant are usually a mix of locals and visitors, Kerber said it has a loyal clientele.

“If we didn’t have locals, we wouldn’t make it,” she said.

The Lihue location will serve up the same menu as the one in Kapaa. Best sellers are the fish tacos, taco salad and ultimate chicken burritos.

“The tostada is the prettiest dish,” Kerber said. “I don’t know what it takes to make them, but they look amazing.”

But in choosing what to order, she says there is no bad option,

“I tell people you really can’t go wrong. You can close your eyes and pick,” she said.

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