Viva Verde

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Yukiko Flores welcomes guests to the verde, Lihue at the Hokulei Shopping Village.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Jemme Haupt of verde, Lihue serves up an Adovada Burrito with green chile sauce, and a Crispy Taco Salad at the restaurant in the Hokulei Shopping Village.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A customer enters verde, Lihue at the Hokulei Shopping Village.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    The verde sign at the Hokulei Shopping Village.

If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s clean, bright and wide open, Verde in your place.

The restaurant at Hokulei Village, which opened last year, has quickly gained a foothold with those who want a place for a nice, easy meal for lunch and a relaxing place to chat before heading back to work. Nothing too complicated here. Nothing tricky. Nothing too crazy. It does the basics very well, which is, frankly, what people expect and want and most of the time, all they ask for.

A recent visit there for lunch came and went without any surprises. Quickly seated at a table, server arrived within a few minutes, food came shortly.

The Crispy Taco Salad, $12, was exactly as advertised. Crispy flour tortilla shell, local greens, tomatoes, guacamole, sour creams, pico de gallo and cheese with homemade chile-lime dressing.

The Veggie Stacked Enchilada, $17, came with three corn tortillas layered with sauteed seasonable veggies, guacamole, cheese and green chile sauce. Add a side of guacamole for $2.

You can tell how good the food is anywhere simply by how much and how quickly diners eat. Safe to say, my friend and I left nothing on the plate and it didn’t take long to get it that way, either. We have perfected the art of carrying on a conversation while feeding our faces without attracting too much attention.

Verde, which originated in Kapaa and has been there 10 years, serves up generous portions of tacos, burritos, taco salads and tostadas. It’s described as not your traditional Mexican food, but “cleaner and healthier.” Some of the most popular choices are the fish tacos, taco salad and ultimate chicken burritos.

Verde emphasizes it uses local farmers for their seasonal ingredients, the fresh vegetables and grass-fed beef. It also points out it has vegetarian and gluten-free options.

This is not a place with tons of ambiance or character that’s going to knock your socks off. But remember, the theme here is more of clean and healthy, bright and airy.

The Lihue location serves the same menu as the one in Kapaa. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

If there is something that could be improved, it seems the tables are a bit close together so if the folks near you are loud talkers, you can’t help but overhear pretty much everything they want to share.

That said, this is a nice stopping point. It focuses on food and service over comfy chairs and decorative art on the wall. And that is proving to be a winning combination.

  1. PvilleHalftimer January 16, 2018 2:46 pm Reply

    They’re way too in love with cilantro for me personally. Hard to get a dish without it, including the salsa. Wish they’d consider the cilantro-averse when menu planning.

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