As Kailua continues to grow with new commercial and residential development, Cactus Bistro has quietly become a favorite for Windward residents looking for authentic tapas-style cuisine.
Billing its fare as “modern, Latin cuisine,” Cactus Bistro features the ingredients and techniques of Central and South America (the whole Latin world, really, Cuba and Puerto Rico included). What sets Cactus apart from other so-called “tapas bars,” however, is a carefully curated wine selection and a dedication to using the highest quality local ingredients.
Cactus Bistro uses produce from sustainability-minded growers from all over the islands. The restaurant gets its pork fresh from Shinsato Farms in nearby Kahalu’u, just a zip-code away to the north. Cactus gets its Kulana and Kuahiwi beef beef from the Big Island of Hawaii, as well as veal and wild boar.
The Cactus breakfast menu (Saturday and Sunday only) features Latin staples like Huevos Rancheros (with Hau’ula-grown tomatoes) and something called the “Latin Elvis” with thick-cut bacon, Nutella, and candied apple-bananas. Adult breakfast beverages include a variety of mimosas and Bloody Marys infused with smoked chilis and other distinctly Latin flavors.
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The Cactus lunch and dinner menus are extensive and a little spendy ($25-$35 entrees). But with such fresh ingredients and specials created daily based on the freshest available ingredients, it’s worth the indulgence. The Kauai Shrimp & Day Boat Tacos are hugely popular, as is the Chilean Clam Bake. Cactus offers many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on its menus as well.
The Tapas Time Menu is the restaurant’s Latin take on Happy Hour (3:30pm-5:30pm daily), with a wide variety of savory, shareable dishes like the olive tapenade and house-made chicharrones. Various sangria, margarita, and custom cocktails are featured, as well as a rich selection of red and white wines from around the Latin world. Cactus also proudly features locally-brewed beers from Honolulu Beerworks and Waikiki Brewing.
Cactus Bistro is located at the gateway of Kailua, literally the first restaurant you’ll see coming in to Kailua on the Pali Highway. It offers outdoor dining perfect for people-watching and watching Kailuans and tourists going about their business. Colorful paintings (offered for purchase, inquire) festoon the walls.
There has been and will continue to be a lot of debate about how much Kailua development is too much. Whatever the case may be, there is certainly a broad consensus among residents and visitors alike that Cactus Bistro is doing locally-sourced, modern Latin cuisine right.
For more information the menu selection, visit www.cactusbistro.com.
767 Kailua Road