New: Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai

The newly reopened beach concession stand, Queen’s Surf Café and Lanai, fronting, well, Queen’s surf break, offers lovely, casual, oceanfront dining, for less than $10 a plate (with a few exceptions). Calling it a concession stand sort of undersells the experience, though, like calling Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack a roadside burger joint. The picnic tables are just steps from the ocean, there’s live music four nights a week, the sunsets induce frantic Instagramming. On Fridays, you can see the Hilton Hawaiian Village fireworks. The food, however, while pretty on wood plates and colorful with the requisite purple orchid (from Thailand, probably), doesn’t quite live up to the ambiance. All flavor has been cooked out of an opakapaka fillet ($10.95), with the sauteed red bell peppers and Thai basil in a sweet chili sauce bringing it just back to the edge of life. Fish accompanying chips ($8.95) are fried with a drab, soggy coating. In the end, it’s probably better to stick with meat dishes such as the kalua pig and cabbage ($8.95) or the more concession-like foods such as the chili frank ($6.95). Friday and Saturday nights are worth stopping by when steak and seafood like shrimp and lobster are thrown on the grill; the smoky smells mingling with the salty air create a romance to reminds us there’s more to enjoy here than the food.

2699 Kalakaua Ave., 924-2233