Anuenue Juice Bar owner Tammy Ringbauer whips up smoothies from local fruits and veggies. // © 2014 Anuenue Juice Bar
Feature image (above): Lanai City Grille features Hawaiian-style ambience and cuisine by rising star chef Ella Juliano. // © 2014 Amity Mason Photography
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to quality dining at Lanai restaurants. In recent years, the tiny island’s culinary scene — much of which supports regional farmers and fishermen — has been turning out increasingly fresh and innovative fare.
At the same time, the destination’s local-style eateries still hold their own in Lanai City, including such mainstays as Blue Ginger Cafe, Cafe 565 and Canoes Lanai. There, residents and visitors convene over the likes of mahi burgers, saimin, teriyaki beef and loco moco — rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy.
But when you’re ready to sink your teeth into something new on Lanai, check out these trending restaurants.
Anuenue Juice Bar and Cafe, Lanai City
This cozy eatery debuted in mid-2013. It had only been in business for about seven months when Oracle chief Larry Ellison — who owns nearly the entire island — stopped by and gave it two thumbs up. The cafe’s owner, Tammy Ringbauer, works with products from local growers and vendors, and lunch includes specialties such as quinoa black bean chili. Commanding the taste buds, however, are the squeezed juices, from orange and pineapple to kale and beet, plus smoothies of multiple ingredients and colors.
Lanai City Grille, Hotel Lanai
Here’s a scan of TripAdvisor comments about Lanai City Grille: “Possibly one of the best restaurants in the islands;" “Wonderful service;” and “Best sea bass ever.” The dining room consistently satisfies locals and visitors alike. The menu — now overseen by rising star Ella Juliano, who trained under Hawaii Regional Cuisine icons Peter Merriman and Bev Gannon — sports signature dishes such as spicy shrimp and lobster bisque. Its old-Hawaii ambience reflects the character of the hotel, dating back to 1923.
Nobu Lanai, Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
This brainchild of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa is going through an expansion and renovation. Once completed later this year, the restaurant will offer new teppanyaki tables, a sushi bar, a larger lounge area and design enhancements. For now, Nobu is operating out of the hotel’s lower lobby, featuring ultra-fresh, new-style Japanese cuisine such as bigeye tuna sashimi salad. The restaurant sources 65 percent of its ingredients locally. Guests can even take a tour of the half-acre Nobu Garden.
One Forty, Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
Manele Bay's main dining room recently debuted its own private wine label. Called One Forty Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s crafted to pair with the restaurant’s selection of prime and Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms. A newly updated menu also touts right-off-the-hook seafood. Complementing the main courses are ultra-fresh side dishes like Kahuku corn, Big Island peppers and Waipoli greens. One Forty’s name pays tribute to Lanai’s 140-square-mile area, as well as the ideal grilling temperature for a medium steak.
The Terrace, Four Seasons Resort Lanai Lodge at Koele
Earlier this year, The Terrace introduced a new menu of flavorful cuts of meat and fresh catch; think American home-style classic dishes with Hawaiian flare. Reflecting the hotel’s upcountry setting are items such as barbecued beef short ribs, braised lamb shank and wild boar. For seafood, try the spicy black pepper snapper with edamame and cabbage salad, pickled ginger and crisp lotus root. A new craft beer menu offers brews from around the world, topping off this superb Lanai restaurant experience.