I have extremely low expectations for a restaurant or bar if any of the following apply:
1) it's close to a beach
2) it's ridiculously popular and crowded at night
3) it has live music
4) it has a kitschy name
Kahuna Burger Bar meets all four conditions. Yet managed to really impress.
It was a real scene, as the kids say, the night we walked past and first noticed the place, on our way back back from a fantastic meal at Pool Bar Sushi (great place). But it piqued my interest, if only for the bar scene, which made me feel like I was missing some action. I hate missing some action. It just seemed "fun," even for someone old and grumpy like me. Research was in order! Some googling of Kahuna Burger, located in the Casa Verde Hotel, led to some dreadful pictures of burgers that didn't look very appetizing. Just as I suspected. I tried to get it out of my head.
Against my better judgement, we headed over for lunch one day. Fully expecting the place to be packed, we got there at noon, sharp. We were the only customers. I think people sleep a bit late in Rincon. Or they're out surfing in the morning and don't think about lunch until much later than me (I start thinking about lunch at about 10 pm the night before).
Kahuna has an indoor oval bar and some rail seating, along with some high-tops and picnic tables on the deck, which is where we packed in our crew.
A scan of the cocktail list yielded a margarita that sounded like it was almost on track to being a proper cocktail (I asked and the lime juice was to come from a lime...good start). The inclusion of Jose Cuervo silver was the big problem. And I don't recall if the menu specified Cointreau. I asked the lovely bartender if I could sub in Milagro and ensure Cointreau, stating that I'll pay the up-charge. She said don't worry about it, same price. Nice! A bit sweet, but Milagro and Cointreau and lime juice and some sugar in a plastic cup with ice in Rincon on a sunny 84 degree day is better than what you probably drank last week. You dig?
The food, you say?
We threw an order of wings in to start, because that's what you do on vacation if you have a soul, and they were pretty fabulous. Spicy wings done well. No flabby skin here. Why is this so hard for so many restaurants? They nailed it.
While my burger was cooked a bit beyond the m/r that it was ordered, others at the table were cooked correctly. There was one cook dealing with a single large order, and I'll cut him or her some slack. Regardless, the burger was quite good. This one with jalapeno and garlic mayo, called "Rock Bottom Classic." I had to gut the bun, of course, but the patty was large (advertised as 8 ounces), juicy, and stood up to the bun (a bun that we here in Jersey would describe as a "hard roll"). I was sort of bummed the mine was a bit overcooked, but when I was done with the thing I realized that it was indeed a fine burger. Messy, juicy, satisfying. I kept thinking about it for the rest of the trip. And now, as I write this pap.
The fries? Why are they making fresh-cut fries here? Why don't they just buy frozen fries and dump them in a fryer like just about every other restaurant in the US? Well I'm here to tell you that these here fresh cut fries were outstanding. Way better than they needed to be. Bravo, Kahuna Burger Bar. Bravo.
Fish tacos didn't impress. While the fish was fried nicely, the tacos suffered from a flour tortilla (ugh) rather than corn, and the typical toppings of shredded lettuce and grated cheese. My preference is more of a treatment of stuff like cilantro, pickled onions, pico de gallo, salsa verde, that sort of thing. But the fish itself was executed well.
Kahuna Burger Bar is worth a stop if you're in the Rincon area, for a burger, some drinks, some live music, some sun, some friendly service, and a taste of the Rincon culture. If you stay out late (I don't), I can almost guarantee a fun time when the nighttime crowd and bands roll in.
Kahuna Burger Bar (at Casa Verde Hotel) : Carr. 41 km 4.5 Barrio, Puntas Rincon, PR : 787.823.5600