A Classic Steakhouse In Kapaa

“I’ve heard three stories about how the restaurant got its name,” explains Robin Dame, general manager of Bull Shed in Kapaa. “One story says that it got its name because when it was built, there was no highway. Just a road and a ranch where cattle grazed.”

That was in October 1973, when the restaurant opened its doors on Waipouli Beach as part of Mokihana Resort. Modeled after a California steak-house, locals came to expect terrific ocean views and large portions of steak and seafood.

Considering Bull Shed hadn’t been remodeled since Hurricane Iniki, the restaurant closed for two weeks last March. The bar was topped with granite and raised 4 inches. New lights, fans, carpet, tables and chairs were installed, and the walls got a fresh coat of paint. The salad bar was expanded and pupus were added to the menu.

A 1970s Hawaiian steak-house theme still reigns supreme at Bull Shed. The original menus – blocks of wood on which food and prices were hand-burned – are framed and hang on the walls.

Elvis sings Blue Hawaii as I sit in a padded chair at the sunken, granite-topped bar. Comfort, service and a touch of opulence make me feel like I’m in one of the King’s private dining rooms.

Even the pupus are reminiscent of the ’70s steak-house era. Creamy, hot Artichoke Dip ($9) comes with thick slices of warm bread. Sweet Waipouli Scallops ($13) are served with sliced mushrooms in a white wine sauce and topped with melted Parmesan cheese.

Tables with wide, padded chairs are tucked alongside functioning windows that overlook the ocean. In some areas, the tables seem nestled against the water’s edge. With the windows open, a breeze fills the room and carries the sound of waves slapping against the shore.

In 2011, Kauai Midweek readers gave Bull Shed first place as Kauai’s Best Restaurant. From 2010 to 2013, readers of TheGarden Island gave the restaurant a first place award for best steak.

Big and meaty slabs of prime rib are wet-aged for 30 days, crusted with salt and seasonings, and slow-cooked for eight hours. There’s the original 2-pound, bone-in cut and a new, 12-ounce cut ($29).

The steak, from Black Angus cows on a Colorado Ranch, is wet-aged for 45 days.

A 9-ounce tenderloin ($34) is cooked to a perfect medium and topped with a thick house-made garlic sauce.

Nine ounces of filet mignon ($34), cooked exactly to medium-rare, is served with a house-made herb and black peppercorn sauce. Both steaks are tender and juicy.

Seafood lovers can order Grilled Tiger Shrimp ($21), Lobster Tail ($35), fresh, local seared ahi ($28) with wasabi aioli or Mixed Grill ($32) with seasonal catch of the day, shrimp, scallops and house-made pineapple salsa.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, you can add 8 ounces of crab ($16) to any meal, or enjoy a 16-ounce crab dinner for $35.

Ample portions satisfy a hearty eater’s appetite and prices are competitive with steakhouses nationwide.

All meals come with rice and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

The Bull Shed has changed for the better,” explains Pam Nuivo-Pantil, who’s worked at the restaurant since 1978. “Our meals are still great, we still give good value for the price and the atmosphere looks really nice. To our long time locals who haven’t been back yet, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Bull Shed Restaurant
4-796 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa

Open daily, 4:30-9:30 p.m.

Marta Lane is a Kauai-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.