• Dave McGuire

Kimo's Casually Expands into Downtown

Updated: Apr 15

The Clarksvillian

When was the last time Clarksville had a prominent Hawaiian restaurant? If you said, "never" your answer would be correct. With the shuttered life of covid-19 slowly lifting, you may be in for a surprise when visiting the downtown area. There's a new face on the block with the opening of Kimo's Grill on Franklin Street.

My personal interest in Kimo's Grill began some time ago. The curiosity started with a friend’s stories about his native Hawaiian culture and history. And, luckily for me, that friend happens to be one of Nashville’s top chef’s, Chef Kimo Akana - unconnected to Kimo's Grill. The island stories and kitchen samples painted a very different picture of standard menus found around this town. The hard truth? It's just not easy to bring something completely new and different to the plates of this town. With that being known, Kimo’s menu checks the boxes for local tastes with a nice cross offering of menu items. The team at Kimo's have done the necessary homework, while also successfully building their customer base at the Fort Campbell Boulevard location. A cross offering example? If someone is less adventurous in your group, there are options of sandwiches and shrimp available to name just a few items.

The interior atmosphere is tucked into a traditional urban setting which includes an upstairs area for additional seating and quick access to other shops and restaurants on Strawberry Alley. The perfect option for our warm weather and social distancing is the outdoor patio. It's a relaxing spot for people watching and encouraging casual conversations that don't have to be spoken over loud crowds. If you're looking to unwind with a beer, meet up with some friends for pau hana or happy hour, this would be a strong option.

The unique food menu gives a twist on familiar restaurant offerings with the strategic approach of helping ease locals into a comfort zone. That same artfully crafted menu is the reason many locals have already taken the trip through the doors to find out what is up with the fuss. You'll quickly learn, it's more about the "grinds" than anything else.

Once you've gotten comfortable and settled for dinner, don’t expect over-the-top exotic ingredients or a Benihana style of theater with dinners hosted by a knife-wielding, storytelling chef. It's important to remember a true Hawaiian menu is about their culture and not the giant tourist resorts dotting the islands. It’s the substance of a menu and quality of offerings that will maintain your interest. The entertainment should be about your company anyway, right?

The menu at Kimo's is refined and focused. If you’re looking for the robust Mexican restaurant menu, you may find yourself out of sorts. Item-by-item the fine tuned menu appeals to the growl in your stomach with a nice mix of traditional offerings – pork, chicken, shrimp, beef, island pineapple based salsa and spam. Yes, spam (musubi).

A first time visitor to a Hawaiian menu will, without fail, always flirt with a temptation to order poke. Give in to the temptation. Poke is raw tuna served with vegetables and seasoning. If you enjoy the feeling of a lean meal - a visit to sample the poke is reason enough to dip your toes into Kimo’s Grill. Whether you're looking for a new comfort food or chasing your sweet tooth with your dinner, it's unlike so many other repetitive restaurants around town.

Those who know me, will say I'm bias. And yes, I'll agree 100% after having visited the Fort Campbell Blvd location for quite some time. The quality, service, and people of Kimo's have never failed to disappoint. And during these times, it’s as important as ever to support local businesses.

Mai e `ai.. you won't be disappointed.

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