KAUAI DINING GUIDE
HAWAIIAN FOODS TO TRY
Plate Lunch: Typically a scoop of rice, macaroni salad, and 1-3 entrees (depending on how hungry you are).
Poké: (pronounced POKE-AY) poké comes from the verb for "to section, slice, or cut" in Hawaiian language. It's sliced raw fish (usually tuna) marinated in a light sesame or soy type sauce. Some of the best poke you'll find is in the grocery stores. They have poke counters, similar to a deli counter on the mainland.
If you're a foodie, here's a Bon Appetit article on poke for you to enjoy.
Malasadas: a Portuguese doughnut popular in Hawaii. Often filled with guava, coconut cream, lilikoi (passionfruit), pineapple, or custard.
Shave Ice: This is not a snow cone! A Hawaiian shave ice typically has a coconut "cap" and a bit of mac nut ice cream on the bottom. The secret to good shave ice is sharp blades! The finer the shave, the better and more flavor you'll have. See the Shave Ice section below for my favorite on each side of the island.
Sugarloaf Pineapple: grown ONLY on Kauai, you can usually find this delicacy at the farmers markets. They'll cut it up for you to take to the beach or back to your accommodations.
Kalua Pork: If you're going to a luau, you'll definitely get an opportunity to try this Hawaiian staple. It's cooked in an underground oven, wrapped in banana leaves and is traditionally served at celebrations and luaus.
Poi: Another luau staple, poi is not exactly a desirable flavor. However, it's a cultural experience! It does not taste good on it's own, the trick is to put it on top of the pork. The bland flavor is meant to balance the saltiness of the meats that traditionally had a lot of salt preservatives.
Use this guide to check out menus and let me know if you want me to add something into your itinerary or make reservations for you.
** Denotes reservations needed.
The word for delicious in Hawaiian is “ono” (oh-no). The word for good local food is “grindz” (grinds). These recommendations offer “ono grindz” - that is good local food!
NORTH SHORE RECS:
Tahiti Nui – Iconic, family-owned local restaurant with a casual vibe. This place was in the movie, The Descendant's with George Clooney. $$
Kilauea Fish Market – no indoor dining, picnic tables under an awning. Best fish tacos on the whole island. Order at a deli style counter and there's usually a line. $
Bar Acuda – TAPAS. If you are a foodie OR you're looking for something unique, check this place out. Very interesting combinations on the menu, relaxed & stylish atmosphere. **$$$
Hanalei Dolphin – fresh fish, caught daily. Relaxed atmosphere, no reservations. $$
Kilauea Bakery & Pizza – great stop for espresso drinks, scones, mac nut cookies, and pizza! $
Postcards Café – a charming, "old Hawaii" setting. Particularly good menu for vegetarians. **$$$
EAST SHORE RECS:
Rainbeau Jo's – Coffee truck with delicious iced coffee. Currently closed, but we're eagerly anticipating the opening of their café. $
Duke's – If you have a desert craving, head to Duke's for the Hula Pie. It's a Hawaii staple. **$$
Lava Lava Beach Club – one of the only places you can actually dine with your toes in the sand. Live music from 5-8:30 every night. $$
SOUTH SHORE RECS:
Beach House Restaurant – Fine dining, best for sunset dining, reservations needed very far in advance.**$$$
Eating House 1849 – Fine dining, locally sourced ingredients, happy hour is from 4-5 **$$
Merriman's – Fine dining, best Mai Tai's on the island! Locally sourced ingredients, happy hour is from 4-5 **$$
The Dolphin Poipu – Fine dining with a fun and energetic atmosphere, gourmet sushi, fresh fish, and steaks. **$$
Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company – great local place for breakfast or brunch, their espresso drinks are great, casual atmosphere. $
Puka Dog – a Hawaiian style hot dog, the secret is in the relish! $
INTERESTING FOOD RELATED TOURS
Kauai Coffee Estate – The largest coffee farm in the US! If you're really into coffee, you might enjoy the farm tour. If you're not really into coffee, you might just want to swing by their visitor's center to get some free samples!
Lydgate Farms Chocolate Farm Tour –This is repeatedly one of visitors favorite things to do on the island! I mean... chocolate tasting in paradise... it's a no-brainer! The tour is entertaining, educational, and you get a ton of samples of some of the worlds finest chocolate.
A must-have cultural experience in Hawaii, a luau showcases Hawaiian dishes (Kalua pig cooked in an imu, haupia, poi, and more) and Hula performances that tell the story of Hawaii. If you want to add either of these into your itinerary, let me know and I'll get them booked for you.
* A few of the resorts offer luau's, I tend to steer away from those. You'll typically have a more authentic experience at the off-site luau's above.
Because Hula is such an important part of a luau, make sure you check out the video about hula in the cultural section of the travel tips page.
FARMERS MARKET'S (AKA-SUNSHINE MARKETS) SCHEDULE
Tuesday 3 PM- Dusk - Waipa Farmers Market; Waipa Foundation, 5-5785A Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI 96714
Sunday 12 PM- 2:30 PM - Hale Halawai Farmers Market; Hale Halawai Ohana O Hanalei; 5299 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI 96714
Saturday 9:30- 12 PM - Anaina Hou Farmers Market; 5-2723 Kuhio Highway, Kilauea, HI 96754
Country Sunshine Market- Wednesday 3-5; Kapaa Beach Park, 4-1604 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, HI 96746
Central/ West Side:
Monday 3 PM- 5:30 PM - Monday Pau Hana Market; Kukui Grove Center, 4303 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, HI 96766
Saturday 10 AM- 1 PM - Grove Farm Market; Puhi Park, 3-1850 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766
Thursday 3 PM- 4 PM - Country Sunshine Market; Hanapepe Park, 4481 Kona Rd, Hanapepe, HI 4481