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Kauai vs. Maui

  • m

Last summer I was in Maui and had some very good meals (David Paul's, Sansei, Mama's) -- as well has some disappointing, overpriced meals (Five Palms, Chez Paul). And also, the best breakfasts ever at the Gazebo Restaurant at Napili Bay.

This summer I am planning a trip to Kauai, but I am concerned that food-wise, Kauai does not have enough to offer.

Is this concern wrong? Should I go to Kauai? Or should I stick with Maui?


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  1. Kauai is so freakingly awesomely beautiful and wonderful that food should be the least of your concerns. That being said, I have heard the dining there is getting better.

    Or rent a condo, go to the Sunshine (Farmer's) Market, and make some tasty meals yourself.

    Kauai isn't for everyone, but if you at all love doing physical stuff outdoors, appreciate a truly laid-back atmosphere and peace and quiet, go check it out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snackish

      Agree 100%. There is some food that's not awful (and some that's actually pretty good), but that's not a reason to pick Kauai. I'd go back to Kauai in a second despite only mediocre food, but I'm hesitant to return to Maui.

    2. t
      torta basilica

      If you're going just for the food, go to Oahu! Otherwise, Snackish sums it all up rather nicely. One does not go to Kauai for the food, but it is beautiful & very different from Maui.

      1. Maui is my favorite of the islands and I would never discourage you from returning! However, on Kauai we had a good meal at Brenneke's (Poipu area) and excellent pizza at Brick Oven Pizza (Kalaheo). Tidepools at the Hyatt is also highly recommended by many and has a lovely setting.

        Up north consider Hanalei Dolphin for good fresh seafood (not fancy) and CJ's for an excellent steak.

        Kauai, like Maui, offers hit and miss dining. For ultra casual and different try a Puka Dog!

        1. Just returned from a trip to the Islands and had pretty good food everywhere. Loved Sansei by the way.
          On Kauai we went to a restaurant called Casablanca by Kiahuna in Poipu area. Very good food, very slow service. The shrimp and cheese appetizer was fabulous. Also, in Kalaheo there's a place called Kalaheo Coffee Company which used to be just a cafe that I loved. It has now expanded to a full restaurant, and while I haven't tried it in this incarnation, I remember loving it in years past. Stop at Ishihara market for the best poke around! Also, 7-11 has manapua which are great for a snack. Brennecke's is decent, and there's always Roy's.
          Have fun! Kauai is the most beautiful and peaceful of the islands. You'll love it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jess

            Kauai rules! Hands down.

          2. Kauai is one of the most beautiful places on earth. You will love it. The north shore has been featured in more movies than space will allow. Great meals in Kauai can be had a :The Beach House, Bali Hai (located in Hanalei Bay Resort-incredible views), Lighthouse Bistro, Dondero's, you won't have any problem finding good food! We'll be there in late September. We try and make it every year. Enjoy!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Eileen

              Oh, I had forgotten about Dondero's. I thought it was exceptional. Service, setting, and food...

            2. We love both islands! The Beach House on Kauai is excellent! The Plantation House (Kapalua) and Sea Watch (Wailea) are also excellent on Maui! All three are owned by the same company! We have never been disappointed at any of these three restaurants. We love Mama's Fish House on Maui! Try Gaylord's for dinner on Kauai. The old plantation style dining as well as the food is very nice! Pomodora's in Kalaheo (Kauai) is great Italian food. Not so atmospheric but good food! Tidepools at Hyatt in Kauai has great appetizers and soup. Ask to sit by the water. You can't beat Roy's in Kauai. Superb! These restaurants are more upscale, but well worth the $$$$ if you are a foodie like us! Be sure to make reservations in advance of your trip!

              1. I 100% disagree with everyone in this thread - Kauai is an excellent place to go for food. Now keep in mind its not the kind of fu-fu over the wall, three michelin star type of food you'd get in lower manhattan - but its the kind of stick to your ribs local chow that costs you four bucks and you crave for the rest of your days. Its the kind of food that made chowhound (pre-cnet aquisition) the place to write and read about good eats.

                In short... the following are all huge finds in their own right, none will cost you more than 20 bucks for a couple:

                Hamura Saimin - Saimin and a lilikoi chiffon pie
                Barbeque Inn - Anything terryaki
                Kountry Kitchen - Breakfast
                Duke's - Fish taco's and mac nut crab wonton's
                Mark's Place - True local food - get a "plate" lunch

                The list goes on... I find that every time I sit down to a meal in Kauai I either pay $9 or $90 for my wife and I. I always remember the $9 meals the best...

                And if you want to spent a little more, Kintaro's is pretty much the best sushi I've ever had - its old school - but old school is damn good sometimes - get the Hanalei roll, you might want to order two

                3 Replies
                1. re: LiveCJ

                  Where is Mark's Place and Kountry Kitchen? Anything reasonable and tasty (plate lunch, saimin, local food) up in Hanalei/Princeville?

                  1. re: noshie

                    Mark's place is in puhi industrial park in Lihue in what looks like a warehouse. They catered my wedding and did a sureal job a couple weeks back, but their lunches are awsome.

                    Kountry Kitchen is on the main drag in Kapaa on the left side if your heading north.

                    In Hanalei go to the polynesian cafe - great plate lunch / local food - plus you get to eat outside and BYOB which you can buy at a safeway next door

                    1. re: LiveCJ

                      Went to Mark's place and ate at the one bench in the parking lot. Not the most scenic nosh, but good plate lunch. They also have a location in a town close by (I forget the name). Did not try the Kountry Kitchen, although I drove by it.

                      Had a very fresh tasting fish burrito at Tropical Taco in Hanalei, sort of pricey with not the most authentic tasting salsa, but still was quite nice.

                2. Mike,

                  Do a search of this board for reviews of Kaua`i. I did a comprehensive review of the Poipu Area about a year ago. Most of the spots were higher-end dining, but you should get an idea of what is available on the island. There are also several reviews of the North Shore of Kaua`i, but I'm not sure what is available up there - been too many years for me.

                  Based on my last few trips to Maui (and your cited restaurants), I'd say that Kaua`i will be just fine. Maybe not quite as many, but some great ones and that island is well worth visiting - totally different, than Maui, but great.


                  1. I believe that Kaua`i has a lot to offer, food-wise. You might want to check out the first several articles in: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334698
                    to see what we encountered. Some were great, some were less so, but all were atleast "good," even some of the lesser spots in the resorts.


                    1. The OP posted this over two years ago, but I thought I will chime in anyway.

                      Here is a recent post with some great recommendations. We were in Kauai recently and found great local food (Mark's, Hamura, Barbeque Inn) Korean BBQ, Shave Ice (JoJo's, two locations) and a great fine dining spot at the Beach House. And that doesn't even scrach the surface. There's more to try on our next trip.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ogawak

                        Thanks for pointing out the date. I had not noticed that, or I would not have offered the info, that I did.

                        Maybe I need to change my CH prefs., as this has happened on the NOLA board.

                        I appreciate your pointing this out to me,


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          No Worries. I just enjoy posting about my trip to Kauai and grateful to this board, and your contributions, for helping to make our trip great.

                      2. I don't think anyone has suggested Mema's(sp?) for thai cuisine...located across from Kintaro's...very good