Looking for great restaurants in Kauai
There's not a lot to choose from around Princeville. If you're staying at a condo, then a short trip to the Princeville Foodland, Papaya's, and The Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market will supply you with all you need for probably the best meal.
If you're up for going out, then the places within Princeville are okay. You've got the Princeville Hotet's bar and restaurants, which can be hit or miss. The same for meals at the Hanalei Bay Resort although we've had more hits than misses here. Both hotels have nice mixed drinks and wine selections in either the bar or restaurant areas. And as for the "new" mediterranean place, Saffron, in the old Sabella's, I haven't tried it but heard that it's slightly better than Sabella's, the previous occupier (which had great service but mediocre salty food).
For a few minute drive down to Hanalei, I'd recommend driving by Hanalei Dolphin (except for lunch) and heading to either Postcards or Hanalei Gourmet. Hanalei Dolphin does have nice fish dishes, but they're frequently in greasy batter or overly buttery sauces. However, the Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market (behind the restaurant) offers great fresh fish, sushi rolls, 2-3 kinds of ahi poke, and tako poke.
Postcards Cafe and Hanalei Gourmet respect the local catch of the day with great execution. Plus, you get great live music with your meal in Hanalei Gourmet (they even have Sierra Nevada on tap sometimes). Barracuda in Hanalei is a great option but with a Spanish tapas twist on your meal. Which means fewer local dishes but still local produce. I recall the polenta fries were being devoured by lots of patrons but we found them a bit greasy. The risotto and lamb shank was cooked to perfection though. Service, drinks, and food were generally excellent.
We still mourn the loss of Hanalei Mix Plate for lunch. Especially since the restaurant that took it's place doesn't quite match up (in food or service).
Some of my favorites are Hanalei Cafe at the Princeville Hotel for lunch, outside on their balcony. Here is a great (and accurate) description: "With breathtaking views of Hanalei Bay and a mouth-watering menu, you may never want to leave the scenic terrace. Café Hanalei features daily specials, a signature Seafood Buffet and a Sunday Champagne Brunch. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast served at 6:30 am; lunch at 11:00 am to 2:30 pm; dinner at 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm." I've only gone for lunch and it was beautiful. You can check out their menu at the Princeville Hotel website.
Polynesia Cafe in Hanalei is no frills, but fantastic food (served on paper plates!) and you can BYOB. Here is their webiste: http://www.polynesiacafe.com/.
Hanalei Dolphin is a really good fish market and I've enjoyed lunch there - didn't do dinner. Here is their website: http://www.hanaleidolphin.com/ .
Bubba's burgers is take out or picnic tables. In Hanalei town, very casual but great burgers.
Just down the road from Princeville a few miles (and on your way to the Kilaeua Lighthouse), in the village of Kilaeua, is the Kilauea Fish Mkt - again either buy fish to cook or buy their cooked items - best fish burrito I've ever had. Picnic tables outside or take out. I've heard good things about the Lighthouse Bistro also in Kilaeua, but haven't tried it. There is a pizza place in the same complex that we did take out from and liked.
There is a place in Hanalei town, but I can not remember the name (!). It's on the right driving toward Hanalei from Princeville - has a bar and some tables inside and on a little porch that I got some incredible macademia crusted fish. I'm going to be there in 2 weeks (yea!) and will have to check it out again to get the name.
Bali Hai restaurant at the Hanalei Bay Resort (where I stay) is beautiful for sunset over Hanalei Bay. I've always enjoyed the food, sometimes the reviews on service aren't fantastic - but I've never been in a hurry there (why bother, right? it's vacation). They also have the Happy Talk Lounge with good casual food, good drinks and entertainment.
There is also Hanalei Wake Up Cafe - total hole in the wall (don't look for ambience here) but the "over the falls" french toast was killer.
When you are in Lihue - maybe on arrival day or on your way to Waimea Canyon or Poipu, don't miss Duke's for good food and views (again I did lunch) and the Kalapaki Beach Hut for breakfast (Fr toast, pancakes, Portugese sausgage) and burgers.
How's this for a few great restaurants? Aloha and have a great time - 3 days by the way is NOT enough!
You might want to do a search of this board - make sure you are on the Elsewhere in America board, then hit "Search this board," at the top of the page. Within the last year, there have been maybe three threads on Princefille, Kaua`i eats, from high-end to low. I do not have those threads bookmarked, or I'd just post the links. A lot of reports and not that many really good (oh, the REPORTS were good, just not the consensus on dining), especially at the higher-end.
If you get down to Poipu (rather a haul, if you're staying up north), I did a review of several in Oct, '07, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334698
Depending on what you find, and where you dine, please report back. I was surprised at the lack of really good fine-dining spots up that way.