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May 12, 2008 10:57 PM

Kauai - All Recommendations Welcome!

Hi there!
Fellow chowhounder (me) and girlfriend are heading to Kauai this week and would love to know where to eat!
We've never been to Kauai before, and we're staying for 5 days in the Poipu area. We're open to any and all types of food. Let us know where to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! We'll probably want to eat a couple nice sit-down dinners at nice restaurants, but we're also open to eating at any shack/hole-in-the-wall that offers great food and good times. We're more than willing to drive to any part of the island for we could always use an excuse to explore.

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  1. Where are you staying, out of curiosity??

    You can find old recommendations if you search on the boards....however, some of my favorite places are:

    -Plantation Gardens. Located in Poipu, at Kiahuna. You can see the menu online. The setting is really nice, in beautiful gardens and the food is good every time I go. A lot of good fish entrees and also offers non-fish options. Really my favorite restaurant- I usually go here once a month or so, and have never had a bad meal.

    -Keoki's Paradise is located in the Poipu Shopping Village. While it is pretty touristy with waterfalls and everything, it has pretty decent food. I usually sit at the bar and order the fish tacos. Unfortunately, they recently changed the fish tacos from grilled mahi to deep fried mahi---very upsetting! You can have a lighter meal at the bar and I believe there is a dinner menu as well (I only ever eat at the bar, so who knows??)

    -Kintaro's is everyones favorite place for sushi. It is located in Kapa'a, about 40 minutes from Poipu, depending on traffic. It is on the makai (ocean) side of the road, right before Kapa'a town. It gets crowded and you often have to wait an hour or so for dinner, but try to come early 5 or so or late and you don't need to wait as long. The Hanalei roll is the most popular (or it seems that way) and is a tempura fried crab/avo roll. The tin foil is also good and for non-fish/sushi fans, the filet is amazing.

    -Hamura's Saimin is the place to go when you are on island. It is in Lihue and looks run down, but has the best saimin (similar to ramen) and is in fact a James Beard winner. Get a piece of lilkoi pie for dessert and you will be filled. Really good saimin, but it can get crowded at lunch- especially during peak times. Perhaps get some take out.

    -Koloa Fish Market is really popular for lunch. You can get fish sandwiches, but I always get poke here. In fact, I kind of over did it on the Poke bento, which is a layer of rice, wasabi cream sauce, and ahi poke and is really good. A great option if you want to get takeout and go back to Poipu beach.

    -Barbecue Inn is my favorite restaurant on the island. They recently redid and minimized their menu. The restaurant is on Kress Street, off of Rice Street, before Hamura's. Although prices have increased over time, you still get a value as your entree comes with homemade bread, soup/salad and homemade cream pie (I love the mac nut cream pie!). I usually get a scallop salad, but you can get good teriyaki and tempura.

    -For breakfast, I really like both Kountry Kitchen in Kapa'a and Tip Top in Lihue. They have great pancakes (mac nut pancakes are their specialty, but as much as I love mac nuts, I don't like them in pancakes...). Joe's on the Green near Kiahuna Golf Course is also a good choice (and probably your only reasonable option) in Poipu. Early bird special are from 6:30 or so till 8:00 and are REALLY cheap (like less than $5).

    People generally like Beach House- I'm not really a huge fan and I have yet to go to Tidepools, which is another popular spot at the Hyatt. I also really like going to Stephenson's Library at the Hyatt for drinks. I don't really spend much time on the North Shore, but I recently ate at Nanea, the restaurant at the Westin, and it was REALLY good. However, because it is new, I want to eat there again before I start recommending it. Also, if you like Italian, Pomodoro's in Kalaheo is really good, but a lot of tourists don't come to the islands looking for Italian...

    If there is anything specific you are looking for, let me know! I go out to eat all the time and can definitely offer more suggestions if need be!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mag454

      Thanks for your help! That's a great list.
      To answer your question, we're staying at the Kiahuna Plantation. So we'll definitely eat at Plantation Gardens.
      I think we'll probably avoid any Italian spots (we get enough of it at home). We'll, most likely, focus upon fish-dishes and maybe a bit of beef/steak here and there. It sounds like we're covered for the nicer dinners (Plantation Gardens, Beach House). So, if you have any other recommendations for fish-taco-stands, lunch spots, and places to grab quick bites, then by all means let us know! And any places that have good wine lists are always a plus! Thank you again!

      1. re: Mag454

        mag covered a lot, but here's a couple of other possibilities. if you’re in the lihu’e area for dinner, the dining room upstairs at duke’s at the marriott on kalapaki bay does a good job with fresh fish. if you’re seated at a table on the lanai, you’ll have a nice view of kalapaki bay, especially if the moon’s out (there’s supposed to be a full moon around may 20). the café on the first floor serves a pretty good mahi sandwich for lunch. we ate at tidepools last year and loved the setting of thatch-roofed huts sitting above koi ponds. we weren’t crazy about the food, though. if you’re sightseeing in hanalei town (which is more than an hour drive from po’ipu), you might try bar acuda for dinner. another pretty good place for local food is waipouli restaurant in the corner of the foodland shopping center in waipouli (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). also for a local version of chinese food, garden island barbecue on rice st. in lihu’e is pretty good for lunch or dinner. have heard many good things about blossoming lotus, a vegan restaurant in kapa’a town, and we're planning to try it next week. ditto for trying nanea.

      2. Wife and I just got back from Kauai and had the time of our lives. Hope yours is just as good.

        FWIW, speaking as a visitor and not a local, these are my favorite spots. We had done a thorough search on these boards and visited these local spots.

        The Beach House was a real dining experience for us. Right on the beach in Poipu with a breathtaking panoramic view of the ocean, I had the macadamia nut crusted Mahi, their signature dish and was delicious. Also terrific light crab cakes, and a good watermelon salad. Service was superb. We were fortunate to see 10 foot breaker, with every surfer on the island out there providing dinner entertainment.

        Roy's in Poipu is highly recommended. I've only eaten at Roys in Oahu, but it's really good. But Roy's does have locations on the Mainland, so it's not a must.

        Other places of note:

        I second Hamura Saimin for noodles and lilikoi pie
        Also second Barbecue Inn for their lunch specials. Great fresh fish.

        Marks, kind of near Costco, was a great find for plate lunch. Takeout only. 2nd location in Kalaheo near Poipu.
        On the way to Waimea Canyon, JoJo's is a must for great shave ice.
        In Kapaa, next door to Kintaro's is a surprisingly good Korean BBQ place. They cook for you. I like the Kalbi and the chicken.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ogawak

          Just The Beach house worthwhile if I can't get a reservation early enough to watch the sunset?

          1. re: fatassasian

            Although sunset is ideal, the food and service makes it still worthwhile. But hard to imagine being there without seeing the ocean. We went there without a reservation, coming early and on a weekday. You could also sit in the bar as an option. Still a good ocean view.

          2. re: Ogawak

            If you go to Waimea, visit Jojo's Anuenue, versus Jojo's clubhouse. Anuenue (meaning rainbow in hawaiian) is the original and I think it is slightly better/friendlier. It is located in the alleyway next to Shrimp station.

            You might want to look at the restaurant reviews in Ultimate Kauai Guidebook. I think his recommendations are right on.

          3. For the Poipu Area's fine-dining, you might find the first several posts in this link handy:

            The rest of the thread is O`ahu, North Shore & Honolulu/Waikiki.

            There are also some great threads on this board (many more recent, than my reviews), that should pop up with a "search this board." Many of these cover a lot of territory, other than the "fine-dining" scene, that I did.