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Jun 21, 2008 10:38 AM

Chow-tastic restaurants on Kauai and the Big Island?

Boston Chowhound spending two weeks in Hawaii in July, splitting time between The Big Island and Kauai. I'm looking for recommendations for places the locals eat. Hoping to find great food, good atmosphere, the "real" Hawaii. Or two out of three wouldn't be bad. Also, on Kauai, are there places to get fresh fish right off the boat that we can buy and cook in our condo? On either island: Is there one place, or dining experience, we absolutely should not miss?

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  1. Where are you staying in Kauai? You can buy fish at Fish Express in Lihue or Koloa Fish Market in Poipu. However, there are usually (but not always) locals selling fish that they caught out of their trucks near the Gaylord's intersection in Puhi or further north in Wailua/Hanamaulu (I cant remember which). They usually sell Ahi, uku or ulua. This is the freshest fish on the island. Also, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the sunshine markets that are located 6 days a week in various parts ot the island. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the north shore, as I rarely go there b/c its so far from my house!

    Local favorites include:

    Mark's Place in Puhi or Lawai
    Hanamaulu Cafe
    Barbecue Inn in Lihue
    Kintaros in Kapaa
    Omoide's Cafe in Hanapepe
    Hamura's Saimin in Lihue

    all have great food but perhaps not the best atmosphere

    1. too bad you're not going to O'ahu, where you can go to Leonard's bakery for malasadas. think jelly doughnut, but with softer, fluffier dough and tastier filling: vanilla custard, chocolate custard, or haupia (coconut creme). YUM! i haven't been to the other islands, but i'm sure you can find hot malasadas where you're going. MMM!

      1. Two excellent choices for neighboring islands to visit.

        You did not indicate where on the islands you are based?

        Kauai : Hamura's for great saimin, chicken BBQ sticks, and yummy lilikoi pie(Lihue)
        Sueoka's take-out stand attached to their grocery in Koloa town Great hamburgers, really great prices.
        Koloa fish market has great fish to cook in your condo, plus quite a few prepared dishes.
        Fish express: Love this place , right across from the "Walmart" in town. All the local hospital workers grab a takeout order from here as well ,as it is right across the street. Fresh catch of the day, poke, shrimp

        Big Island:
        Pine Tree Cafe located outside of Kailua-Kona (north) not far from the airport. Great breakfasts, plate lunch etc. Workers from the area and families frequent.

        Nori's Saimin in Hilo town is a great local hangout for saimin, BBQ etc. Original decor, circa 1962... love it

        Manago Hotel dining room for the pork chops. Local families and tourists in the know flock here. Everything is served family style. Delicious!! You will think you have walked into old Hawaii 50 plus years ago. Not much has changed, except the cast iron pan used for the pork chops is a little more seasoned.

        Now , I did not list any "High-end" spots, whatever that means.... as you asked for local spots.

        1. Recommendation for the west side of the Big Island are for Thai try Original Thai or the Bangkok House both in Kailua town, for Japanese try Kenichi in Keauhou area, for Hawaiian style Japanese try Teshima's in Kainiliu, for local style cuisine try the Big Island Grill in Kailua town or the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea, but the best restaurant today is the Holuakoa Cafe in Holualoa town...their gnoochi is outstanding, an excellent lunch spot is the Roadhouse Cafe in Kainiliu, Cafe Pesto in Kawaihae is good and the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi is good, too...we don't tend to frequent the resort restaurants so we can't help much there but I'm sure there are some fine dining spots. Hava a nice trip and ka'ahele malu.

          1. Thanks for all the great suggestions. We are staying in Poipu and Kona (running the marathon on the 29th).

            Is there one place we absolutely should not miss?

            1 Reply
            1. re: AEOC

              you should not miss the Holuakoa Cafe in Holualoa town, which is a small enclave of art galaries and shops highlighted by its "bright pink" Kona Hotel which has a restroom with arguably the best view in the world (for a restroom)...breakfast and lunch everyday but Monday and dinner Wednesday thru Saturday...reservations recommended for the spirit of full disclosure, we eat there often and our farm provides a small portion of their locally grown ingredients