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Kaui and Big Island help...

Hey Guys,
We are 2 adventurous NYC newlyweds. We have nearly 2 weeks in Hawaii and we no very little about Hawaiin food. We have been in Honolulu for 2 days and loved Ono. No problem with poi as others have discussed. The poke was our first and it was wonderful as well. Please forgive our poor understanding of Hawaiin geography as we describe where we're staying. We are looking for recs for everything from very high end (we'd like to do some superb sushi at some point) to dingy hole-inthe-wall type places serving great local cuisine.Price is not an issue if the food is good. Thanks hounds for your help!

We will be at the Hyatt in Poipu for 3 nights and we will have a car if there are better food options than what is served at the resort. We will be on the North Shore in Hanalei for another couple nights.

In the Big Island, we will be staying either near or in Pahoa for 4 nights. We will have our own kitchen for that time so if there are markets you recommend, let us know as we love to cook on vacation.

We will have one night in KEALAKEKUA.

Our last 2 nights will be near Hawi and Kapaau.

We can't thank you enough for your help. We're looking forward to a honeymoon full of great food.
: )


Hyatt resort in the Poipu area for 3 nights

House on the north shore in Hanalei

Big Island:

house 15 minutes from Pahoa, 3 nights
Ramashala in Pahoa, 1 night

Ka'awa Loa B&B, in KEALAKEKUA, in the Kona area - 1 night (82 5990 NAPOOPOO)

Ranch 2 miles south of the towns of Hawi and Kapaau, 2 nights

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  1. congratulations for staying in out-of-the-way, non-touristy places...try Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea on the Big Island for Hawaiian cuisine...the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi...The Canoe House at the Mauna Lani Resort for ambiance...Keii Cafe in Kealakekua...Road House Cafe in Kainiliu for lunch...Manago Hotel in Captain Cook for pork chops...the Holuakoa Cafe in Holualoa for an authentic Hawaiian dining experience (the best fig salads and lilliquoi cheese cake on the planet)...enjoy!

    1. We had great sushi at our hotel, the Marriott in Lihue in Kauai. The wasabi was the real thing, not the imitation stuff I'm used to, it was delicious and dangerously easy to over-do it.
      A word of caution, coming from NYC, it was hard for us to adjust to everything outside of the hotels shutting down crazy early-- at one restaurant, they asked if we could come at 6:30 instead of 7 when I tried to make a reservation.
      On a recommendation we went to the Hanamaulu Restaurant. The Japanese tea house-like atmosphere was cool, but the food was completely uninspiring--greasy and overcooked, sushi was blah.

      1. In Pahoa, Ning's has pretty good Thai food. Malama Market has a decent selection of groceries, but you'll find greater selection at better prices in Hilo, so if you're coming from that direction you may want to stop at KTA or Safeway on your way down. Nothing to do with food, but don't miss the thermal tidepools down by Kapoho; bathwater warm with honu everywhere.

        Upcountry, I second the recommendation for Hawai'ian Style Cafe in Waimea. Ono local kine grinds. Breakfast and lunch only. For fine dining, Merriman's is hard to beat, although Daniel Thiebault's is really good too.

        Kona side, Teshima's Restaurant in Kealekekua has outstanding home-style Japanese food. Up the road in Captain Cook, the Manago Hotel has a great "old Hawai'i" feel. They're famous for their pork chops, but the fish is good too. In Kailua town, Ceviche Dave's has great ceviche for take-out.

        1. Here is my review of Kaua`i and O`ahu (plus the Northshore). You might find some places worth your while.


          I did a Big Island review, but it seems to have become lost, maybe when CH had a major makeover. The gist of that review was that the two restaurants at the Four Seasons were great, as was Daniel Thibaut's, up-country. If I can ever find that, I'll share it with you.

          It's been decades, since we did Pahoa, so I doubt that anything from my trips would even be there anymore. In Hilo, we loved Cafe Pesto, plus one other. For some horrible reason, I can never recall its name, but someone did post it, not that long ago. I'll search this board for Hilo and see if I can locate that. Why it is not imprinted in my mind is a mystery to me, as it was a really good "family-style" spot, with a touch of elegance and great food and service.



          1. Here's another thread on Big Island eats. Just ignore my Canoe House rant, please.


            Still have not found that missing restaurant name in Hilo, but will post it, when I do.


            1. Here's another thread, and I do not believe that I had a rant in this one:


              Name still elusive. The restaurant is on the Bay, and is accessed through the Park - Hawai`i Belt Road? Gotta' take notes, when someone gives me a name, that I am searching for!!! Sorry to be so daft.



              5 Replies
                1. re: alanbarnes


                  I think you have helped me greatly. Yes, but I wonder why I cannot put this into my memory bank. We found it be a cross between family-style and fine-dining. The wine list was limited, but the server was so very happy to offer tastes of everything on the list, so as to not serve something that I might not like. Really a nice touch for a restaurant without a Michelin Star.

                  Mahalo for helping me out, yet again! Maybe a tattoo on my forearm?


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Harrington's is now closed. The place replacing it is still being fixed up, they were painting as of May 13, 2009, so they should be open soon.

                    1. re: dnamj

                      I hear that laser tattoo removal has come a long way in the last few years...

                      1. re: dnamj

                        Bummer. It was quite good with outstanding service. Not a fine-dining restaurant, but a very nice up-scale "family" type of place. It's been a long time, since we last dined there, so maybe too many things changed.

                        Thanks for the info - guess I won't be recommending them on that side.


                  1. Last Hilo/Big Island link, until I find that name:



                    1. Jeremy
                      you picked a lovely spot on Kauai for your honeymoon.
                      The restaurants at the Hyatt are pricey but have good reputations
                      For another nice dinner you may want to try either the Plantation at the Kiahuna or for a dinner with a view (book around 6 PM for sunset), the Beach House at Lawaii.
                      Koloa fish market has terrific plate lunches.
                      If you are going up north, try Duanes Ono Char burgers for the best burgers!

                      1. .We were on the North Shore of Kauai just a couple of months ago in Haena. The Hanalei Farmers market is on Tuesday between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM, but be there at 2:00 with your racing shoes when they open for great fruit and veggies. Costco in Lihue next to the shopping center on the west side has really fresh fish. The marlin for $6.99 a pound was the freshest I have ever tasted since moving away from the islands. The Foodland in Kapaa has a good selection of poke as does the one in Princeville. Have fun there.

                        1. There is a newish sushi place in Hawi that I hear is sort of experimental with their rolls, I read good reviews but haven't been there. IIII think it is called Sushi Rock? I believe it in on the ocean side of the ride, on the very north end of the strip of businesses/restaurants (it's a small town).

                          I recommend Huli Sue's barbeque in Waimea, its more on the eastern edge of town, on the highway, and its really good. A hidden gem, bbq with a hawaii twist, its reasonably priced and casual but definitely not a hole in the wall, someone took a lot of care designing the space and menu to be cozy and inviting.
                          The same chef also owns Fujimama's in Kona which is more highend sushi and asian/pacific fusion. I hear its good, but can't vouch personally.

                          If you want REALLY local food near Kealakekua stop at Super J's. It is on the ocean side of the highway right near the coffee company with the rainbow flags and treehouse (i can't remember which direction). You'll have to keep an eye out for it, it is in a family's home but there is a very visible professional sign saying "Super J's" and a asphalt parking area in front. Usually there are a bunch of kids around. They have only like, three menu options I believe, laulau plate, kalua pork plate and a combo of the two (i THINK). Plate comes with the usual rice, mac salad, lomi salmon and is very reasonably priced for a good amount of food. No seating except for a bench in front of the house, but you can pick it up and go eat at the place of refuge picnic tables or down at K. Bay. really delicious local food, don't be shy!!

                          ok, one last suggestion: Epicuria and Coffees in kealakekua. it is near the spirit gas station and big jakes bbq (also awesome, but not really "hawaiian" style), right before Middle Keei Rd. if you are heading south on the highway. It looks a bit touristy but they have AMAZING pastries and incredibly reasonable prices, especially for Hawaii. Sweet potato cakes, Passionfruit cheesecake, chocolate mousse, fruit tarts, eclairs, sweetbreads, scones, muffins...their pastry chef is highly skilled and there is always a large variety of items (sometimes more breakfasty stuff sells out early in the day, locals come here because it is cheap). I highly recommend this place for a breakfast, they open early and you can sit outside in back. there used to be an adorable kitten. Avoid if there is a tour bus parked outside, though (don't worry, they only stay for like 5-30 minutes anyplace they go). i'm really missing this place right now!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dahliachewswell

                            Big hugs to one and all for posting this information. We are planning a trip to Kauai and the big island in June. I will refer to this thread as my Chow-bible. My family is Hawaii bound for the sun and surf. Me -- I'm going for the plate lunch!

                            Best wishes Mr. and Mrs. JeremyEG!

                          2. For some more local style grinds, try the snack shop at Sueoka's at lunch time. It is in Koloa town, closest to the Chevron station. It is take out and you can bring it to a pavilion at Poipu. I also like Omoide's in Hanapepe, on the makai side when you are going to Salt Pond. My favorite restaurant is Barbecue Inn on Kress St in Lihue, which is open for lunch and dinner. It is right next to Hamura's Saimin, which is practically an institution on Kauai. I personally love it (I am a salt fiend) but some people say it is overrated. Mark's Place in Lawai or Puhi is also a great take out place and I love their korean chicken. For more continental food (or great sushi) I recently went to Kalapaki Joe's in Lihue, right near Nawiliwili, and loved it. I know I am not being descriptive, but I feel like I always suggest the same places, so you might want to search the boards!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Mag454

                              Have you been offered the idea of going to the mall on Kauai? Sones is great, clean food. The family is very nice, the food is AWESOME. I find local food to be a bit heavy for me, but the local-kine-style grinds he does is just lovely and inventive and full of aloha. Try the teri meatloaf or sometimes he does a nori-wrapped ono fish that rocks.

                            2. hope it's not too late....

                              here are my reviews of the big island and kauai. on the big island we also stayed in a rental (on kaleakakua bay) and cooked most nights. have fun!


                              1. Best of luck to you both! I'm from the mainland but proud to say I've been to Kauai every year since 1983. It's simply my favorite place and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

                                Attached are a few suggestions for food that I really enjoy:

                                ($ - Inexpensive, $$ - Moderate, $$$ - Wow, make sure there is plenty of room on the credit card)

                                Roys Poipu Grill **** ($$$) Great for a "splurge" dinner - be sure to order the molten chocolate cake for dessert
                                Duane's Char Ono Burger ($) **** - The best hamburgers in the whole state! Best of all it's on the way to Princeville from the airport
                                The Beach House (Lawai) ***($$$) -Great view - stay with the grilled fish and you won't be dissapinted. Go at Sunset!
                                Tropical Taco (Hanalei) *** ($) - This is a Kauai institution. Roger (the Owner) used to drive around the island in a big green truck looking for surf and selling tacos. He's now in a building on the main drag, but the tacos are just as good - hint: you can BYOB from the liquor store across the street.
                                Puka Dog (Poipu)- ***($) in the same Poipu shopping center as Roy's this hole in the wall serves funky dogs with great toppings. Perfect car food or to take to the beach.
                                Hamura Saimin (Lihue)– **** ($) Downtown Lihue. A “local” favorite for noodle soup and great grilled chicken / beef skewers. Sit at the counter!

                                Aloha and good luck!

                                1. If you're looking for local grinds, go with local products, flavors, etc.

                                  For the Big Island, I second Hawaiian Style Cafe and Bamboo Restaurant. I found some good fundraiser barbeques on the Big Island that had onolicious beef. Many places serving beef use island grown, grass fed beef so you need to find the right places that know how to work with it. I hear lots of people say they don't eat beef while in Hawaii because they don't like grass-fed beef. Hmmmm.

                                  As for Kauai...

                                  I second the Sueoka's recommendation. I great local secret for cheap but good plate lunch in Koloa.

                                  Kim Chee #9 restaurant in Kukui Grove shopping center is also a nice, little local secret. Some people really like the Kauai bakery in that shopping center but I find it's too much partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their products for my taste.

                                  Korean BBQ, Windward Market, Small Town Coffee Exchange, Mermaids, Papaya's, Blossoming Lotus in Kapaa are all great options. I know someone who loooves the Kountry Kitchen pancakes with truckloads of coconut syrup. I personally can't eat as much food as Kountry Kitchen puts on their plates so their offering seem like a waste to me, even if they are onolicious.

                                  Moloa'a Sunrise roadside stand for smoothies, sandwiches, and free hula show (if the ladies behind the counter have a free moment they'll do a beautiful performance) is a nice little break on the trip between the North Shore and the rest of the island.

                                  Kilauea Fish Market and Kilauea Bakery/Pizza Place are both good options in Kilauea.

                                  Papaya's, Tropical Taco and Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market (not the restaurant but the fish market behind it) are all good Hanalei grinds. Since you're staying at a house in Hanalei, get your fish at the Fish Market, produce at the farmer's market, and have your best meal on Kauai right in your own kitchen.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: goofygamine

                                    Bamboo just got hammered in another thread; have you been there recently?

                                    Jeremy: get a malasada at Tex's

                                    1. re: ibstatguy

                                      read my full response on the other thread - bamboo was very tasty last week. the malasada's at Tex's were killer!!! although pricey ate at merriamn's twice and it was top notch. huli sue's bbq in waimea was delish, as was cafe pesto and the harbor grill in kawaihaie.

                                      1. re: jay 1

                                        Just got back from Hanalei Honeymoon....to be honest the food on Kauai is (compared to Maui) only ok. I actually loved the luau food at the Gaylord's luau.VERY impressed at the quality with that number of people.
                                        We had a nice meal at Bar Acuda, but it it tapas , not a traditional dinner service. We enjoyed roadside Huli chicken in the Kappaa area. We bought yummy fish at dolphin and grilled it with an herb/salt blend from the supermarket, and oil's of aloha Mac oil.
                                        We did a splurge at Tidepools in Hyatt, very very nice service, pretty setting, mixed on the food, the opa is great and the soup.Bubba Burger just ok, in Wimea we heard go to the new jojo's shave ice not the old.

                                        1. re: jay 1

                                          thx for clearing that up. Merriman's is a favorite of ours as are the malasadas at Tex's.


                                        2. re: ibstatguy

                                          I read that recent post about Bamboo and almost felt like they were talking about a different place. My boyfriend always melts over their pork dishes, not finding anything burnt about them. And I generally stick with the fish, surf/turf mixes, or ask for a variation on their stir fry. As for the service being slow, it's a little slower than island time but doesn't seem worth dinging them on.