North Shore Kauai Tip Report
This board has been so much help to us on our annual visits to Kauai, that I wanted to add a few tips or recs for places I haven't seen mentioned here or deserve that extra praise...I'm not much of a writer, so here just are the facts...
A no name bakery across the street from the Olympic Cafe and around the corner from Shaka Taco has fantastic and reasonably priced freshly baked-on-the-premises danish, cookies, and various breads. They also have coconuts in the fridge and will put straws in them for drinking for $1 or $2.
Carrie Daway - maybe you have passed it on the highway, been hesitant to venture in...It's very bohemian from host/owner to cook, but the people couldn't be friendlier and they do offer freshly caught fish and their 'famous' garlic shrimp (about $13 for a plate lunch).
T&T Steak Burger truck (in the parking lot next to the high end furniture store at the edge of Kapaa. Excellent burgers; as good as Duane's Ono, which we also love. T&T has communal picnic tables and you are at the beach, so unless no one else is there, you'll probably meet lots of nice people too.
-Kilauea Fish Market. We loved their daily fresh fish selection and sauces with rice.
-Tropical Dreams Ice Cream also a video store. By far the best ice cream we ever had anywhere (except for in Italy). All the bins are covered but they will let you see and sample anything. The owner is a trip; a real character.
3) Hanalei -
We always go to the Bakery Cafe in the Kong Lung Center on our first morning, for their macadamia pancakes and egg breakfasts. We also tried their fried chicken once for lunch, which was delicious.
Tahiti Nui - never got to eat there, but had Mai Tais one night listening to fantastic live Hawaiian music and the Mai Tais were superb.
Bar Acuda: I would definitely recommend it for a special occasion dinner. Although it's pricey and the portions are small, the food is very good and they have the best ambience in town in my opinion. Everything we ordered was excellent...be forewarned if you order the scallops, you will get one large scallop and a sliver of another. The lamb actually offered the 'largest' portion' three or four paper thin 'chops'.. All in all though, we ordered many dishes (and ate a ton of their delicious bread and walked away full.
Hamura's Saimin - agreed it's great fun and good food. Nearby, across the street from the Salvation Army (Hamura's is down the street from the S. Army) is a Filipino restaurant (name unknown). When we went there one day for takeout lunch, they were closing and gave us so much free food (in addition to what we ordered), that we had lots of leftovers to eat for a few days.
Finally, everyone knows Costco, but we bought their freshly cut pineapple from Hawaii (most Costcos sell pineapple from Central America), refrigerated it, and enjoyed it all week ..large container at a great price.
Okay, back from my trip, and would like to add a few of my complementary observations.
We did not eat at any of the restaurants in town, but stopped at the daily Kaua'i Market when it was here in town, Wednesdays from 3-4p. They say don't be late, and they mean it. When the whistle blows, the buying begins! It's off the beaten track by the ball fields. We spoke to many farmers and bought a ton of produce and exotic fruits to enjoy at the rental. It doesn't beat the Hilo Market, in my eyes -- the Kaua'i markets are restricted to produce only, so you don't get the cheeses, eggs, mochi, made-to-order Thai food that you see at other island markets.
Hamura Saimin -- we had to make this a stop, and we were glad we did. I loved the setup of the dining counter in the place; so practical. My husband got a regular large and I got a special saimin, regular size, which adds in cabbage, half a boiled egg, extra kamaboko (fish cake) and roast pork.
Right down Rice street was a place I was mightily intrigued by, advertised 'Oki pancakes' on a big banner outside. I thought, do they mean Okinawan pancakes? If so, we have to make our way back here! We never managed to, but if someone does ever try it, please report back.
Costco -- just about the best meal we had was the ribeyes we took home to grill. It makes sense; beef and dairy are what Hawaii does better than anyone. We also picked up Kaua'i pineapple, libations, and manapua for on-the-go lunches.
Waimea Brewing Company -- Tried three different brews, my favorite was the lilikoi ale. We got the poke starter which was lovely -- ruby chunks of ahi in sesame and seaweed, nestled in shredded cabbage. My husband got the Kaho'olawe salad which featured local greens, local goat cheese, mac nuts, and a guava balsamic dressing. My sis and I split the fish & chips -- beer battered, panko-crusted ono, with a fantastic tartar sauce that was not your throwaway bottled dressing. It seemed to have a light yogurt base, and was full of chunks of papaya, cucumber, chile, and onion -- we could not stop scooping it up.
Bar Acuda -- we had a terrific meal here out on the patio (don't forget the DEET), enjoying the small plates and drinks -- for three, with 2-3 courses and a drink each, it was $100 before tip, which I thought was very reasonable. Standouts included the local honey and cheese plate, the pizzetta with local mushrooms, basil, and cheese, and the tangelo granita for dessert. My sister's cocktail was a lime juice and 10-year-old rum thing; very well balanced in flavor.
Paradise Grill -- across the street in the big center, this was the only spot we could find to hit up our joneses for Kalua pua'a for lunch. We each chose the $5 polynesian variety plate (scoop sticky rice, kalua pig, and lomi lomi salmon). It was perfect for our appetites, although we each only got maybe a tablespoon of lomi lomi. If you were more hungry, I'd recommend the kalua pork po'boy instead.
We stopped a few times for Lappert's ice cream (we kayaked the Wailua on the windiest day of the year; that was a 2-scoop day; we hiked to Hanakapiai Beach; that was a one-scoop day), but honestly, the better ice cream to be had was the Roselani you can pick up in most island groceries. The haupia flavor will haunt me until my return, definitely.
Sorry not too many reviews; we mostly enjoyed cooking with fish and produce from the markets, and ate like kings the entire week. Mahalo for reading!
The restaurant in Lihue that is on Kress St, down the road from Hamura's is Barbecue Inn. I wouldn't classify it as a filipino restaurant, but rather a local restaurant. The only true filipino restaurant is down the street on Rice St.
Also, I have only heard good things about Carrie Daway!
Bill- did you hear the rumor that Jean-Marie Joselin is supposed to open a restaurant in the new Kukui'ula shopping center? There has been a lot of talk but his name was thrown in there from Day 1. Wouldn't that be nice?