Kauai - spring 2009 update
We just spent a month on Kauai and returned home 2 days ago so thought I'd give an update. If you don't know Kauai, let me warn you that it is NOT a foodies paradise. So I'll first start out by telling you about some good places. Unfortunately, the majority of places we went to were disappointing. Our place is in Kapaa so you'll see mostly places from the east side of the island, although we ventured north and south a few times....
Eastside Restaurant (Kapaa) - this was our absolute favorite place. It's new (about 7 months old) and the first week we were there they had just gotten their liquor license and had a limited bar and wine menu. When we went back last week, they had additional wines (although still limited) and new things on the menu. Our waiter said they are experimenting with new things all the time. This is a nice restaurant with good service and nightly music at 7pm. The appetizers and dinners are great, I'd skip the desserts. I would call them a seafood place with asian influence, although they also had chicken, steak, ribs and vegetarian dishes on the menu. I won't go in to everything we tried here, but I must say the mahi-mahi wrapped in a thin-crusted potato wrapper with curry pesto was SO yummy!! I only hope they will still be in business next March when we go back but I think they are feeling the economy big time in Kauai.
Verde (Kapaa) - great fish tacos! This is in a place that kind of reminded me of a Taco Time (walk up counter with menu on overhead reader-board), however, the food was MUCH better, more expensive and they also serve margaritas (which were very weak and not good). They have take-out as well, which you may want to do since the place is small and packed. I'll go here again next year but probably for lunch and not dinner. Great fish-tacos!
Carrie Da Way (Kapaa) - this is a little food truck parked in a parking lot that has an outside dining room. It was kind of amazing all the different items on their menu, but we only had fish tacos for lunch one day and they were great.
Kintaro (Kapaa) - We've been going to Kintaro's for sushi for years and are never disappointed - until this time. Actually, we went twice and had our usual wonderful sushi but on our third visit it was only so-so. We had a tempura shrimp roll and the tempura was soggy and not cooked through. My guess is just a new chef in the back where they do the tempura and we'll definitely continue going to Kintaro. The trick is get there before they open at 5:30 or else plan on waiting for a table or to sit at the sushi bar. Our favorites are the Kilahuea Roll and the Soft Shelled crab with avacado (hand roll). Yummy!
Beachhouse (Poipu) - Another place we always go when on Kauai and we still love it. If you haven't been before, you must go, if nothing else just because of it's stunning location. If you can't get reservations for sunset then go sit in the bar. Chances are a table will open up and you can eat dinner in the bar watching the surfers and the sunset.
Plantation Gardens (Poipu) - Hadn't been before but checked it out after reading the reviews here on Chowhound. I had a pear/arugula/gorganzola salad that was very good. Unfortunately, my seared ahi selection came on a huge bowl of arugula also (it was a special and I must not have heard the waiter say that). So although it was very good, I was arugula-ed out!! My husband had mahi-mahi and he said it was good, but nothing wonderful.
Wahooo Seafood Restaurant (Kapaa) - First time there and I had a good piece of walu with macadamia nut mashed potatoes. Good, but nothing to write home about.
Brewpub @ Waimea Plantation Gardens (Waimea) - We use to like the food there but this time found out they are just weeks away from being taken over by new owners so it didn't seem like they were trying very hard. Food was just so-so and service was slow.
Lemongrass (Kapaa) - Forget it!!
Marriott (Lihue) - went to the bar for their Taco Tuesdays (fish taco's for $2.50). Use to be good but not this time.
Bullshed (Kapaa) - Hit & miss. They have a 10 oz. lobster tail for $29 (with salad bar) and it was really good. Rack of lamb is also very good at a good price. But another night we were there I had scallops (yuck) and my husband had a steak (also not good).
Banana Joes (on the way to Princeville)- previous posts talked about how great their frosties were. The day we were there they were out of banana's (Banana Joes out of bananas???) and the only frosties were pure pineapple. We didn't care for them.
Tropical Taco (Hanalei) - previous posts said they were good fish taco's - we found them lacking in any flavor at all (we had the fresh fish, not fried)
Brick Oven Pizza (Kapaa) - previous posts said it was the best pizza on the island. We're wondering if that means they are the only pizza on the island?? It tasted like frozen pizza to us. And who uses canned mushrooms on their pizza? Ick! And it's one thing to charge $8 for a glass of wine, but at least serve it in glass and not plastic!
Shrimp Station (Waimea) - previous posters liked it but we didn't.
Just some clarification:
The :Brewpub at Waimea Plantation Gardens" is called Waimea Brewing Co. The food here has never been that good, and people usually come here for the beer or the entertainment.
The restaurant at the Marriott is Duke's.
I have heard not so great things about the Brick Oven is Kapaa. I don't think it lives up to the same reputation that Brick Oven in Kalaheo has. So if you want to try it, come to the Kalaheo location, mauka side of the highway before the Kalaheo intersection. I personally don't care for the pizza there and it is way too expensive for me to justify.
I went to Banana Joe's the other week and they were only serving pineapple papaya frosties and I liked it better than the banana ones, but I am not the biggest banana fan.
I am sorry you did not love Plantation Gardens, it is one of my favorites!
There is also a restaurant that is actually in the Marriott as well as a bar and a sushi bar upstairs. The sushi bar was quite good. The restaurant was just your average hotel restaurant but nicely located by the pool. I think the taco special that the OP is referring to is at the bar next to the restaurant in the hotel. I remember a special like that when we were there although we did not try it.
Thanks for your clarifications. I figured since the brewpub would be named something else by the time most people read this that I wouldn't name it. We've been going there for years (since they first opened) and use to get pretty good food there, so I guess it's a matter of opinion. Also, I didn't want to confuse the Dukes restaurant upstairs with the bar downstairs that we ate at. I believe the bar is actually called the "Barefoot Bar"? Anyway, it's a good place to sit and look out at the water but the fish taco's weren't what we remembered from last year.
Mahalo for the reviews. Glad that you liked The Beach House. It gets really mixed reviews here (think Mama's Fish House, Maui). For us, it would have been hard to beat, unless they had decided to comp the full check and thrown in a bottle of Montrachet, just for good measure.
Plantation Gardens was a spot that *should* have been better. The potential was certainly there, but they failed to utilize all that they had at their disposal. Maybe the lovely location and proximity to so many tourists have made them compacent. Regardless, it could be much better and without a lot of work.
Most of your places are new to me, and I greatly appreciate that, as will many others.
Thanks for the post. I'm disappointed to hear Banana Joe's got sloppy. I liked Wahoo and the Beachhouse. Didn't care for Brick Oven either. There are no pizza places on the island where you can get a reasonably priced pie. I will put Eastside on the list of places to try.
Every year, I noticed my family has started to cook more meals at home. Thankfully there are great fish and produce available.