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May 31, 2012 01:37 PM

Looking for Kauai recommendations north/east shore

Planning 6 days with two toddlers + inlaws and staying in Princeville. Thus when venturing off resort, kiddos would probably be unable to tolerate trips further afield than Lihue. Preferencing cheap, local yummy and toddler-friendly eats (I'm sure we can get plenty of overpriced mediocre food at the st regis) and am fine with food trucks etc., however would like to do one date night with hubby and one anniversary dinner with parents that could be fancier. Based on my initial research, I was thinking Deli & Bread Connection in Lihue, Moloa'a fruit stand in Anahola, Scotty's in Kapa'a, North Shore General Store in Princeville, Garden at Common Ground in Kilauea, Village Snack & bakery in Hanalei, Banana Joe's in Kilauea, Hee Fat in Kapa'a, & Mermaids Cafe in Kapa'a. And of course we will hit Hamura's. Any other must sees? Is Infigo still around? Any feedback on these spots would be appreciated. Or if you think of other spots better suited that I may be missing. Thanks!

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  1. Aloha, shanservers:

    You and I are proof of separate but parallel universes. With the possible exceptions of Hamura's and Mermaids, I wouldn't focus on any of these.

    I posted a too-long compendium about a 2010 hele home that I think is still current (good or bad, depending). You might search for it.

    Shave ice w/ one scoop extends toddler radius at least to Hanapepe. ;)


    6 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Aloha, Kaleo:

      Wow, I'm glad I asked! I will seek out your compendium. Agree that sweet treats make excellent bargaining chips with the two and under set!


      1. re: kaleokahu

        Very informative - not too long - I appreciate the details. Sukhothai, KCL & Garden Island are now going on my lunch list (had considered Duane's but now will maybe just stop by for a marionberry shake) and Ono Family for breakfasts. Plan to hit the farmers markets for in-room snacking (we won't be able to cook). Maybe Tahiti Nui will end up being our date night - sounds like a good spot to take a break from the kiddos for awhile. Have you been to the Iti wine bar? Now I just need to figure out where to take the parents to celebrate - they're not very adventurous eaters. And while I'm not bothered by indifferent service or a less-than-appealing setting if the food is good and cheap, I start to get annoyed by both of those negatives if paying stratospheric prices for forgettable food.

        You seem very familiar with the area - are you lucky enough to live there or just a frequent visitor? This will be my first time on Kauai - very excited!

        1. re: shansevers

          Hi, shanservers:

          Date night... A bottle of Veuve Cliquot, a pupu platter, a coconut macaroon, maybe some 'awa on a beach like Anini or Lumaha'i... The moon comes up... Who needs a restaurant?

          Parents... It depends on their degree of adventure-aversion, of course, but if they're steak-n-potatoes, the Bull Shed is good for local flavor, as is the steakhouse in Kalaheo. These are a little casual for a special dinner, though. Upticking on the adventure, atmo and kala would be Dukes at Kalapaki (Marriott), Casa di Amici (Po'ipu). Another step up might be Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt. And as much as I get disappointed by Hanalei Dolfin, it seems always to be a crowd-pleaser with older folks.

          Unfortunately, I think Ono Family lost their lease--not sure they reopened. Not been to the wine bar, sorry.

          I am hanai in a native family from Oma'o. I do not get home often enough.

          If it is your first time to Kaua'i nei, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Chipper (Frederick) Wichman's "Placenames of Kaua'i". It explains why places are called what they are, with the history, mythology and spirits that lie beneath. Find the kaona that's there. Make a local friend. See what's on the public events calendar. Set your radio to KKCR. Drive every road you can find. Anything is possible if you ask permission and give thanks.


          1. re: kaleokahu


            I like the date nite picture you're painting! We could all use a little 'awa right now...

            I think Duke's should be in the running for anniversary dinner, but I'm confused: is it a bar or a restaurant or both or are there 3 different Duke places? They all seem to serve food.

            If Ono's is out for breakfasts, we'll sub in Kountry Kitchen - sounds like next best.

            I'll look up Wichman's book - same Wichmans as Limahuli Gardens Wichmans? (on our list to visit). Streaming KKCR to my computer right now - getting me in the mood! We can nourish our bodies easily enough here at home but most of us go to Hawaii to nourish our souls - just as important and not as easy. That said, ya gotta eat, so might as well make it as pleasurable as possible! Am looking forward to experiencing your blessed island - I hope you are able to go home again soon Kaleo.


            1. re: shansevers

              Hi, shansevers:

              'Ae, same Wichmans. You will read that the black party 'awa in one Ahuapa'a by Kilauea was so good that the Moku gave the hostess the whole district. Can't get it to grow here in Seattle!

              The nicer Duke's upstairs, I think. The bar and lanai are for sandy slippahs, but say aloha to my friend Kamal who does Marriott's fishing charters and water activities next door.

              Also check the Westin (Po'ipu) to see if Auntie Kapu's troupe is dancing while you're there.

              No worries, part of me is always there...


              1. re: kaleokahu

                Hi Kaleo,

                Ha! Funny. Will do! I'll report back on my findings after my return in a couple of weeks.

      2. Just got back yesterday from a very long visit to Kaua’i. We always stay in Waipouli, and this year we never went farther north than downtown Kapa’a (we were lazy). Also, didn’t eat out all that much. That said, from an eastside standpoint, for casual places (can’t vouch for toddler friendliness; we were just two adults) I’d suggest

        Mark’s Place in Puhi – local plate lunches. My favorites are chicken katsu and loco moco. Cheeseburger and fries (Lamb Weston frozen fries, but dang good) are pretty good, too. Open 10am-8pm M-F (check their website), outdoor dining only on picnic tables in an industrial park. Daily specials.

        Garden Island BBQ, Lihu’e – the best Chinese (although Wong’s in Hanapepe has one dish that is among the best I’ve had anywhere) on the island, serving family style and combination plates. Dinner only, closed Sunday. Very reasonable pricing for what you get, and very good. Sizzling steak plate is terrific, shrimp and snow peas is very good and an amazing deal, Hong Kong style fried chicken is fantastic. The chow mein cake noodles were very disappointing.

        Duke’s Barefoot Bar, Kalapaki Bay - $3 happy hour fish tacos on Tuesdays from 4-6 are one of the best deals on the island. Outside of that they’ve got something for everyone, but higher priced. We’ve seen a parent walk across the sidewalk to Kalapaki Beach with the kids while the other parent eats and holds the table. The hula pie is an outstanding dessert, and one will feed two adults and the toddlers easily.

        Pono Market, downtown Kapa’a – this is a deli with two indoor tables and a few sidewalk tables. Open at 6 am. Very good local plate lunches and poke. The beach isn’t far behind the deli, if you want to picnic. Look on yelp for photos of the menu. Pork lau lau is very good (they’ll be out before 1 pm), musubi is great (those’ll be gone by 10 am), shoyu poke is awesome. They have daily specials. Cash only.

        Hamura Saimin, Lihu’e – we only had lilikoi pie here this year; weren’t in the mood for soup. But based on our past experiences (Hamura, Waipouli Restaurant, Mark’s) no other place on Kaua’i does saimin better. Cash only.

        Monico’s Taqueria, Wailua – really good seafood burritos and tacos. Not cheap ($16 for a seafood burrito, which was very fresh and flavorful, however), but worth it if you want something Mexicanish. If you’ve had Mexican seafood in Baja, it won’t be the same, but the seafood is fresh and it’s good.

        Kaua’i Pasta in Kapa’a – not real cheap, but really well prepared pasta dishes (as a side note they also provide the meals for Alaska Air 1st class going to the mainland, and the meals were very good). Loved their butternut squash ravioli and spaghetti and meatballs.

        Kaua’i Bakery at Kukui Grove shopping center in Lihu’e – cream filled malasada. A fairly firm Portuguese doughnut overflowing with a delicious creamy custard.

        Farther south:

        Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo buffet every Monday and Thursday - $15 pp, great pigout (don’t know if toddlers eat for less). Awesome buffalo wings, good rudimentary salad bar, terrific spaghetti w. parmesan, bacon, olives, olive oil, peppers, etc. Pizza good, nice cream cheese dessert pizza. Didn’t try Brick Oven in Wailua.

        Kukuiolono Park Golf Course Clubhouse – panoramic views of the South Shore from the hillside of the park. The clubhouse has a nice cheeseburger and fries for $7 or so, depending on the extras on the burger. Fun and cheap 9 hole golf course here. Cash only, closes just before sunset.

        Anniversary or Special Dinner:

        Hukilau Lanai – nice setting at the Kaua’i Coast Resort. Everything well prepared. Love Wally’s salad, the ono, local meatloaf, and macadamia nut tart.

        Duke’s upstairs – lovely view if you get a table overlooking Kalapaki Bay. Ono, opah, mahi prepared several ways, very extensive salad bar. Also beef, chicken and ribs. Nice tropical décor. Like their macadamia crusted mahi and ono. Hula pie here, too. Wine is expensive, cocktails weak, staff can be distracted.

        Bull Shed – this place gets no love online, but is generally well-liked by locals. Simple protein, salad bar, and side. Salad bar is nowhere near as extensive as Duke’s, you get white rice as the side with all your entrees, and it costs $3 if you want a baked potato instead. Gigantic prime rib is great, though, (Texas style, which is grilled on one side, is a nice change of pace), teriyaki sirloin is terrific, lobster tails are huge and reasonably priced, and the grilled daily fish special is very tasty. Restaurant is 10 feet from the ocean, décor is dated, cocktails (strong) and wine are well-priced, staff is friendly.

        Farther south:

        Red Salt in Po’ipu – lovely restaurant in the Koa Kea Hotel. Very well-executed dinners. They’ve lost two executive chefs in the last 11 months, so nothing new on the menu. They get mad love online for their breakfast, too, but we’ve never been able to make it down there before they stop serving at 11 am. Delicious seared scallops and lobster ravioli.

        Josselin’s in Kukui’ula Village, Po’ipu – trendy tapas oriented restaurant by celebrated chef Jean Marie Josselin. Uneven. Loved the corn brulee and 36 hr braised, then glazed and grilled pork belly, but not crazy about the seared scallops, shrimp&duck tacos, or sliders. Very attractive space, but pretty loud.

        Lotta places we didn’t visit this year, so this is not an extensive list.

        3 Replies
        1. re: beantowntitletown

          Thanks for taking the time to respond Beantowntitletown - this is very helpful! You are lucky to have been able to spend a long time there.

          Is Duke's Barefoot the same thing as Duke's Canoe Club in the Marriot, but just on different levels? $3 hh fish tacos + view sounds like it'd be worth the drive. Pono was on my list, to grab some kalua pork to bring to the beach but based on your recommendation, we'll pick up some of their poke too. Apple turnovers & malasadas from Kauai bakery keep getting mentioned all over these boards so will def stop by there too. Hamuras & Garden Island are givens - most of the chow hound universe gives them high marks - although I didn't realize Garden Island only open for dinner - thanks for heads up! As for the special night out dinner, I'm torn between Hukilau & Hanalei Dolphin: the first for food, bar tending skills and that they have a big lawn I could turn the kids loose on; the second for their fish and proximity to where we're staying. It may come down to service - I hear it's in a sucky phase at Dolphin right now - that's one dinner where I'd really like my inlaws to be treated well.

          Appreciate your input!

          1. re: shansevers

            Garden island BBQ is open for lunch, too; I was wrong about that. Duke's Barefoot Bar is the ground level part of Duke's Canoe Club. Can't provide any info on Hanalei Dolphin, but we've never been disappointed by Hukilau.

            1. re: beantowntitletown

              Got it - thx Beantowntitletown! Will report back upon my return in a couple of weeks.

        2. You are missing the Beach House in Poipu, off Lawai Rd.
          I find it better than anything on the North Shore although The Dolphin is close.
          I'd recommend either one for your anniversary.
          There is also a place in Poipu called Keoki Paradise, that is a FABulous lunch spot, and dinner too.
          Stick to fish and you will not be disappointed with any food on Kauai.
          Here is a list of Frommer's on the Island, that includes the location of each place.


          1 Reply
          1. re: VenusCafe

            Thanks VenusCafe! I am hearing that Beach House is ono from multiple sources, although there seems to be a perception that steak is their achilles heel? No matter for me, as I'd prefer seafood anyway. If I can convince the 'rents to make the 2.5 hr round trip after drinking, will add to our list! ;}