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Kauai requests for where to buy wine, fish and local proteins and fruit and veg

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We haven't been to Kauai for over 13 years and going for spring break this year. Bringing our 16 year old and 12 year old. I have read the recent reviews on restaurants from others and found them helpful. Thank you especially Kathryn. Below is a tentative itinerary and looking on where to buy fresh fish and local proteins and vegetables. We are staying in Lihue the first night as we fly from Calgary to Vancouver and then to Lihue. We don't arrive till 8:30 pm and not sure if we will need dinner. Next day we leave for a week in Princeville at our timeshare. Then back to Poipu for 2 night stay probably at Grand Hyatt.

The farmers markets were great before but kids will not want to drive to one every day. Which ones are the best for variety and open on Friday or Saturday so we can stock up?

We don't have a Costco membership but willing to get one if that will get us some good white wines especially Viognier, Albarino or Sancerre. Or will Longs, ABC or Foodland be okay?

Have booked Merrymans in Poipu for one night for sunset dinner. Thinking of St. Regis for adults only 1 night (looks similar to flying fish restaurant in Aruba)...Kids are not fish eaters or big on Asian (as one has allergy to all treenuts and sesame).

Like Hunt we will not want to drive far at night as we enjoy our wine too much. But will drive in the day..

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Hi, gpgja (you need an inoa Hawai'i):

    For north shore fish, I like Dolphin's market and Kilauea Fish Market. The Big Save in Hanalei (and everywhere else) is hit and miss, but worth checking. Fish Express in Lihu'e is OK. Koloa fish market is good, can be $$$. Best to shop for fish early, keep on ice til latahs. Also, look for fresh akule out of coolers by the roadside--let your nose decide, hiki no?

    Friday market is in Lihue at the stadium, if that's convenient. They're less organic than some other towns. Saturday is in Kekaha, so loooooooooooooooooong drive from Hanalei, but lots of local flavor. Beeg one for variety is Kapa'a. I like Kilauea--small but more organic--mind your manners there.


    1. Hanalei on saturday morning - great greens, lillikoi goat cheese, frozen dark chocolate bananas, meyer lemons, crafts. . . . Get there early before the starting gun goes off at 9:30, like a local to get the best. I also love the one down the road on Tuesday afternoons Waipa
      Dolphin is always good for fish. Foodland in Kapaa has a better selection of ahi poke - ask to taste a couple of varieties.

      Not sure if this will be of help.

      And a really fun hit, BOB would be worth an evening out.

      1. Thanks Bellachefa and Kaleo for replies. I'm excited about the fish places and the markets....

        I saw there was a wine market in Princeville too but not a lot of info on the site I found...

        1 Reply
        1. re: gpjba

          The Wine Shop in Koloa is surprisingly well stocked and also has gourmet food items. We were in there perusing their gin and whiskey selections, as we aren't wine people, but those were impressive for Kauai. Worth a stop, I think.

        2. Aloha..
          Just got back from Kauai in Sept. and I would suggest a Costco membership...Lihue location has gasoline station as well and it is about .20+ cents a gallon cheaper than other stations on the island.

          Their fish department is excellent...wine too.
          In Poipu, Grand Hyatt (LOVE) or the Marriott Villas at Waihaio are excellent and I would add Red Salt at Koa Kea resort for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

          Josselin's Tapas or Keoki's Paradise for happy hour..great island music.

          Merriman's or Beach House but I like the Maui Merriman's better.
          There is a Roy's but the Waikiki one blows them all out of the surf.

          Dolphins is great for fish in Hanalei.
          Hit up Tiki Iniki (Todd Rundgren and wife Michele place) for drinks and apps and I would have a drink at the St. Regis but I'm not all impressed..miss the later.
          Med. Gourmet I hear has great food oceanfront place.

          Foodland has some of the best Ahi Poke and ask for the freshest made.
          Long's Drug in Lihue has great beer deals and souvenirs.

          Kauai is by far my fave island with so much Aloha!


          1. Long term Kauai resident here. I live in Kapaa, so most of my recommendations are on this side of the island.

            First off...wine/beer/adult beverages. Best price bar none is Costco, and their wine selection is pretty darn good. Longs, (both in Lihue and in Kapaa) have a decent wine selection, but can be hit or miss. The same goes for Foodland in Kapaa, but its amazing that they come up with gems at times. The Foodland in Princeville is a great little supermarket with an electric food collection and pretty good wines as well. There is a newer wine shop in Princeville, but I have not been to it.

            Food...we all have our favorites. I can't comment on Josselins in Poipu because he's been a friend of mine for 24 years..I'm biased! You simply can NOT come to Kauai and not go to Hamura's Saimin in Lihue. It's been awarded a James Beard award for heaven's sake. (I always order the special and 2 chicken sticks. In Kapaa the Hukilau Lanai restaurant is really big on Kauai farm to table/locavore kinda stuff. It's not mentioned often here, but it's a decent place.

            Farmers markets...I am familiar mostly with the one in Kapaa on Wed afternoon. Great selection of local fruit and veggies. For any of the farmers markets, bring your own bag, bring plenty of 1 dollar bills, and by all means GET THERE EARLY.
            For Kapaa, I'd get there at 230, the selling starts and 245, and the popular vendors get sold out pretty quickly. Get their early, see what you like, and stake out the vendors..and buy as soon as the horn goes off. There is also a farmers market in Puhi on the grounds of the local community college that pretty well attended on Saturday mornings.

            For poke...I prefer Ara's Sakana-ya in Hanamaulu. Ara and Debbie are hard core in how fresh their stuff is. They make their poke in small batches throughout the day. Most of their customers are locals...Ara only buys his fish from certain fisherman. Fish Express in Lihue is also good (across from Wal Mart)...these are both family owned businesses who cater mostly to local folks...so they sell only the freshest of fish.

            I'll put a thumbs up for Tiki Iniki as well...fun concept place, great drink menu, our dinner there was pretty good, my wife's fish was a bit over salted.

            Let me also put in a plug for the Hanalei Gourmet right in the middle of Hanalei town. The owner, "Big Tim" has been in the same location for a long time. He's a great guy, and serves an honest sandwich and burger. He has a lot of regular local customers.

            If you have any other specific questions about Kauai or what/where/who...just ask. I will do my best to answer any questions. Enjoy your visit here

            1 Reply
            1. re: wabi

              Aloha Wabi!
              Outstanding local advice..
              Hamura's is always da best and don't forget the slice of lilokoi pie..
              Thanks for the poke rec.


            2. Great more advice. Love it. Thank you so much Beach Chick, Kathry and Wabi. I this SO likes poke and I will get my nerve this time with these recommendations. Teens will run and hide but I sure we can find something for them. Have been to Roys in Waikiki but don't need it again in Kauai. I think we went to Josselins previously but I love Tapas so may add again. 12 year old like menu at Keoki's and has put in a request.

              I have a friend taking me to Costco this Thurs so will invest in membership.

              Is Tiki Iniki ok for teens? I'll research Med. Gourmet as would like oceanfront.

              We missed Merryman's in Maui two years ago hence why I put on the list.

              Not much time in Lihue but maybe hit Hamura's on the Sunday before we fly out that night.

              Thanks again everyone for suggestions. I just wish the trip was sooner.

              I'm in Calgary and we have had the most snow since I have been here (1990) and really tired of winter. And we get snow in any month. But ususally always sunny here....just cold...

              13 Replies
              1. re: gpjba

                Tiki Iniki would be fine for teens. It's both a bar and a restaurant, I think the tiki theme would entertain them.
                I have not been to the Med Gourmet..but I have heard good things about it. The location of the place is great, right on the ocean past Hanalei. It used to be owned by and called Charo's years ago.
                Merriman's on Kauai has been a disappointment to me. Really pricey, small servings, and a lot of pretension. Not many locals go there, and I won't go there again. He does have a more informal place downstairs which serves lunches and stuff...I've heard nice things about it.

                By all means try to go to Hamura's, if there is any iconic Kauai eatery, Hamura's is it. There is just something about sitting on those short stools and slurping noodles elbow to elbow with everyone.

                Enjoy your stay here!

                1. re: wabi

                  Downstairs Merriman's would be good for teens, but don't expect amazing pizza and burgers. Especially if you can get great pizza and burgers at home. We found the service horrible and food mediocre. Not a fan of the whole wheat pizza crust or whole wheat bun on the burger. A shame since we love both Merriman's Kapalua and Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea, both on Maui.

                  1. re: wabi

                    So the Med Gourmet is the place that Charo used to own..
                    Got it..
                    Does she still live in Hanalei/Princeville area?


                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      I am not sure...I heard she moved to the mainland. I haven't seen her in many many years. I'll ask around though.

                      Kaleokahu...I like Brick Oven pizza, and since I live on the east side, I go to the one in Kapaa. It's not bad...but have to confess, I prefer my own, and buy theirs out of convenience..

                      My opinion and my opinion only....I say this totally tongue in cheek as this is just my own thoughts, no one else's....'WHAT KAUAI NEEDS IS......." 1. a good steakhouse. No one on the island has a steak better than mediocre. You're better grilling your own. 2..a ramen joint. We have saimin, but it's not the same. 3...a great burger place. There are plenty of passable burgers, but no place that stands out above mediocre as well. The Feral Pig in Lihue stands out. Their Feral burger is hit or miss though. I've had soggy buns, a burger that obviously sat on the grill for a while and was then reheated, and pickles that looked like they were pre cooked they were so limp. 4..a good Banh Mi place. We now have a few pho places...but no one has a Banh Mi that stands out.

                      I could go on. Hawaii has some awesome food, and with a wealth of fresh ingredients and diversity of culture...there is such a potential for great food. Hawaii has the chefs that can harness that energy...the guys who started the New Hawaiian cuisine movement about 25 years ago. Alan Wong, Peter Merriman, Bev Gannon, Sam Choy and Jean Marie Josselin are still putting out great food. With the locavore and farm to table movement growing, there is an intense interest in FRESH food. I think it is a reality on Oahu and Maui, but has yet to catch on entirely on Kauai. It's here, but it hasn't permeated down to most chefs and restaurants here.

                      Gpjba....sorry for digressing here and causing some thread drift, but it's up to you and other visitors as well as the hard core foodies here on Kauai to drive that movement towards food that is both good and fresh. Vote with your pocketbook.

                      1. re: wabi

                        Very interesting perspective and confirms a lot of what we experienced.

                          1. re: wabi

                            E wabi, Aloha 'Oe:

                            Charo's was a very strange place. Kinda Old School like The Bullshed, kinda tried to be something, but always undershot, IMO. Not the best location for traffic, but a GREAT location if there had been something good going on there worth the drive. Hanalei is really pushing it for asking people to drive for basic food, even considering the blight that is Princeville. I still lament that Casa di Amici moved from Kilauea to that terrible spot in Po'ipu.

                            No aloha for Duane's Ono Char?

                            I agree Brick Oven isn't world-class pizza, but it is a west-side institution, and always has a good vibe. Do they still give free dough to na keiki? Seems like I remember their garlic crust was 'ono. I have some license plates to send them!

                            I'm ambivalent on the whole New Hawai'ian movement. Hats off to Jean-Marie and all the others, but I really don't mind if O'ahu and Maui get all the food buzz. I kinda like the fact that most foodies consider Kaua'i to be a backwater.


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Hanalei presents a paradigm...It's beautiful, it has such magic....its a long drive from anywhere else on Kauai, and if you're staying out there, its hard to go anywhere else to eat. The flip side of the magic is you have to overcome the laid back surfer hippie pakalolo white boys with dreads granola wheat grass smoothie vibe to consistently produce GOOD food.

                              Being enthusiastic about food, I'm always looking for that creative spark, or a passion for great food that comes from a great chef.

                              I guess the upside of Kauai being a backwater is that it remains just under the radar and doesn't get the rampant development like our friends on Maui. I do live here because of Kauai's rural feel,so I guess I can't have both.

                              I've been edited here (I am a mod on another internet forum...so I respect their actions) because of my enthusiasm for Jean Marie Josselin's restaurant and foods. He is a long term friend of mine, but that friendship stems from his undying enthusiasm to make great food out of Hawaii's fresh ingredients. Whether New Hawaiian cuisine or not, I wish more chefs would embrace and use the abundance and freshness that the land produces here. Great recipes prepared by 2 week old produce shipped from the mainland is just that...2 week old food.

                              I've digressed from the original thread starters question, but I welcome any discussion of food and restaurants here in Hawaii, and of course on Kauai...for my drift, I once again apologize.

                              That said, there is some great food to be found here. If I can add one more contribution to this thread it is to point out the web site of some Kauai food enthusiasts who offer food tours here on Kauai. I don't know them personally..but follow them on Facebook. They are really on top of things here on Kauai.


                              They are worth a look.

                              1. re: wabi

                                Shoots, wabi:

                                I agree about cooking with fresh when can. And I like Jean-Marie's approach. His autographed copy of "A Taste of Hawai'i" has a place near my stove. Unfortunately, this level of food preparation is out of reach of many in Hawai'i nei (notice where he moved the resto).

                                I'll take the "laid back surfer hippie pakalolo white boys with dreads granola wheat grass smoothie vibe" any day over what developers do. Defend that 1-lane bridge, aikane.


                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Thanks wabi and kaleokahu for the food perspectives. SO and I like to cook and since we are staying in Princeville for most of our time and don't want to drink and drive. We are from Calgary and have excellent beef, bison, elk etc and SO also grills extremely well so any recommendation to get good beef as teens are carnivores. We are big supporters of food to table so will be hitting the markets as much as we can.

                                  1. re: gpjba

                                    Local beef...Wailua Country store in the Wailua Homesteads.
                                    Local pork...anywhere that sells Kaneshiro farms pork.

                                    1. re: gpjba

                                      Hi, gpjba:

                                      Local pipi (beef) is kinda iffy, IMO--even though the grass is green, it's somewhat nutrient-deficient. The big Kaua'i dairy failed in part because it had to import mainland hay to get the cows to produce.

                                      I would suggest either: (a) bring a cooler of frozen beef with you; or (b) buy your beef at Costco. But for local flavor, it's nice to buy in the Homesteads. Personally, I'd force your keiki to gorge on fish...


                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        I'll be looking for the Kaneshiro farms pork and we may avoid beef based on what I am seeing here. No option to bring beef given the distance. I was LOL when I read force my keiki to eat fish...I know I will and I might be able to get the younger one. I'll report back on that too.

                                        Thanks again Kaleo and Wabi

                      2. Brick Oven for pizza. Mobettahs in Kalaheo.