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Jun 19, 2014 11:05 AM

local/unusual dining Kauai?

I'm heading with family to Kauai next week, we'll be staying near princeville mostly but will travel around a bit too. Does anyone have some good suggestions for good local food (besides the markets), or unusual places/food that you try while there?

My husband and I really enjoyed sushi bushido when we were there years ago. I'm also interested in trying hamura's saimin, kilauea bakery, and hanalei taro's food truck.

So if anyone can provide any suggestions for some good spots we might otherwise miss, I'd really appreciate it, thanks

Oh and is the menehune food mart still a good place for snacks like manju?

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  1. Hamura was going to be my first recommendation, but I see you're well ahead of me. We were there several years ago on the day she was to receive her James Beard Foundation Award, but she'd declined the invitation to attend because the saimin production literally revolves around her, as you will observe. The other mainland couple sitting next to us said this was always the first place they come to directly from the airport!

    Lihue Barbecue, right across the street, is a reliably good place for local-style diner food, not so much of the loco moco persuasion as island takes on stuff we're used to, such as breaded deep-fried (and very fresh) mahi mahi. They also have an excellent lilikoi pie.

    It's been eight years since that last visit, and I didn't take enough notes about where we ate and what, though I remember that Tahiti Nui in Hanalei had gone upscale too far for our budget, so we settled for some very nice burgers at an otherwise merely pleasant open-air bar & grill. We also had some good Asian grub in Waimea's Old Town, again unrecorded. But Mrs. O's family still has the place near Poipu, and sometime when it's not rented we need to get back there, the sooner the better.

    1. When you say "the markets" do you mean the farmers markets?

      There is also a "gourmet" market at the Shops at Kukui'ula every week in the afternoon on Wednesdays.

      I believe the highly regarded Right Slice is a regular there also:

      Some ideas assuming you want to stay away from the high end and things you could possibly find easily on the Mainland / at home...

      Waimea / Hanapepe / Ele'ele: Jo-Jo's Anuenue Shave Ice, Shrimp Station, Ishihara Market, Wong's (esp for lilikoi pie, I think they have butter mochi as well), Da Booze Shop, Yumi's, Salt Pond Country Store

      Poipu / Koloa: Koloa Fish Market (takeout only, plate lunch, poke, bentos, haupia ube pie), Savage Shrimp (formerly a food truck), Kauai Food Truck, Puka Dog, Sueoka's Snack Shop (takeout only), Uncle's (for shave snow


      Lihue: Tip Top Cafe, Dani's, Mark's Place (plate lunch), Haumira Saimin (saimin and lilikoi pie), malasada lady by K-Mart (sporadic hours, go early), Ara's Sakana-Ya

      Kapaa: Pono Market, Kountry Kitchen, Ono Family Restaurant, Hawaiian Blizzard Shave Ice, Ono Ono Shave Ice, Shrimp Station

      Anahola: Duane's Ono-Char Burger (call ahead to order), Kauai Wild Boar & Fruit Stand (Fri-Sun)

      Princeville / Hanalei: Tahiti Nui, Pat’s Taqueria, Wishing Well Shave Ice (sporadic hours), Kauai Ono (make reservations in advance, BYOB), Village Snack & Bakery

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Thanks to both of you for the great suggestions. I'm drooling already. This will be soooo helpful

      2. Aloha..
        My fave island with so much Aloha.
        Med Gourmet in Princeville area...Tiki Iniki

        Dolphins in Hanalei..drinks and apps at St. Regis Princeville resort.

        Lihue..Hamura for saimen and lilikoi pie.

        Poipu..Josellins, Red Salt, Keoki's paradise, drinks at Grand Hyatt at Stevenson's Library or patio.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Beach Chick

          Everyone has nailed it pretty good so far.
          The only thing I might add is the Kauai Beer Company in Lihue which is only open a few days a week has "Beer Truck Thursday" in which they invite food trucks to park outside their brewery on Thursday evenings. The trucks vary week to week, but includes "The Green Pig" truck which is usually parked across from Kealia beach.

          Jean Marie Josselin has a fine dining restaurant planned for Kapaa, but will take some time to renovate and build.

          The only other place I might add is Pho Kauai next to the bowling alley in Lihue, Decent pho and very good banh mi which is not on the menu.

        2. Try Garden Island BBQ and Chinese on for Rice Street in Lihu'e for local flavor.


          1 Reply
          1. re: kaleokahu

            While one of Kauai's home town favorite places has closed...the Hanamaulu Cafe, the owners do have a take out place right next door called Ara's Sakana-ya. They have an awesome assortment of poke and local snacks as well as bento sushi plates and plate lunch. It is my absolute favorite place for poke. I like Ara's recipe, and they make it up fresh several times a day, so it is always FRESH. I stop there at least once or twice a week for poke.