Restaurant recommendatins in the Princeville area of Kauai?
My wife and I are planning to go to the St. Regis Princeville Resort next April. What restaurants would you recommend? We like anything from rustic to fancy, if the food is great.
Did you do a search for "north shore Kauai" or "Kauai" or on Princeville? Lots of trip reports and recommendation requests from the last 1-2 years:
Most people rent a car and get out and explore Kauai, so they end up eating north, south, east, etc. Will you have a rental car?
Thanks, Kathryn. I did a search for Kauai, but none of this came up. Yes, we will have a rental car, although, we won't drive 45 min-1 hour to go eat dinner in the eastern or southern parts of the island, where alot of the restaurants are. Hoping we can find good choices on the North Shore. Thanks for the links.
Roy's Tavern a the Prince Clubhouse.
Living Room Bar at the St Regis Hotel offers great views, champagne sabering at sunset plus bar menu, sushi plus other entrees.Also at St Regis Terrace restaurant and Jean George Kauai Grill, also check for special dinners at poolside restaurant Nalu Kai.
Tiki Iniki and Cj's in Princeville with Barracuda and Post Cards in Hanalei.
Common Ground in Kilauea now open for dinners, farm to table concept with liquor license.
Dolphins in Hanalei
St. Regis pool area is nice for lunch but pricey.
Hit up the Poipu area and dine at Red Salt for breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Keoki's Paradise has great happy hour.
Duke's in Lihue area.
Hamura Saimin's for lilikoi pie and saimin..divey good and James Beard nominee.
In early July, we enjoyed:
*Kauai Ono -- (we did the tented tasting meal, it was fun)
*Hanalei Poi Company -- (truck near wishing well, the lau lau here is excellent. The pan mochi is okay; I am really sensitive to baking soda and I can taste it in the mochi.)
*Bar Acuda -- (Good food and good drinks. We liked the Humboldt Fog with local honeycomb. Even though we live in CA and can get that cheese any time, this was the most memorable dish. Ben Stiller sighting as well! Lots of locals as well as tourists.)
*Garden Cafe -- (Mauka side in Kilauea, lunch only. Organic and pricy, beautiful setting and the food is tasty. It reminded me a little of the Herb Box in Scottsdale AZ.)
*Banana Joe's -- (don't miss out on the banana frosty. Unique and soooo good, dairy free and no sugar added.)
*Hanalei farmers market is a must visit for fruit.
Give the pizza at Kilauea bakery a miss.
Also, even though it's all the way in Lihue, I will mention that the malasadas at Kauai Bakery were actually terrible.
We wanted to try the Japanese shave ice truck in Kilauea (Shave Ice Tege Tege) but they were on vacation. If you're into shave ice, seems like it's worth a try; they make their own syrups and try to use organic.
i think the food in hawaii is by-and-large pretty terrible for some reason (when it should be really really good). that said, bar acuda is solid, tahiti nui actually has decent food, believe it or not (even their pizza is pretty good), and the vibe in there is unbeatable. there's also a very good taco truck at the east end of hanelei bay for lunch. the farmers' market is great in hanelei, too. really do not waste your money eating at the st. regis if you are staying there. it's horrible. breakfast is okay, but Kauai Grill is especially abominable.
You do have to realize that the Hawaii island chain is one of the most isolated in the world. Could it possibly be related to freshness of ingredients? Since 85% of the food is imported and while many places would like to source locally, there aren't a lot of places that can afford to source locally. A lot of items still come by cargo ships as well since the cost to fly them over would increase the price even more than it already is. I'm not disagreeing with you, just putting forth a possible reason.
Like, I understand what you're saying, but the fish is super fresh, both Kauai and the Big Island have extremely good farmland, fresh meat, fresh veggies. It shouldn't be that hard to have a good restaurant. At the very least, it shouldn't be as hard as it is to get a perfectly grilled, not cooked-to-shit piece of fish.
Sir, I would like to respectfully disagree with you. I live on Kauai, am an avid foodie, and never run out of good places to eat. Picking a good restaurant and dish selection is key. There are good restaurants and bad, just like anywhere else. To be honest there are restaurants that local folks rarely go to, and that primarily cater to the visitor industry. Locals dont go to them because they are either too expensive, or as you mention...cant grill a chunk of ahi to save their lives.
Because so many of our foodstuffs have to be imported, it's no wonder that there are concerns for freshness in Hawaii. Our supermarkets are filled with imported "fresh" veggies that are already limp and fading.
For that very same reason there has been an avid locavore or farm to table movement in all of the Hawaiian islands...including Kauai. There has been a groundswell of farmers who are growing food for local consumption.
It just pays to do your research, and to ask a lot of questions.
That said, there are a number of local chefs/restaurants who source their ingredients locally, and their menu's reflect those fresh local ingredients.
May I suggest to potential visitors to Kauai a web site that is dedicated to the local food scene, www.tastingkauai.com ?
Kauai and the Big Island are the only two islands i've been to. I'm not saying it's impossible to get good food, just that it's much harder than it should be. Grilling a piece of fish is extremely easy, but 90% of places in Hawaii seem unable to do that without cooking it to death and putting it on top of heavy mashed potatoes.
What about the south shore of Kauai? Josselins, Merrimans, Tortilla Republic, Red Salt, etc. The South Shore/Poipu area seems more "foodie" to me in general.
I would suggest trying Oahu and Maui before making a blanket statement about all of Hawaii having "by and large terrible food."
I typically haven't had problems with over cooked fish, but I also tend to order it raw or seared.
Bottom line: Get your hands on The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook http://www.hawaiirevealed.com/books-a... and trust the food information (and the other stuff). The app is well worth downloading for helping you find more out of the way places.
I've loved staying in the Kapaa area 3x in recent years and have always been surprised at how good the food's been, esp after the dire warnings I got. My general feeling is that the "low-end" places are just more enjoyable and that the less complicated food tends to be better-executed.
Here are my highly subjective recs:
Hanalei Dolphin for lunch. Sit on the porch, get the fish tacos.
Pono Market for take-out/bring home. Get the sesame poke, spiny lobster salad, fried chicken, anything with pork. 4-1300 Kuhio Hwy
Kilauea Fish Market for take-out/bring home. Such a good value for great quality. 440 Aleka Pl Kapaa
Hukilau Lanai for drinks/dinner on the East Shore. Local, organic products. Less of a scene than Poipu. (Our last meal at The Beach House was not memorable, food-wise, and the area was even more congested than it had been. Felt like I was back on the mainland.)
If over on the West Shore:
Shrimp Station for outdoor lunch. If you like shrimp, that is. Like their spicy stuff best. 9652 Kaumualii Hwy Waimea
If wanting a burger(s) right after you've hit either of my fave beaches, Lydgate or Anini:
Try Bubba's or Duane's Ono Charburger. Ok, Duane's is not the star it once was but if gobbling a burger and fighting roosters for your onion rings while you stare, in your post-beach daze, at the mountain across the highway, is your thing, Duane's is your place. I certainly wish it was mine more often. (See photo.)
Sorry not to be more help on Princeville -- the food just wasn't enough of a draw for us to make the drive.
Just got back from a week in Kauai, and I was generally disappointed in the food. Not tasting a lot of talent in the kitchens. The best meal we had in Pville was at Nanea, the Westin resto. The fish was at least sauced with some skill, although in any other city it prob would be deemed hotel food. I suspect the food at St Regis is even better if you care to pay the prices. Drinks at the St Regis bar are most memorable esp at sunset---best scenery on the whole island. Skip Postcards (amateur cooking), Baracuda (Med menu that barely attempts to weave in local POV or ingredients, food is ordinary tasting, but nice cocktails). Hanalei Taro has good kalua pork and fruit smoothies. Garden Cafe is fresh but not inspired. Josselin's in Poipu was the best meal we had on the trip. Very good ingredients and chef-driven.
I'm not allowed to comment on some restaurants because the owners/chefs are friends of mine. No, I am not an owner or a shill for any of them, but they are friends. I've been a Kauai resident for 25 years. Suffice it to say that a certain tapas place in Poipu is all about fresh ingredients. Fresh food IS ALIVE on Kauai... Check out www.tastingkauai.com for more hints about where to go on Kauai. YES, you can come to Kauai, have a great vacation, AND eat well. You just have to do your research.
I've been to the St. Regis Princeville a half a dozen times over the past decade or so (used to be a Sheraton/Luxury Collection - only difference now is it's pricier and you need to valet for $30/day, also got rid of pool bar:().
The food in Kauai (north shore) is bad...I've been to most places on the north shore, and there isn't one place I look forward to returning to. And most places are pricey too. I could list them all, but won't as there really aren't any highlights.
Other places I've been to on the island were Duane's Ono Burger (fried food, OK, but tiny, burgers), Olympic Cafe in Kapaa (think weak diner food), Monico's Taqueria in Kapaa (average chain at double the prices), Beach House in South Shore (hotel restaurant food).
Despite all of this, the north shore remains my favorite destination in Hawaii. Don't let it deter you.
Lapperts is good ice cream, but hard to make three meals a day out of it (though my family tried!).
Maybe I'm just looking for different things but I continue to really enjoy my Kauai meals. As mentioned above, I'm East Shore-centric. Particular likes are breakfast at the Ono Family Restaurant (their homemade coconut syrup makes me like sweet stuff in the morning, which I typically hate) and take-out from Pono Market, a few doors down. If I want something fancier, there's Hukilau Lanai.
I agree on the Beach House. Actually, the South Shore, in general, turns me off. I'm from the Bay Area and recently it seemed as crowded and construction-thick as back home.
The guidebook I mentioned really helps me get what I want.
Have fruit smoothies in place of meals whenever possible. They are reliably good regardless of the stand. We heard from some locals about why the food quality is ho hum. In a nut, it seems that Kauai is behind the curve both in sourcing ingredients (most of the fish is not local) and attracting outside talent, so the cooking continues in a sort of vacuum. This is why I think some hotel chains may have a slight edge---they may cycle in mainland cooks. And I suspect the tourist crowd doesn't help to elevate the demand for great food.
Sorry to hear some have not found good food options on Kauai's north shore.
Sad to say its not surprising. We are residents and do not go out to eat during the "high season" due to the relentless pressure of high capacity business and its negative effects on a leisurely meal.The resort locations are in a better position to deal with this due to in house supply lines and labor/housing support.
A place with a carrying capacity of 50 covers a night might be magical in September, but a mess in August where they have to provide 150+ covers.
As stated earlier the supply chain and labor pool is limited and a stretch of bad weather can curtail fresh greens and fish for days and 3 weeks of non stop pressure can create burn out on a limited labor pool that translates to bad or sloppy service.
Wabi made a good suggestion with the tastingkauai website.
The boom and bust cycle of resort tourist economy makes it hard to be consistent, especially for smaller non resort places. The ingredients are here great fish, local beef, exotic fruits and vegetables. However the fluctuations in demand and supply can make it a hit or miss proposition on what may be available on any given night.
This is a universal problem I know but on a small island without interstate access and very high rents and cost of living it is more pronounced
I have to agree with Smoothiemeister and add a few points. Think of it.... Kauai is about as far out in the US you can get. The north shore is at the end of that road.
There are a lot of chefs that do pretty well with the ingredients they can get their hands on. But as Smoothiemeister points out...bad weather, can mean no fresh fish for a few days...yet 100s of visitors want a perfectly grilled ahi steak for dinner. Fruits and veggies can be seasonal....and restaurants are forced to use veggies that need to be brought in by barge. Locals know this, we know to go to Safeway on certain days because of the barge schedules.
In some ways I am spoiled, and in some ways I have an advantage. I know what is in season, I know what chefs and restaurants are good, and which are just "meh". I know where to get the freshest poke, and freshest vegetables, where to loco moco is good, a great plate lunch, and who has the best Saimin.
Some of the best food here on Kauai is not found at fancy restaurants, but at the little dive local places, or better, the kitchens of local residents who love to cook. I'll take a steamed uhu (parrot fish) freshly speared, with steamed rice and some chilled local mango for dinner any day of the year.
I am not meaning to be smug here...I think that finding good food here does take some work and takes research to find the really good stuff. Kauai is Kauai for the Na Pali coast, for the sunsets over Bali Hai. It's the end of the road, and it's life in the slow lane. What it's not, is a culinary destination.
E komo mai.
@bsherm, My wife and I just got back from our honeymoon which was in Kauai. The food is fantastic if you find the right places. Below are my reccomendations
Kauai Ono 560 - Popup restaurant only opened twice a week, search online for reservations. BYOB
Pat's Tacqueria - Hanalei Bay taco truck, great fish tacos.
Sushi Girl - Outstanding sushi out of a small shack, no seats.
Garden Cafe at Common Ground - short drive from Princeville, a restaurant on a farm, ingredients from the farm. Great burger and fish tacos
Puka Dog - yes it's a "hot dog"/Polish sausage, yes it'll be one of the best you've ever had with crazy toppings.
Anyone who can't find good food either had bad luck or didn't try hard enough. Have fun! Amazing place