One of my greatest pleasures is traveling, and last fall I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful island of Kauai with my Surfer Boy. While we were there, I discovered that there are many restaurants on Kauai that cater to tourists, (no trip to Kauai would be complete without trying the Hula Pie at Keoki’s Paradise). But if you want to experience the beautiful Garden Isle like a local, here are a few suggestions that will let you eat like a surfer, even if you aren’t.
Ishihara Market is in Waimea on the west side of Kauai. Most of the store is a typical neighborhood grocery store. But the deli at the back of the store is a local secret.
Ishihara sells the best Poke (pronounced “Poh-Kay”) on the island. Poke is a raw fish salad often made of ahi tuna. The lobster Poke melts in your mouth like butter. You can buy Poke by the pound. I recommend getting some of the ahi Poke and the lobster Poke. If you’re really hungry, add a Hawaiian plate lunch with chicken teriyaki, and head to Polihale State Park for a day of shredding waves at the beach.
Ishihara Market is located at 9894 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI.
Old Koloa Town
One of the best kept secrets of Old Koloa Town on the south side of Kauai is the Koloa Fish Market. Their Hawaiian Plates of lomi-lomi salmon and Kahlua pig make a perfect break from shopping at the old plantation stores that have been turned into shops for tourists.
Lomi-lomi salmon is a salad made of fresh tomato and salmon. Kahlua pork is made from cooking an entire pig underground in an imu until it is tender enough to shred.
The Koloa Fish Market is located at 5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI across the street from the Koloa Post Office.
Brennecke’s Beach Deli offers the consummate surfer lunch: chili and rice. Grab your bowl of chili and rice, and a mochi or a shave ice, and head across the street to the Poipu Beach Park. Sit under the plumeria trees at one of the many picnic tables or throw out a blanket on the grass and watch the surfers attack Nu Kamoi Point and Left Lefts.
Brennecke’s Beach Deli is located at 2100 Hoone Road, Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI.
When you’ve had your fill of the beach, head over to the Kuk, or the Kukuiula Store, for spam musubi. Spam musubi is a slice of grilled spam and a block of white rice wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). After grabbing your musubi, head to the back of the Kuk for a fresh juice, smoothie or acai bowl at Anake’s Juice Bar.
The Kukuiula Store and Anake’s Juice Bar are located at 2827 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI.
Not far from the Lihue Airport are two local favorites.
Hamura’s Saimin is an iconic restaurant in Kauai featuring saimin, a Hawaiian-style noodle dish that made with Chinese-style noodles in a Japanese-style broth and pieces of fish, pork, green onion, and a boiled egg. For dessert, grab a piece of lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie. Order your saimin and pie to go, and take it to the nearby Nawiliwili Park and watch the stand up paddle boarders and surfers as helicopters fly tourists overhead.
Hamura’s Saimin is located at 2956 Rice Street, Lihue, HI.
After you finish your lunch, head straight from the Nawiliwili Park to the K-Mart and visit Kauai Malasadas, a little stand in front of K-Mart that makes the best malasadas on the island. Malasadas are Portuguese bits of dough, deep-fried and covered in sugar, similar to doughnuts.
Malasadas definitely taste better hot and fresh because once they are cold, they resemble a hockey putt more than a doughnut. So make sure you only order as many as you can eat while they are hot.
Kauai Malasadas is located at 4303 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, HI in front of the K-Mart.
Haena Beach Park on State Road 560 just past Tunnels Beach has a food truck that serves freshly-picked and cut pineapple and mango that are perfect for a day of watching surfers at Tunnels Beach. Or stop for a quick dip, and take your fruit with you to Ke’e Beach or the Kalalau Trail on the North Shore of Kauai.
On your way from the Haena Beach Park toward the North Shore, make sure you stop in Hanalei for a Loco Moco. The Loco Moco is the epitome of surfer food: a hamburger patty on white rice, covered with a fried egg and brown gravy. Chicken in a Barrel in Hanalei is a great place to stop on your way to or from the North Shore.
Chicken in a Barrel is located at 5-5190 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI.
There are many places to eat on Kauai, but these are some of my new favorites after visiting Kauai with my favorite Surfer Boy. Next time you are in Kauai, give a few of them a try and let me know what you think!