Top 10 Local Places to Eat on Hawaii's Garden Isle
After a heavenly day on the beach, there are still more pleasures to come on vacation in Hawaii
. These exotic islands are known for their fresh produce and incredible seafood, all prepared in creative ways by local chefs. Whether you're looking for a family-friendly option or a romantic restaurant to dine beneath the stars, you will find plenty of options for Kauai restaurants. As you plan your vacation in Kauai
, it pays to do a little research about the local restaurant scene, so once you arrive, you can spend less time planning where to eat and more time enjoying the cuisine. Here are some of the best restaurants in Kauai to get you started in planning.
1. Beach House Restaurant
Head to this beautiful beachside restaurant on Lawai Road in Koloa, just a short drive west from the popular beaches of Poipu. Come here to experience the ultimate, classic Hawaiian sunset with the one you love.
Beach House Restaurant focuses on Pacific Rim flavors - fresh Pacific Island foods with Asian cooking techniques, healthful ingredients and spices like saffron, sea salt, turmeric, cumin, fennel seed and ginger, among others. Executive chef Marshall Blanchard and the owners have an expansive menu and rely heavily on locally sourced products, including beef and coffee from nearby ranches, fish from the local fishermen and fruits, vegetables and other products from islanders whenever possible. Try the seared ahi poke with Tobiko caviar and Asian slaw, and the macadamia-crusted catch of the day with miso beurre blanc.
This fancy restaurant, located just off Poipu Road in Koloa, has won Honolulu Magazine’s Hale ‘Aina award many times. The ambiance is lovely and perfect for a special night out, with low-lighting, koi ponds, proximity to the beach and breezy, grassy huts. The flavors are decidedly Hawaiian, and everything on the menu is sure to be rich satisfying and colorful. Some of the specials are the macadamia-crusted mahi mahi with molokai sweet potatoes, coconut lime beurre blanc and a papaya-avocado relish and the Hawaiian salt and herb-rubbed slow roasted prime rib with potatoes, truffle jus and horseradish cream. After dinner, take a romantic stroll on the beach with your significant other to cap off a perfect night.
3. Bar Acuda
Located off Kuhio Highway at Cin Tai Wai Road, Bar Acuda is a cozy and elegant tapas and wine bar by owner and chef Jim Moffat, who drew inspiration from his travels through the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Though this cuisine is traditionally European, Moffat often uses local flavors and ingredients, like the rich plate of local honeycomb, goat cheese and apples, or the mixed greens from Kailani Farms in nearby Kilauea. For a real treat, try the Bacalao or the seared sea scallops with mashed potatoes and truffle reduction. Dessert is a must-do here, so make room for the luscious chocolate pot de creme or the coconut ice cream with cherries and chocolate sauce.
If you’re looking for nearby activities before your romantic night out, the Napali Catamaran company is just across the street. Take a catamaran tour on the stunning Hanalei Bay - the four-hour trip includes lunch, cave tours and snorkeling in the gorgeous glassy waters. If you plan to go before dinner, take the tour that runs from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. (from May until October), or spend the day on the perfect beaches in Hanalei.
Speaking of fresh food, it doesn't get any fresher than the sushi you will find at Japanese restaurant Kintaro. If you're craving something a little out of the ordinary during your trip, the bold, fresh flavors of Kintaro will impress from start to finish.
5. Pony Island Cantina
Serving up Mexican specialties featuring the island's fresh fish, Pony Island Cantina is a perfect restaurant for visitors who might be conscious of their health. The menu here features spicy, healthy dishes that locals adore.
6. Bull Shed
After a vacation full of fish, you might be ready for a juicy steak. One of the best places to do so is located on the eastern shore, at a restaurant called Bull Shed. Make reservations in advance for this restaurant known for its value.
7. Kalaheo Steak House
Do you like to discover restaurants that are off the beaten path? Kalaheo Steak House is one of these options; you would never find it unless you were looking for it. Offering excellent value on steaks and fish, many visitors love the side street location in a small town.
8. Roy's Poipu Bar and Grill
There are nights for the off the beaten path restaurants, and then there are the nights for the restaurants with a serious reputation. Roy's is the latter; be sure to snag a table to find out what the fuss is all about.
9. Barbecue Inn
If you want to rub shoulders with the locals, head to the modestly priced Barbecue Inn on the eastern shore. Here you will find big, tasty portions for small prices. A perfect choice for hungry families.
10. Brick Oven Pizza
For the nights where all you want is a cheesy pizza, Brick Oven Pizza will satisfy your craving. Dine in or take this delicious pizza back home to your vacation rental for some quality family time.
If you’re looking for something to do before your fancy dinner, one great option is to check out the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s McBryde and Allerton gardens, located just up Lawai Road. The gardens host a huge collection of tropical flora native to Hawaii, including different palms, heliconias and orchids, as well as other flowers collected from tropical areas around the world. Walk across the Lawa’i Stream on the Bamboo Bridge and see a small waterfall in McBryde Garden. The gardens are breathtaking and impeccable, offering an ideal background for a stroll with the one you love.
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