Eat Like a Local on Kauai
There is no shortage of great places to eat like a local on Kauai. The only real problem you will have is not having enough time to visit all of them. Something we did not get a chance to do and already have a list of places to try for the next time we are on Kauai. For this round, here are our favorite places to eat like a local on Kauai
Duane’s Ono-Char Burger
This red and white roadside stand is easy to drive right past. But with the best burgers that we tried on Kauai you will want to make sure that you don’t. With so many different kinds of burgers, fish, shrimp, and sandwiches, it can be hard to decide on what to order. Save yourself some time and order the popular, juicy Local Boy Burger with teriyaki sauce, cheese, and pineapple. Adding bacon to it kicks it up a notch and you might as well throw in an order of their crispy onion rings, too. There isn’t a lot of seating here and you will be eating with the chickens (something we actually love to do), so either get there before the lunch crowd or take it to go.
You can find Duane’s Ono-Char Burger at 4-4350 Kuhio Hwy, Anahola.
Yes, Foodland is a grocery store, but it’s got some seriously good eats. In their deli you can find a selection of hot foods like Portuguese sausage with eggs and rice, an assortment of musubi, and a large poke bar. Foodland is a great place to pick up easy food on the go or to make a meal out of trying an assortment of their pokies. We do both, on more than one location. On a side note, Foodland also has the best reusable shopping bags, anywhere.
Foodland can be found in Kapaa and Princeville.
Being right by the airport, Hamura Saimin is our first stop to eat once we land on Kauai. No matter the time of day, expect a wait. The heaping bowl of made-from-scratch saimin noodles in a hearty pork broth with fish cake, egg, ham, roast pork, Chinese cabbage, and pork wontons will fill you up and make you happy. We also split a large with a couple of their teriyaki beef and chicken sticks on the side. Don’t eat too much or you won’ have room for a slice of their Lilikoi chiffon pie for dessert.
You can find Hamura Saimin at 2956 Kress St, Lihue.
Hukilau Lanai is a must when on Kauai. With its beautiful view and delicious food it’s the perfect place for a nice dinner out. Our favorite is their Tasting Menu and poke nachos or you can try one of their many wonderful entrees.
You can find Hukilau Lanai at 520 Aleka Loop, Kapaa.
Kintaro Japanese Restaurant
A neighborhood favorite in Kapaa, at Kintaro you can order from many appetizers, sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, and a selection of entrees. We opted to split a few maki sushi and appetizers. As soon as we ordered, free fried wontons were brought to our table. Everything was fresh and served at just the right temperatures. The inventive maki may not be for strict sushi purists, but we enjoyed every bite. Be warned; the portions are large and you will most likely end up taking leftovers with you. Save room for a piece of their outstanding green tea mud pie at the end.
Kintaro Japanese Restaurant can be found at 4-370 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa.
Mark’s Place is a great little no frills locals spot. It’s basically a tiny lunch counter on the industrial side of Lihue. There isn’t a bathroom or many tables. It’s the kind of place you call in your order and pick it up to go. What Mark’s Place lacks in ambiance, they fully make up for in food.
The plate lunches here are among the most popular on Kauai. Mark’s special is the way to go to get a taste of local favorites in beef stew, katsu chicken, and teriyaki beef served with rice and potato mac salad. I liked that teriyaki beef so much that we went back the next day so I could get another plate of just that.
Mark’s Place can be found at 1610 Haleukana St, Lihue.
Mermaids Cafe is a counter service food stand located on the side of the road. After you place your order, grab a seat to watch the ebb and flow of visitors and locals to this island community. The way to go at Mermaids Cafe is their Ahi Nori Wrap. With perfectly seared ahi wrapped in a green tortilla with rice, cucumber, nori, wasabi cream sauce, pickled ginger, and soy sauce, it’s easy to see why this is a local favorite. It could end up being one of the best things you eat on Kauai.
Mermaids Cafe can be found at 4-1384 Kuhio Hwy B1, Kapaa.
The best way to describe a Puka Dog is a Polish sausage slipped inside a tube-like-bun that’s garnished with Lilikoi mustard, a garlic-lemon secret sauce, and a tropical relish of your choosing. They have a selection of sauces and relishes made from local ingredients to pick from. We enjoyed both the pineapple relish and the mango relish. It’s the perfect afternoon snack after a day at Poipu beach.
Puka Dog can be found at 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa.
If you are heading to the Waimea Canyon, Shrimp Station is the perfect place to stop for lunch. You can have anything you want on their menu – as long as it’s shrimp. Got Garlic Shrimp plate lunch, our favorite, is heavy on garlic, sauteed in olive oil and white wine for a finger-licking sauce you will love. They don’t shell the shrimp for you to make them extra juicy and to hold on to more flavor. It can get a bit messy peeling all those shrimp, but Shrimp Station has you covered with an area to wash up after you are done.
Can’t hang with having to peel your own shrimp? The Coconut Shrimp are fantastic, too. Some even call them the best Coconut Shrimp on the planet. Dipped in a secret batter, coconut flakes, and deep-fried to perfection they pair perfectly with the papaya ginger tartar sauce.
You can find Shrimp Station in Waimea and Kapaa.
This Hanalei kamaaina (Hawaiian for old-timer) looks like a bit of a dive from the outside, but it’s all local on the inside. Once inside Tahiti Nui has a quaint South Pacific feel with carved tikis and woven matting. With live music nightly, you will want to get here early because Tahiti Nui can fill up quick. We shared a round of their Mai Tais which knocked us on our butts while sharing their sear-crusted ono. It was the perfect way to spend an evening after a full day of frolicking in the Hanalei Bay.
Tahiti Nui can be found at 5-5134 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei.
Where do you go to eat like a local on Kauai?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.