Kauai has a number of great restaurants that will suit any palate, even the pickiest of children (or adults for that matter). This was our sixth trip here, so we have some old stand-bys that we try to get to every time we come, and always try something new. I wrote up a list of recommendations on our last trip here, and already shared my thoughts on Verde, so here are a few additional recommendations:
1. Brennecke's Beach Broiler: Brennecke's in Poipu is a venerable seafood restaurant, unpretentious, but featuring fresh, grilled fish dishes and generous portions. Decorated with a sports theme, it doesn't look like much, but the food is good, and the site offers views of the sunset off the western shore of the island. I had grilled shrimp and ono, served up with hearty potatoes au gratin and broccoli, with a side of crisp pineapple salsa (pictured above). Everything was cooked to perfection, and tasted great together. Location: 2100 Hoone Rd., Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI. Reservations Recommended.
3. Duke's Canoe Club: Located right on Kalapaki Beach and part of the Kauai Marriott Resort, Duke's offers wonderful fresh fish with a variety of preparations, a huge salad bar featuring their famous Caesar Salad and fresh-baked muffins and rolls. I liked the grilled Ono (Wahoo) done "Island Style" with a tangy pineapple salsa. Save room for the Hula Pie, a ginormous icecream pie with a cookie crust topped with Macadamia nuts and drizzled with chocolate. Named for surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, credited at the "Father of International Surfing," the restaurant features a surfing theme and photos of Duke in his heyday. Duke's has additional locations in Waikiki, Maui and in California. Location: 3610 Rice Street, Lihue, HI. Reservations Recommended.
4. Downstairs from Duke's Canoe Club is the more casual Duke's Barefoot Bar, where you can get sandwiches, salads, and appetizers while watching surfers and paddle boarders ride the waves. The crab wantons are fabulous. This is a great place to kick back, enjoy a mai tai or two, and just relax. We ended up here when it started raining while Alex took a surf lesson, and we could see our boy riding the waves while we sipped cocktails with umbrellas in them. That's what I call being on vacation.
5. Pizzetta If you're traveling with kids, it's likely that at some point you'll have to stop for pizza. In Kaua'i, a good bet for pizza is Pizzetta in Old Koloa town. We went there because Alex was craving his favorite food in the world (cheese pizza) and ended up having an enjoyable, inexpensive meal. The menu highlighted the barbecue ribs, which had been written up in Bon Appetit magazine at some point, so we thought they would be worth a shot. What came out looked like a plate of ribs slathered in pizza sauce. While it didn't look like Bon Appetit fare exactly, the ribs were tender, flavorful, and delicious. Even our picky eater, Alex, loved these ribs, and I'm not sure he's ever eaten ribs before in his life. Oh, and the pizza? Equally yummy. 2 Locations: 5408 Koloa Road, Koloa, HI, and 1387 Kuhio Hwy, Kapa'a, HI.
6. Hamura's Saimin: Down a little side street in Lihue, you'll find a local favorite featuring a dish that borrows from the island's pan-Asian heritage: saimin. Hamura's is a somewhat dingy lunch counter serving up big bowls of hot, steaming saimin, or noodle soup with fishcakes, vegetables, and your choice of chicken, beef, shrimp tempura and wontons. I had the shrimp tempura, and while the shrimp was a little soggy, the soup was delicious and the ramen-type noodles plentiful.
This is what I would consider Hawaiian soul food--comforting broth and slurpy noodles, delicately seasoned with soy and ginger. There's plenty of hot sauce to be found if you like things spicy, but this is the kind of food that cures what ails you, anything from a head cold to a broken heart. Don't forget to try the Lillikoi Chiffon Pie for dessert, a light, frothy mountain of cool, clean-tasting whipped passionfruit with a mound of meringue on top. Cheap, filling, with a local flair...what more could you ask for? Location: 2956 Kress St., Lihue, HI.