Fusion chicken at Lighthouse Bistro — Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Bistro
Lighthouse Bistro is the closest thing to fine dining in Kauai's historic town of Kilauea. (Just to make it clear, Lighthouse Bistro is near Kilauea Lighthouse, but not right by it.) The restaurant isn't totally formal, so diners can either dress up for fun or go low-key to the open-air Hawaiian plantation garden setting. Here, they utilize local ingredients and seek to minimize their environmental impact.
Lunch includes garden and fish tacos, garden and beef burgers, fish sandwiches, soups and salads. Dinner includes ginger-crusted fresh catch, shrimp parmesan, coconut-crusted pork, ribs and a lot more, along with salads and an all-you-can-eat pasta bar. Vegetarians have plenty of options here. Wine, beer and cocktails are available.
Excellent cuisine, coupled with a textural decor that complements its pastoral locale, recommends this terrific bistro. The cuisine benefits from a range of influences, as evidenced in fresh fish tacos, chicken satay and veal piccata. The capable kitchen also delivers light pastas, salads, hamburgers and perfectly cooked steaks, many dressed with complementary sauces.
Beautiful presentation, live music, attentive service and a calm, relaxing atmosphere also call to patrons eager for a quiet, delicious evening out. Happy hour lasts from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with half off all wines by the glass, beer and mai tais.
Dining on the lanai — Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Bistro
Just down the street is the historic Kilauea Lighthouse. Perched on a point high above the sea, this quaint lighthouse (built in 1913) once had the capacity to send a shaft of light 90 miles into the night. These days, its original "clamshell" lens has been replaced by a smaller, less powerful light that local sailors on the North Shore still find quite useful.
Views from the point are stunning, and a large contingent of native fauna delights visitors with its presence. Wildlife sanctuaries are located nearby, providing a measure of safety for birds, seals and other creatures. A visitor center is available as well.
Just a 10-minute drive down the road is the gorgeous North Shore. Historic Hanalei Town is home to an intriguing array of unique shops and boutiques. Fronting the town is crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay, where waves, fine sand and a pier offer tons of family fun. Towards the end of the road are some of the island's best beaches, like river-laden Lumahai, magical Ha'ena and Ke'e Beach (and its amazing snorkeling).
A good itinerary is to explore the North Shore before ending the day with a lovely dinner at Lighthouse Bistro.