10 Best Value Restaurants on Kaua'i Span Cuisine Spectrum
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
You've made it all the way to Kaua`i after plane tickets, new beach gear, cameras and more, and now it's time to cut costs a little. Kaua`i is home to a number of wonderful places to eat that are of high quality and affordable. And what's great is considering the frequency of beautiful sandy beaches, and to go meal can become a beach front dining experience. Pick up whatever sounds good and bring it to the nearest beach or waterfall.
Here at 10 Best we're not going just for best value, but for best value and great food and flavors. At small locally run joints like Red Hot Mama's on the North Shore, you can get flavorful meals made with fresh, locally caught fish for decent prices. Take your meal to nearby Lumahai Beach to make it beach side dining.
To experience local food, drop by the Koloa Fish Market for Hawaiian staples such as lau lau, lomi lomi salmon and kalua pig. Affordability and true Hawaiian flavors is what makes this a tried and true place for locals to eat. For heaping amounts of American fare at a great value, stop by Kapa`a's Olympic Cafe. From breakfast through dinner, the long standing eatery serves up reliable flavor at great prices and sizes.
The list goes on for affordable food, so read through to take a food your of Kaua`i's best value restaurants.
10 CJ's Steak & Seafood
Well-known for serving fantastic large amounts of food at an affordable price, Chuck's is a North Shore institution, thanks to its savory selection of Black Angus beef. Prime rib and top sirloin, carefully trimmed and perfectly cooked, are favorites, although broiled chicken, roasted rack of lamb, and rich, barbecued pork ribs are also succulent. Fresh seafood is superb as well and ranges from sweet lobster tail to sauteed shrimp, crab legs, and the fresh catch of the day. Rolls, rice, and the salad bar are included with meals, which are nevertheless delicious. This is a great end to a wonderful day on the North Shore so drop by on your way back east. (808-826-6211)
9 Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.
A hit with locals and visitors, the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is a spot that all visitors need to stop at and enjoy. Very local style, the restaurant is a local style lunch wagon resting roadside in Hanalei. Serving traditional Hawaiian food, but with a modern twist, this is your best bet to fill up on taro, the root crop that sustained Hawaiians for generations. Here you can find taro and many other healthy ingredients prepared with a modern twist, such as a taro smoothie, Hawaiian plate lunches, taro hummus, taro veggie burgers, and even taro acai bowls- the list goes on. ((808) 826-1059)
8 Hanalei Wake-Up Cafe
This small and quaint eatery in the heart of historic Hanalei is a friendly place that opens early and pulls in crowds of locals who enjoy its uncomplicated atmosphere and laid-back clientele. Adorned with surf-themed artwork and photographs, the bright eatery serves up all sorts of breakfast foods, from healthy to just plain good. Coconut-custard French toast is terrific, and the omelets are filled with all sorts of tasty ingredients, a perfect preface to a day on the beach. Fresh fruit and yogurt will satisfy light eaters. This is a truly local spot where residents and visitors alike come to enjoy a unique an quick breakfast before a day around the island. (808-826-5551)
7 Island Taco
Big portions of tasty food is what you'll get at Island Taco. The roadside eatery is simple, and resembles a Mexico taco stand, but totally clean, safe and awesome! It's order at the counter, where you can get a tiny peak into the kitchen, and enjoy at one of the roadside tables or take it to go. You can take it to go and enjoy at a nearby white sand beach, but with the big portions that can get a little messy. Vegetarians will fare very well here while meat eaters will find fresh fish, beef and chicken. All of the food is great, but tacos are a highlight. They add of unique elements such as cabbage and wasabi aioli sauce. A must stop while on the west side. ((808) 338-9895)
6 Kountry Kitchen
Simple, unaffected fare is the name of the game at this easy-going spot. There's nothing fancy about the place, and that's a big part of its appeal. If you like being in control of things, create your own omelet from their selection of fillings. If you just like being served, order up eggs, French toast, pancakes, and the sort of dishes that come complete and without much diner input. Make it a point to try the Portuguese sausage, a local favorite. This is the place where you'll go and notice that everyone knows each other's name. Sandwiches and burgers can be had for lunch. (808-822-3511)
5 Olympic Cafe
Sunny and comfortable, with French doors thrown open to the street, this pleasant cafe invites patrons to stop in for a bite to eat or just a sweet snack. Full-bodied espressos serve as a nice counterpoint to the variety of pastries (including muffins fragrant with pineapple and coconut), while breakfast features French toast, egg dishes, and omelets. Later in the day, you'll find fresh seafood, burgers, chicken, kalua pork, and other local favorites. Kick back for a while and enjoy the food and ambiance. Located in historic Kapa`a town on the eastern shore, the eatery is very close to many other restaurants and shops. (808-822-5825)
4 Koloa Fish Market
This is a local style spot that serves up fresh fish and seafood to take home and cook as well as eat there and take out dishes. Very local and Hawaiian food like lau lau, kalua pig, and other local favorites that can be pretty darn good. There's a good chance you'll be the only visitors in line here, but there's nothing wrong with that. You know the the quality of the seafood is good for locals, it must be good. A great place for a plate lunch to eat on site or take home a slab of fish if you have a kitchenette at the hotel. (808.742.6199)
3 Kalaheo Coffee Co. & Cafe
Down in southern Kauai, this wonderful cafe makes for a terrific respite any time of day. The good size portions are affordable and high quality and tasty. Coffee options are legion and feature blends from South and Central America, Africa, Indonesia, and the islands of Hawaii themselves. Hot or chilled, undiluted or laced with cream and sugar, the java is fantastic. To accompany it, go for a muffin or fresh pastry, or indulge in a slice of cake, pie, or cheesecake. Creative breakfast and lunch fare consists of burritos, omelets, sandwiches, burgers, and salads � perfect sustenance when hunger pangs strike. (808-332-5858, 800-255-0137)
2 Bubba Burgers
This irreverent place eschews anything that reeks of pretense or formality, so come with a light heart and a fun spirit. The fantastic burgers, made from Kauai beef, have gained a large measure of local fame; the basic is 1/6 of a pound, while the Big Bubba pushes the 1/2 pound mark. Both grilled fish filet and chicken breast sandwiches can also be had, along with hot dogs, Italian sausages, and chili. There's even a ginger/teriyaki tempeh burger for vegetarians to savor. With locations island wide, Bubba's is an easy burger to grab and go or enjoy on the porch each location has. (808-826-7839)
1 Red Hot Mamas
Red Hot Mama's is literally a hole-in-the-wall in a tiny strip of shops near the end of the road past Hanalei. You order at the small counter, wait (and many signs say don't inquire about your food while waiting) and then enjoy your take out food. Mama's serves up Mexican food, but with a wonderful local twist. The owner uses the freshest fish caught by locals, offers tofu options, and lots of avocado in wraps, burritos, and tacos. It's the last chance for a meal out that way but that's not the only reason to go here. Portions are very generous. Make sure to grab a meal from Mama's while on Kauai. ((808) 826-7266)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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