cheap but ono?
February 28, 2008 9:23 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are going to Kauai for 7 nights in March. Yay! Now please help me not have to mortgage our house to pay for food.

I am looking for recommendations for restaurants that are not 'touristy' and super expensive. I remember eating takeout from Hamura's Saimin as a child and really enjoying it. Any other 'local', inexpensive, decent options? We're staying on the south shore, near Prince Kuhio Park, but any island-wide suggestions are appreciated. Mahalo.
posted by ms.v. to Travel & Transportation around Kauai, HI (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Hamura Saimen is relatively inexpensive but more fun to eat there.

I've stayed only toward the end of the road at the north, past Hanalei. However, there are a number of lunch spots all along the highway from the airport south and west that are relatively inexpensive - or at least Hawaii inexpensive. Are you in a hotel or a rental? We usually eat most of our meals at our rental - buy fish (tuna being reasonably inexpensive, compared to the price here in California) and grill at home. Shop at the once-a-week farmers market for the best deals on produce on the island, but be prepared: they are VERY serious about their farmers' markets - most last under an hour, you gotta have cash in hand, and know exactly what you want, because everything goes really fast after the starting whistle or horn (yes, I'm serious, they have an exact start and end time and they're really strict about it).

Supermarket produce is not so good, at least at the supermarket in Kapa'a.

On the north side, you can pretty much just walk around and pick bananas, papaya, start fruit and things like that right off the tree, but I'm not sure if that's possible on the south side.
posted by luriete at 9:30 PM on February 28, 2008

Response by poster: We're staying at a rental, so cooking is possible. However, knowing us, we will probably cook our breakfasts and lunches and want to eat out in the evening.
posted by ms.v. at 9:35 PM on February 28, 2008

I was there over New Year's, and we ate on the cheap too. If you can cook, do so. I second going to farmer's markets. Buy groceries in Koloa. Grill kalbi, eat some poke, etc. Sueoka's grocery store has a great hut on the side of the building with the cheapest food on the island: plate lunches, burgers, etc.

You can go to Puka Dogs at the shopping mall on the mauka side of Poipu Road. In the same shopping mall is Keoki's Paradise. It has a totally fabricated tropical exotic decor with outdoor pond in the restaurant, but get fish for dinner. Arguably best fish on the island and not too expensive. More expensive and also nearby is Roy's.

In Kapa'a, eat at the diner on the ground floor of the Tip Top Motel. Yummo.

You can get Kauai Kookie Kompany cookies for really cheap at the grocery store near their factory. I think it's in Hanapepe.

Those are just a few of our favorite places from the latest trip. We really love the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook.
posted by billtron at 9:48 PM on February 28, 2008

Oh, and eat at both Jo Jo's Shave Ice stores and then let me know which one you like more.
posted by billtron at 9:58 PM on February 28, 2008

no, wait. Tip Top is in Lihue. Anyway, email me for more info if you want.
posted by billtron at 10:01 PM on February 28, 2008

As billtron said, the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook is your friend. Last time I was there, I lived on fruit from the farmers markets, and poke from the Big Save in Waimea. It's as good as anywhere on the island.
posted by turducken at 10:04 PM on February 28, 2008

When we stayed at Hanalei in 1998, we were at a B&B so breakfast came with the lodging. We made lunches to take with us and "ate out" only in the evenings. It was way cheaper that way.

Although this is not what you're specifically asking, I really loved snorkeling in The Queen's Bath.

And I really liked The Kapaia Stitchery. Yes, it's a quiting shop, but they also will make you very nice Hawaiian shirts from the fabric of your choice.
posted by plinth at 5:45 AM on February 29, 2008

Poke and Johnny Walker.
posted by tiburon at 7:09 AM on February 29, 2008

I don't have specific suggestions, but we are going to Maui in April and have found the Maui Revealed book to be very helpful on activities. I know the personal advice here is preferable, just wanted to offer up an additional source if you didn't get a huge number of responses.

Also, in researching Hawaii I found that there is a food tour on Oahu that sounded really wonderful and gets uniformly rave reviews. I regret that we can't go because we're not visiting that island (and it sounds like neither are you), but I'm giving the link in case it inspires you to research food tours on Kaui (I'm not aware of any though), gives you ideas for types of "hole in the wall" places on Kaui to try, or helps others who come to this thread in the future.

Goodl luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 9:29 AM on February 29, 2008

Tropical Taco has amazing fish burritos and tacos and it's cheap. Head up to Hanalei or Haena for some less touristy dining. If you go to Hanalei it's one main road, and there are a ton of good restaurants you'll drive right past. In fact, $12-15 a plate seems standard there, but the food is quite good and it definitely is a more relaxed atmosphere

Stay away from Lapperts ice cream, not worth it.

However, your vacation is short, why not splurge and enjoy yourselves? The Creme Brulee cocktail at the beach house is an amazing drink. I'd also Nth the ultimate kauai guidebook.
posted by Large Marge at 10:27 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

You know what, I think the shave ice truck in Hanalei (Wishing Well Shave Ice) is far superior to Jo Jo, although the red Jo Jo on the way to Waimea ain't so bad.

best snorkeling is probably tunnels or ke'e, at the end of the rode up north. ke'e is often crowded, but it is great.
posted by luriete at 11:29 AM on February 29, 2008

rode=road, i'm a dummy.
posted by luriete at 11:29 AM on February 29, 2008

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