Part 2: Eating Out
More to come: Part 3: Food to Pack
In case you missed it, Part 1: Stocking Up
Overview: It’s pretty easy to eat local, organic fresh food in Kauai. Many eateries have dedicated gluten-free menus printed (and on their websites) or menus with gluten-free items marked. I’m going to highlight the places we like and have eaten at a few times (ok maybe often).
In order to promote niceness in the world, I am not going to tell you which place to skip. And we have had our fair share of bombs. But here’s a good tip, put on your most friendly smile and ask a local if they can share some of their favorite places. We have found a few gems this way.
These are listed from South to North
Savage Shrimp | Shops at Kukuiula | 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka | Koloa | 808-742-9611
Locally-owned with and known for their fresh shrimp plates. The garlic shrimp is a must try. Consider paying $2 to have them peeled for you, otherwise prepare to get messy. Most of the menu is gluten and dairy free and the staff is happy to make adjustments (like rice instead of bread on the Savage Shrimp). It’s fun to read the walls with past customer “graffiti”.
Living Foods | Shops at Kukuiula | 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka | Koloa | 808-742-2323
They have an extensive wine selection if you care about that sort of thing, gourmet goods, deli, organic foods and cafe with European-style menu. We like their gluten-free crepe stuffed with cheese, ham and buttery eggs. They offer whole-roasted chickens, a range of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Seating on the patio is quite nice and can be entertaining (lots of people watching). Plus they do sell loafs of their house-baked gluten-free bread but you need to ask one. They may be on the shelf near in the front of store or behind the counter.
Da Crack | 2827 Poipu Rd | Poipu | 808-742-9505
This is a teeny storefront. You order at a small window and either eat in the parking lot or take your meal to a more desirable location. Be prepared to be amazed by the sheer quantity of food you get in a bowl (since we eat our burritos without tortillas). All their meats are slow-cooked to perfection. We tried their pork, chicken and shredded beef – tender and moist. You can easily customize your order on which toppings, types of beans or rice you want or don’t want, salsa types and so on. There are also fish tacos on the menu that looked great coming out but we haven’t had a chance to sample them. This place is by far a great bargain for island eating. We had leftovers for days. This is right next door to Kukuiula Market so grab a local kombucha to sip.
Keoki’s Paradise |2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive | Koloa | 808-742-7534
This restaurant is across the way from the fancier Roy’s Poipu Bar and Grill but we liked the more casual and simpler fare offered here. It’s great for a first night meal since Aloha Hour is 3-5pm with several good deals on meals (Coming from California that is a few hours ahead of Kauai time, this makes for a nice early dinner meal until you have gotten adjusted to the local time change). Burgers from local grassfed beef are a safe choice. I opt for no bun and a mixed green salad instead of fries. Gluten free menu is available. Sit in the Bamboo Bar and enjoy the lovely garden and stream. Kid-friendly with a good deal on a steak meal on the kid’s menu.
Sweet Marie’s | 3-3204 Kuhio Highway | Lihue | 808-823-0227
This is a dedicated gluten-free restaurant with carefully selected ingredients and using fresh, organic, locally grown fruits, vegetables & herbs Plan ahead as Sweet Marie’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays and serves breakfast and lunch. If you are celiac, this is the place for you. They are well-trained in cross contamination and outside food/drinks are not permitted. They specialize in bakery items but they do offer a range of savory meals. We’ve tried their soups, short ribs, salad and a fish dish.
Fish Express | 3343 Kuhio Highway | Lihue | 808-245-9918
This is one of our first must-stops after we arrive at the Lihue airport. This is a small place located directly across from Walmart. Our favorite indulgences here include musubi, cucumber poki, lobster poki , and any of the tuna poki. Be sure to ask for a sample of poki, as the batches vary in how salty they are. They also offer grilled fish plates as well as limited range of fresh fish to take and cook on your own.
Papaya’s Natural Foods | 4-831 Kuhio Hwy (Kauai Village) | Kapaa | 808-823-0190
In addition to organic foods, check out their cafe and salad bar and fresh juice bar. We haven’t actually tried their prepared food but their fresh pressed veggie juice was delicious.