We’re back! After a (mostly) delightful anniversary celebration in Kauai, we’ve returned to dry, beautiful Colorado. Kauai is an incredibly scenic island with lots of “activity” potential (hiking, biking, kayaking, diving, you name it). Amazingly, though, one of our favorite things about the trip was the FOOD. We used two guidebooks (The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook and Kauai Restaurants and Dining with Princeville and Poipu Beach) and noted the opinions of various TripAdvisor users, and we hardly made a misstep. Here are some of the highlights.
Breakfasts: Our two stops were the Hanalei Wakeup Cafe and Java Kai in both Kapa’a and Hanalei. The HWC is famous for its Over the Falls French Toast, which is a custard-y treat topped with tropical fruit, coconut, and cream. Lordy, lordy, it was good. Maybe even better, though, was the Kauai Waffle at Java Kai… It was a sizeable Belgian waffle topped with bananas, papaya, whipped cream, and macadamia nuts. Holy moly. We loved the Surfer Sandwich (killer bagels!), the scones, and the not-too-sweet chai as well. We made a practice of ordering different things and sharing so we could both have *everything* we wanted. 🙂
The breakfast below is the one for which we worked the hardest… After a treacherous hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach via the first leg of the Kalalau Trail, Dr. O and I toasted our arrival with a breakfast of strawberry Pop Tarts. Nice, huh?
Treats: Who knew Kauai had such incredibly tasty treats? Shave ice is always a winner (see the Hanalei Rainbow with macadamia nut ice cream from Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei below) in Hawaii, but we seemed to find deliciousness everywhere we went. The “combination frostie” (frozen apple bananas, pineapple, and papaya churned through a Champion juicer) from Banana Joe’s was incredible… It’s hard to believe they can create a perfect soft-serve consistency out of fruit and nothing more. We adored the Tropical Dreams ice cream at Kilauea Video & Ice Cream as well. (Our favorite flavors included guava/passion fruit and white chocolate macadamia.)
Lunches: We actually didn’t lunch that often because we tried to get moving so early every morning. We’d wake up at 5:30 a.m., try to be at the beach or on the trail by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., and then have a late breakfast around 10:30 a.m. (when most of the other tourists were just getting started). Three spots we did enjoy, though, were The Hanalei Gourmet (sandwiches and burgers), the Kalapaki Beach Hut in Lihue (fantastic burgers and fish and chips), and Puka Dog in Poipu. Dr. O and I are about to get started on our Puka Dogs in the photo below… They look a bit goopy and strange, I’ll admit, but they were abso-freakin’-lutely delicious. We had Polish dogs (they have veggie dogs too) with the original garlic lemon sauce. I had mango relish and Dr. O had banana relish with Hawaiian mustard. The buns had perfect flavor and texture, and they completely surrounded the dog and its yummy toppings. Sooooo, soooooo good.
Dinners: We ran the gamut from super casual (Federico’s Fresh Mex Cuisine in Princeville) to pretty nice (Wahooo and Hukilau Lanai in Kapa’a). Restaurant Kintaro was our sushi stop (pretty good, but I think we should have tried the tempura), and we ended our trip with the “beachside BBQ” at Scotty’s in Kapa’a (killer views and pretty good, but WAY overpriced). The hands-down winner was Bar Acuda in Hanalei, which is a tapas and wine bar. We didn’t have a reservation so we “had” to sit at the chef’s table, but we were totally entertained by all the action in the kitchen. The food was amazing… We had shrimp with a roasted pepper sauce, flank steak skewers with chipotle and honey, and the most delicious pizzetta with potatoes, smoked bacon, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. We finished off the meal with a cherry-berry shortcake. Every bite was to die for. The ambiance was terrific and the service was attentive too. If you’re headed to Kauai, don’t miss it!
Beer and Cocktails: What would a trip to Hawaii be without a few mai tais? The photo below is from our final dinner at Scotty’s Beachside BBQ and the mai tais were delicious, but I’m going to have to award the mai tai “prize” to the pool bar at the Westin in Princeville. Maybe it’s just that cocktails taste better in a cool pool under the hot sun, but the Westin’s mai tai was pure perfection (and a relative steal at $6).
We didn’t drink too, too much because we started our days so early, but we did make a trip down to the Waimea Brewing Company last Wednesday. The beers were a bit hoppy for my taste, but Dr. O enjoyed them. Even though they weren’t brewed on Kauai, the Hawaii Nui brews were more up my alley; I liked the Kauai Golden Ale and Dr. O liked the Sunset Amber Ale.
I’d have to say this was one of our most “delicious” trips ever… I’m absolutely fiending for a Wishing Well shave ice and a Puka Dog, and I’d probably bankrupt us via tapas if we had a Bar Acuda here in Denver. The island was beyond gorgeous, but the food is probably what would bring us back!