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Relying heavily on super-fresh island fish and locally grown vegetables, this restaurant offers quality food that is competently and creatively prepared. The fish—grilled, steamed, or sautéed, and served with succulent sauces—shines here. Other sound choices are the savory meat loaf and prime rib. Mac-nut crusted chicken and a few pasta dishes round out the menu. The ahi nachos appetizer is not to be missed, nor is the warm chocolate cake. The spacious dining room looks out to the ocean, and it's lovely to eat at the outdoor tables when the weather is nice. Overall, it's a solid choice on the East Side. www.hukilaukauai.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch. Closed Mon.
Folks just love this funky old plantation-style diner. Locals and tourists stream in and out all day long, and neighbor islanders stop in on their way to the airport to pick up take-out orders for friends and family back home. Saimin is the big draw, and each day the Hiraoka family dishes up about 1,000 bowls of steaming broth and homemade noodles, topped with a variety of garnishes. The barbecued chicken and meat sticks adopt a smoky flavor during grilling. The landmark eatery is also famous for its lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie. As one of the few island restaurants open late, until 8:30 pm on weeknights and midnight on Friday and Saturday, it's favored by night owls. No credit cards.
This spot in Hanalei's restored old schoolhouse offers dolphin-safe tuna, low-sodium meats, fresh-baked breads, and homemade desserts as well as a casual atmosphere where both families and the sports-watching crowds can feel equally comfortable. Lunch and dinner menus feature sandwiches, burgers, filling salads, a variety of pupus, and nightly specials of fresh local fish. They also will prepare a picnic and give it to you in an insulated backpack. A full bar and frequent live entertainment keep things hopping even after the kitchen closes. Monday and Thursday evenings fill up for fish taco night, which begins at 6. www.hanaleigourmet.com. Credit cards accepted.
Housed within the Waimea Plantation Cottages, this old-time restaurant is spacious, with hardwood floors and open-air decks. Dine indoors amid rattan furnishings or at a bar decorated with petroglyphs and colored with Kauai red dirt. Local-style dishes such as Korean garlic chicken, beef short ribs, and fresh fish are highlights. It has live contemporary Hawaiian-style music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. It's a good place to stop while traveling to or from Waimea Canyon, and the island-made microbrews are worth a try. Credit cards accepted.
If you're big on breakfasts, try Eggbert's, which serves breakfast items until 2 pm daily. This traditional favorite has moved to the north end of the Coconut Marketplace but still welcomes families. It's a great spot for omelets, banana pancakes, and eggs Benedict in two sizes. Lunch selections include sandwiches, burgers, a pork and cabbage plate, and fresh fish. Take-out orders are also available. And if you'd like a bloody mary with those pancakes, Eggbert's bar can oblige. Credit cards accepted.
The inlaid marble floors, ornate tile work, and Italianate murals that compose the elegant interior at this restaurant compete with a stunning ocean view. In addition to the beautiful setting, Dondero's offers outstanding food, a remarkable wine list, and impeccable service, making this one of Kauai's best restaurants. The elegant tasting menu features Italian dishes, including homemade pastas, risotto, and flatbread pizza. Try the wild mushroom risotto as an appetizer. For the main course, order the seafood cioppino, with scallops, mussels, fresh fish, lobster, and shrimp in a tomato broth. The waitstaff deserves special praise for its thoughtful, personalized service. Gluten-free pasta is available upon request. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku is immortalized at this casual bi-level restaurant on Kalapaki Beach. Surfboards, photos, and other memorabilia marking the Duke's long tenure as a waterman adorn the walls. You'll find simple fare ranging from fish tacos and stir-fried cashew chicken to hamburgers, served 11 am to 11 pm. Upstairs, at dinner, fresh fish prepared in a variety of styles is the best choice, though the prime rib is a favorite among locals. A comprehensive salad bar comes with dinner. Save room for the famous hula pie, a gigantic ice-cream dessert that should be shared by at least two people. Downstairs, at the Barefoot Bar, a happy-hour drink and appetizer is a less expensive way to enjoy the moonrises and ocean views—though it can get pretty crowded. www.dukeskauai.com. Credit cards accepted.
Kauai residents frequent this big, sparsely furnished eatery near the Lihue Fire Station for hearty, local-style at breakfast and lunch. Dani's is a good place to try traditional luau cuisine without commercial luau prices. You can order Hawaiian-style laulau (pork and taro leaves wrapped in ti leaves and steamed) or kalua pig, slow roasted in an underground oven. Other island-style dishes include Japanese-prepared tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and teriyaki beef, and there's always the all-American New York steak. Omelets are whipped up with fish cake, kalua pig, or seafood; everything is served with rice. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun. No dinner.
Outdoor dining in a pleasant garden setting and consistently good food make this restaurant at the Kiahuna Swim and Tennis Club worth a visit. The fresh fish of the day and the beef filet with porcini truffle sauce are noteworthy, or try the fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto and served with poached figs in a distinctive pork-fig sauce. A tapas menu rounds out the offerings. www.casablancakauai.com. Credit cards accepted. No dinner Mon.
Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood above Poipu Beach, this "House of Friends" has live classical piano music on Saturday nights and an outside deck open to sweeping ocean views. Entrées from the internationally eclectic menu include a saffron-vanilla paella risotto made with black tiger prawns, fresh fish, chicken breast, and homemade Italian sausage. For dessert, take the plunge with a baked Hawaii: a chocolate-macadamia-nut brownie topped with coconut and passion-fruit sorbet and flambéed Italian meringue. www.casadiamici.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
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Oahu: Hau Tree Lanai
Maui: Mama's Fish House
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