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Families may find themselves returning for multiple meals at this all-day casual restaurant, with its children's menu, simple food, and low prices. Veggie, fish, and gourmet half-pound beef burgers are the mainstay, with fresh fish and other specials added at dinner and sandwiches, soups, and hearty salads rounding out the choices. Bottomless soft drinks and milk shakes are a nice touch for the kids; adults can order wine, draft beer, and exotic drinks. Dining rooms at both locales are airy, cheerful, and casual. Credit cards accepted.
Two walls of windows brighten this intimate second-story restaurant in the heart of Kalaheo, where there's good food at reasonable prices. Begin with prosciutto and melon, then proceed directly to the multilayer meat lasagna, a favorite of the chefs—two Italian-born brothers. Other highlights include eggplant or veal parmigiana, chicken saltimbocca, and scampi in a garlic, caper, and white wine sauce. www.pomodorokauai.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun. No lunch.
A historic plantation manager's home has been converted to a restaurant that serves seafood and kiawe-grilled meats with a Pacific Rim and Italian influence. You'll walk through a tropical setting of torch-lighted orchid gardens and lotus-studded koi ponds to a cozy, European-style dining room with cherry wood floors and a veranda. The menu is based on fresh, local foods: fish right off the boat, herbs and produce picked from the plantation's gardens, fruit delivered by neighborhood farmers. The result is cuisine with an island flair—seafood laulau (seafood wrapped in ti leaves and steamed)—served alongside traditional classics such as sugar-cane-skewered pork tenderloin. Definitely save room for dessert: The lilikoi cheesecake is a dream. In short, the food is excellent and the setting charming. www.pgrestaurant.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Kauai's largest natural-foods market contains a buffet-style café with good food at low prices. Food items change daily, but there's always a hot and cold salad bar, and favorites like taro burgers for lunch and dinner. Meals are made with fresh organic lettuce and vegetables, most grown nearby. You can order takeout or eat at a covered table in the courtyard. www.papayasnaturalfoods.com. Credit cards accepted.
Solid food characterizes this family-style Italian restaurant, which serves up hearty portions of pasta, lasagna, and eggplant Parmesan, along with calzones, pizza with numerous toppings, and salads. The atmosphere is casual and lively and the food is good, especially for the price. Neighborhood delivery is available. Credit cards accepted.
Sit and watch as your meal is prepared at this café in Kapaa. The small yet diverse menu of sophisticated dishes features homemade sauces and local ingredients. Try the ahi nori wrap with fresh seared tuna, rice, cucumber, and wasabi cream sauce with pickled ginger and soy sauce—their most popular pick. Other dishes include rice, fresh vegetables, and either tofu or chicken served with a peanut sauce or coconut curry sauce. Everything can be made either vegetarian or vegan. Fish is caught daily by local fisherman, and produce is grown on the island. The Thai ice tea with coconut milk is arguably the best on Kauai. www.mermaidskauai.com. No credit cards.
A trip to this romantic Middle Eastern oasis pays off after a narrow, beach-hugging ride along the exquisite North Shore coastline. Owner-chef Imad Beydoun, a native of Beirut, serves multiple hummus appetizers, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush, crispy spinach and lamb fatayers alongside traditional favorites like rib-eyes and rosemary rack of lamb. The seafood tower is an impressive presentation of shrimp, scallops and fresh fish resting on grilled pineapple and mashed potatoes. Local fish including ahi, ono and seasonal catches add Pacific Rim touches when combined with fresh local produce. Belly-dancing performances and live music along with Tuesday's luau (reservations suggested), add to the relaxed ambiance. Arrive early (around 6 pm) for prime seats and to enjoy the lovely ocean views at day's end. www.kauaimedgourmet.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
Enjoy dining while gazing at a breathtaking panoramic view of Hanalei Bay. There's no doubt it's pricey, but you're paying for the view—sit on the terrace if you can—and for an attentive staff. There is a focus on local, Hawaiian-grown foods here, including the fish plate of a fresh Pacific catch, which is your best bet for lunch. For breakfast, feast at an extensive buffet or order à la carte. A fantastic and expensive brunch is the only option on Sunday morning and afternoon. For a special evening, splurge on the petite fillet and lobster tail (around $58) and time your dinner around sunset for an unforgettable Hawaiian vista. Credit cards accepted.
The inside of Kapaa's Lemongrass Grill may remind you of a Pacific Rim-theme rustic tavern, with its stained wood interior, numerous paintings and carvings, and food that is as fresh as it can get. There's something for everybody here: salads, poultry, steaks and ribs, vegetarian fare, and, of course, a wide selection of seafood, all with an island flair. Specials include a heaping seafood platter featuring lobster tails, scallops, shrimp scampi, the fish of the day, and an assortment of vegetables—they say it's "for two," but it could easily feed three or four. Service is laid-back but friendly. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Few Kauai restaurants are more beloved than this family-owned eatery, a mainstay of island dining since 1940. The menu runs from traditional American to Asian. The dishes are decent but nothing to send a postcard home about. Try the baby back ribs, or fried loco moco, or choose a full Japanese dinner from the other side of the menu. If you can't make up your mind, strike a compromise with the inn's tri-sampler. Opt for the fruit cup—fresh, not canned—instead of soup or salad, and save room for a hefty slice of homemade cream pie, available in all sorts of flavors. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
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