There’s one single key to enjoying eating out in Hawaii. Make sure your hotel has a kitchen and a BBQ!  Honestly, food is so expensive in Hawaii you can’t afford to eat out three meals a day every day for a week. We recently stayed at the Marriott Beach Club in Lihue… complete with full kitchen and community BBQs where the men hang out, smoke cigars, drink beer and discuss meat.  And now that you’ve saved some money by eating “in” you can really splurge when you eat out. And here are my recommendations starting from the north side of the island and working clockwise around it until we end up at Poipu.

Hanalei is a cute little town on the north shore. It feels like Hawaii 30 years ago. And smack dab in the middle of it is Tropical Taco.


 It’s a taco truck turned brick and mortar restaurant. Darrin and I had the fish tacos.


But the kids were the real winners. They each had not one but two orders of the ground beef burritos. Eat out on the porch, but watch for little Tweedy. He will snatch a bite if you’re not paying constant attention.


On the east shore is a little town call Kapa’a. We were told by our friend, Lori, as well as everyone else while on the island to eat at Bull Shed’s. There’s just a tiny sign off the main road so you have to look for it. We caught it at the last minute, drove down the long driveway… to this sign on the door.


Super bummed, but a good reason to return to Kauai someday.

In Lihue, there’s the famous Duke’s. Duke was a stud. Not only because he was an Olympic swimmer and is the father of modern day surfing… but because the dude made a helluva pie!



Hula pie was the perfect ending to our fabulous meal. And did you know Duke’s is owned by the same company that owns Sunnyside up at Lake Tahoe. I mention this because guess what’s on the Sunnyside menu? Hula Pie!!!






Also in Lihue, in fact right next door to Duke’s, is Portofino. We had mixed reviews about this legit Italian restaurant. The owner, the harpist and the waiter are all from Italy. The porch overlooks the ocean. And one night a week it turns into a disco for 21 and ups. The only nightlife in Lihue. Maybe even all of Kauai. Darrin and I both ordered the house specialty lasagna. It tasted as good as it looks.










Poipu is the main town on the south shore. And as you come into it, there’s a food truck that’s worth a stop. The Kauai Food Truck has great fish tacos and you pluck your own bottles of water from an Igloo cooler by the front tire.




There’s a pleasant grassy picnic area. We actually hung out here for a bit. I loved all the colors in this little corner of Poipu. Bonus suggestion! In the Poipu Shopping Village is Puka Dogs as seen on Food Network. Totally worth it and the kids will love it!



I’ve saved the best for last! Beach House in Poipu has an amazing location nestled into the best snorkeling cove on the island. That means you can send the kids snorkeling while you enjoy a coconut martini. The glass rim is an appetizer!


You can hear the waves while dining in any of their oceanfront booths. And when chef Marshall Blanchard plates his food he takes as much care with his presentation as he does the quality of the food. I got the grilled Hawaiian catch with coconut black Thai rice, green papaya salad and coconut red curry sauce.  











Darrin got something fabulous too…. but ate it before I could snap a photo!   And I was so impressed with the vanilla bean brown butter vinaigrette I called Marshall and asked for the recipe. Luckily he’s one of those cool chefs who doesn’t mind sharing his secrets. So here you go! Compliments of Chef Blanchard:

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Vinaigrette:  6 oz. Heinz gourmet malt vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Dijon, 1 1/2 vanilla beans split lengthwise, 1 pound butter (yes that says 1 POUND!).  Melt the butter in a pan until it browns.  Set aside to cool.  Mix all other ingredients together and allow vanilla beans to soak for a while.  When they are soft, scrape the seeds back into the mixture and discard the stalks.  Finally, slowly whisk the butter into the mixture.  Marshall says he thins the vinaigrette with 1/2 cup water.  I’m going full throttle, no water for me!

And maybe that’s why my next post is titled DETOX!  The scale was quite an eye opener upon our return to reality…. but it was so worth it!












About Wendy D

I was born in San Francisco and ended up marrying a rancher in Reno, Nevada. I have a big city job anchoring the 5 o’clock news but come home to the country where my husband’s family has ranched for 5 generations.

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