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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.
If you're big on breakfast, try Kountry Kitchen, which serves breakfast and lunch items until 1:30 pm daily. Across the street from the library in Kapaa, this family-friendly restaurant has a sunny interior, and a cozy, greasy-spoon atmosphere with friendly service. It is a great spot for omelets, banana pancakes, and eggs Benedict in two sizes. Lunch selections include sandwiches, burgers, and loco mocos (a popular local rice, beef, gravy, and eggs concoction). Take-out orders are also available. www.kountrykitchenfamrest.com. Credit cards accepted. No dinner.
The healthful choices and cross-cultural flavors on Kukui's menu are well matched with its casual, open-air setting. The meals have hints of Hawaiian, Asian, and contemporary American cuisines. Slow-roasted prime rib, fresh catch, penne pasta with salmon, and a surf-and-turf option are representative of the well-rounded fare. An extensive breakfast buffet ($23.95) is offered every morning, or choose from the à la carte menu. Newly renovated with a modern theme in 2009, there is also now a hip sushi bar called Toro Tei—try "da spida roll," a crispy fried shrimp roll with crab, cucumber, sprouts, and avocado. You can also order from the bar menu. kukuiskauaimarriott.com. Credit cards accepted.
This bakery has garnered tons of well-deserved good press for its starter of Hawaiian sourdough made with guava as well as its specialty pizzas topped with such yummy ingredients as smoked ono (a Hawaiian fish), Gorgonzola-rosemary sauce, barbecued chicken, goat cheese, and chipotle peppers. Open from 6:30 am, the bakery serves coffee drinks, delicious fresh pastries, bagels, and breads in the morning. Late risers beware: breads and pastries sell out quickly on weekends. Pizza, soup, and salads can be ordered for lunch or dinner. If you want to hang out or do the Wi-Fi coffee shop bit in Kilauea, this is the place. A cute courtyard with covered tables is a pleasant place to linger. Credit cards accepted.
Built to resemble a dockside boathouse, this active, boisterous place fills up quickly at night thanks to the live music. Seafood appetizers span the tide from sashimi to Thai shrimp sticks, crab cakes, and scallops crusted in panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs). The day's fresh catch is available in half a dozen styles and sauces. And there's a sampling of beef, chicken, and pork-rib entrées for the committed carnivore. A lighter menu is available at the bar for lunch and dinner. www.keokisparadise.com. Credit cards accepted.
If you don't mind a no-frills atmosphere for affordable food, this is the place. The husband of the husband-and-wife team that runs the restaurant left his executive-chef position at Roy's to open a catering business. He leased a kitchen that happened to have a small dining area and gradually upgraded and expanded it. Rather than let it go to waste, they open for dinner every evening. Their specials are satisfying and delicious, and their 10-in pizzettas make a fine meal for one. The locals have this place figured out; they show up in droves. The chic KP Lounge stays open late, offering a handsome hideout for tasty nighttime grinds and cocktails. There's a branch in Lihue that also serves lunch. No lunch.
Hit the original Kalapaki Joe's down in Nawiliwili for happy hour and enjoy 25-cent wings and $3 fish tacos at this well-situated sports bar. Whoop it up with the crowd of locals and tourists watching everything from football to rugby on strategically placed TVs. Stay for dinner to have generous portions of sports bars fare, plus local fish dishes including an excellent seared ahi sashimi plate, and take in the postcard-perfect view of Kalapaki Bay.
Savor an artful meal created by world-renowned chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten, surrounded by a dramatic Hanalei Bay scene. Located at the recently renovated St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kauai Grill has dark wood decor and an ornate red chandelier, the centerpiece of the room. The attention here is on the flavors of robust meat and local, fresh seafood. Most dishes are plainly grilled, accompanied by exotic sauces and condiments. The specials change frequently and use as many Hawaiian-grown ingredients as possible. Expect attentive service with the somewhat stiff feel of an exclusive hotel, and an expertly created meal. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch. Closed Sun.--Mon.
Right off the highway in Kalaheo, locals love this café, especially for breakfast. It's a casual atmosphere, except on weekend mornings when it can get very busy. Order up front and then find a seat inside or out on the lanai. Favorites include the Kahili Breakfast, scrambled eggs served with Portuguese sausage, ham, and green onions; and the Longboard sandwich, with fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and melted provolone cheese. Lots of local products are used here, including Anahola Granola, local fish and Kauai coffee, which you can buy by the pound. They are again serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday nights. www.kalaheo.com. Credit cards accepted.
This spacious, low-key restaurant serves hearty fare, with dinner specials such as lobster and Slavonic steak, a broiled sliced tenderloin dipped in buttery wine sauce. The grilled cajun-style prime rib is also pretty good. On sunny afternoons, ask for a table on the lanai overlooking Kalapaki Bay and try one of the generous salads. The upstairs section is currently only available for private events, but you can still eat at the restaurant's lower level, which is open-air and casual. JJ's is a relaxed place to enjoy lunch, dinner, or just sit at the bar for a drink, with one of the best ocean views in Lihue. www.jjsbroiler.com. Credit cards accepted.
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