One of the benefits of vacationing in a condo is that you have a kitchen. While I don’t harbor much interest in cooking while on vacation, I’m perfectly happy to buy bagels at the local Costco, and yogurt, hot dogs, and other items at my favorite markets in Koloa: Big Save and Sueoka’s. I even bought a T-shirt at Sueoka’s, as if it were a concert and not a grocery store.
But we didn’t eat every meal in the condo, and naturally we made a point of visiting some old favorites. Upon arrival we had plate lunches at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, and when dinner arrived it was time for calzones at Pizzetta. One evening we had a lavish and delightful meal at Plantation Gardens, which has become a Kauai tradition for us.
On Friday, after snorkeling at Anini Beach but before leaving for Ha’ena and Tunnels Beaches, we paused for a bite at the Anini Beach Lunch Shak. It isn’t really a Shak, or even a Shack; it’s a lunch truck, serving a variety of tacos and burritos. I went for the fish tacos, and Mr. Sandwich had a kalua pig burrito. (This does not involve an entire pig, at least not at the time that you’re eating it.) Everything was good, but a little bland; the addition of the truly excellent salsa made it quite tasty. Dinner was actually breakfast-for-dinner at Lihue’s Oki Diner, which touts its pancakes and offers a variety of syrups (I opted for coconut). Verdict? Okay, but not amazing. I think their main strength is that they are open 22 hours on an island where most restaurants seem to close at 3 p.m. Our visit must have come at their slow time, because we were the only patrons, and we didn’t stay anywhere near 22 hours.
Alas, the Camp House Grill in Kalaheo is closed, which means no more of their delicious pies. However, across the street is the Ohana Cafe, which makes excellent burgers, fries, and saimin. Note: a small bowl of saimin here is a meal, but we were really hungry. Then, by the end of our visit, we were really full. However, I did take home a slice of their ola pie, which is a Fig Newton crust filled with banana ice cream, peanut butter, and chocolate. Even lasting for two days, it was a little overwhelming–tasty, but with a lot going on. The answer, I think, is to concentrate on the main course, which they do really well; their menu is limited, but focused.
Duane’s Ono Char Burger in Anahola is an institution. I opted for the teriyaki burger and a marionberry shake. I have no idea what a marionberry is, but I do know that it makes a great shake. The burgers were messy but good, and the fries were amazing.
We had still more burgers at Kalapaki Beach Hut in Lihue. From the top deck you can see part of the bay at Lihue. You can also feed french fries to birds, although we probably weren’t supposed to do that. My conclusion is that, overall, Kauai is a good place for burgers. Especially teri burgers. I think I’m in love with them.
Our last meal in Hawaii was at the Olympic Cafe. It’s open after 3, and we were in the middle of the aforementioned deluge. Service wasn’t fast, but it was friendly, and our meals (kalua pig burrito, kalua pig sandwich) were tasty and enormous. The result was that the restaurant was a nice place to while away both a rainstorm and a few hours before our flight–and we had a great view of the weirdly brown ocean.
We also tried malasadas, a Portuguese donut (more spherical, no hole) at two locations: Hanalima Bakery and the Kauai Coffee visitor center. Both were good, but we determined that the best malasadas we had were on our last trip, at a stand outside the K-Mart. The secret? They were fresh, which takes a malasada from good to delectable.
On the whole, we ate well. A little too well, I fear. But that’s vacation for you.