Don't-Miss Dishes on Kauai
Thanks to its unhurried mentality and focus on farm-to-table produce, Kauai is a prime Hawaiian destination to slow down and enjoy fresh, simple food. Flavors from Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine converge for a unique island palate showcased in walk-up windows and award-winning restaurants alike. Don’t miss these Kauai specialties.
Since Kauai is home to the largest coffee plantation in the US, steaming cups of Kauai Coffee Company brew are ubiquitous across the island. Start your morning off right with blends such as Kauai Blue Mountain, Poipu Estate, or chocolate macadamia nut. Sip a cup straight from the source on a free walking tour of the heritage plantation itself.
Mineral-rich volcanic soil and some of the heaviest rainfall on Earth give the Garden Isle an ideal growing climate. Roadside fruit stands abound, serving up locally grown bounty such as pineapple, sunrise papaya, dragon fruit, guava, and lilikoi (passion fruit). For a refreshing island-style snack, pick up a fresh coconut hacked open with a machete before your eyes. Sip the sweet water and scoop the meat out with a spoon.
Hauled in daily from the Pacific, fresh fish plays a starring role on most Kauai restaurant menus. Look for grilled mahi mahi with mango salsa, or pick up an ahi tuna poke bowl topped with cucumber, avocado, and a sweet sesame dressing at the popular Koloa Fish Market.
A specialty at Hawaiian luaus, this succulent pork dish is the hard-earned result of roasting a whole pig in a traditional underground oven called an imu. Try it with mashed poi—a popular side dish of starchy, mashed taro root with a distinctive purple color.
Cool off with Kauai's favorite sweet treat, a simple but oh-so-delicious combination of finely shaved ice topped with sugary syrup in a variety of flavors. Try it topped with shredded coconut, condensed milk, azuki beans, mochi, or li hing mui —a tart powder made from dried Chinese plums.