Kid Friendly Restaurants in Kauai

Like the multi-cultural mix of Kauai’s, Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese immigrants, local food is an imaginative fusion of fresh fish and locally-grown vegetable and fruits. Many restaurants offer children’s menus.

Some definitions first:

Poi, mashed taro root, is the most beloved of Hawaiian foods, and often the first food a baby tastes. Poi was considered so important and sacred a part of daily Hawaiian life that whenever a bowl of poi was uncovered at the family dinner table, it was believed that the spirit of the ancestor of the Hawaiian people, was present and all family bickering had to stop.

Laulau is steamed fish and pork wrapped in taro and ti leaves

Lomilomi is raw, salted salmon combined with diced tomatoes and Maui onions.

Malasada is a Portuguese holeless donut rolled in sugar

Haupia is coconut pudding

Manapua is a steamed or baked meat-filled bun.

Mochi is a sweet Japanese cake made of glutinous rice

Poke: seasoned raw fish salad

Pupu: appetizer

Saimin: Japanese noodle soup with various fish or meats, vegetables and/or dumplings.

On to the restaurants!

Locals’ inexpensive favorite kid-friendly places (shoes are optional)

  • The Fish Market (Hanalei): Serves fish fresh off the boats. Delicious fish salad sandwiches ($7), sushi rolls ($7 to $8) and poke, traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad (from $11 a pint). Behind the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, 5-5016 Kuhio Highway, (808) 826-6113
  • Hamura’s Saimin (Lihue, East Side). In this local hangout that hasn’t chanced in years, locals slurp saimin, Japanese noodle soup. The steaming saimin noodles come heaped with vegetables, wontons, hard-boiled eggs, sweetened pork, vegetables, and condiments. Three key words: “Lilikoi Chiffon Pie.” Get a slice. Most meals are less than $10.
  • Tip Top (Lihue, East side) - either Saimin or Ox Tail soup, where the Hawaiians eat. Famous for its banana macadamia nut pancakes with guava pineapple jam. And the Portuguese omelette and oxtail soup. Locals come for the food, not the ambiance: linoleum floor, plastic booths, & waitresses in nursing scrubs.
  • Bubba’s Burgers (Hanalei & Kapaa) - Old fashioned Kauai beef burgers – also fish and chicken burgers and sandwiches. For vegetarians: Boca and taro burgers.
  • Puka Dog (Poipu) - Hawaii’s take on a hot dog. (Beware of sauce overload – it can get messy!)
  • Hanalei Juice & Taro Company (Hanalei) - get a lau lau plate with fresh poi. The family grows taro across the way, and also owns this lunch wagon. Talk about farm to table!
  • Taro Ko Chip Factory (dilapidated shack in Hanapepe). Must arrive between noon and 1:30 p.m. Owner grows his own taro and only makes about 50 bags of chips per day. Hanapepe is a friendly small-town with plantation-era buildings and art galleries.

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