Tapas And Pupus, Where To Eat On Kauai

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Kauai might be the Garden Island but the food is first class.

One third of my day is preoccupied by food and where to eat questions. Breakfast, lunch and dinner and very important highlights of my day and since I’m in Hawaii you can also through in Happy Hour! Nine times out of ten I’m happy to stop at a food truck, a fruit stand or a burger joint but sometimes I feel like classing it up and getting my fine dining fix on. Tonight is one of those nights and I’m in the mood for Tapas or as they say in Hawaii Pupus. 30 Days In Hawaii is all about exploring so why not explore a few of the fine dining options that Kauai has to offer.

The Shops at Kukui'ula

Dining Out For Life

If you are wondering where to eat on Kauai, especially fine dinning then the best places to check out are all in Poipu near where I stayed at Whaler’s Cove (only a 7 minute walk actually). The Shops at Kukui’ula is an outdoor mall that offers everything from art galleries, Bubba Burgers, a natural food store and of course great dining options.

Just some of what's on offer at The Shops at Kukui’ula

entrance to The Shops at Kukui’ula

Saved Ice at The Shops at Kukui’ula

I’m not here to shop or to eat a shaved ice no matter how tasty it looks, I’m here to dine! I did my research and the first place I’m try out is consistently voted one of the best places to eat on Kauai ( and their other Island locations too) is Merriman’s Fish House. Renowned as one of the Islands’ leaders in serving local, sustainable, Farm to Table dining. Merriman’s has two options for me to choose from, a casual dining option on the ground level (burgers etc…) or fine dining on the 2nd floor of the old Sugar Planation building. I opt for the 2nd floor.

Merriman's Fish House on Kauai

2nd floor or Merriman;s Fish House in an old plantation house

view from the 2nd floor of Merriman's

I was one of the first to be seated at the bar as they opened for dinner service and I got my Mai Tai order in right away. With my cocktail taken care of I look over their Happy Hour offerings and select three tasty choices. Crispy Jalapeno Taro Tots, Kalua Pig & Sweet Onion Quesadilla, and an Iconic Island dish Fresh Island Ahi Poke. The quesadilla’s and Poke were amazing. So good in fact I can’t pick my favourite. Perhaps I would choose the Poke just because it’s not something on offer back in Vancouver. The Taro Tots were a mild disappointment as I was hoping for something a bit spicier and the texture once I bit through the outer crispy shell reminded me of mashed potatoes, tasty but something I would not order again.

Mai Tai at Merriman's Fish House

Crispy Jalapeno Taro Tots

Kalua Pig & Sweet Onion Quesadilla

Fresh Island Ahi Poke

Travelling and dining solo meant I sat at the bar at Merriman’s. I met a lovely couple from the Midwest and it turned out they are visiting Vancouver this summer so of course I had to suggest some of my favourite dinning spots for them to check out. For my next stop on my Pupus tour I didn’t have to go very far, just across the courtyard actually to Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill.

Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

does that say Sangria

inside Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

Here I chose to sit at a table and I’m glad I did. Minutes after being seating up rolled a Sangria cart. A Sangria CART! I’ve had Caesar salad made at my table before but never Sangria. With three types to choose from I went traditional style.

Sangria cart right at my table

Sangria at Josselin's Tapas Bar

Next up I had to chose from over two pages of tapas. I settle on 3 dishes that are completely different from the choices I made at Merriman’s. First up is a Salt & Pepper Crispy Octopus followed by Roasted Lamb Meatballs made from locally sourced lamb. With a surf and a turf ordered I need a veggie option and couldn’t resist the Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Tumeric & Kimchi Ranch dipping sauce. All were delicious but the cauliflower was my favourite followed by the lamb meatballs, oh I forgot to tell you they were stuffed with goat cheese Smile

Salt & Pepper Crispy Octopus

Roasted Lamb Meatballs

Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Tumeric & Kimchi Ranch dipping sauce

I am STUFFED! Originally I had planned to walk next store and try out Tortilla Republic as well but I had absolutely no room left in my belly. When I come back it will be first on my list as it was packed which often is a good sign of happy diners. There is some pretty sophisticated food here sure to please even the most discerning palate. What’s really great to see is that farm to table is well represented here. It’s not just a food fad but here to stay. If you make it to Kauai definitely but a visit to The Shops at Kukui’ula down on your things to do and check out at least one of the fine restaurants here. You won’t be disappointed, I wasn’t.

Thank you to my friends at the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau for helping make this adventure possible. If you want to have your own Hawaiian adventure there is no better place to start than Go Hawaii, after you read this blog series though first

Kauai

Dining Out For Life

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About Author

Marc Smith is a single, 45-year-old, gay urbanite, living in high-rise heaven in Vancouver’s chic Yaletown neighbourhood. After a ten-year career as one of Vancouver’s pre-eminent event planners, he decided it was time for a change and posted on his Facebook page “I am ready for a change. What shall I do with my life?” 30 Day Adventures was born from that status update.

4 Comments

  1. You need to try out Duane’s Ono-Char Burger…AWESOME burgers. I would like to visit Kauai again just to have one of their burgers!

    4-4350 Kuhio Hwy, Anahola.

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