Just returned home from an amazing vacation in Kauai, full of fantastic hiking and surfing. It really is a wonderful place to go if you love the outdoors. But we did notice that food on the island can be very expensive. (The worst was when it was both expensive and bad!) I've noticed a few folks asking for cheap eats recommendations, so I thought it might be helpful to start a list for future visitors, which I hope others will add to.
Here's what we found by way of super cheap eats ($8 or less), mostly in the island's northern areas, since that's where we stayed.
-- Tamale stand across from the Shell gasoline station on Saturday mornings. (We visited at 10 a.m.) Mexican-style, chicken, beef and pork tamales wrapped in dried corn husks available for only $2. We tried the chicken and pork. Both REALLY good. We saw, but did not try a similar tamale stand in either Kealia or Kapaa, between 56 and the beach.
-- Kilauea Shell station and most gas stations around the island carry manapua (like Chinese da bao) filled with gingery chicken, kalua pork, etc...; Spam or chicken musubi (delicious! don't knock it till you've tried it!); and small pieces of Asian style fried chicken; and sushi hand rolls for $2.50 or less. We found these made for great, portable meals while hiking.
-- Whaler's General Store, right next to Duane's Ono Char Burgers, had pork adobo over rice in the case to the right of the door when you walk in, when we went. The pork adobo was less than $6 and one of the most delicious things we ate on the island. No joke. It is GOOD. It's filling and, since it uses fatty pork, pretty heavy.
-- Duane's Ono Char Burgers. Most burgers were less than $7 or $6 IIRC. The bun and meat patty are nothing special. (They taste like Sysco, preformed, frozen patties.) But the toppings are interesting and my husband loved them. Good fries. Seems to be well liked on the island.
-- Waipa Farmer's Market (aka Sunshine Market) at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Not everything is inexpensive (i.e. the delicious $6 container of salsa and spendy honey and custard apples we bought), but there's a lot of high quality fruit, often for a great price. We bought a lot of inexpensive avocados ($1 each, usually) and starfruit (3 or 4 / $1), passionfruit, bananas, tomatoes, lettuce, longan. (This was in October.) The avocados made lovely, filling, nutritious shakes when blended with milk and a little bit of sugar or honey.
Moderate ($8 to $15) meals we found:
-- Neide's Salsa and Samba had some fairly priced, fairly decent Brazilian dishes, including chicken ensopado with rice and beans for about $13. The plate was huge and should last moderate eaters 1.5 to 2 meals. There are also Mexican offerings, but we didn't try those.
-- Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market sells largeish sushi rolls for takeout (a thick roll made out of a whole sheet of nori), for $9 to $10. The rice isn't good, but the fish is actually pretty fair.
-- Foodtown has a lot of prepared foods of varying degrees of quality. A whole huli huli chicken -- the one we bought was a bit dry -- was about $10. We had the chicken as part of meals (in sandwiches, musubi, chilaquiles, tacos) for several days. Foodtown also sells one pound containers of poke for under $9, spam and chicken musubi, wakame salad, baked goods, etc...
-- The Kilauea fish market had good fish tacos for about $14.
Please add to this list if you can!
Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant
5 5016 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI