Kauai Serves Up Some of the Best Dining Options in America

by Nicole Muj

Without question, Kauai is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, known for its breathtaking natural scenery, lush foliage and gorgeous beaches, however, the “garden island” also features some of the best dining in America.

On a recent trip to the Poipu Beach area of the island, I had the opportunity to visit three outstanding restaurants, incidentally all located in the same shopping center at the Shops at Kukui’ula.

Founded by celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi, Eating House 1849 pays homage to the state’s vibrant culinary heritage and restaurant great Peter Fernandez, who opened one of the first dining establishments in Hawaii in the mid-1800s.

An international culinary visionary and James Beard Award winner, Yamaguchi is widely known for his ability to marry the simple flavors of the plantation lifestyle with the modernity of haute cuisine. Highlights of the menu that features locally produced ingredients and fresh caught fish, includes Kamameshi, a hot pot rice bowl with a delightful butterfish and seasonal vegetables, crispy fried cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and Huli Huli style pork belly.  Don’t miss the delectable chocolate soufflé.

Highly recommended was Merriman’s Fish House, opened by culinary pioneer Peter Merriman, better known as the original “locavore,” and a vocal champion of Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen. His restaurants showcase island grown and harvested foods through preparations that reflect the myriad flavors of the region’s multiculturalism.

In a casual yet elegant setting of an old Hawaii plantation, Merriman’s features both mountain and ocean views, and stunning sunsets. Menu delights include Kalua pig and sweet onion quesadilla, warm goat cheese and arugula salad, wok charred ahi Merriman original, and probably the best seafood linguine of all time, with local fish, shrimp, Keahole lobster and a saffron tomato sauce.

Last but not least, Tortilla Republic The Upstairs offers a departure from typical Hawaiian fare offering up updated Mexican classics while using natural meats, fresh seasonal ingredients and locally harvested organic produce.

Highlights include sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup), ancho chili rubbed island catch of the day, fajitas de carne, spinach and arugula salad with roasted beets. Don’t forget to try the freshly made churros for dessert, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with chocolate and brown butter salted caramel sauce, as well as the signature margaritas and “hula tai” cocktail.

The restaurant has locations in California in West Hollywood and Laguna Beach.

Photos Tortilla Republic, Courtesy of Rachel Petrillo

Photos Courtesy of Eating House 1849 and Merriman’s Fish House

 

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