There’s no shortage of delicious fare to sample in Hanalei. Whether you’re sticking to farmer’s markets and natural foods, aiming to try something new on a different menu every day, or planning to wing it when hunger strikes, here are some great suggestions covering a range of styles and tastes.
Markets and Groceries
If you’re looking to stock the fridge during your stay in Hanalei, the Waipa Ranch Farmers Market (5-5785A Kuhio Hwy., 808/826-9969) takes place on Tuesdays 2pm-4pm and is loaded with local produce, fruit, jewelry, and other crafts. It’s a good idea to get here when it opens as the good stuff sells out fast.
The Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant’s in-house Fish Market (5-5016 Kuhio Hwy., 10am-7pm daily) offers a wide selection of fresh fish. Here you’ll find a good variety of seafood, specialty cheeses, organic produce, beef, and desserts.
Harvest Market Natural Foods and Cafe (Hanalei Center, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., 808/826-0089, 9am-7pm) brings healthy food to Hanalei. The shelves are stocked with organic and natural food, produce, and body products. Pre-made meals are in the refrigerator at the back of the store, and a salad bar offers an array of food. Coffee and pastries are available in the morning and the deli takes orders off their menu. It’s slightly on the pricey side, but it’s healthy.
Cafés and Breakfast
The scent alone in Java Kai (5-5161 Ste. 210, 808/826-6717, 6:30am-6pm daily, $5-10) in the Hanalei Center will make anyone who enters want to try the local coffee. The coffees are good, and food is limited but includes a really good Belgian waffle, papaya and bagels, and a small selection of breakfast dishes including a breakfast burrito. Eat and run or drink your cup of joe on the porch.
To the left of Ching Young Village is the Aloha Juice Bar (808/826-6990), where you can find veggie and fruit juices along with acai bowls and chocolate-dipped bananas.
Seafood, Sushi, and Hawaiian
Bouchons Hanalei (5-5190 Kuhio Hwy., 808/826-9701, 11:30am-9:30pm daily, lunch $9-15, dinner $11-30) delivers what they call Pacific American cuisine. The lunch menu, served 11:30am-4pm, features a range of foods from burgers to ribs, to taco salads and chicken dishes. Dinner is served 5:50-9:30pm and includes exquisite sushi, a Pacific-themed menu, ribs, burgers, and other Asian dishes. An array of drinks and live music on certain nights are also offered. The restaurant is the best of two previous ones fused together by the owner.
Just after entering Hanalei you’ll see Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant (5-5016 Kuhio Hwy., 808/826-6699, 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-9pm daily, $10-35), consisting of the restaurant, a fish market, and sushi lounge. The restaurant serves an array of Pacific Rim salads, burgers, and seafood in all of its glory. Your meals will be enjoyed on the lanai at riverside tables or in the open-air restaurant. You can go casual here, but it’s also nice enough to dress up. The sushi lounge (5:30-9pm daily) has a wonderful array of sushi and a good sake selection.
The family-run Hanalei Taro and Juice Co. (5-5070 Kuhio Hwy., 808/826-1059, 11am-3pm Mon.-Sat., $4-10) serves up a modern take on traditional Hawaiian food. Established in 2000, the company is part of the Haraguchi family farm (of the rice mill) and creates the meals with local foods and taro. They put a new twist on Hawaiian food, as with the taro smoothie and taro veggie burgers, while staying traditional with kalua pig, laulau, poi, lomilomi salmon, and a whole lot more. So ono, brah.
Postcards Cafe (808/826-1191, 6pm-9pm daily, $19-31) is a vegetarian’s (or seafood lover’s) dream, with a spectacular menu of gourmet vegetarian and seafood cuisine. No meat, poultry, or refined sugar is used here, which makes the abundance of organic ingredients and local produce stand out. Many dishes are vegan or can be made vegan.
Hanalei Gourmet Cafe, Bar, and Delicatessen in Hanalei Center (5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., 808/826-2524, 8am-10:30pm daily, lunch $7-13, dinner $10-27) offers a variety of restaurants in one. It’s in the old school building, so a historical element is added to the atmosphere. Happy hour is 3:30-5:30pm daily, early-bird specials are offered 5:30-6:30pm, and selected sports are available on cable TV. A really unique thing about this place is that they offer picnic services. They will help you pack your food and wine into insulated backpacks or coolers so you can hike the Na Pali Coast or paddle up a river. The meal selection is varied, from appetizers of seafood, nachos, and the tasty artichoke dip to the dinners of pork loin, poultry, steak, and pastas, many with a Pacific twist. Salads are available in abundance, as well as sandwiches and burgers. This place has plenty of vegetarian options.
Brazilian and Mexican
Neide’s Salsa and Samba (Hanalei Center, 808/826-1851, 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30-9pm daily, $10-20) serves up some really good margaritas, as well as unique dishes. The head chef from Brazil has a unique take on South American food, like adding cabbage and carrots to the dishes, but it’s good and interesting. The service is very laid-back, and there is outdoor and indoor seating. It can be a good place to bring kids because the porch seating lies on a yard-like area with a picnic table and garden, so children can roll around while you enjoy a really tasty, strong, and slightly pricey margarita. Vegetarians will not leave here with an empty belly.
Tropical Taco (5-5088 Kuhio Hwy., 808/827-8226, 8am-8pm daily, $5-11) is in the green Halele‘a Building on the ocean side of the highway, the green being similar to the green lunch wagon the owner ran the business out of for 20 years. The tacos, burritos, and tostadas are good, simple, and can be grabbed on the run or enjoyed sitting at the location. Vegetarians will find a sufficient meal here.
Bar Acuda Tapas and Wine (808/826-7081, bar 5:30-10:30pm daily, dinner 6-9:30pm daily, $6-16) in the Hanalei Center may be home to the most modern decor in Hanalei. They serve tapas, which are defined on the menu as a variety of small savory dishes typically shared communally among friends. To never have a boring month, the menu here changes by the week and the season; offerings include local honeycomb with goat cheese, short ribs, local fish, salads, desserts, and a great wine menu.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.