Marla Cimini on August 12, 2016 0 Comments Photo Credit: Marla Cimini The Hawaiian island of Kaua’i offers a wide array of dining opportunities, ranging from casual beach bars to upscale restaurants. Food enthusiasts adore Kaua’i’s diverse options, and enjoy tasting the abundance of fresh, tropical flavors available on this dreamy destination also known as the “Garden Isle.” Featuring high-end meals created by classically trained chefs — as well as food trucks with innovative selections of shave ice, Kaua’i is an island that’s not just for those seeking to relax by the waves or hike through the valleys… it’s a paradise for food lovers, too. Tasting Kauai Restaurants: An Insider’s Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island Rumfire Poipu Beach Location: Sheraton Kaua’i Resort (Koloa, HI) Click here to view their menu On Kaua’i’s south shore, Rumfire’s stunning modern dining room overlooks the crashing waves on Poipu beach at the Sheraton Kauai’i resort and welcomes guests with seascapes as beautiful as the specialties that emerge from the kitchen. With globally inspired-locally sourced cuisine, this fine-dining menu is filled with delights such as: Hamakua mushroom ravioli (with braised kale, crispy shiitake and ginger); crispy softshell crab (Molokai sweet potato puree, charred Maui Gold pineapple, young coconut & Thai basil sauce); and Rumfire planked salmon (purple potato, cherry tomato jam, roasted Brussels sprouts and horseradish cream). Also, the restaurant is well known among locals, and some guests make reservations months in advance to secure a seat at the famed “Table 53” — a cozy booth for four people with stunning panoramic views of the resort’s Ocean Courtyard. This particular table is very special to the Kaua’i community, as it the centerpiece of the restaurant’s unique partnership, called the “Table 53 Program.” Every month, the table’s food and beverage proceeds are donated to a different local charity. Since the start of the program in 2012, the table has generated over $150,000 for local community organizations. This month (August, 2016), the charity is Healing Horses Kaua’i. Merriman’s Fish House Location: Shops at the Kukui’ula Village (Poipu, HI) Click here to view their menu. A hot spot in Poipu, Merriman’s menu highlights authenticity in every way. Owner Peter Merriman, considered a trailblazer in Hawaiian regional cuisine, opened his signature eatery in 1988 on the Big Island – and has been expanding his roster of award-winning restaurants throughout the state. In the Hawaiian culinary community, he is applauded for transforming the restaurant scene by focusing on using locally-grown and procured food items in his dishes, and shining a bright spotlight on Hawaiian growers, famers and producers. In addition to the gorgeous sunset views, Merriman’s in Kauai attracts foodies with specialties such as: smoked sea scallop, Kailani Farms arugula, salted black bean Kona lobster deviled egg, Applewood bacon; seared Ahi tuna, blackened beets and heart of palm; and macadamia nut crusted monchong with sake mushroom reduction, Moloa’s green beans and roasted eggplant. Favorite desserts include crunchy Hawaiian molten chocolate purse and fresh Papalani gelatos and sorbettos in a variety of flavors. An extensive wine list, as well as craft cocktails made with fresh juices are always popular here as well. Downstairs from the main restaurant, a more casual, beachy ambiance greets guests at the lively Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza and Burgers. Savoring the Island With a Food Tour: Tasting Kaua’i Location: Kapaa, HI Click here to book a tour or learn more. For those who love tropical culinary adventures, spending an afternoon on a guided food tour with Tasting Kaua’i is an excellent way to explore the island — one delightful bite at a time. The island’s premier food tour, called Tasting Kauai’i, offers both residents and tourists the unique opportunity to personally experience the diverse food offerings available throughout the area. Tours are educational and encourage guests to learn about culture on the island. They encompass several different stops with a focus on locally-produced specialties. For example, guests may have the chance to visit family-run farms, learn about taro plantations, as well as nibble menu items at existing and brand new area eateries. The tours also may include a tasting at an area farm-to-table restaurant and the chance to chat with a local chef and / or restaurant owners. Currently, the company offers four distinct tours, including: North Shore; South Shore; Farmers Market; Royal Coconut Coast and Short Order. Details about each tour are available on the Tasting Kauai website. Tours are $120 per person and reservations are required. (A portion of all tour sales are donated to the Hawaii Food Bank – Kauai Branch). Sipping at the Kōloa Rum Company Location: Lihue, HI Click here to see their tasting room hours. Known as the first — and only — rum distillery on the island of Kaua’i, the Kōloa Rum Company opened its doors in 2009 and has quickly become an award-winning and popular island beverage. This small batch rum is produced from sugar cane, aka “tall cane,” that grows in the island’s volcanic soil, and draws water from Mt. Wai`ale`ale, considered one of the “wettest spots on earth.” With a full tasting room, the company invites guests to stop by and sip several types of this libation, which is twice-distilled on site: including white, gold, dark and spice rums. The adjacent Company Store also offers vast selection of kitchen and bar products, clothing, items made on the island products and more. The distillery is located at the Kilohana legendary plantation estate, a destination that also features a mansion, shopping, Gaylord’s restaurant, a luau and other special events. Visitors can also enjoy a 40-minute ride aboard the plantation’s locomotive train, which winds its way through the picturesque gardens, orchards and fields, with opportunities to feed goats, sheep and other animals. For more information, please visit the plantation’s website. Spinning Wheels: Food Trucks in Kapaa Some visitors may be surprised to learn that the island of Kauai offers some creative cuisine through area food trucks. Offering delicious, yet budget-friendly fare, the food trucks feature homemade specialties that keep hungry tourists and devout locals always coming back for more. These are two favorites, located in the center of the town of Kapaa, right off the beach: Wailua Shave Ice Visit their Facebook Page Elevating Hawaiian shave ice to a delectable level, overflowing cups of Wailua shave ice are made with fresh, locally-sourced fruits blended with natural ingredients. Updated weekly, the menu’s refreshing icy treats rival any colorful piece of modern artwork. In addition to their classic Lava Flow, other splashy ices include Da Almond Joy, made with coconut milk, Nutella, almonds and roasted coconut flakes. Another specialty is the Love Potion Number 9, made with vanilla bean milk, strawberry puree and fresh strawberry. Al Pastor Tacos Visit their Facebook Page A combination of Hawaiian and Mexican spices, Al Pastor specializes in an array of homemade seafood tacos, including shrimp, Ahi tuna and mahi-mahi accompanied by sides of flavorful beans, rice and guacamole. Their selection of tender, slow-roasted pork feature house-made seasonings and pico de gallo. Other best sellers are marinated chicken and lengua (beef tongue) tacos, which true fans always enjoy with their homemade habanero hot sauce.