Kauai: The Search for Good Eats (Part 1)

HibiscusKauaiPart 1: Stocking Up

Coming Soon: Part 2: Eating Out and Part 3: Food to Pack


I absolutely LOVE Kauai and find almost everything tastes better here. So keep that in mind. I have been to Kauai at least six separate visits so far…perhaps a bit more.

We tend to make certain indulgences on “vacation.”  For example, we absolutely love the fresh musubu from The Fish Express in Lihue.  (This is a common local snack here consisting of composed of a slice of grilled Spam in the middle of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori dried seaweed.

This is a fine balance for me since I don’t want to indulge in a way that makes me miss out on beach time from feeling poorly. Fortunately, my family’s systems are more robust than mine and can handle a bit more on occasion.

Overview: It’s fairly easy to eat local, organic fresh food in Kauai. It’s also fairly straightforward to find gluten-free menus at restaurants and the more upscale resorts as well as dedicated gluten-free sections as many grocers.

However, don’t expect to easily find high-quality dairy (primarily cream, milk and sour cream). Milk is always ultrapasteurized plus many of the brands (even organic) have other not so desirable additions such as synthetic vitamins and other oddities such as carrageenan and guar gum. So. leave your kefir grains or yogurt starter at home, this ultrapasteurized has nothing viable to culture.

Your best bet is to move here and get a herd share for raw milk but if that’s not possible your next best option is to get Straus Family Creamery butter and yogurt. Best option for milk is the Safeway’s organic brand of whole milk and cream.

My Go To Markets

Kukuiula Market | 2827 Poipu Rd | Koloa | 808-742-1601
Locally owned with organic products, local produce, good meat selection, kombucha, Kauai salsa and a fresh juice bar.

This little gem of a store has Kauai-grown grass fed beef (my two favs are the ground beef and the ribeye). This meat tastes amazing and is remarkably affordable – about $5 a pound for ground and $7 a pound for ribeye steaks. The ground beef is in high demand, so if they are out, ask when the next batch will be available and stock up.


Kauai Juice Co Kombucha They have several flavors to choose from. The Lilikoi and Lychee is a wonderful brew of these two local fruits. I also loved the Green Tonic is a synergy of Ginger, Turmeric, Meyer Lemon, Chlorella, and Spirulina.

Kauai Salsa: we are seriously addicted to this stuff! we must go through 8 pints of this a week. It goes well with EVERYTHING. Try it with eggs, fish, beef scrambles, and nachos. Many markets carry this (Big Save also stocks it).

Produce: Local avocados (super large and creamy), apple bananas and sometimes pineapples. Some local veggies in the back of the store but you will find fresher happier looking veggies at the farmer’s market.

Living Foods | Shops at Kukuiula | 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka | Koloa | 808-742-2323
Extensive wine selection if you care about that sort of thing, gourmet goods, deli, organic foods and cafe with European-style menu.

The only place that I found that has Straus Creamery Organic Butter  Unsalted (awesome as a cream substitute in coffee) and Straus Creamery Organic Whole Milk Yogurt.

A few other items to looks for:

  • Kauai Juice Co Kombucha (Pricier than other markets - Papaya’s Natural Foods in Kapaa has the lowest price)
  • Mixed-marinated olives in refrigerator case
  • Gluten-free crepes and sandwiches prepared to order
  • House-baked gluten-free bread
  • Produce is pricy and hit or miss here
  • Kauai Kunana Dairy and some good options for good quality imported cheeses (some from California). One year we went on a tour of the farm.
  • Kauai Grassfed Meat but much more expensive then Kuikuiloa market around the corner

Papaya’s Natural Foods | 4-831 Kuhio Hwy (Kauai Village) | Kapaa | 808-823-0190
In addition to organic foods, check out their cafe and salad bar. Located near Safeway.

  • Kauai Juice Co Kombucha
  • Goat Milk Yogurt
  • Madre Chocolate (made in Hawaii and bean-to-bar) (You can also order online but it tastes better there)
  • Nice selection of local produce. We found local fresh hearts of palm on our last visit.

Safeway | 4-831 Kuhio Hwy (Kauai Village | Kapaa | 808-822-2464
The only 24-hour grocery store on the island. Large produce selection and familiar surroundings.

Safeway Organic cream and whole milk. This is the best option I could find for milk or cream sold commercially. Still this is ultrapasteurized so it’s completely useless if you wanted to try to make your own kefir or yogurt.

Farmer’s Markets

There’s one everyday! We frequent the Monday Koloa Sunshine Market, Koloa Ball Park (Knudsen) Maluhia Road atnoon since it’s near where we typically stay (Poipu area). I also like the Wednesday Kauai Culinary Market hosted at The Shops at Kukuiula from 4 to 6 pm (same shopping center as Living Foods). The largest and by far my favorite farmer’s market is in Hanalei (North Shore) on Saturdays, 9:30am to noon. Here’s a link to a nice overview of the markets.


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