Food and Groceries

Bentos

Box lunches, or what the locals call “bentos,” are a fun little assortment of foods that you can grab-n-go. Those of you that haven’t tried a bento may, at first, have been thinking it was a Hawaiian term. The word “bento” is derived from the Japanese language and translates to “a decorated lunchbox” and is sometimes compartmentalized to separate the food. In fact, if we go back to the late 1800’s, the bento was introduced in Hawaii during the sugar plantation days; Japanese workers would bring their lunch to work in wooden boxes that held all their different types of foods. In modern bentos, the wood has been opted out for simpler plastic containers and rubber bands with chopsticks. They are pre-made to just pick-up and some of the most common ingredients are teriyaki chicken, katsu chicken, Korean chicken, spam, hotdog, Portuguese sausage, baked fish, and salmon teriyaki. Rice is a staple here in Hawaii so it’s no surprise that almost every bento you see is going to come with a good serving of it. If you’re a big fan of sushi, we’ve got a lot of that as well.

What’s interesting is that the food that is put together in the bentos are reflective of the cultural influences back then; you had plantation workers from different parts of the country such as Portugal, China, Philippines, Korea, and of course Japan. The diversity is the reason you see a fusion of various dishes all over Hawaii and now you can enjoy it conveniently in a bento box that is ready to go. It’s a popular choice for students before heading to school, people who need a quick meal before work, and visitors who are looking for something to eat on the road. My recommendation is to get them early in the morning as the ingredients are made fresh each day. Well, now that you got a good idea of what a bento is, the next step is to try it out!

Gluten Free

Our favorites for gluten free shopping and dining while on Kauai.
Papaya’s Natural Foods & Café located in Kapaa in the corner of the Safeway center.

Living Foods Gourmet Market located at the Kukui’ula Shopping Center in Poipu.

Healthy Hut Market and Café located just off the Highway in Kilauea.

Vim n Vigor located in Lihue off the highway by Subway.

Hoku Foods in Kapaa one road back from the main road off Lehua Street.

Harvest Market located downtown Hanalei.

Fish Market

When you think about what you will eat when visiting a tropical island, fresh fish is often the first thing that comes to mind. Local fish markets are the best place to find fresh locally caught fish. On Kauai, fish is often also served in local-style plate lunches, and there is a wide variety of poke.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Koloa Fish Market: Located in Old Koloa Town, this is a favorite for fresh fish, poke and the “plate lunch.” They are BUSY at lunch and you will often find a large line but, don’t worry, you won’t wait too long. If you are picking up fish for the grill or seared ahi, grab a container of the wasabi cream sauce. Make sure you have cash, as they do not accept credit cards.

Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market: The Hanalei market is what you expect when you go to a fish market — great service and fresh fish. Ask if they will season a piece of mahi mahi to grill at home or enjoy a spicy ahi roll. The fish is fresh and the service is fantastic. There is also a location in Poipu.

Kilauea Fish Market: Fresh fish and poke as well as plate lunches and fish specials. The fish tacos and ahi wrap are popular. Ask for salsa, they make it from scratch, and it is perfect for making your own fish tacos at home. They are also located at Islander on the Beach in Kapaa.

Fish Express: Located across from Wal-Mart in Lihue. This is probably our favorite place for poke and surprisingly great for fried chicken. They have a large selection of fresh fish and very popular plate lunches. Try the peppered ahi jerky if you are feeling adventurous.

Kauai Health Food Stores

North Shore:

Healthy Hut Market and Café located just off the Highway in Kilauea.  Offers a full market with fresh organic veggies, locally made products, coffee, juice, health and beauty products as well as a salad and hot food bar.

Open 7 days per week.

Harvest Market located downtown Hanalei. They carry a nice selection of healthy pantry items, self serve salad and soup bar, supplements and fresh produce.

Foodland is more commonly known as a general grocery store for the north shore, however, they carry a large selection of organic, gluten free, and locally grown or produced items.

East Side:

Papaya’s Natural Foods & Café located in Kapaa in the corner of the Safeway center. A large health food store offering a wide variety of local and organic produce, vitamins and supplements, health and beauty products, local products and gifts and a really delicious café. The café has a large hot and cold salad bar, grab and go items, and made to order items from the grill.

Hoku Foods in Kapaa one road back from the main road off Lehua Street. Carrying a vast array of canned goods, bulk foods, gluten free items, refrigerated and frozen foods as well as organic produce.

Vim n Vigor located in Lihue off the highway by Subway and Kauai Pasta. Nice selection of grab n go salads and sandwiches, bulk grocery items, supplements and beauty products as well as natural snacks.

South Shore:

Living Foods Gourmet Market located at the Kukui’ula Shopping Center in Poipu. Living foods has a nice gourmet café for breakfast lunch and dinner as well as a small grocery store with local and specialty items.

Kukui’ula Market (locally known as Kuk’s) located on Poipu Road near the yellow submarine, north of the roundabout. Carries local organic produce, fresh local meat and fish with a butcher on site and other health food. Great smoothie and juice bar.

Kauai Grocery Stores

North Shore:

Big Save, located in Hanalei town. It’s on the smaller side, but it has all of the basics and a small deli.

Foodland, located in the Princeville shopping center, is on the expensive side but offers everything you will need, great produce, a really good deli, great poke, and fried chicken.

East Side:

Foodland, located in Kapaa, has an amazing selection of poke and they let you try samples. They have all of the other basics too.

Safeway, located in  Kapaa, is one of the larger grocery stores (and cheaper) on the island. They have all of the basics, fresh bread, large selection of local and organic produce.

Times, located in Lihue at the mall, has all the basics and a good deli counter.

Safeway, located in  Lihue, opened in September 2015. A wonderful addition to Kauai’s grocery stores with its local and organic produce, deli and fish counter with a good selection of poke, bakery, and in-store Starbuck’s. Located on the highway near Costco.

Costco, located in Lihue, is a favorite stop for locals and visitors to stock up on the basics. Groceries aren’t cheap on a tropical island, and this is a great way to save.

Walmart: in Lihue near Wilcox Hospital on Kuhio Hwy.

South Shore:

Big Save, located in  Koloa, has all of the basics, a good deli with take out items and daily specials.

Sueoka’s, located in  Koloa, has produce that always looks nice, local beef and pork, and a great snack shop.

Kukuiula Store, located on Poipu Road near the roundabout, sushi bar, fresh meat, groceries, organics and natural foods, liquor.

Living Foods, located in Poipu, is on the pricy side and smaller, more of an organic gourmet grocery store, but has nice cheeses, produce, wine, gluten-free items, and freshly made bread. They also have a nice deli with takeout items–coffee and pizzas, burgers, salads, etc.

Whalers General Store: convenience store across from Kiahuna Plantation in the Poipu Shopping Center.

West Side:

Ishihara Market, located in Waimea, has a nice deli with lots of poke, nicely priced plate lunches and all other necessities.

Big Save, located in  Waimea & Eleele, has  Poke, plate lunches and all the basics.

Delivery Services are available through Shipt. They deliver from Times Supermarkets which include Big Saves.

One of our favorite things about living on a tropical island is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you can’t grow your own or make it to a farmers market, there are plenty of fruit stands located all over the island. A fruit stand usually has one or two people working and the stand is by their farm. These types of stands are seasonal as to what they have growing at the time. They are usually open most days of the week, except Sunday. The prices are good and the produce is fresh.

Some of our favorites:

Koloa Fruit Stand is located on the corner of the Koloa bypass Rd (Ala Kinoiki Rd) and Poipu Road.

Banana Joes, is a roadside shack in Kilauea offering locally grown fruits & homemade foodstuffs, plus fruit-based smoothie drinks.

Moloaa Sunrise Fruit Stand is located on the right hand side of the highway, after Anahola, on your way to the North Shore.

Honor Stands are another fun way to get your daily fruits and veggies. An honor stand is usually a table or small shed that has been placed on the side of the road. The stand may offer a selection of fruits, tropical flowers, veggies, eggs or other products that are left unattended with a sign and a box or jar letting you know how much to pay. Sometimes they just ask you to ‘pay what you can.’ This is a charming and refreshing practice that lets us know the ‘aloha spirit’ is alive and well on Kauai.

Island-wide Schedule
Monday

Koloa Ball Park (12 noon)

Kukui Grove Shopping Center (market is located behind K-mart), Lihue (3 pm)

Tuesday

Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa (9 am – 12 noon)

Kalaheo Neighborhood Center (3:30 pm)

Hawaiian Farmers of Hanalei (2 pm)

Wednesday

Kapaa Town Park (3pm)

Kauai Culinary Market, Kuku’ula Shopping Center, Poipu (4 pm – 6 pm)

Thursday

Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa (9 am – 12 noon)

Hanapepe Park (3 pm)

Kilauea Neighborhood Center (4:30 pm)

Friday

Vidinha Stadium, Lihue (3 pm)

Saturday

Kauai Community Market, Puhi (9:30 am – 1 pm)

Kekaha Neighborhood Center (9 am)

Hanalei Saturday Market (10 am – 12 noon)

Find a Farmers Market in your neighborhood

NORTH SHORE

Monday

Westin Princeville, 5 to 6 p.m. This small market provides fresh, organic produce to Westin guests.

Namahana Farmers Market by Banana Joe’s, 4 p.m. to dusk.

Tuesday

Waipa Farmers Market, Waipa Ahupuaa Field, 2 p.m. This market offers gourmet goat and feta cheese, chocolate covered frozen bananas, organic produce, coconuts, handmade crafts and clothes.

Thursday

Kilauea Neighborhood Center Ball Park / Gym Parking Lot, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday

Namahana Farmers Market in Kilauea by Banana Joe’s. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hanalei Farmers Market. Market hours are 9:30 a.m. to noon.

EAST SIDE

Monday

Kukui Grove Shopping Center parking lot by Star Market, 3 p.m

Tuesday

Coconut Market Place, Kapaa, 9 a.m. to noon. Fresh leis and coconuts, a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, Moloaa Bay Coffee, anthuriums and cut flowers.

Wednesday

Kapaa Sunshine Market, New Town Ball Park Parking Lot by Bypass Road, 3 to 4 p.m.

Thursday

Coconut Market Place, Kapaa, 9 a.m. to noon. Fresh leis and coconuts, a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, Moloaa Bay Coffee, anthuriums and cut flowers.

Friday

Vidinha Stadium parking lot, 3 p.m. Produce only.

Anahola, all day. This market features grilled pork and huli-huli chicken plate lunches with sides of roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.

Saturday

Kauai Community Market at Kauai Community College, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Besides fruit and vegetables, this gourmet market features locally made goat and feta cheese, tropical flowers, local honey, coffee, kimchi, tropical pies and jams, and European-style breads. Meals include kalua pig and poi, authentic Thai, Puerto Rican style tacos and sandwiches made to order.

Anahola, all day. This market features huli-huli chicken and grilled pork plate lunch with sides of roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.

Sunday

Anahola, all day. This market features huli-huli chicken and grilled pork plate lunches with sides of roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.

SOUTH SHORE

Monday

Koloa Sunshine Market, Koloa Ball Park (Knudsen) Maluhia Road, noon.

Wednesday

Kauai Culinary Market at Kukui’ula Shopping Village, 3:30 to 6 p.m. Local honey, coffee, gourmet salt blends, kimchi, tropical pies and jams, tropical flowers, produce and more. Enjoy live music and cooking demonstrations and dishes from the local Kukui’ula restaurants.

WEST SIDE

Tuesday

Kalaheo Sunshine Market, Neighborhood Center, 3 to 4 p.m. Produce only.

Thursday

Hanapepe Sunshine Market, Hanapepe Park in Old Hanapepe Town, 3 to 4 p.m. Produce only.

Saturday

Kekaha Sunshine Market, Neighborhood Center, 9 a.m. Produce only.