In Kauai’s Poipu Beach community, the palate delights in flavors of the Garden Isle.
By Allison Hata
A paradise for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path island experience and a resort setting, the Garden Isle offers the best of both worlds. Travelers visiting picturesque Poipu Beach may come for the sights of lush tropical scenery, but end up indulging another sense as they tour Kauai’s South Shore with their taste buds.
A place where it’s perfectly acceptable—and encouraged—to indulge in a cocktail before noon, Tortilla Republic offers a selection of morning drinks that go far beyond the basic bloody mary, plus an extensive menu of modern Mexican breakfast specialties. Flavors of the island mingle with mainland influences in traditional dishes like the seared ahi and sweet potato hash. For an authentic Latin-inspired feast, however, a must-order entree is the relleno poblano—a stuffed chili pepper filled with a mouthwatering mixture of scrambled eggs, spinach, Monterey Jack cheese and pico de gallo.
Wash it all down with a crisp swallow from one of the restaurant’s six refreshing morning cocktails, such as the michelada, a Mexican beer cocktail served with tequila, lime juice, habanero hot sauce and clamato for a complex, rich taste. If you miss breakfast, Tortilla Republic also offers expanded cocktail and food options for lunch, dinner and happy hour. (808-742-8884; tortillarepublic.com)
Skip lunch and head straight to dinner, where two premier island establishments offer meals to remember.
Savor contemporary Hawaiian cuisine at Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which features a tranquil waterfall and views of the ocean. Prime your palate with a platter of melt-in-your mouth hamachi served with thinly sliced watermelon and white soy vinaigrette, then move on to a fresh catch, like the macadamia nut-encrusted mahi mahi complemented by a subtly sweet papaya-avocado relish. If there’s room for dessert—and there always is—opt for the heavenly Hawaiian vanilla and coconut creme brulee, served in a coconut shell for a true taste of the island. (808-240-6456; grandhyattkauai.com/restaurants)
Just up the road, the understated yet elegant Red Salt at the boutique Koa Kea Hotel & Resort allows its sweeping views of the garden, pool and ocean to do the talking. At the restaurant, whimsical presentation is everything: The Red Salt poke dish is artfully plated as a checkerboard of red and white fish (ahi and waloo), served atop paper-thin slices of Japanese cucumber with a garnish of orange or wasabi tobiko. After dinner, a visit to the lounge bar is a must, where the signature Red Coral martini featuring vanilla, raspberry and cranberry vodka with pomegranate juice provides a sweet finish to the evening. (808-828-8888; koakea.com)
From breakfast to dinner and every happy hour and brunch in between, Kauai’s South Shore has countless fresh options to tempt your taste buds. LBM