Food is a huge part of living on Kaua‘i. From kālua pulled pork to fresh ahi poke, every bite offers you a better understanding of what the island (and it’s people) are truly about. While there are a number of great stationary restaurants to try, why not spice up your day (or night!) at one of Kauai’s up-and-coming food trucks!
While taco trucks and mobile shave ice aren’t necessarily new to the island, the food-truck scene has exploded over the past few years. These new menus know no bounds, offering things like deep fried macaroni and cheese, pork belly burgers and spicy ahi shrimp tempura wasabi mayo sushi rolls (now there’s a mouthful). The best part? These trucks are nearly all as sustainable as they are delicious. The ahi you just bit into? Caught this morning. The greens in your salad? Picked from a local, organic farm. The stakes have been officially raised.
So where are the best food trucks this side of “da ‘ainā” (the land)?
While the North Shore offers crowd favorites such as Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. (fresh juices, Hawaiian plate lunches) and The Green Pig (pulled pork sandwiches with deep fried macaroni and cheese stuffed on TOP) and the East Side plays host to Be Food Truck, Little Greek Town and Defries Lunch Wagon (to name a few) it seems the further south you go, the better it gets.
So let’s begin.
A little dessert before dinner never hurt anyone. While Yamato’s offers dishes like sweet and sour spare ribs and savory chicken curry (yum!), they’re best known for their ice cream. You can find your normal selection of ice cream by the scoop (vanilla, cookies-n-cream, chocolate) and then they bring it to a whole new level. Presenting unique flavors like olive oil, toasted pine nut and wasabi-ginger! Excuse us while we grab a scoop.
Why have regular kālua pork when you can have kālua pork in a pita!? Put It In A Pita has come together to create the perfect fusion of local Hawaiian food with a Mediterranean twist. Their menu ranges from traditional gyros (tzatziki sauce, beef and lamb and fresh lettuce / tomato / onion) and philly cheese steak pitas to sweet potato fries with a “special sauce.” Guests are told to look for the big blue food truck with the happy gecko!
Old Koloa Town / Poipu / Lawai:
This sunset colored truck offers the classic island flavor, with dishes like BBQ pork sandwiches, garlic chili pepper shrimp and Aloha burgers (pineapple, teriyaki and cheese). Perfect for visitors tuckered out after a long day at the beach looking for both affordable and quality food.
If you’ve had your fill of poke and plate lunches, Craving Thai is a great alternative just around the corner. The only Thai joint on the South Side, they offer traditional dishes such as pad Thai, yellow curry and spring rolls. Eat under their covered tables or take it to go!
Family of indecisive eaters? Well luckily, directly next to Craving Thai is Chalupa’s! An authentic Mexican flavor, they offer an impressive range of plates, burritos, tacos and more. They even share tables, so kick back and relax and try something from one of each.
Deemed the “Dragon Wagon”, this cabin-shaped food truck is certainly on fire! The first of its kind to hit the island scene, Yanagai offers some of the best sushi on Kauai. Made with local, fresh ingredients, it is no wonder why they draw lines of both hungry visitors and locals. Whether you try The Dragon, Da Kill Crab or the Megaz roll you will not leave disappointed.
Poipu’s newest organic shave ice truck! Just in time for summer, The Fresh Shave opened Friday, June 13th. They pride themselves on using all local, fresh and organic syrups (as opposed to corn syrup and artificial dyes). Customers can truly taste the difference! Some flavors include The Handlebar (pineapple and coconut), The Walrus (watermelon and basil) and The Dirt Squirrel (cold brew coffee + cream + sugar). We can’t wait to get our hands on one of these refreshing treats!
Eleele / Hanapepe:
These guys do it right. Food scientists of sorts, this pair of friendly chefs make sure their delectable dishes are cooked just right. Offering things like the 100% Awesome Bacon Burger, the PBAT (pork belly, pickled mustard seeds, applewood smoked mayo, arugula and tomato on a torta roll) and their famous Gooey Gourmet Grilled Cheeses (made with cheeses like aged cheddar and Gouda and stuffed with fillings of fig and basil or raspberry and rosemary). Is your mouth watering yet? You can find them at the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor most days, and at Hanapepe’s Art Night every Friday.
The best part about these culinary cruisers? If you miss them in one place, they’ll pop up at another! Keep an eye out for food truck events and be sure to check out daily schedules on Facebook or Twitter. Now the hardest part is simply deciding where to eat. Bon appetit!