Know where to eat on Kauai
On a breezy tropical afternoon, two ladies landed at Lihue Airport. They were very much alike, these two ladies. They were on the same flight. Both took a deep breath as trade-winds, heavy with the scent of plumerias and white ginger, fluttered through their hair. Both travelled a long way, both spent a lot of money to get to Kauai and both were looking forward to an adventure in paradise.
But one major difference affected their stay.
One lady ate disappointing “local” meals. Loco moco with gristlybeef patties drenched in clumpy gravy. “Fresh” fish was flown in from China, then topped with syrupy passionfruit sauce. And she just did not get poi.
But Bonnie ate very well. A friend raved about Tasting Kauai Food Tours. So, she took one. She ate at hidden gems and struggling mom and pop shops. She learned about Kauai’s culture through food, like how poi contributed the invention of surfing, and how there’s three types of “local food,” which I’ll share with you later.
When she left, her belly was full, and her heart overflowed with aloha. An abstract concept until now. She treasured her new-found connection to the local community. At the end of the day, she felt like she followed a tasty treasure map of where to eat on Kauai.
Follow our tasty treasure map
Bonnie liked the adventure of following our guide while driving her own car. The tastings were so generous, she didn’t need lunch or dinner. Between bites, she peppered chefs and food artisans with questions like how to select ripe papayas, and when ahi was in season.
Emboldened by the intimacy of a 14-person group, she made friends with like-minded foodies. For Bonnie, food is identity, and she delighted in swapping stories with others who vote with their dollar by supporting farmers and local businesses.
She found that, like herself, everyone craved locally-sourced ingredients transformed into scratch-made meals. Afterwards, she felt empowered to shop by her values.
What our guests say
“We learned so much about the food of the island, and the history of the island and went away feeling like this was one of the best things we did on Kauai!”
“If you are trying to get a good feel for the local food scene on Kauai, look no further. Tasting Kauai Food Tours was by far the best 4+ hours spent during our vacation.”
“Food tours are a quick way to connect and feel more at ease, more comfortable in getting oriented. Hands down, your tours, collectively and individually, gave me the most insight about a place.”
Sandi Lessert, Portland, Oregon. Guest on all three Tasting Kauai Food Tours
Since our first tour in the summer of 2012, we have guided more than 4,000 foodies and donated more than $3,200 to the Hawaii Food Bank – Kauai Branch. We’ve also published a restaurant guidebook for Kauai, with more than 100 restaurants. And we’ve eaten at every single one! But it only includes places we like. With more than 700 restaurants on Kauai, we’ve done a lot of sifting for you.
And as a writer (Marta) and photographer (Daniel), we’ve contributed hundreds of articles to regional and national publications. We have also been featured in quite a few.
What the media says
“Local foodie Marta Lane runs the essential resource to local food, Tasting Kauai.”
“The culinary treasure hunts reward seekers.”
AAA Hawaii magazine
“Tasting Kauai connects island residents and visitors with the growers and artisans behind Kauai’s signature foods.”
“[Chloe] Sorey is grateful for Tasting Kauai, as she not only likes to meet and bond with foodies, but it also helps her business grow. And that’s exactly Lane’s goal: to create relationships among farmers, chefs, visitors and kamaaina, while at the same time, helping the island’s local food and agricultural industry prosper.”
“Tasting Kauai … helps adventuresome foodies unearth some of the islands epicurean highlights by connecting diners with celebrated farmers, chefs and producers.”
Modern Luxury Hawaii
“If you’re craving a culinary romp, Tasting Kauai serves up a farm-to-fork feast with all the trimmings.”
We are always looking for the best places to eat, and the most creative people to meet. That is why our tours change often. A hidden-gem opens, or we find a new favorite. We want to share it with our foodies, who over the years, have met more than 80 farmers, chefs, restaurants, and food artisans.
What our vendors say
“Tasting Kauai’s food tours have enriched our business, the north shore community and the island as a whole by creating intimate connections between visitors and people who live here, while promoting locally-grown and raised ingredients. That’s full circle!”
Darron White, owner, North Shore General Store
“Tasting Kauai’s tours highlight unique foods and products available on Kauai, which visitors may not be aware of prior to the tour. The tours focus on locally-owned and operated Kauai businesses, which helps to strengthen our local economy. The health of these locally-owned and operated businesses is critical. The tours are highly professional, informative, and interesting enough that I have met residents on these tours.”
Marck Shipley, owner, Papalani Gelato
“We look forward to the weekly visit as it gives us an opportunity to share what we do, and what is happening in Kauai agriculture. Our island visitors are eager to learn about what is growing on Kauai and how to best enjoy it. Tasting Kauai foodies are given the opportunity to purchase our products and not rushed out as soon as the presentation is complete. This is so helpful to small businesses like ours. We are very grateful to be a part of Marta Lane’s vision for agriculture and dining on Kauai. Her tours are an asset to the island and to the visitor experience.”
Aletha Thomas, owner, Monkeypod Jam
“Being a part of the Tasting Kauai Food Tours since day one, we feel we can speak to its value. We have more business because of the tours. We also have enjoyed a larger social media following, and many documented return patrons that only learned about us because of Tasting Kauai Food Tours. We have received photos and gifts over the years from people and when they return to Kauai they visit us—and every single time—it’s because of the tour.”
Chloe Sorey, chef/owner, and Julie Sorey, lead art department/chief correspondent, Trucking Delicious
“Tasting Kauai Food Tours have been beneficial to us, and I believe to our community and small island of Kauai as well. Every week we look forward to meeting the patrons on the tour for several reasons. It is exciting for us to see others getting excited about our island and what it has to offer in the culinary world. We get to talk about cooking, using local and seasonal produce, Jose’s passion for customer service, welcoming visitors, running a small business, supporting other local small businesses, and the list goes on. It’s very rewarding to share our passions in life with others, and I feel that bringing awareness to visitors and locals alike about the importance of shopping and buying local is critical this day and age.”
Erin Keller, chef/owner, and Jose Cortez, general manager/owner, The Local Kauai
Articles in regional travel magazines and local newspapers feature advertisers, and online review sites lack professional objectivity. We make it our business to know who is serving tasty food.
When we’re not interviewing chefs and farmers, eating at restaurants, or visiting farms, we’re guiding folks on a Tasting Kauai Food Tour.
When we’re not writing about eating on Kauai, taking pictures of beautiful food and meeting with food editors, we’re guiding folks on a Tasting Kauai Food Tour.
When we’re not gorging on fresh mangoes, lychee, and pineapples, we’re guiding folks on a Tasting Kauai Food Tour.
When we’re not debating the merits of growing our own food, shopping at the farmers market, or making homemade passionfruit jelly, we’re guiding folks on a Tasting Kauai Food Tour.
There are three types of Hawaiian food
What is local food? Well, it depends on who you ask. Local can mean traditional Hawaiian food, which includes laulau, kalua pork, poke, poi, haupia, or kulolo.
Local can also mean plantation-era food, inspired by immigrants who worked at sugar and pineapple plantations. “Plantation Food” stems from cultures such as China, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Philippines, U.S. Mainland, Puerto Rico, and Portugal. Dishes include chicken hekka, chicken katsu, loco moco, chili peppa chicken, kalbi short ribs, spammusubi, manapua, malasadas, saimin, teriyaki chicken and beef stew.
Local also means food that was grown or made here. So, remember that when you ask, “Where can I get good, local food?”
The first and only food tour company on Kauai
Tasting Kauai is the first and only food tour company on Kauai. We run each tour one afternoon a week and only take 14 people. That exclusivity makes room for intimate connections between foodies and residents. These chefs, food artisans and restaurant owners set aside special time for our tours, so foodies receivepersonal attention.
We are a small company on an expensive island. Instead of investing in a vehicle that would get used 12 hours a week, foodies follow our guide. They enjoy the adventure. One couple stopped on the side of the road and bought whole, fresh fish. Then popped it in their cooler and met us at the next stop!
Foodies enjoy following in the comfort of their own car. At the end, they can leave or linger. Each tour ends at a spot where you can immerse yourself the fun and beauty of Kauai, while the evening stretches out before you. You can also return to your hotel and take a nap. Either way, you drove so you know how to get back to your favorite stops.
We created the tours while earning reputations as Kauai’s trusted food journalists. During interviews, the passion and commitment of chefs and food artisans inspired us. We wanted the public to meet these people and learn about the effort they put into making tasty food.
Marta Lane of Tasting Kauai Food Tours remembers very clearly a conversation she had at the 2013 Taste of Hawaii Food Festival, when she overheard a local radio personality complaining about the quality of food on the island.
“The man’s gripe was not a new one, and fit the narrative of the times. In terms of culinary ambition, Kauai has traditionally lagged behind its sister-island counterparts of Oahu, Maui, and Big Island, establishing a reputation as a bland destination with both residents and visitors.
“Still, Lane voiced her disagreement. She had just published a restaurant guide to the island, and she knew there was a bubble being blown, an in influx of new talent that was about to change the face of Kauai’s food scene not only for the better, but permanently.
“There are a lot of people here who care about food and go to great lengths to prepare it with integrity,’ she recalled telling the man. ‘But he had been here for a long time and wasn’t hearing it.”
Wake and Wander Newspaper
When we moved to Kauai in 2010, we didn’t have the options that Bonnie did on her vacation. Food tours didn’t exist. And neither did a non-biased restaurant guidebook. Marta brought her skinny clothes because she thought she would lose weight running around in the sun eating tropical fruit! “I was wrong about losing weight, but I’m glad I created a resource that celebrates the best food on Kauai!”
An investment in eating well
Tasting is Power. Put our statements to the test by taking a Tasting Kauai Food Tour for just $99. Of course, we are happy to register you over the phone, but a better buy is to register online. You will save 5 percent off your total order when you enter the coupon code ONLINE2018 during check-out.
Either way, if you follow our tasty treasure map, you’ll eat very well during your stay. If you have never been on a food tour, you cannot imagine how useful it is to you.
Marta & Daniel Lane
Owners, Tasting Kauai
P.S. If you love Kauai, tasty food, and good people, take advantage of our reduced-rate online offer. Want to eat well? Then register today. With just 14 available slots, seats are limited.