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HaloHalo Shave Ice in Li'hue is a must for dessert. The ice here is so sweet, and get the deluxe halohalo with the redbean and lichees it is so tasty. Sometimes HaloHalo is open, and sometimes it's not, so it's worth checking back if it's not open the first time around. HaloHalo is a counter within Hamura's Saimin Stand, which is also an inexpensive and tasty place to have lunch. It's on Kress Street, 1 1/2 blocks south of Rice, in Lihue. Keep your eyes peeled when you're driving down the street -- one or two letters have fallen off the restaurant's sign outside (on the left, with all the cars parked nearby). Their ramen/soba-type noodle soups are offered in a variety of sizes and types, but the most popular is the "Special" that has a variety of added seafood, meats and dumplings. On the counters in front of you are a variety of condiments such as soy sauce, hot mustard, vinegar, and hot sauce, that you can mix to your taste in a little saucer that comes with your saimin. If hungry, "Splurge" and ask for the side of BBQ skewers (teriyaki seasoned beef or chicken), they're delicious. If you're not planning to get shave ice for dessert, then have a slice of their lilikoi (passionfruit) chiffon pie. Delicious all the way around --it's an unbelievable meal. It really is an experience sitting elbow to elbow at a lunch counter with tourists and locals alike.
Korean BBQ between Waipouli and Li'hue is an outstanding plate lunch / korean resteraunt. The portions are huge, and you can get Bulgogi beef, mandu (dumplings), etc. with a scoup of rice and macaroni salad. Service is quick, the restaurant is clean, and you get soup and kim chee with your meal. Delicious food. A great place for you to try Korean food for the first time -- you won't be disappointed!
Polynesian Cafe in Princeville claims to be gourmet cuisine at paper plate prices. It is so true -- seafood here is out of the world, and very cheap. Try a luau plate, it is quite good too.
Banana Joe's is an awesome smoothie place on the way to Princeville they use all fresh fruit, and you can really taste the freshness.
EL Taco Feliz in Kpa'a near Niu Streeet is a fabulous Mexican food stand with reasonable prices. The fish taco tastes fresh and delicious for about $3.50. The sauce on the fish taco is very tasty too. The service is very fast and friendly.
Farmer's markets and local fruit stands are a fabulous way to support local farmers and purchase fresh, delicious, and inexpensive fruits and vegetables. When driving south from Koloa Town to the Poipu area, the West Kauai Farmers Association has a little fruit stand on the left-hand side of the main road. The stand is marked only by a white hand-painted sign on the road that says "Fruits and Vegetables". The lady working there allows a taste of a fruit before buying, if it's unfamiliar (ever seen a huge pumelo, or Chinese grapefruit before?). One can get a whole bag of fruit for about $6.
Bubba's Burgers in Hanalei and Kapa'a is very reasonable, with burgers starting at just $3. Burgers, fries, and onion rings kind of place. Eat there and enjoy the restaurant's irreverent self-promotion.
Otherwise the food on the island is fairly expensive -- you may want to use grocery stores to stock on essentials and picnic lunches. Having breakfast on your balcony or lanai can help save money and also feel special, with the views and warm breezes. Get a local key card for savings, and the grocery store is a great deal for cheap eats. Unfortunately, Big Save doesn't have a discount card, but the good news is that their sale prices are offered to all shoppers.