Monico’s Taqueria on Kauai

Following a morning of paddling up the Wailua River, Monico’s Taqueria was a spontaneous choice for lunch. Tucked away in the Kinipopo Shopping Center in Kapa‘a it’s an easy place to miss. I recommend you don’t. For weeks following our simple meal, I was tempted to hop back on a plane just to taste the fish tacos one more time. Since my budget isn’t set up for such frivolity, I settled for telling people about it. You’re planning a trip to Kauai? Oh, you MUST get to Monico’s for fish tacos!

Mind you, I’d never been a fish taco person. Fish? Yes. Tacos? Yes. But together? Not so much. Monico’s fish tacos, made with the day’s fresh catch and topped with a creamy jalapeno sauce, have changed the way I read a menu. Whereas in the past I would dismiss the fish tacos without a second glance, now I ponder the possibilities. Could these fish tacos be as good as those from Monico’s? Is that possible? And more importantly, dare I risk being disappointed if they’re not? While I’ve found some decent fish tacos in my quest, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll simply have to get to Kauai again soon.

If you go: The restaurant is itty bitty, with just a few tables inside (where drinks are served) and casual patio dining under shade trees. No alcohol is served outside. Monico’s is closed for a couple of hours in the afternoon, from 3-5 pm. Located on Kuhio Highway (Kauai).

Hawaii Brew Pubs Serve Up Island Flavor

If you’re one of those people who seek out microbreweries wherever you go, you’ll be happy to know that even way out here in the Pacific you can find a good brew. Whether your trip brings you to Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, or Kauai, seek out locally flavored ales, IPAs, and porters at these island brew pubs.

Kona Brewing Co. – With locations on the Big Island and Oahu, you’ve got two chances to try the fine brews from the folks at Kona Brewing Co while you’re in Hawaii. The brewery is located at the Kona facility where free tours are available. The pub on Oahu is outside of the bustling Waikiki area in the Koko Marina Center. The Pipeline Porter is a must-try if dark beer is your thing: brewed with 100% Kona coffee grown on the Big Island, the distinct coffee flavor might tempt you to switch up your morning routine.

Big Aloha Brewery – Famed island restaurateur Sam Choy brings plenty of aloha to his dining establishments, but you might be surprised to learn that he does beer, too. Big Aloha Brewery situated within Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab location, features a variety of beers from brewmaster David Campbell. Of note is the Kiawe Honey Porter, brewed with locally harvested kiawe honey. Monthly brewer’s dinners feature a five-course meal and a chance to try six different brews.

Maui Brewing Co. – How can you go wrong with a Bikini Blonde? That’s just one of the brews on tap at the Maui Brewing Co. pub. Their award-winning Black Pearl is a coconut porter aged in rum barrels, with notes of dark rum, toasted coconut, and molasses. Sounds like the perfect beer for Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew, doesn’t it?

Waimea Brewing Company – Located on the island of Kauai at the historic Waimea Plantation Cottages, the Waimea Brewing Company has about eight different beers on tap at any time. Choose from Waialalale Ale, named for Kauai’s famously wet mountain where average rainfalls top 425 inches each year. Enjoy your ice cold beverage with creative multi-ethnic pub fare, including fish dishes and island style pupus (hors d’oeuvres).  Sixty-four ounce growlers are available if you’d like to take your beer to go.

(photo credit: flickr user hawaii o58)