During our stay on the east side of Kauai, we noticed a restaurant that seemed to be pretty popular during the breakfast hours with lines of people waiting to get in and have breakfast. So, one morning we decided to go early to beat the crowds and have breakfast at Kountry Kitchen in Kapa'a.
Kountry Kitchen has been around since 1972, but for the last 21 years it has been owned and operated by Susana Espinosa whose family came from Cuba. While traditional breakfast items are found on the menu at Kountry Kitchen, there's also a number of Hispanic dishes that will make the "specials" list. The day we were there, they had a pork tamale with chile verde sauce as a breakfast special.
On the first Saturday in each month, Kountry Kitchen serves a strictly Cuban-only menu from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Cuban food is much different than Mexican food with influences from Africa, Spain and the Caribbean. The Cuban night menu changes regularly from month-to-month so that Susana Espinosa can source the freshest ingredients for that evening's menu.
Pictured right - Susana Espinosa. Photo courtesy For Kauai Online.
Last year, Susana Espinosa and her brother Rolando opened a second Kountry Kitchen location in Ewa Beach, a suburb of Honolulu that's located just west of Honolulu International Airport. Rolando Espinosa had been a car mechanic, but had experience in the kitchen. The Espinosa's opened the Oahu Kountry Kitchen location in July of 2015 using many of the same recipes and sourcing farm fresh foods from local growers.
We were able to find a parking spot just down Kuhio Highway from Kountry Kitchen. (see map) It was just after 8 a.m., so the long lines had yet to form to get into the restaurant. We were shown to a booth toward the middle of the restaurant and given menus to look over. Breakfast featured your typical American fare with an island or Hispanic twist to some of the dishes. Pancakes the size of hub caps were a staple at Kountry Kitchen (as they are at many other Hawaiian breakfast spots we've been to), as well as the local favorite Loco Moco which consists of a bed of white rice topped with two hamburger patties, two fried eggs and finished off with a ladle full of brown gravy. I've had the Loco Moco at a couple places before and it's actually pretty good. It's great for a hangover food at breakfast.
The decor of the restaurant was a combination of rustic and island furnishings. A barn board wall was on the back side of the restaurant, while bamboo was the prominent feature of the other walls. Large windows that let in the natural light were on the north and east side of the building.
On the walls of the restaurant were a number of whimsical paintings from Kauai artist Fanny Bilodeau. Bilodeau was born in Zaire to artist parents and grew up in Belgium. She spent significant time traveling in Africa before coming to Hawaii. She has an art studio on Kauai and many of her paintings can be see on her Bilodeau Studios web site.
Bilodeau is locally famous for her use of chickens in her paintings. And wild chickens are found everywhere on Kauai. The painting above left is of a couple roosters who are having a tough time getting up in the morning, while the one above right was the one we liked the best. It depicted four or five chickens riding on the belly of a cow using it as a surfboard. Bilodeau also specializes in floral paintings, as well as local scenery around Kauai.
For breakfast that morning, Cindy didn't really know if she was all that hungry having had a big dinner the night before. She was interested in the eggs Florentine, but she wasn't certain she wanted a full order. She asked our waitress if she could get a half-order of eggs Florentine and she said that she could do that. A side of fruit comes with each breakfast and today's fruit was fresh pineapple. The eggs Florentine were huge and she's glad she just got a half order. On the thick English muffin were a large poached egg, fresh spinach and Canadian bacon topped with a generous helping of béarnaise sauce. Paprika was sprinkled on top of the eggs Florentine. She thought it was very good.
I went big for breakfast - not as big as I could have, it turns out - as I got a sausage, mushroom and cheese omelet. And since I was in Hawaii, I had to go with a side of the unofficial state food of Hawaii - Spam. Hash browns and fresh pineapple also came with the omelet along with some toasted bread. The sausage in the omelet was ground and had a nice spicy sage taste. The mushrooms were also fresh and not out of a can. I concentrated on the omelet and the Spam - the Spam was overly salty and I can't eat it any more than maybe twice a year. But when in Hawaii...
The breakfast we had at Kountry Kitchen was very good. The portions - like at most Hawaiian breakfast places we've visited on our travels to the islands - were huge and the foods we had were fresh and flavorful. We had good service and the atmosphere was laid back and inviting. It's very easy to see why lines form outside the restaurant on most mornings. Kountry Kitchen would be a "must-visit" for breakfast if you're staying on the east side of Kauai.