Kauai Restaurants

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Kauai Restaurant Reviews

It's always a good idea to make reservations when you can, and if you plan to dine at one of Kauai's top eateries, reservations are essential. However, you'll find that many places on the island don't take reservations at all, and service is first-come, first-served.

On Kauai, if you're lucky enough to win an invitation to a potluck, baby luau, or beach party, don't think twice—just accept. The best grinds (food) are homemade, and so you'll eat until you're full, then rest, eat some more, and make a plate to take home, too.

Just about anything goes on Kauai. At lunch you can dine in a sarong, or T-shirt and shorts, and flip-flops at most places. Dinner is only a slight step up. That said, if you're out for a special occasion and want to don your fanciest duds, no one will look twice.

Smoking is prohibited in all Hawaii restaurants and bars.

Where should we eat? With dozens of island eateries competing for your attention, it may seem like a daunting question. But our expert writers and editors have done most of the legwork—the dozens of selections here represent the best eating experience this island has to offer. Search "Best Bets" for top recommendations by price, cuisine, and experience. Or find a restaurant quickly—reviews are ordered alphabetically within their geographic area.

Restaurants on Kauai significantly quiet down by 9 pm; the limited bar scene continues past midnight—but not much past. It seems as if the entire island is in bed before 10 pm to get up early the next day and play. In general, peak dining hours here tend to be on the earlier side, during sunset hours from 6 to 8 pm. A tip of 18% to 20% is standard for good service.

Hawaii is a kid-friendly destination in many regards, and that includes taking the little ones out to eat with you. Because of the overall relaxed vibe and casual dress here, you won't have to worry too much about your tot's table manners or togs—within reason, of course. Take advantage of treats and eating experiences unique to Hawaii, such as shave ice, sunshine markets (perfect for picnic lunches or beach provisions), and luau.

But even if you can't score a spot at one of these parties, don't despair. Great local-style food is easy to come by at countless low-key places around the island. As an extra bonus, these eats are often inexpensive, and portions are generous. Expect plenty of meat—usually deep-fried or marinated in a teriyaki sauce and grilled pulehu-style (over an open fire)—and starches. Rice is standard, even for breakfast, and often served alongside potato-macaroni salad, another island specialty. Another local favorite is poke, made from chunks of raw tuna or octopus seasoned with sesame oil, soy sauce, onions, and pickled seaweed. It's a great pupu (appetizer) when paired with a cold beer.

Kauai's cultural diversity is apparent in its restaurants, which offer authentic Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, and Hawaiian specialties. Less specialized restaurants cater to the tourist crowd, serving standard American fare—burgers, pizza, sandwiches, surf-and-turf combos, and so on. Poipu and Kapaa offers the best selection of restaurants, with options for a variety of tastes and budgets; most fast-food joints are in Lihue.

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