Kauai Restaurants

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.

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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  • 1. Bar Acuda

    $$$$

    Hip and pricey, this tapas bar is a top place in Hanalei in terms of flavor and creativity, with food that's often organic and consistently...

    Hip and pricey, this tapas bar is a top place in Hanalei in terms of flavor and creativity, with food that's often organic and consistently remarkable. The dining room is super-casual but chic, with a welcoming bar and a nice porch for outdoor dining. Owner-chef Jim Moffat's brief menu changes regularly, but favorites include honeycomb with goat cheese and sea scallops or Hawaiian ahi with pineapple and scallions. The adjacent sister restaurant, Ama, serves ramen and other Asian-style dishes in an upscale outdoor setting.

    5--5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714, USA
    808-826–7081

    Known For

    • Sophisticated, eclectic cuisine
    • Short, often-changing menu with innovative specials
    • Interesting wine list

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch. Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 2. Kiawe Roots

    $$

    This place is back, with both dine-in and takeout, at a cozy storefront where family recipes bring a mix of local cultures to the table....

    This place is back, with both dine-in and takeout, at a cozy storefront where family recipes bring a mix of local cultures to the table. Meats are grilled over kiawe, Hawaiian mesquite. Read the menu's fine print so you don't miss BBQ sauce options like tangy lilikoi or guava pepper. Main dishes can be prepared in numerous ways, so don't be shy about asking for substitutions. Seating is limited; takeout is popular and well organized.

    2--3687 Kaumualii Hwy., Lawai, Hawaii, 96765, USA
    808-855–5055

    Known For

    • Tropical BBQ flavors
    • Gluten-free choices
    • Comfort food with a local twist

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 3. The Hanalei Dolphin

    $$$

    Fresh fish caught in local waters by local fishers take star billing at this upscale, tropical-theme restaurant and sushi lounge on the banks of the...

    Fresh fish caught in local waters by local fishers take star billing at this upscale, tropical-theme restaurant and sushi lounge on the banks of the Hanalei River. There are also many land-based dishes on the menu, including Hawaiian and haole (white-person) chicken, beef tenderloin, and steaks. The Dolphin doesn’t take reservations—if there’s a wait, order a cocktail or glass of wine and hang out in the lush riverside garden. The on-site market sells fish and seafood as well as sushi rolls, steaks, and organic greens.

    5--5016 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714, USA
    808-826–6113

    Known For

    • Fresh local ingredients
    • Extensive wine and sake list
    • On-site fish market also carries cheeses and steaks

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch Mon.–Sat.
  • 4. Chicken in a Barrel / Da Pizza Place

    $

    Located in the laid-back Waimea Plantation Cottages hotel, this equally casual eatery has a veranda that's a great place to sit with a beer and...

    Located in the laid-back Waimea Plantation Cottages hotel, this equally casual eatery has a veranda that's a great place to sit with a beer and watch the sunset while the kids run around on the lawn. The fare is simple and hearty: barrel-smoked barbecue chicken, pork, brisket, or ribs; plus salads, tacos, burgers, and pizza. Breakfast burritos, eggs, granola, and pancakes start the day. Barrel Taps, the sports bar in front, features a self-serve beer wall.

    9400 Kaumualii Hwy., Waimea (Kauai County), Hawaii, 96796, USA
    808-320–8379

    Known For

    • Large portions
    • Good breakfast options
    • Great selection of sides
  • 5. Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company

    $$ | Coffee

    Folks love this roadside café—especially at breakfast and lunch, though it's good for dinner, too—for its casual neighborhood feel and lengthy menu with omelets, sandwiches,...

    Folks love this roadside café—especially at breakfast and lunch, though it's good for dinner, too—for its casual neighborhood feel and lengthy menu with omelets, sandwiches, burgers, and plenty more. Lots of Kauai products are used here, including Anahola Granola, fruit for smoothies, fresh-caught fish, and coffee, which you can also buy by the pound. Takeout is an option. This is a solid choice, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, in an area with limited restaurants.

    2--2560 Kaumualii Hwy. (Rte. 50), Kalaheo, Hawaii, 96741, USA
    808-332–5858

    Known For

    • Fresh-baked pastries and bread
    • Often busy, especially weekend mornings
    • Hearty portions, like the Kahili Breakfast

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner Sun. and Mon.
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  • 6. Kilauea Bakery & Pizzeria

    $$ | Coffee

    Open from 6:30 am, the bakery serves coffee drinks, delicious fresh pastries, bagels, and breads in the morning, but late risers should beware: breads and...

    Open from 6:30 am, the bakery serves coffee drinks, delicious fresh pastries, bagels, and breads in the morning, but late risers should beware: breads and pastries sell out quickly. Pizza (including a gluten-free dough option), soup, and salads can be ordered for lunch or dinner. Service is leisurely. There's free Wi-Fi and a cute courtyard with covered tables.

    2484 Keneke St., Kilauea, Hawaii, 96754, USA
    808-828–2020

    Known For

    • Its starter of Hawaiian sourdough made with guava
    • Specialty pizzas topped with eclectic ingredients
    • Fresh chocolate chip cookies made in-house daily
  • 7. Kilauea Market + Café

    $$ | Hawaiian

    Order freshly prepared Hawaiian and American meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—snacks, beer, and wine at the counter at this casual, contemporary restaurant, coffee bar, and beer...

    Order freshly prepared Hawaiian and American meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—snacks, beer, and wine at the counter at this casual, contemporary restaurant, coffee bar, and beer and wine bar in an upscale grocery store. The extensive and eclectic menus include something for everyone, from loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and fried egg), plate lunches, and fresh-catch fish-and-chips to pizzas, burgers, salads, and sandwiches.

    2555 Ala Namahana Pkwy., Kilauea, Hawaii, 96754, USA
    808-828–2837

    Known For

    • Indoor and outdoor seating
    • Daily specials
    • Convenient stop on the way to and from lighthouse and beaches
  • 8. Moloaa Sunrise Juice Bar & Fruit Stand

    $ | Coffee

    Don't let the name fool you; they don't open at sunrise (more like 7:30 am, so come here after you watch the sunrise elsewhere). And...

    Don't let the name fool you; they don't open at sunrise (more like 7:30 am, so come here after you watch the sunrise elsewhere). And it's not just a fruit stand: fill up on bagels, pancakes, smoothies, and coffee drinks in the morning; homemade salads, burritos, panini, and sandwiches for lunch; and tropical-style fresh juices, such as pineapple, carrot, watermelon, and guava, anytime.

    6011 Koolau Rd., Kilauea, Hawaii, 96703, USA
    808-822–1441

    Known For

    • Fresh, natural ingredients
    • Local fruits and vegetables for sale
    • Great spot to stretch your legs and pick up food for a picnic

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed weekends. No dinner
  • 9. Nanea Restaurant & Bar

    $$$

    The signature restaurant of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas has casual, open-air seating that perfectly complements an island-style menu sure to please a wide...

    The signature restaurant of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas has casual, open-air seating that perfectly complements an island-style menu sure to please a wide range of diners. Grilled rib eye is served with bacon and sour cream mashed potatoes, while the chicken—smoked kalua style—is accompanied by Molokai sweet potatoes. Lunch options include a plate lunch. At this writing, the restaurant was serving its pool bar menu but may transition to a fuller menu. The food is well executed and service is friendly. 

    3838 Wyllie Rd., Princeville, Hawaii, 96722, USA
    808-827–8808

    Known For

    • Kids eat free
    • Inventive cocktails
    • Local ingredients
  • 10. North Shore General Store

    $

    Attached to a gas station and small-items store, this classic hole-in-the-wall has the best deals for a take-out breakfast or lunch on the North Shore....

    Attached to a gas station and small-items store, this classic hole-in-the-wall has the best deals for a take-out breakfast or lunch on the North Shore. Darron's local-beef burgers have a loyal following, and you may have to get in line for his lunchtime favorite, chili-pepper chicken. He also parks his food truck at Anini Beach every weekday from 11 am to 2 pm.

    5--4280 Kuhio Hwy., Princeville, Hawaii, 96722, USA
    808-826–1122

    Known For

    • Espresso bar and homestyle breakfast and lunch plates
    • Closes at 6:30 pm
    • Food truck at Anini Beach on weekdays

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner
  • 11. Postcards Café

    $$$$

    This plantation-cottage restaurant has a menu full of seafood but also offers additive-free vegetarian and vegan options. Top menu picks include crispy leek salad with...

    This plantation-cottage restaurant has a menu full of seafood but also offers additive-free vegetarian and vegan options. Top menu picks include crispy leek salad with buckwheat noodles, miso-chocolate beef short ribs, and grilled yucca. Desserts are made without refined sugar. Try the chocolate Marquesa with berries and pistachios or the chèvre cheesecake, topped with lilikoi (passion fruit) gel and apple-pear compote.

    5--5075A Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714, USA
    808-826–1191

    Known For

    • Meat-free options, local-market fish
    • Cozy dining room in historic setting
    • Desserts with no refined sugar

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch. Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 12. Sushigirl Kauai

    $ | Vegan

    Pick up some of Kauai’s tastiest made-to-order rolls, sushi burritos, and poke bowls with ahi, smoked salmon, and (sometimes) ono at this modest trailer. Dine...

    Pick up some of Kauai’s tastiest made-to-order rolls, sushi burritos, and poke bowls with ahi, smoked salmon, and (sometimes) ono at this modest trailer. Dine in the adjacent courtyard (snag a table with an umbrella) or picnic at the beach. This is a popular place, so be prepared to wait in line.

    2484 Kaneke St., Kilauea, Hawaii, 96754, USA
    808-320–8646

    Known For

    • Entire menu is gluten-free
    • Veggie and vegan options
    • Fresh, local, organic ingredients
  • 13. The Hanalei Gourmet

    $$

    Hanalei's restored old schoolhouse holds an airy restaurant offering dolphin-safe tuna, low-sodium meats, fresh-baked breads, and house-made desserts, as well as a casual atmosphere where...

    Hanalei's restored old schoolhouse holds an airy restaurant offering dolphin-safe tuna, low-sodium meats, fresh-baked breads, and house-made desserts, as well as a casual atmosphere where both families and the sports-watching crowd can feel equally comfortable. Lunch and dinner menus feature sandwiches, burgers, hearty salads, a variety of pupus (appetizers), and nightly specials of fresh local fish. They also will prepare a picnic and give it to you in an insulated backpack. A full bar and frequent live entertainment keep things hopping even after the kitchen closes. Monday and Thursday evenings fill up for fish taco night, which begins at 6:30.

    5--5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714, USA
    808-826–2524

    Known For

    • Friendly bar
    • Consistently good food
    • Fish taco nights
  • 14. Trilogy

    $ | Coffee

    A tiny café with a huge local following, Trilogy serves artisanal coffee, tea, chai, adaptogenic elixirs (with ingredients that may reduce the effects of stress...

    A tiny café with a huge local following, Trilogy serves artisanal coffee, tea, chai, adaptogenic elixirs (with ingredients that may reduce the effects of stress on the body), and other blends, plus an array of sweet and savory treats, from avocado toast with macadamia nut pesto and za’atar seasoning to cakes and cookies.

    4270 Kilauea Rd., Kilauea, Hawaii, 96754, USA

    Known For

    • Organic, raw, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options
    • Adaptogenic elixirs and other creative blends
    • Lilikoi (passion fruit) mousse

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner
  • 15. Dondero's

    $$$$
    Closed Permanently

    With a beautiful setting, good food, stunning ocean view, and impeccable service by career waiters, Dondero's is one of Kauai's better restaurants. The menu features...

    With a beautiful setting, good food, stunning ocean view, and impeccable service by career waiters, Dondero's is one of Kauai's better restaurants. The menu features house-made pastas, classics like grilled seafood cioppino and tender veal osso buco, and salad greens cut daily from the hotel's hydroponic farm. Some menu items are gluten-free. Tiramisu or mango sorbet is a divine ending to the meal.

    1571 Poipu Rd., Poipu, Hawaii, 96756, USA
    808-240–6456

    Known For

    • Italianate murals and elegant interior
    • Romantic outdoor dining experience
    • Emphasis on local ingredients

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch
  • 16. Kauai Grill

    $$$$
    Closed Permanently

    Savor an artful meal created by world-renowned chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten, surrounded by a dramatic Hanalei Bay scene that's positively stunning at sunset. Located at the...

    Savor an artful meal created by world-renowned chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten, surrounded by a dramatic Hanalei Bay scene that's positively stunning at sunset. Located at the luxurious St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kauai Grill has dark-wood decor and an ornate chandelier, the centerpiece of the room. The attention here is on the flavors of robust meat and local, fresh seafood, though vegetarian options are available. Meats are simply grilled and paired with exotic sauces.

    5520 Ka Haku Rd., Princeville, Hawaii, 96722, USA
    808-826–9644

    Known For

    • Skill on the grill
    • Hawaii-grown ingredients
    • Attentive service

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch., Reservations essential
  • 17. Bouchon's

    $$
    Closed Permanently

    This second-story grill and sushi bar, previously known as Sushi Blues, has a pleasant ambience, with copper tabletops, lovely views of mountains streaked with waterfalls,...

    This second-story grill and sushi bar, previously known as Sushi Blues, has a pleasant ambience, with copper tabletops, lovely views of mountains streaked with waterfalls, and photos of international jazz greats lining the staircase. Regular entertainment, a full bar, and sake menu add to its appeal. The food isn't as inspired as the setting, but the specialty sushi items, such as the Popper Roll, which is filled with salmon, cream cheese, jalapeno, and avocado, wrapped in seaweed and tempura fried, are good. Or choose from steaks, fish, and seafood dishes.

    5-5190 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714, USA
    808-826–9701

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 18. Casa di Amici

    $$$
    Closed Permanently

    Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood above Poipu Beach, this longtime restaurant has an outside deck open to sweeping ocean views. It boasts an eclectic...

    Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood above Poipu Beach, this longtime restaurant has an outside deck open to sweeping ocean views. It boasts an eclectic menu, with a few Asian and Mexican dishes slipped into the original all-Italian lineup. The interior has been freshened up with a remodel, and you can still dine outside with the twinkly lights. Start with the spicy tamales or fried calamari with a lemon-caper sauce. Choices include chicken picatta, ahi with ginger miso, a Thai beef satay risotto, and fettuccine with house-made Italian sausage. For dessert, take the plunge with a baked Hawaii—a chocolate-macadamia-nut brownie topped with coconut and passion-fruit sorbet and flambéed Italian meringue. Volume here can get a bit loud.

    2301 Nalo Rd., Poipu, Hawaii, 96756, USA
    808-742–1555

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch, Credit cards accepted
  • 19. Joe's on the Green

    $
    Closed Permanently

    Located at the Kiahuna Golf Course, the casual atmosphere and generous portions at Joe's makes it a refreshing alternative to the pricier hotel brunch venues...

    Located at the Kiahuna Golf Course, the casual atmosphere and generous portions at Joe's makes it a refreshing alternative to the pricier hotel brunch venues in this area. Open-air breakfasts and lunches—think tofu scramble and banana-macadamia-nut pancakes or the quarter-pound hot dog and the build-your-own-salad options—comes with an expansive vista of Poipu, and happy hour, which often features live music, offers local favorites like manapua dumplings and ahi poke.

    2545 Kiahuna Plantation Dr., Poipu, Hawaii, 96756, USA
    808-742–9696

    Known For

    • Upbeat happy hour
    • Outdoor dining
    • Friendly service

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 20. Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

    $$$
    Closed Permanently

    Chef Jean-Marie Josselin, one of the pioneers of Hawaiian regional cuisine, has a winner with this fun, sophisticated, small-plates restaurant. After the roaming sangria cart...

    Chef Jean-Marie Josselin, one of the pioneers of Hawaiian regional cuisine, has a winner with this fun, sophisticated, small-plates restaurant. After the roaming sangria cart rolls up with concoctions containing lilikoi and lychee, the feast is on. The menu changes frequently, but expect a wide range of Hawaiian-influenced, Asian, and Western choices to satisfy all palates. The idea is to share a variety of choices. The tempura ahi roll with beurre blanc is especially tasty. Or try the Kauai shrimp-and-duck tacos with pineapple salsa, the pumpkin ravioli, or the sesame-crusted mahi and braised pork belly with apple kimchi. The only drawback is the very noisy dining room.

    2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Poipu, Hawaii, 96756, USA
    808-742–7117

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch

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