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. Dondero's

    $$$$ | Italian

    With a beautiful setting, good food, stunning ocean view, and impeccable service, Dondero's is one of Kauai's better restaurants. The elegant...Read More

  • 2. Eating House 1849

    $$$ | Asian

    Hawaii's culinary superstar, Roy Yamaguchi, has moved his signature Hawaiian-fusion-cuisine restaurant on Kauai's South Shore to an updated...Read More

  • 3. Makai Sushi

    $ | Japanese

    The menu is simple—poke bowls, sashimi, and four types of sushi rolls—but the freshness of the fish and attention to quality preparation set...Read More

  • 4. Red Salt

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Smart, sophisticated decor, attentive and skilled service, and an exceptional menu that highlights Hawaiian seafood make Red Salt a great choice...Read More

  • 5. Beach House

    $$$$ | Asian

    This restaurant has a dreamy ocean view, making it a good setting for a romantic dinner or a cocktail and appetizer while the sun sinks into...Read More

  • 6. Brennecke's Beach Broiler

    $$$ | American

    Casual and fun, with a busy bar and windows overlooking the beach, Brennecke's specializes in big portions in a wide range of offerings including...Read More

  • 7. Joe's on the Green

    $ | American

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

  • 8. Kalaheo Café & Coffee Co.

    $$ | American

    Folks love this busy roadside café—especially for breakfast, though it's good for lunch and a simple dinner, too—for it's casual atmosphere...Read More

  • 9. Keoki's Paradise

    $$$ | Asian

    Built to resemble a dockside boathouse, this active, boisterous place fills up quickly at night thanks to a busy bar and frequent live music...Read More

  • 10. Merriman's Fish House

    $$$$ | American

    The regional food served up at chef Peter Merriman's namesake restaurant is enhanced by a sophisticated setting and lovely views from a pretty...Read More

  • 11. Pizzetta

    $ | Italian

    This family-style Italian restaurant has an open-air deck where hearty portions of pasta, calzones, and thin-crust pizza are served, along with...Read More

  • 12. Plantation Gardens

    $$$ | American

    A historic plantation manager's home has been converted to a restaurant that serves seafood and meats with a Pacific Rim and Italian influence...Read More

  • 13. Tidepools

    $$$$ | Seafood

    Of the Grand Hyatt's many notable restaurants, Tidepools is definitely the most tropical and campy, with private grass-thatch huts that seem...Read More

  • 14. Casa di Amici

    $$$ | Italian

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

  • 15. Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

    $$$ | Contemporary

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

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