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. Hukilau Lanai

    $$ | American

    Relying heavily on superfresh island fish and local meats and produce, this restaurant offers quality food that is competently and creatively...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Dani's Restaurant

    $ | American

    Kauai residents frequent this eatery near the Lihue Fire Station for hearty, local-style food at breakfast and lunch; it's a good place to try...Read More

  • 4. Hanalei Gourmet

    $$ | American

    This spot in Hanalei's restored old schoolhouse offers dolphin-safe tuna, low-sodium meats, fresh-baked breads, and homemade desserts as well...Read More

  • 5. JJ's Broiler

    $$$ | American

    This spacious, low-key restaurant serves hearty fare, with dinner specials such as lobster and Slavonic steak, a broiled sliced tenderloin dipped...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Kalapaki Joe's

    $$ | American

    Both locations—in Lihue's Kukui Grove and in Poipu—appeal to sports fans who like a rip-roaring happy hour as the appetizer menu is extensive...Read More

  • 9. Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza

    $$ | American

    Open from 6:30 am, the bakery serves coffee drinks, delicious fresh pastries, bagels, and breads in the morning. Late risers beware: breads...Read More

  • 10. Kokee Lodge

    $ | American

    There's only one place to buy food and hot drinks in Kokee State Park, and that's the dining room of rustic Kokee Lodge. It's known for its...Read More

  • 11. Kountry Kitchen

    $ | American

    If you like a hearty breakfast, try this family-friendly restaurant with its cozy, greasy-spoon atmosphere, and friendly service; it's a great...Read More

  • 12. Makana Terrace

    $$$$ | American

    There's no doubt this spot is pricey, but you're paying for the view—sit on the terrace if you can—and for an attentive staff. The menu is simple...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Nanea Restaurant and Bar

    $$$ | American

    This is the signature restaurant of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, and its casual, open-air seating is the perfect compliment to...Read More

  • 15. Papaya's

    $ | American

    Kauai's largest natural-foods market contains a limited, buffet-style café with decent vegan and vegetarian food at low prices. Food items change...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Plantations BBQ & Bar

    $ | American

    This casual eatery is located in the equally laid-back Waimea Plantation Cottages; it's a great place to sit with a cocktail and watch the sun...Read More

  • 18. Postcards Café

    $$$ | American

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

  • 19. Eggbert's

    $ | American

    If you're big on breakfasts, try Eggbert's, which serves breakfast items until 2 pm daily. This longtime eatery has high volume, so seating...Read More

  • 20. Wailua Marina Restaurant

    $$ | American

    Offering the island's only river view, this marina restaurant—an island fixture for almost 40 years—is a good spot to stop for a quiet, leisurely...Read More

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