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. Hamura Saimin

    $ | Asian

    Folks just love this funky old plantation-style diner—locals and tourists stream in and out all day long, and neighbor islanders stop in on...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Lappert's Ice Cream

    $ | Café

    It's not ice cream on Kauai if it's not Lappert's Ice Cream. Guava, mac nut, pineapple, mango, coconut, banana—Lappert's is the ice-cream capital...Read More

  • 8. Little Fish Coffee

    $ | Café

    For a wholesome breakfast or lunch on the West Side, this friendly, funky, and fun—right down to the marking pens that allow you to leave your...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Shivalik Indian Cuisine

    $ | Indian

    This eatery provides a refreshing alternative to the typical surf and turf offerings at most of Kauai's restaurants. Boasting no particular...Read More

  • 13. Tiki Tacos

    $ | Mexican

    Tiki Tacos is a notch above most Kauai taco joints, with excellent authentic Mexican food at reasonable prices. The meals are made from quality...Read More

  • 14. Verde

    $ | Mexican

    Combining classic Mexican food with chili-based sauces and creations from the chef's home state of New Mexico, Verde's menu includes tostadas...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Mema Thai Chinese Cuisine

    $ | Thai

    Some menu items at Mema's reveal a Chinese flair, but the emphasis is on Thai dishes. A host of curries—red, green, yellow, house, and Mema...Read More

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