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. Duke's Canoe Club

    $$$ | Seafood

    Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku is immortalized at this casual bi-level restaurant and bar on Kalapaki Beach where surfboards, photos, and other...Read More

  • 5. Eat Healthy Cafe

    $$ | Vegetarian

    A restored plantation cottage surrounded by tropical foliage is the casual setting for this island café. The menu emphasizes local and organic...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Kauai Pasta

    $$ | Italian

    This simple yet elegant establishment offers some of the best Italian food on the island at moderate prices. Their specials are delicious, and...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Kukui's Restaurant and Bar

    $$ | Eclectic

    The meals at Kukui's feature Hawaiian, Asian, and contemporary American influences, and the open-air setting makes it a pleasant place to dine...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Lemongrass Grill

    $$ | Asian

    The inside of Kapaa's Lemongrass Grill may remind you of a Pacific Rim–theme rustic tavern, with its stained wood interior, numerous paintings...Read More

  • 17. Lihue Barbecue Inn

    $$ | Eclectic

    Few Kauai restaurants are more beloved than this family-owned eatery, a mainstay of island dining since 1940, with a menu that runs from traditional...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Neide's Salsa and Samba

    $$ | Brazilian

    The only restaurant serving authentic Brazilian food on Kauai, Neide's Salsa and Samba is also one of the most affordable establishments on...Read More

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