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. Café Portofino

    $$$ | Italian

    The lengthy menu at this mostly authentic northern Italian restaurant is as impressive as the views of Kalapaki Bay and the Haupu range, and...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

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