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. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Gaylord's

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Located in what was once Kauai's most expensive plantation estate, Gaylord's pays tribute to the elegant dining rooms of 1930s high society...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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