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. Restaurant Kintaro

    $$ | Japanese

    If you want to eat at a lively restaurant that's a favorite with locals, visit Kintaro, but be prepared to wait—or better yet, make reservations...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Opakapaka Grill and Bar

    $$ | Fusion

    A trip to this oceanfront oasis requires a narrow, cliff-hugging ride along the exquisite North Shore coastline or a short walk from the condos...Read More

  • 14. Bouchon's

    $$ | Japanese

    This second-story grill and sushi bar, previously known as Sushi Blues, has a pleasant ambience, with copper tabletops, lovely views of mountains...Read More

  • 15. 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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