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. Eating House 1849

    $$$ | Asian

    Hawaii's culinary superstar, Roy Yamaguchi, has moved his signature Hawaiian-fusion-cuisine restaurant on Kauai's South Shore to an updated...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. JO2 Restaurant

    $$$ | Eclectic

    This is the newest creation of Jean-Marie Josselin, the renowned chef who brought Hawaii regional cuisine to Kauai in 1990, and it reflects...Read More

  • 5. Kauai Grill

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Savor an artful meal created by world-renowned chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten, surrounded by a dramatic Hanalei Bay scene that's positively stunning...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Makana Terrace

    $$$$ | American

    There's no doubt this spot is pricey, but you're paying for the view—sit on the terrace if you can—and for an attentive staff. The menu is simple...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Tidepools

    $$$$ | Seafood

    Of the Grand Hyatt's many notable restaurants, Tidepools is definitely the most tropical and campy, with private grass-thatch huts that seem...Read More

  • 12. Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

    $$$ | Contemporary

    Chef Jean-Marie Josselin, one of the pioneers of Hawaiian regional cuisine, has a winner with this fun, sophisticated, small-plates restaurant...Read More

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