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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Bull Shed

    $$$ | Steakhouse

    The A-frame structure makes this popular restaurant look distinctly rustic from the outside, but inside, light-color walls and a full wall of...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Keoki's Paradise

    $$$ | Asian

    Built to resemble a dockside boathouse, this active, boisterous place fills up quickly at night thanks to a busy bar and frequent live music...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. Plantation Gardens

    $$$ | American

    A historic plantation manager's home has been converted to a restaurant that serves seafood and meats with a Pacific Rim and Italian influence...Read More

  • 12. Postcards Café

    $$$ | American

    This plantation-cottage restaurant has a menu full of seafood but also offers additive-free vegetarian and vegan options. Top menu picks include...Read More

  • 13. Wrangler's Steakhouse

    $$$ | Steakhouse

    Denim-covered seating, decorative saddles, and a stagecoach in a loft helped to transform the historic Ako General Store in Waimea into a West...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. The Eastside

    $$$ | Eclectic

    This restaurant lacks ambience, but the service is friendly and attentive, and the food is pretty good. The kale salad with goat cheese and...Read More

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