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. Bar Acuda

    $$$$

    Hip and pricey, this tapas bar is a top place in Hanalei in terms of flavor and creativity, with food that's often organic and consistently...Read More

  • 2. Eating House 1849

    $$$

    Hawaii's culinary superstar, Roy Yamaguchi, runs his signature Hawaiian-fusion-cuisine restaurant on Kauai's South Shore in a shopping village that suits the name and creative fare....Read More

  • 3. Hukilau Lanai

    $$$

    Relying heavily on super fresh island fish and local meats and produce, this restaurant offers creatively prepared food that is a great choice for value...Read More

  • 4. Japanese Grandma's Cafe

    $$

    Traditional methods for sushi, tempura, bento, and bowls meet fresh local ingredients to create delicious food in this intimate modern café at the center of...Read More

  • 5. JO2 Restaurant

    $$$

    This creation of Jean-Marie Josselin, the renowned chef who brought Hawaii Regional Cuisine to Kauai in 1990, reflects his culinary growth. The food is imaginative,...Read More

  • 6. Kiawe Roots

    $$

    This place is back, with both dine-in and takeout, at a cozy storefront where family recipes bring a mix of local cultures to the table....Read More

  • 7. Red Salt

    $$$$

    Smart, sophisticated decor, attentive and skilled service, and an exceptional menu that highlights Hawaiian seafood make Red Salt a great choice for leisurely fine dining....Read More

  • 8. The Hanalei Dolphin

    $$$

    Fresh fish caught in local waters by local fishers take star billing at this upscale, tropical-theme restaurant and sushi lounge on the banks of the...Read More

  • 9. The Tasting Room

    $$

    Popular for a predinner gathering or a full evening out, this trendy wine bar on Koloa's main street has great flights and small bites, and...Read More

  • 10. Brennecke's Beach Broiler

    $$$

    Casual and fun, with a busy mai tai bar and windows overlooking the beach, Brennecke's specializes in big portions in a wide range of offerings...Read More

  • 11. Bull Shed

    $$$

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

  • 12. Café Portofino

    $$$

    The views of Kalapaki Bay and the Haupu Mountain Range are impressive at this mostly authentic northern Italian restaurant, which offers a range of pasta,...Read More

  • 13. Chicken in a Barrel / Da Pizza Place

    $

    Located in the laid-back Waimea Plantation Cottages hotel, this equally casual eatery has a veranda that's a great place to sit with a beer and...Read More

  • 14. Da Crack Mexican Grinds

    $

    Fresh, fast, and affordable, Da Crack is everything you could ask for when refueling between outdoor activities. Fill your burrito, bowl, or taco with locally...Read More

  • 15. Daddy O's Restaurant

    $

    Large helpings of simple but satisfying, hearty fare are the focus at this no-frills spot in the slightly run-down Rice Shopping Center. Breakfast standards like...Read More

  • 16. Dani's Restaurant

    $

    Kauai residents frequent this no-frills eatery near the Lihue Fire Station for hearty, local-style food at breakfast and lunch. It's a good place to try...Read More

  • 17. Duke's Kauai

    $$$

    Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968) is immortalized at this casual bi-level restaurant and bar on Kalapaki Beach where surfboards, photos, and other memorabilia marking Duke's...Read More

  • 18. Hamura Saimin

    $

    Folks just love this cash-only, old plantation-style diner, though the very simple food doesn't quite live up to the buzz. Locals and tourists still stream...Read More

  • 19. Hualani's Restaurant

    $$

    Hualani's is bright, airy and expansive, with an unobstructed view of the ocean, delivering diners a casual yet upscale experience that makes up for a...Read More

  • 20. Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company

    $$

    Folks love this roadside café—especially at breakfast and lunch, though it's good for dinner, too—for its casual neighborhood feel and lengthy menu with omelets, sandwiches,...Read More

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