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Kauai Restaurant Guide

The 15 Best Restaurants in Kauai

Last Updated on July 13, 2024 ⋅ Written by Vanessa Howard ⋅ Edited by Laura Schulthies

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurant Guide: The Best Kauai Restaurants

Welcome to Kauai

Fresh ingredients, vivid colors, and global-inspired flavors define Kauai’s cuisine. Whether you choose local favorites, fine dining, or just-picked fruit from a roadside stand, fresh local ingredients are always in season on the island of Kauai. Even though Kauai is one of the smaller Hawaiian Islands, there are many fantastic restaurants to try while visiting the island. Keep reading for the best Kauai restaurants.

Fresh ingredients, vivid colors, and global-inspired flavors define Kauai’s cuisine. Whether you choose local favorites, fine dining, or just-picked fruit from a roadside stand, fresh local ingredients are always in season on the island of Kauai. Even though Kauai is one of the smaller Hawaiian Islands, there are many fantastic restaurants to try while visiting the island. Keep reading for the best Kauai restaurants.

Kauai Map

Kauai Map

Contents

Where to Eat

The Top Neighborhoods

Hanalei – North Shore

Picture perfect Hanalei is the laid-back town on Kauai’s North Shore that feels like a tropical dream. You can easily explore the wild and gorgeous Na Pali Coast from Hanalei. Enjoy Hanalei Bay, a 2-mile-long crescent beach ideal for kids in summer when the rough surf turns calm. Hanalei retains the essence of its charm, and you’ll find amazing restaurants on the North Shore while visiting paradise.

Lihue – East Shore

Kauai’s airport is in Lihue, where you’ll likely first set foot on the island. The town was founded by sugar planters and is populated by descendants of Filipino and Japanese cane cutters. The area is residential, but you can be sure that Lihue’s restaurants will be serving fresh Hawaiian fare. You’ll find great deals on dining in Lihue and one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, Kalapaki Beach.

Koloa – South Shore

Koloa is Hawaii’s oldest sugar plantation town and was founded in 1835. Enjoy browsing the shops and dining at excellent restaurants and quaint storefronts under towering tropical trees. The historical plaques around town give a glimpse into the lives of the Japanese-American families who created the very first businesses here.

Hanalei – North Shore

Picture perfect Hanalei is the laid-back town on Kauai’s North Shore that feels like a tropical dream. You can easily explore the wild and gorgeous Na Pali Coast from Hanalei. Enjoy Hanalei Bay, a 2-mile-long crescent beach ideal for kids in summer when the rough surf turns calm. Hanalei retains the essence of its charm, and you’ll find amazing restaurants on the North Shore while visiting paradise.

Lihue – East Shore

Kauai’s airport is in Lihue, where you’ll likely first set foot on the island. The town was founded by sugar planters and is populated by descendants of Filipino and Japanese cane cutters. The area is residential, but you can be sure that Lihue’s restaurants will be serving fresh Hawaiian fare. You’ll find great deals on dining in Lihue and one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, Kalapaki Beach.

Koloa – South Shore

Koloa is Hawaii’s oldest sugar plantation town and was founded in 1835. Enjoy browsing the shops and dining at excellent restaurants and quaint storefronts under towering tropical trees. The historical plaques around town give a glimpse into the lives of the Japanese-American families who created the very first businesses there.

Budget Options

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Porky’s Kauai

Koloa, $, Hawaiian, Barbecue, American

When you need flavorful pork in your life, we recommend a trip down to Porky’s Kauai. This South Shore eatery began as a hotdog cart in New York City, and their menu still features a pair of hotdog dishes that will leave a lasting impression. Among their limited menu, they put a Hawaiian spin on the classic hotdog flavors by adding pulled pork, pineapple and other fresh local ingredients. Porky’s also serves a variety of comfort food, including a gooey grilled cheese sandwich and a hearty rice bowl. Each option on the menu can be fully customized by adding bacon, Portuguese sausage, or both to kick the flavor profile up a notch. Ask for both the sweet sauce and the spicy sauce to enjoy the excellent flavors without having to be conservative with your dipping. Also, make sure to try the pineapple sausage and thank us later!

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

JoJo’s Shave Ice

South Shore, $, Dessert, Hawaiian, Gluten Free Options

Visit the original Kauai shave ice at Jojo’s Shave Ice, it’s still the best deal on the island. The perfect cold treat on a hot day, Jojo’s offers freshly shaved ice flavored with your choice of syrups. There are 34 syrups to choose from, with shaved ice flavors such as Papaya, Blue Hawaii, Strawberry Colada, or Guava. Add a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk to make your shave ice extra rich. Order one of their classic shaved ice combinations, like Colada Special with Pina-Strawberry-Banana Colada with a scoop of MacNut Ice Cream. As a bonus, your sweet treat is helping others, as Jojo’s donates half of its profits to support free camps for disadvantaged Hawaiian youth.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Pono Market

East Shore, $, Polynesian, Seafood, Hawaiian

If you are starving and want large portions, you should head to Pono Market with a big appetite! A local favorite, Pono Market serves up flavorful Hawaiian cuisine on a rotating schedule. The daily entrees, pokes, and sides will undoubtedly have you dreaming of returning for more. For example, you can only get Pineapple Glazed Chicken on Wednesday, while the Beef Stew dish is available only on Monday. Try the Spicy Ahi or Shoyu Poke, and don’t forget a side of Hawaiian Potato Mac Salad to go with it. The market is takeout only, so grab some delicious food and head to nearby Kappa Beach for a picnic.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

The Fish Express

East Shore, $, Seafood, Fusion, Quick Bites

The Fish Express is a local favorite that takes pride in using freshly caught Hawaiian Ahi Poke. The high-quality fish results in some of the island’s brightest and most vibrant poke bowls. While the poke bowls are sure to delight, don’t expect anything fancy here. In fact, the grab-and-go nature of this Fish Express makes it the perfect place for an authentic bite before a day at the beach or a hike. It’s also located close to the airport, so it’s great for a pick-me-up after a day of flying. Don’t miss the Salmon Lumpia, Shrimp Scampi, and the Macadamia Crusted Fish. There is very limited seating, but you can take your delicious seafood and head to Hanamaulu Beach for gorgeous dining views.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Mark’s Place

East Shore, $, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Quick Bites

Mark’s Place is a no-frills local favorite known for Mark’s Famous Mixed Plates, featuring Hawaiian proteins like the classic Loco Moco with white rice and macaroni salad. The bold flavors are spot-on, and so is the execution, making these lunch plates an easy, no-fuss way to sample fantastic local favorites. Try Hawaii’s most famous snacks, the Spam Musubi  and the Korean Chicken Musubi. There are picnic tables outside where you can enjoy your delicious Hawaiian feast. Mark’s Place also offers omiyage snacks, which are great gifts for your friends and family. They have everything from Pineapple Rum Cake and Macadamia Nut Tea Cookies to Dried Ahi and Kamaboko Dip, although their Butter Mochi is a favorite.

Website       Map 

Midrange Options

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Kalypso Island Bar and Grill

North Shore, $$ - $$$, Seafood, Bar, American

Looking for Hawaiian comfort food? You can get your fill at Kalypso Island Bar & Grill. This place has a chill island aesthetic and flavorful dishes you’ll love. Using only the freshest ingredients from the island, they take local flavors to the next level. If you visit during breakfast, try their Peaches & Cream French Toast or Blackened Mahi-Mahi Benedict. Or try the Coconut Shrimp, Pipikaula Taco Trio, and Kalua Pork Quesadillas for lunch. Dine on island style Huli-Huli Chicken, Blackened Fresh Fish & Shrimp for dinner. Kalypso’s also offers Happy Hour each day from 3 pm – 5:30 pm, and they are famous for their Mai-Tais and Lava Flow cocktail.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Brenneck’s Beach Broiler

South Shore, $$ - $$$, Quick Bites, American, Bar

How do delicious food, tropical drinks, and an open-air beachfront setting sound? Head to Brenneck’s Beach Broiler to delight in the ever-changing menu and the casual, chill atmosphere. This is a place where fine dining meets casual and fun. Make sure to leave room for dessert here, as people travel far and wide to try their famous Lava Cake. The cocktails at Brenneck’s are also legendary, thanks to their use of bright local flavors. Try the delectable Ceviche Wonton Tacos, Blackened Ahi Sandwich, or the Kauai Pad Thai. You’ll need to make a reservation before visiting Brenneck’s, or you can expect to wait up to two hours for a table.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Tahiti Nui Restaurant

North Shore, $$ - $$$, American, Bar, Polynesian

For a world-famous Mai-Tai, you can’t do better than Tahiti Nui Restaurant. They serve up authentic Tahitian and Hawaiian fare, and this is also a popular spot for live music and innovative cocktails in Hanalei. Try to visit on a Tuesday or Wednesday night when Tahiti Nui hosts an open buffet full of menu favorites, complete with a proper Hawaiian Luau dinner experience. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Hawaiian dance, hula, music, and delicious eats on the North Shore. Try Zesty Coconut Crusted Catch of The Day or the Sunset Charcuterie Board.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Duke’s Kauai

East Shore, $$ - $$$, American, Bar, Seafood

If you’re looking for some of the best oceanfront dining in Kauai, then the legendary Duke’s is the spot for you. You can find Duke’s at the Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club, this restaurant has spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and a casual yet elegant atmosphere. On the menu, you’ll find traditional island favorites made with fresh local ingredients and American classics. Duke’s serves up various seafood dishes like their famous sautéed mac nut and herb-crusted fresh fish, poke tacos, and teriyaki sirloin. Other fan favorites include the slow-roasted prime rib and Duke’s famous Hula Pie. Duke’s Kauai is incredibly popular, and phone reservations are highly recommended.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Hanalei Bread

North Shore, $$ - $$$, American, Cafe, Quick Bites

Are you looking for a great breakfast spot? Hanalei Bread is the place to go if you want delicious organic pastries, fresh bread, coffee, and sandwiches. This local hot spot serves up some of the best breakfast and lunch on Kauai. Menu favorites include sandwiches, biscuits, and burritos. Wake up with a cup of 100% Kona Coffee shipped directly from the Big Island Of Hawaii. You can’t go wrong with the Brekkie Sandwich with a fresh brioche bun, egg, bacon, cheese, arugula, tomato, and aioli. The pastries at Hanalei Bread are equally delicious if you are looking for something sweet. They bake fresh croissants, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, sweet Nutella rolls, and more.

Website       Map 

High-End Options

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Merriman’s Kauai

South Shore, $$$$, Seafood, International, American

Those looking for a traditional sit-down dining experience will love Merriman’s Kauai. This farm-to-table restaurant ensures its ingredients are locally sourced from sustainable farmers and fishermen. Merriman’s occupies what was once an old Hawaii plantation, and the outdoor patio overlooks a vast field with distant views of the stunning Pacific Ocean. The menu is chock full of healthy, delicious Hawaiian favorites. Try a bright and flavorful salad highlighting island fruits like papaya and spiced macadamia nuts, or dive into some of the fresh local fish bursting with Hawaiian flavors.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

J02 Natural Cuisine

East Shore, $$$$, Seafood, Asian, Healthy

You’ll find J02 Natural Cuisine just a few blocks from the beautiful shores of Fuji Beach. If you are looking for a unique dining experience that is both artful and flavorful, then J02 is the spot for you. The cuisine draws on influences from French, Japanese, and Hawaiian cultures. This upscale eatery is the perfect place for a date night. The menu ranges from small plates to large entrees, and there is a mouth watering three-course tasting menu that features all of the chef’s favorites. There are several can’t miss dishes here, including Kauai Tomato Sampler, Prawn and Roasted Chinese Duck Lumpia, and Seared Hokkaido Scallops. Reservations are recommended at J02 Natural Cuisine.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Bar Acuda

North Shore, $$$$, Spanish, American, Vegetarian Friendly

Have you heard of Hawaiian tapas? That’s the specialty of the intriguing Bar Acuda. That’s right, this spot has taken the Spanish tradition of tapas and put a Hawaiian spin on tapas, and it’s one of the most beloved dining spots on Kauai. Bar Acuda uses the freshest local and seasonal ingredients to create innovative and tasty shareable plates packed with flavor. The peaceful, cozy atmosphere and tapas menu set Bar Acuda apart. Don’t miss out on the Grilled Lamb Riblets, North Shore Honeycomb, and Hawaiian Fish; finish with the Lilikoi Cheesecake. Make sure to secure your reservation here as soon as possible. If they are fully booked, don’t worry – you can also get on the cancellation list.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Eating House 1849

South Shore, $$$$, American, Seafood, Fusion

Eating House 1849 is the restaurant of renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi, and the eatery combines bold Asian flavors with Hawaiian ingredients and techniques to create truly one-of-a-kind cuisine. Art gallery-worthy eats include creative takes on classics such as slow-braised honey mustard short ribs and spicy ramen with ground pork and shrimp. The farm-to-table approach is alive and well with menu favorites that include Eating House 1849 Duo Poke, Roy Yamaguchi’s Original Blackened Island Ahi, and “Hapa” Burger. Leave room for decadent desserts like Roy Yamaguchi’s Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle. You’ll need to make a reservation at Eating House 1849 a few weeks in advance.

Website       Map 

Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai
Kauai Restaurants Guide: The Best Restaurants In Kauai

Tidepools

South Shore, $$$$, Seafood, Contemporary, American

Tidepools in the Grand Hyatt Kauai provides a truly memorable dining experience. This gorgeous restaurant offers fantastic views of Kauai’s most stunning scenery. Sit back and relax as you listen to a waterfall cascading next to you as you dine under a straw-thatched roof that makes you feel like you are floating with the koi fish in the water. The menu at Tidepools puts a unique twist on Hawaiian favorites, and the tropical cocktail menu offers bright and flavorful libations you can sip at any time of day. Tidepools is famous for its succulent seafood dishes and an impressive 200-bottle wine cellar. Try the Prime New York Strip, or the Hawaiian Catch. The dessert menu includes fan favorites like Cocoa Nib Crème Brulee and Malasada.

Website       Map 

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