Kauai Restaurants offer Fine Cuisine,
Fun Foods, and Island Atmosphere
On the island of Kauai, restaurants and other eateries are as varied as the
island itself. Slowly, the island has gained a reputation as a great place
to experience fine and varied cuisine, from such simple fare as mouth-watering
burgers to extraordinary Pacific Rim specialties.
In large resort areas, like Poipu and Princeville, many hotels offer five-star
restaurants along with chefs who've gained a reputation in the food industry
as some of the finest in the business. Hotel restaurants are usually a safe
bet and are conveniently located near lodging and activities.
The best Kauai restaurants, cafes, bistros, and snack shacks, however, are
usually located off the beaten track and are best identified by locals and
frequent visitors to the island. These "mom and pop"-type eateries usually
offer not only great food but also prices that tend to be more reasonable
than chain or resort restaurants.
These out-of-the-way Kauai restaurants, with perhaps just a handful of tables,
also tend to be situated in picturesque locations, not easy to find but well
worth the effort it takes to get there. Ask a local where they enjoy eating.
Most likely, they'll choose a place that's not crowded with visitors, doesn't
feature the prices of many "tourist trap" restaurants, and most assuredly
serves some of the best food on the island.
The Best of Kauai Dining
Throughout the beautiful Garden Isle, one can usually find whatever they
need to satisfy their hunger. While some portions of the island offer more
variety than others, it's usually just a short drive to reach the cuisine
you crave, from Italian to Japanese to Hawaii's outstanding seafood. With
the help of a handful of locals and some satisfied travelers, we've compiled
a list of some of the best in Kauai. Restaurants are listed by region, so
plan your itinerary accordingly in order to reach your choice in time to enjoy
a mouth-watering meal.
Hanalei, with its splendid beauty, make it a great spot to enjoy lunch
or dinner along with one of the most picturesque views on the island. Check
out these Kauai restaurants on your trip through Hanalei:
- The Hanalei Dolphin - Located alongside the Hanalei Heritage River, this
restaurant is a Kauai institution, attracting locals and visitors since 1977.
Like many Kauai restaurants, the Dolphin is known for its fine seafood dinners
but also offers lunch and afternoon pupus on the terrace by the river.
- Zelo's Beach House - A typical Hawaiian eatery with tiki torches adorning
the exterior and a great big bamboo bar inside, Zelo's serves the freshest
seafood, succulent steaks, pasta, and chicken as well as a number of micro-brews,
imported beers, and fancy tropical drinks adorned with pineapple and little
- Tropical Taco - A great place for lunch, this local eatery serves Mexican
with an island twist. Tropical Taco got its start as a lunch wagon and recently
moved to a more "stable" location. The fish tacos are second to none!
Princeville boasts some of the best restaurants in Kauai, many of
them located at area hotels and resorts as well as many small local establishments,
so it's easy to find a variety of cuisine in this popular tourist town.
Here are a few ideas:
- Bali Hai - An open-air restaurant, this fine establishment specializes
in Pacific Rim Cuisine, a wonderful blend of the flavors of the Pacific Islands
with those of the Orient. Try the Ahi Sashimi or the Steak Olowalu.
- La Cascata - located in the Princeville Resort, this restaurant leans towards
Italian cuisine but is eager to use local specialties to make classic Italian
dishes even more interesting. Looking for a good bottle of wine? La Cascata's
wine list is extensive though heavily Italian.
Of all the places in Kauai, restaurants in Poipu are
among the finest. However, not all of them are overly expensive. Plenty
are affordable and appropriate for the whole family. Here's a sampling
of a few restaurants near the "best beach in the world."
- The Beach House Restaurant - Undisputedly the best restaurant in Poipu,
this high-end restaurant is located right on the ocean and serves the finest
Pacific Rim cuisine. The view of the sunset from this restaurant is famous,
so guests should make reservations long before they arrive in Kauai.
- Brennecke's Beach Broiler - Located across from Poipu Beach State Park,
Brennecke's is a well-priced, upbeat restaurant with a friendly and attentive
young staff and varied selections for lunch and dinner, including a kid's
menu. Check out the island favorites like Black 'n Blue Ahi and the extensive
pupu (appetizer) menu.
- Lappert's Ice Cream - Situated in historic Old Koloa Town, Lappert's serves
the creamiest ice cream as well as homemade baked goods and pastries and gourmet
Hawaiian specialty coffees. Perfect for an afternoon snack.
In this region of Kauai, restaurants aren't
quite as plentiful as they are in the more crowded tourist areas of the
north and south regions. The town of Hanapepe, however, boasts a
few good places to stop for a meal. Check out these restaurants:
- Green Garden Restaurant - This is the place to try that great Kauaian specialty,
the Lilikoi Pie, a luscious tropical passion fruit chiffon delight. They
also serve great Hawaiian and Asian entrees as well.
- Da Imu Hut Café - Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this delightful
little eatery is known for its Kailua Pig and is a favorite among local residents.
The town of Kapaa is the place to visit
for a great meal on the Coconut Coast. The selections are eclectic though
the cuisine is largely Hawaiian or Asian, and the prices are lower than
those in many Kauai restaurants. Try these favorite eateries:
- The Bull Shed - You'll find lots of locals at this restaurant, known for
its prime rib, fine seafood, and humungous salad bar. Good drinks, too.
- Pacific Café - This is the Coconut Coast's premiere Pacific Rim restaurant,
combining the enticing spices of Asian with Hawaii's best seafood and produce.
Reservations are highly recommended.
- Norberto's El Café - Where else can you find a taro enchilada? This Mexican
restaurant wisely uses the tastes of Hawaii in conjunction with classic Mexican
specialties for a new and different flavor. Delightful!
This tiny region of Kauai boasts lots of good
places to grab a meal. Despite its size, Lihue offers guests a varied
selection of restaurants ranging from fine Asian cuisine to good old American
barbecue. Here are a few examples of Lihue Kauai restaurants:
- Café Portofino - Dine overlooking the Palakiki Bay at this large Italian
restaurant that offers classic Mediterranean dishes and homemade pastas and
- Gaylord's - Located on the Kilohana Plantation, ladies at this restaurant
are greeted with a traditional Hawaiian lei, island music, and hula entertainment.
The cuisine is American with a bit of island flavor.
- Hamura Saimin - This is one of those little out-of-the-way places that
you may overlook when searching among Kauai restaurants, this place serves
hundreds of orders of saimin (broth and noodles) each day as well as tasty
chicken and beef dishes. Cash only, so be prepared if you visit during your
For a great listing of Kauai restaurants by location and with reviews by
locals and tourists
Visitors to Kauai give their opinions as to the island's best eateries