Best Fine Dining in Kauai 2023 [Avoid Tourist Traps]

Eat the best meals Kauai has to offer. Check out my top 3 picks for fine dining that won’t leave you hungry!

Have you ever looked at a menu in a restaurant and realized that you picked the wrong spot to eat? I have!

And some of my choices ended up being expensive experiments where I went home disappointed and hungry.

That’s why I did my food research before we first visited Kauai!

I wanted to find the best restaurants where we could have a nice time and eat delicious food. I didn’t want a tiny meal with strange protein in it (my boyfriend would say creepy-crawly meat!).

I am back from my trip, and I am now ready to help you choose the best fine dining options in Kauai. I looked at all the factors that make a good dining experience: portion sizes, the freshness of produce and meat, service, presentation, and overall atmosphere. 

So based on my findings, here are the best fine dining options you shouldn’t miss!

#1. The Plantation House by Gaylord’s Best Fine Dining Lihue Kauai

The Plantation House by Gaylord's - Best Fine Dining Lihue Kauai

I cannot describe how good this restaurant is. It surpassed all our expectations. The inside is beautifully decorated with elegant seating and striking colorful artwork. The outside is a modern well-manicured courtyard. The decor and service are truly royal!

We had a pre-arranged dinner in the yard at a secluded two-person table. Service was top-notch, and our waiter did a stellar job describing the meals.

We started our meal with the Local Field Green Salad and French onion soup. The portions were large, and the food was extremely tasty. The soup was creamy and nutty, just right! I had the Champagne Chicken for our main meal, and my boyfriend had the Lobster and Short Rib (Surf and Turf). The meat was tender and well-seasoned, and the sauce with the chicken was to die for!

Overall, the most delicious food I had on the island.

We enjoyed the music that night. It wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t have a wonderful conversation. We tried some cocktails for fun, but the chardonnay was my favorite pairing with the meal.

Note: the restaurant has Sunday brunch options (with a French toast station!) and a special happy hour menu. I must try the wings the next time we are here!

This restaurant is hands down my number one pick because:

  • The food is delicious, and the portions are very filling.
  • The tables are private, well-spaced, and offer great seating inside and out.
  • You can check when they have entertainment and plan some additional fun.
  • They have plenty of drink options for cocktails and wines.

Address: 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766

#2. JO2 Natural Cuisine – Best Romantic Restaurant in Kapaa

JO2 Natural Cuisine - Best Romantic Restaurant in Kapaa

This small intimate restaurant with a welcoming staff and amazing food. The seating is inside with some booths and small tables. Each plate in this restaurant looks like a work of art.

For starters, we had Sake Cured Steelhead Salmon and vegetable ravioli. The ingredients were fresh and aromatic. Buttery and perfectly tangy, the salmon melted in your mouth.

For the main course, my boyfriend (who loved it!) enjoyed the seared rack of lamb, and I enjoyed the seared Hokkaido scallops. Both portions were generous in size and flavor. The sauce with my scallops was so creamy and flavorful.

The desserts were amazing. I highly recommend the Yuzu lemon cheesecake. My boyfriend had the local banana cream pie, which was also very tasty. Honestly, I was so stuffed by this point that I could just eat with my eyes!

All the food had a fun Japanese and Hawaiian influence which perfectly blended with the fine dining and presentation.

Treat yourself to a wonderful dinner at JO2 Natural Cuisine because:

– The ingredients are fresh and well thought out, and the presentation is amazing.

– The portions are generous and influenced by simple Japanese cooking.

– They have a healthy balance of fish, chicken, and beef options.

– The service is impeccable and super friendly.

Address: 4-971 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaʻa, HI 96746

#3. Hukilau Lanai – Best Nightly Entertainment, Most Expensive Restaurant in Kauai

Hukilau Lanai – Best Nightly Entertainment, Most Expensive Restaurant in Kauai

I loved this place because it provided an entire experience. It’s a wedding destination, so everything is spacious. The inside seating was well-spaced apart, and there was a large bar. The outside has a covered seating area and a beautiful garden view with tall, elegant palm trees and tropical flowers. Suitable for a tiki torch-lit dinner and some local live music.

We had reservations for dinner and requested outside seating. When we arrived, the sky was that beautiful sunset pink. Our waitress greeted us with a warm smile, and the service was impeccable the whole night. We started with the Lobster and Goat Cheese Wonton, which was a hit for both of us! A unique flavor combination we were happy to try out.

For my main meal, I had the Chicken & Mushrooms with local mushrooms and a lemon sauce (mouthwatering as I write this!) And my boyfriend had the Pork Tenderloin with Korean barbecue sauce, Okinawan purple sweet potato mash & a bean sprout salad. I recommend the Macadamia Nut Tart with cinnamon ice cream and Rum Pineapple sauce as one a kind of dessert. The Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart was also very dense and rich in dark chocolate.      

They have endless options of wines. And our waitress was so helpful in guiding us. We settled on the Honig Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, which perfectly tied our night together.

I had so much fun I did a little dancing (not my thing!)

Note: They have a nice gluten-free menu for guests with dietary restrictions and are willing to substitute ingredients to fit your need.

Don’t miss out on this fun and unique experience because:

  • The food is delicious and innovative, and the portions are generous.
  • Different options and substitutes are available, so just about every picky eater will find something.
  • The vibe was fun, light, and summery (along with the live music!)
  • They have great menu items for those looking for a gluten-free option.

Address: 520 Aleka Loop, Kapaʻa, HI 96746

Conclusion on the Best Fine Dining in Kauai

Kauai upscale restaurants offer an unmatched fine dining experience. The finest restaurants showcase chefs delivering savory dishes with local seafood and fresh produce. Gourmet dining sees stiff competition, highlighting the best restaurants in Kauai. Unique charms, stunning views, exotic flowers, and live music enhance the dining area at these venues. Those seeking a romantic ambiance should consider The Plantation House by Gaylord’s, a top choice among romantic restaurants in Kauai. Hukilau Lanai delivers summer excitement and stands out among restaurants in Kauai.

For an authentic Kauai gourmet experience, JO2 Natural Cuisine is a must-visit with its farm-to-table menu. Reward yourself with excellent food and service in this Hawaiian paradise. Until our next culinary journey, enjoy every bite!


Which are the top fine dining restaurants in Kauai known for Pacific Rim cuisine?

Among the many upscale restaurants in Kauai, one that stands out for Pacific Rim cuisine is “Red Salt”, located at Kuhio Hwy. Another notable restaurant featuring this fusion cuisine is the Beach House Restaurant on the island’s south shore. The combination of fresh seafood dishes with local ingredients creates a gourmet experience that lures in both locals and tourists year-round.

How does Grand Hyatt contribute to luxurious dining on Hawaiian islands?

The Grand Hyatt offers spectacular luxury dining options across multiple venues within its premises. One such offering includes eating houses renowned for their incredible atmospheres accompanied by excellent service, making it synonymous with fine dining restaurants across other Hawaiian Islands as well. Unique touches like koi ponds further enhance guests’ experiences making these establishments some of the best restaurants featured prominently on any Kauai dining guide.

Could you share some food recommendations when visiting Hawaii or, more specifically, fine dining in Kauai?

While visiting Hawaii, especially if you’re considering having an elegant dinner at gourmet places listed among Kauai’s finest restaurants along North Shore, I would highly recommend trying dishes made from locally-sourced fresh fish such as Vanilla Bean Seared Mahi-mahi and creative takes on regional classics like fish tacos filled with freshly caught mahi or ahi! If going overboard on seafood doesn’t resonate with your palate, then perhaps savoring decadent treats like Lemon Pineapple Soufflé pancakes or mouth-watering crab cakes should be delectable enough alternatives to satiate your appetite amidst all its good food offerings.

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Brigitte