Hey there, foodies!
Are you planning a trip to Kauai and wondering where to find the best local cuisine? I’ve got you covered. As someone who has visited the island multiple times with my boyfriend, we have tried and tested some of the most delicious dishes from various eateries around Kauai.
But here’s the thing:
Finding good food on vacation can be daunting, especially when you’re not familiar with the area. You don’t want to waste your time or money on subpar meals that leave a bad taste in your mouth (literally). That’s why I’m excited to share my personal experience and expertise in this article.
I’ll take you through some of our favorite restaurants on Kauai that serve farm-to-table dishes bursting with flavor. From traditional Hawaiian fare to fusion cuisine, these restaurants source their ingredients locally for an authentic culinary experience. So sit back, relax, and get ready for a mouthwatering journey through Kauai’s best eats.
Warning: After reading this article, you may find yourself booking a flight solely for the purpose of trying out these amazing restaurants!
Duke’s Kauai – The Best Restaurant in Kauai with a view
Duke’s is a famous Hawaiian eatery with branches all over the islands, famous for its oceanfront location on Kalapaki Beach, and the ode its name pays to the Hawaiian legend, Duke Kahanamoku. Their interior has a sand and surf theme, which goes well with their location, and serves terrific food.
Try the delicious Macadamia Nut & Herb-Crusted Fish, Poke Tacos, and Coconut Shrimp from their extensive menu. They also have delicious meat options like the slow-roasted Prime Rib and classics like burgers, quesadillas, and pizzas.
Pair your meal with sides from their salad bar, and finish with a slice of their famous Hula Pie – mac-nut ice cream with an oreo crust, topped with whipped cream and hot fudge sauce.
Aside from the food, Duke’s main attraction is their Barefoot Bar, open at lunch and dinner and serving great Mai Tais.
Head to Duke’s Kauai for a tasty lunch with oceanside views, as they’re one of the best restaurants in Kauai. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- They have a gorgeous interior, with an artificial waterfall and koi pond.
- The service is efficient, and they offer complimentary valet parking.
- The Barefoot Bar on the Beach stays open late at night and is a popular spot for dancing.
Address: 3610 Rice St, Lihue, Kauai, HI.
Merriman’s Poipu Kauai – Best Restaurant in Poipu Kauai
Chef Peter Merriman brings his Hawaii-famous chain of Merriman’s restaurants to Kauai, serving farm-to-table food prepared from the best ingredients. Since Chef Peter specializes in Hawaii Regional Cuisine, you can expect authentic flavors of the islands in your food.
The restaurant is in a stunning location in Poipu, with views of the ocean and distant mountains in its open-air dining area from the Kukui’ula Resort.
From their terrific menu, you want to try the range of seafood like Scallops with garlic mashed potatoes and the flavorsome Ahi ginger poke. Their meat dishes are just as delicious, so try the Kalua Pork Quesadilla and Pork Chops with risotto, grilled vegetables, and truffle fries.
Aside from a casual dining atmosphere, Merriman’s offers a famous bar above the cafe, with local favorite drinks like Mai Tai topped with their signature Lilikoi foam.
End your meal with their decadent ‘Chocolate Purse’ dessert made from a dark chocolate ganache, wrapped in a crispy chocolate-infused filo, and topped with caramel and toasted macadamia nuts.
You’ll be spoiled for choices while dining at Merriman’s, and their great service makes them one of the best restaurants in Kauai.
- Get reservations to enjoy their outdoor seating, but they also accept walk-ins.
- Visit during happy hour to get great deals on their drinks and sides.
- The servers are friendly and add a free dessert if you’re celebrating.
Address: 2829 Ala Kalani Kaumaka St # G-149, Koloa, Kauai, HI.
Gaylord’s Restaurant at The Plantation House – One of the Nicest Kauai Restaurant
Set inside a sugar plantation-era house, Gaylord’s Restaurant offers terrific food with a view of the plantation’s lush greenery from its outdoor seating. The restaurant is a great place to enjoy a casual dinner or celebration, as the staff is attentive and the food is incredible.
You’ll want to start with their fresh Caprese Salad and house-special Cioppino, which has a great consistency. They also have terrific seafood dishes like Ahi Poke and the Misoyaki Butterfish Sandwich with butter lettuce, and wasabi mayo.
My boyfriend and I love their Pork Osso Bucco, Two-Ways Duck, and Filet Mignon, made with well-seasoned meats and bursting with flavors.
Pair your meal with Mai Tai’s made from pressed sugarcane and vanilla-infused syrups, which tie the meal together well.
Don’t miss a meal at Gaylord’s for beautiful views and irresistible food, as they’re one of the best restaurants in Kauai. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The service is unmatched, as the waitstaff is very attentive.
- They serve big portions of the entrees that can feed two people.
- The quality of their meats, seafood, and desserts is well worth the price point.
Address: 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy 3-2087 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue, Kauai, HI/
Eating House 1849 – Must Try Kauai Restaurant
Oahu-famous Chef Roy Yamaguchi brings his chain of restaurants to Kauai with Eating House 1849, a semi-formal restaurant serving Asian fusion flavors made from locally sourced ingredients. Everything from the restaurant’s location, service, food, and ambiance is impeccable and on par with its sister chain in Waikiki.
Your meal will start with a complimentary Edamame and cheese Quesadilla appetizer. Then, try the Pupu Platters if you’re with a crowd big enough for a few people to share. We loved their pork pot stickers, followed by the State Fried Chicken, spicy Ramen bowl, and juicy Kiawe-smoked Ribs.
Get their signature drinks with your meal and finish with desserts like the s’mores blondie skillet, deep-fried malasadas, or lava cake – all rich and delicious.
We’re big fans of Roy’s restaurants, and finding the Eating House in Kauai was a real treat. Here’s why you’ll agree that they’re the best restaurant in Kauai:
- The dining atmosphere is casual and lacks any formal dress code.
- The restaurant caters to small groups at a time so you can enjoy an intimate dining experience.
- Service is amazing here, and you’ll get great attention from the waitstaff.
Address: 2829 Ala Kalani Kaumaka St A-201, Koloa, Kauai, HI.
Sam’s Ocean View Restaurant – Best Restaurants in Kauai With a View
Head to East Kauai, where Sam’s Ocean View Restaurant sits on Kapa’a Beach, offering stunning beachside views with their delicious food. Sam’s specializes in American seafood dishes and classics, making it a tourist favorite.
Their outdoor seating at sunset is perfect for a romantic date, and you might experience a few I-do’s here.
Start your meal with their Poke Nachos, which are super flavorful, and the vegetarian Crispy Cauliflower. Next, get the fish and chips, made with a light batter and fresh catch, seared Ahi with a soy and ginger glaze, and Wagyu Steak Chimichurri. Each dish carries its specific flavor profile and delivers incredible taste.
Head to the bar for their popular cocktails, and end your meal with their upside-down pineapple cake made with golden Hawaiian pineapples.
The delicious meal, accompanied by the soft coastal breeze from their outdoor lanai, makes Sam’s Ocean View one of the best restaurants on Kauai.
- After dinner, go for a moonlit walk on the Beach and watch the beautiful star-filled sky.
- The service is friendly and attentive at Sam’s.
- You can get reservations or even do walk-ins as the staff clears tables for newcomers.
Address: 4-1546 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, Kauai, HI.
Bar Acuda’s Tapas and Wine – Best Restaurant on North Shore Kauai
This next eatery directs you to Kauai’s North Shore, where Bar Acuda’s is a well-loved tapas and bar run by Chef Jim Moffats, who crafts fresh island produce into delicious entrees. With an intimate interior, this eatery is perfect for foodies, as it offers a range of delicious tapas and specialty cocktails – all incorporating local flavors.
Start your meal with the clams, Shishito peppers, and cheese plates, which are great when paired with their vintage European and western US wines.
Some entrees worth mentioning are the grilled Lamb Riblets, Roast Chicken Panzanella, and slow-braised Beef Short Ribs, all packed with unique and delicious flavors.
Seafood lovers will want to try the Hawaiian fish albondigas, Lobster-stuffed Squid with Romesco sauce, and grilled Sea Scallops wrapped in pancetta, made from fresh catch. Finally, end your meal with the rich and creamy Lilikoi Cheesecake that rounds the meal really well.
Don’t miss Bar Acuda’s for its hip vibe and delicious food, as they’re one of the best restaurants in Kauai. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable, helping you pick out items from the menu.
- They have great gluten-free options on the menu.
- They have a range of cheeses on the menu that pair well with the drinks.
Address: 5-5161 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Kauai, HI.
Hukilau Lanai – Restaurants (almost) on the Beach in Kauai
Hukilau Lanai has been a favorite eatery in Kauai since its opening in 2002, owing to the terrific seafood and nightly live music and entertainment here. Located at the Kauai Coast Resort in Kapaa, this restaurant is great for bringing along family and friends for a night of music-filled fun.
Start with the Sweet Potato Ravioli, which tastes best with their complimentary bread (a great tip from our server.) For mains, you’ll want to try their famous Wally Steak – a pan-seared beef tenderloin topped with a rich demi-glace and basil mashed potatoes.
Other great options are the Ono fish, Hukilau Mixed Grill, Candied Ahi, and Lobster Curry, all made with fresh seafood and well-cooked meat and bursting with great flavors.
Finish your meal with the Coconut Cheesecake and Chocolate Molten Lava Cake, which are incredibly delicious and a must-try for those with a sweet tooth.
We loved the food and ambiance at Hukilau Lanai and consider them one of the best restaurants in Kauai. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- Their staff is knowledgeable and makes great meal recommendations.
- They have delicious gluten-free options on the menu.
- Their Macadamia Nut Tart, topped with a Koloa Rum Pineapple sauce, is heavenly, and everyone has to try it.
Address: 520 Aleka Loop across from Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa, Kauai, HI.
Oasis on the Beach – Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Kauai
A favorite for fine dining in Kapaa, Oasis on the Beach offers beautiful oceanside views and delicious farm-to-table meals featuring authentic Hawaiian flavors. With casual seating, this restaurant is great to stop by after a day on the Beach, as you won’t be pressed to come in formal wear.
We loved Oasis as it’s one of the places where all three dynamics align; the chef, the waitstaff, and the restaurant manager, to make your experience extra special.
From their terrific menu, start with the Oasis Salad, followed by their Grilled Fresh Catch of the day, which is packed with seafood flavors. My boyfriend loves their Sakura Terrine made with garlic-sauteed vegetables, pepitas, kabocha Gratin, and a chermoula sauce.
Also try their spicy Thai Farmers Market Curry, juicy Pork Chops, and Tuna fish with bok choy and sweet purple potato puree.
Pair your meal with their range of house-special cocktails, margaritas, and local beers from the bar, like the Pineapple Martini and Mai Tai.
You’ll love the food from Oasis on the Beach, coupled with scenic views from their dining area, which makes them one of the best restaurants in Kauai.
- They have a terrific apple banana spring roll for dessert that’s a must-try.
- Visit them during happy hour to get great discounts on your drinks.
- They have very friendly and attentive service.
Address: 4-820 Kuhio Hwy Ste 4, Kapaa, Kauai, HI.
Red Salt – Restaurants Near the Grand Hyatt
Oceanfront eateries seem to be the norm in Kauai, and you’ll find Red Salt fitting with the trend with its prime Poipu Beach location. As part of the four-star Koa Kea Hotel and Resort, this restaurant takes fine dining to a whole new level.
Their menu features American breakfasts like eggs and bacon, Lobster Benedict, and fluffy Pineapple Souffle Pancakes. They also serve traditional Hawaiian favorites like Kobe Beef Loco Moco, which is a must-try for meat lovers.
Their lunch and dinner menus also feature delicious local seafood and terrific sushi. So try the famous Wasabi-Crusted Seared Ahi, Lobster Gnocchi, and Wagyu Beef Burger with a side of home fries topped with caramelized onions.
Red Salt is unmatched in its unique flavor profile and is a great eatery to celebrate a special occasion. We consider them one of the best restaurants in Kauai, and here’s why you will too:
- Their menu has great gluten-free options, like the Flourless Chocolate Cake.
- Service is unmatched at Red Salt, as their waitstaff is very friendly and helpful.
- Their interior has a cozy feel that makes diners feel welcome.
Address: 2251 Poipu Rd Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, Koloa, Kauai, HI.
Keoki’s Paradise – Best Live Music Place on Kauai
Keeping in line with its name, Keoki’s Paradise presents a tropical paradise for the interior, with cascading waterfalls, flowing streams, and a jungle backdrop. Their popularity comes from the traditional Hawaiian fare on their menu and an extensive tiki bar.
Don’t miss the seafood dishes at Keoki’s Paradise, which are prepared to perfection, like the Ahi Sashimi, Roasted Lobster Tails, Seafood Risotto, and Coconut Shrimp. Some other great options from their menu are Prime Ribs, Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi, and a terrific Vegan Ravioli.
Don’t leave without trying the house-favorite Hula Pie for dessert, a Hawaiian favorite made with macadamia nut ice cream on top of a sweet cookie crust, with layers of hot fudge and fresh whipped cream.
When it comes to amazing food, ambiance, and service, it doesn’t get much better than Keoki’s Paradise, as they’re one of the best restaurants on Kauai. Here’s why you have to try it:
- They have live music playing with their meals that elevates the dining experience.
- Their bamboo bar offers discounted drinks at Aloha Hour with appetizers.
- The restaurant lights tiki torches at night, a much better alternative to candles that create an intimate setting.
Address: 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Poipu, Koloa, Kauai, HI.
JO2 Natural Cuisine – Best Restaurant in Kapaa Kauai
Kapaa in East Kauai brings yet another terrific eatery, as JO2 Natural Cuisine presents Hawaiian, Japanese, and French fusion dishes, each with distinct flavors. Enjoy their oceanfront views while you sample their eclectic menu items prepared from locally sourced island produce.
From the extensive menu, try their Prawn & Chinese Duck Lumpia, Crispy Duck Confit, Grilled Ahi, and seared Hokkaido scallops, each bursting with fresh flavors and well-seasoned.
My boyfriend and I love their Quinoa Salad with assorted organic greens, goat cheese, basil pesto, Spaghetti Squash with Thai basil yellow curry, and fresh baby corn.
End your meal with their outstanding Lemon Cheesecake, bursting with citrus flavors complimented by the creamy cake.
JO2 Natural Cuisine is unmatched in amazing flavors and service, making them one of the best restaurants in Kauai.
- Their Tasting Menu features the best dishes on the menu in small platters, enough for two people.
- Their staff is very attentive and knowledgeable.
- Dinner is a relaxed affair; you get to savor each dish before the next one arrives.
Address: 4-971 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, Kauai.
Wrap-Up: The Best Restaurants in Kauai
Kauai eateries are a highlight for many visiting the island. This paradise is teeming with must-try restaurants in Kauai that offer a blend of Kauai local cuisine and innovative fusion dishes. When searching for the best food in Kauai, consider Duke’s, Hukilau Cafe, and Keoki’s Paradise for a true Kauai culinary experience.
After reading this article, you’ll be well aware of the best places to get local and fusion cuisines, grab casual meals, and indulge in fine dining in Kauai.
Desiring the best seafood in Kauai along with a drink selection? Merriman’s, Bar Acuda, and Duke’s are top choices. Kauai’s top dining spots not only present the best places to eat in Kauai but also boast breathtaking oceanfront views. Almost every spot on our list promises a picturesque look at Kauai’s stunning coastline.
Indeed, when it comes to Kauai gourmet restaurants and top-rated Kauai cafes, the options are vast. Don’t miss out on the best luau on Kauai or savoring Kauai’s famous dishes. Dive into this Kauai island dining experience!
Top Restaurants on Kauai
|Restaurant||Specialties / Highlights||Address|
|Duke’s Kauai||Macadamia Nut & Herb-Crusted Fish, Hula Pie, Barefoot Bar||3610 Rice St, Lihue, Kauai, HI|
|Merriman’s Poipu Kauai||Ahi ginger poke, Chocolate Purse dessert||2829 Ala Kalani Kaumaka St # G-149, Koloa, Kauai, HI|
|Gaylord’s Restaurant||Caprese Salad, Ahi Poke, Pork Osso Bucco||3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy 3-2087 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue, Kauai, HI|
|Eating House 1849||Pupu Platters, Kiawe-smoked Ribs||2829 Ala Kalani Kaumaka St A-201, Koloa, Kauai, HI|
|Sam’s Ocean View Restaurant||Poke Nachos, Fish and Chips, Upside-down pineapple cake||4-1546 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, Kauai, HI|
|Bar Acuda’s Tapas and Wine||Grilled Lamb Riblets, Lobster-stuffed Squid||5-5161 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Kauai, HI|
|Hukilau Lanai||Sweet Potato Ravioli, Wally Steak||520 Aleka Loop across from Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa, Kauai, HI|
|Oasis on the Beach||Grilled Fresh Catch, Thai Farmers Market Curry||4-820 Kuhio Hwy Ste 4, Kapaa, Kauai, HI|
|Red Salt||Pineapple Souffle Pancakes, Wasabi-Crusted Seared Ahi||2251 Poipu Rd Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, Koloa, Kauai, HI|
|Keoki’s Paradise||Ahi Sashimi, Coconut Shrimp|
The Top 10 BEST Restaurants in Kauai, Hawaii (2023)
What makes a food truck experience unique on the gorgeous island of Kauai?
A food truck experience on the gorgeous island of Kauai is unique because it offers fresh local ingredients that are used to create delicious cocktails and memorable dining experiences.
Where can I find the best seafood restaurant in Kauai for a romantic dinner?
The Beach House Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Kauai, offering only the finest ingredients including fresh fish and seafood. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner with its stunning ocean views.
What sets Bar Acuda apart from other restaurants in Kauai?
Bar Acuda stands out among other restaurants in Kauai due to its use of fresh local ingredients, creating an unforgettable dining experience. Their shave ice is also a must-try!
Why should I try Kauai juice during my visit to Hawaii?
Kauai Juice uses only fresh local ingredients to create their juices, making them not only delicious but also healthy. It’s definitely worth trying during your visit to Hawaii.
What makes dining at a seafood restaurant on Kauai so special?
Dining at a seafood restaurant on Kauai is special because you get to enjoy freshly caught fish and other seafood while taking in breathtaking views of the Hawaiian island. The freshness of these dishes creates an unforgettable culinary experience.
What is the Beach House Restaurant known for in Kauai?
The Beach House Restaurant in Kauai is popular for its stunning ocean views and mouthwatering fresh seafood dishes, such as fish tacos and grilled fish. It is considered one of the best places to eat on the island, offering a delightful dining experience with traditional Hawaiian dishes.
Where can I find delicious Hula Pie in Kauai restaurants?
Hula Pie, a scrumptious Hawaiian dessert made with macadamia nut ice cream on top of a sweet cookie crust, can be found at Duke’s Kauai. This renowned restaurant offers an amazing view alongside their delightful menu featuring this famous dessert.
Can I enjoy shave ice while exploring Kauai?
Absolutely! Shave ice is a must-try treat when visiting Kauai. Many food trucks and casual restaurants offer this refreshing local favorite made from finely shaved ice topped with fruity syrup flavors that perfectly compliment the island’s warm weather.
Are there any recommended breakfast spots in Kauai with traditional food options?
Yes, you can find several breakfast spots in Kauai serving traditional food like breakfast sandwiches, Hawaiian dishes, and local fruit. One such place is Red Salt at Koa Kea Hotel, which offers a delectable breakfast menu featuring items like Lobster Benedict, Pineapple Souffle Pancakes, and Hawaiian favorite Kobe Beef Loco Moco.
What can I expect from the fish market in Kauai?
Kauai’s fish markets offer an impressive variety of fresh seafood straight from the ocean. You can find a selection of locally caught fish, such as tuna, mahi-mahi, and ono, along with other seafood options like shrimp and lobster. It’s an excellent way to experience authentic island cuisine by preparing your own meal or enjoying it at one of Kauai’s many restaurants.
Casual restaurants in Kauai take full advantage of the island’s abundant fresh produce by using locally-sourced ingredients for their dishes. From tropical fruits to pickled vegetables, these eateries showcase the unique flavors of Hawaii while supporting local farmers and promoting farm-to-table dining experiences.
Where can I enjoy mouthwatering grilled fish in one of Kauai’s best places to eat?
You can enjoy mouthwatering grilled fish at several of Kauai’s best places to eat, such as Merriman’s Poipu Kauai or Oasis on the Beach. These restaurants focus on using fresh seafood caught locally and preparing it with traditional Hawaiian flavors that will leave you craving for more.
Are there any Kauai restaurants offering a combination of breakfast options and local fruit?
Yes, many Kauai restaurants combine breakfast options with an assortment of local fruit to provide a unique and authentic Hawaiian dining experience. Places like Red Salt or Eating House 1849 are known for their delicious breakfast menus featuring items made with the freshest island produce, giving you a delightful start to your day in paradise.
Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by Brigitte