Where to Eat in Kauai: Food Guide

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Traveling to the Garden Island of Hawaii and wondering about the best eats in Kauai? After planning our trip and top activities on the island, finding the yummiest places to eat in Kauai became our mission.

Our 7 days in Kauai included various restaurants and local spots. With our Airbnb in Princeville, we ate many of our meals from eateries in the area. We made it a point to explore new dining options for breakfast or lunch whenever we ventured out from Princeville. We typically highlight only the places that impressed us unless an experience was notably poor. Taste is subjective, so you might find a gem where we didn’t.

Dining in Kauai can get pricey, so grabbing groceries could be smart if your accommodations include a kitchen.

Vacation for us is about indulgence and enjoying every meal to the fullest—a goal easily met in Kauai. After all, you only live once.

featured blog image with text kauai, hawaii places to eatPin

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In this article, we share with you all the places we experienced and loved to eat during our time in Kauai so you can start planning where to eat during your visit.

Note that menu items may not be available as menus are subject to change at any time.

Tip: Eat dinner early. Once it starts getting dark, everything begins to shut down.

North Shore Kauai: Places to Eat in Hanalei Bay & Kilauea

Hanalei Bread Company

Starting off your day at Hanalei Bread Company is an absolute must while in Hanalei. From the moment you step inside, you’re enveloped in the enticing scent of freshly baked goods, making it nearly impossible to resist the urge to sample one of everything. We gave in to the temptation of their fresh-baked bread without a second thought.

The avocado toast is heavenly: whole wheat bread generously topped with creamy avocado slices and watercress, all finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It’s a generously sized plate, perfect for sharing.

Their “brekkie sandwich” stands out—egg, bacon, and cheese nestled in a flaky croissant. The quality of the ingredients elevates this sandwich to something truly special.

Beyond breakfast, Hanalei Bread Company is also a fantastic lunch spot. If you plan an afternoon at the beach, inquire about their picnic backsets.

Bar Acuda

crafted cocktail at Bar AcduaPin
crafted cocktail

When piecing together this post, a big question arose: “If we could only recommend one dining spot in Kauai from our last trip, which would it be?” Hands down, the tapas spot in Hanalei won our hearts. Our meal at Restaurant Bar Acuda was the best. We made a point of booking Bar Acuda in advance—it was the only reservation we made before landing on the island.

Bar Acuda serves tapa-style meals prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Every dish is meant to be shared. They always have a few specials alongside their regular menu. We dove into two: I had the whole tuna ceviche, and then we split an incredible cucumber salad with feta and crunchy, spiced chickpeas.

We went for the papas ajos and lamb riblets off their standard menu. After such a standout meal, skipping dessert just wasn’t an option. We rounded it off with a mango cheesecake and a chocolate pot de creme.

This is the place to book for dinner to treat yourself or celebrate a special occasion. Their menu and specials are always changing, so what we had might not be available when you go. But honestly, this is the place to throw caution to the wind and try some of everything.

Tahiti Nui

kathy enjoying a mai tai at tahiti nuiPin

Tahiti Nui quickly became our 2nd favorite spot in Kauai, not just because they keep the lights on later than almost anyone else in Hanalei Bay, but because there’s something about the place that draws you in. It’s the kind of laid-back, friendly vibe where everyone feels like a local, and if you’re on the hunt for the best Mai Tai on the island, this is where you’ll find it.

Our only regret is never being hungry enough to tackle one of their main dishes. One night, we ended up next to these two couples, and our eyes nearly fell out of our heads when we saw what they were having—these gorgeous fish dishes with a pop of purple sweet potato mash that looked too good to be true.

But, let’s be real, the Mai Tais had my name written all over them, so that’s where I focused. We couldn’t resist ordering the coconut shrimp, not once but twice. Hubby branched out with the Huli Huli chicken pizza and this ribeye beef poke he can’t stop talking about.

For someone like him who hates fish, their ribeye beef poke bowl was a game-changer. We’ve always joked back in LA that poke places should throw in a beef option, and Tahiti Nui did just that. It’s like everything you love about a poke bowl, but with beef.

Tahiti Nui also has a weekly Luau. For $125 pp (adults), you get an open buffet and a show. Had we known ahead of time, we would have booked it.

AMA Restaurant

Ama is tucked right next to its sibling spot, Bar Acuda, offering a cozy escape into a world of ramen noodle bowls, steamy buns, and inventive cocktails. On our first night, intrigued by their menu, we landed at Ama and snagged a spot on their gorgeous terrace overlooking the lush mountains—a view you don’t want to miss. Tip: dine early to catch the scenery in daylight because once night falls, you’ll miss out on the view.

Dinner was all about ramen bowls that night. The ahi tuna in one of them was incredibly fresh and tender—I couldn’t get enough of it. But let’s talk about the real MVP: the Bao Buns. Imagine steamed buns stuffed with crispy fried chicken, slathered in slaw and some magical sauce concoction—they were so good, we could’ve easily gone for another round.

That evening also marked my first Mai Tai of the trip. It was good, with a quirky twist. We appreciated the mocktail options for those skipping alcohol; hubby gave a thumbs up to a tropical non-alcoholic mix from their cocktail menu.

The Hanalei Gourmet

clams the size of my hand at hanalei gourmetPin

Hanalei Gourmet is a no-frills bar where you can eat, drink, and relax. We found ourselves eating here multiple times, enjoying the laid-back Aloha vibe and watching locals claim the bar’s back corner as their spot. The food is straightforward but tasty.

One night, we opted for fish and chips, and on another, we enjoyed massive clams in white wine sauce. This place is known for its daily catch and offers a variety of fish dishes. Their burger isn’t shabby, either. Ask the server for local beer recommendations to complement your meal.

Hanalei Gourmet is open for lunch, dinner, and late-night bites past 9 PM, sometimes featuring live music.

Kilauea Fish Market

Ahi tuna tacos and peppered pork from Kilauea Fish Market.

After landing in Kauai, we snagged our rental car and made a beeline for the North Shore. The island’s beauty captivated us so much that we spaced on lunch. Scanning for something on our route, we hit the jackpot with Kilauea Fish Market. Nestled conveniently close to Kilauea Lighthouse and Anini Beach, this spot offers amazing food without denting your wallet.

I dove into the ahi tuna tacos, which were loaded and delicious, while the peppered pork with a side sauce hubby picked was a hit. The place shines with its quality fish offerings.

We sipped on Strawberry Guava Aloha Maid drinks to wash it down—the flavor screams Hawaii. Our tip? Always go for the local tastes when you’re exploring.

East Side of Kauai: Places to Eat in Kapaa

Java Kai Coffee

Oh, Java Kai, you’ve truly won our hearts. We purchased a hat and a mug as mementos of those fantastic coffee moments and our favorite light breakfasts. Our frequent stops for iced coffees and lattes throughout the week were a testament to our love for their iced macadamia nut latte—thinking about it makes me want one now!

That bagel loaded with cream cheese, housemade pesto, and tomatoes? Absolute perfection. It seems like pesto’s a big deal in Kauai—it popped up on nearly every menu we looked at! We’d never encountered this particular bagel combo before, but we plan to recreate it at home.

On another morning, we opted for their sunrise breakfast, which featured a half papaya filled with fruit, granola, and strawberries. As always, hubby couldn’t resist a good breakfast sandwich.

Java Kai is always busy, so brace for a bit of a wait at peak times. But it’s worth it, not just for the food and drink but also for the super friendly staff. We even half-jokingly pleaded with the manager to open a branch in Los Angeles.

If you find yourself in Kapaa, make Java Kai a part of your routine. Trust us, you won’t regret it.e

Kountry Kitchen

Loco Moco, eggs with Portuguese sausage, and cornbread. They use Spam containers as receipt holders. Cute touch.

For an authentic local breakfast experience, Kountry Kitchen is a must-visit. Popular among tourists and locals, this spot has been a fixture on the East Side of Kauai since 1975, serving up classic diner fare with a local twist.

At Kountry Kitchen, breakfast and brunch are the stars. They feature island favorites like loco moco, macadamia nut pancakes, and a few lunch items. The moment you’re seated, you’re greeted with a slice of warm cornbread, setting the stage for the deliciousness. The menu has tempting options, making choosing just one thing a real challenge.

As a brunch lover, I found it hard not to order everything on the menu. We ended up dining here multiple times, even sampling their loco moco—a must-try Hawaiian comfort dish typically made with rice, ground beef, eggs, and smothered in gravy. It’s a hearty meal that easily serves two. And don’t miss out on their macadamia coconut pancakes with homemade coconut syrup.

Next door: Kountry Kitchen Cafe
Pressed for time and can’t sit down for a meal? Conveniently located right next to Kountry Kitchen’s restaurant, you’ll find their café—perfect for grabbing something delicious on the go!

On our last day, we hit their café for homemade waffles with roasted pineapples on our way to the airport. Crisp, airy, and delicious, these made-to-order waffles—and their bonus toppings—are unforgettable.

Bubba Burger

Bubba burgers with onions and fries in Kauai • TastyItinerary.comPin

Every vacation has that moment when a burger craving hits hard. What’s your go-to craving? After a beach day, we stumbled upon Bubba Burgers, buzzing with locals and tourists. The line out the door was a good sign. And wow, did they deliver—In-N-Out, step aside! It’s a laid-back spot where you order at the counter and wait for your name to be called. Plus, the staff was super friendly.

Wailua Shave Ice

almond joy shave in kauaiPin

While in Hawaii, one thing to do is shave ice and treat yourself. We checked out the Wailua Shave Ice and weren’t disappointed.

These treats are perfect for cooling down on a hot day. They offer a variety of flavors and toppings. Our favorites, the Triple Coconut and Almond Joy, were delightful.

South Shore Kauai: Places to Eat in Poipu

Puka Dog

  • Poipu Shopping Village, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa
  • Website
  • Google Map It
  • Loved by Anthony Bourdain
Puka dog menu surfboardPin

Thanks to Anthony Bourdain, we stumbled upon Puka Dog, one of his top picks. Curious about the hype, we had to check it out.

So, what’s a Puka Dog? Imagine a hot dog or Polish sausage snug in Hawaiian sweet bread, topped with their secret sauce, your choice of relish, and Auntie Lilikoi’s Hawaiian Mustard. The crowd-favorite? Their mango relish, the Kauai Special, which we tried fully loaded.

The verdict: tasty, but maybe not a repeat for us.

If you’re nearby and intrigued by one of Bourdain’s Hawaiian favorites, Puka Dog is worth a visit at least once.

Da Crack Mexican Grinds

Da Crack take-out windowPin

Da Crack’s unique name and logo caught our eye, and this Mexican take-out spot did not disappoint. Known for its fish tacos, burritos, and more, we decided to try it after a quick Yelp search.

One day, famished, I ordered the ahi tuna burrito. It was enormous, incredibly satisfying, and delicious—perfect for anyone looking for great Mexican food on a budget.

Food Tour Options

Kauai is the perfect destination for a food tour. A knowledgeable guide can introduce you to local foods and eats, making this a great way to cover lunch or dinner for a day.

  • Best Food Tours on Kaua’i [book here]
  • Walking Food Tour Exploring Hanalei [book here]
  • Kauai: Local Tastes Small-Group Food Tour [book here]

Other Kauai Eats You Should Look For

  • Pono Market in Kapaa
    Locals told us this is where to eat in Kauai for true Hawaiian eats. Unfortunately, we never got to try it, so we are handing off the info to you. Let me know how it is!
  • Poke
    Do not miss out on the poke. We kept putting it off and never got to try it. The poke in Hawaii is supposed to be out of this world, but you can grab some at a local market.
  • Sushi
    It’s easy not to prioritize this when one of us does not eat fish. That’s why you do not see any sushi restaurants on this list. Make sure to ask locals for the best Sushi spot.
  • Food Trucks
    They are all over, but we made it to only the shaved ice for some reason. Every time we were hungry, there weren’t any food trucks around. Next time we are there, I am making it my mission to try more food trucks.
  • Fruit Smoothies
    You’ll come across many smoothie stands while driving.
  • Fruit Stands
    If you see someone selling local fruit, stop and see what’s in season. We fell in love with the local papayas. It tasted nothing like the ones we find here on the mainland.
  • Supermarkets
    There are so many local treats, and you can find poke there, too. Locals were lined up for the poke, so that says something.
  • Farmers Markets
    We missed the one in Hanalei on Saturday mornings due to rain. Check here for information on farmer’s markets throughout the week in Kauai.


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. I just ate breakfast, and now I am already hungry just from reading this post! That bagel with the cream cheese, tomato, and pesto sounds to die for. I also love your face so much in those pictures. AHAHA. We recently found lactose-free cream cheese so I am allll about the bagels again.

    The Monkeypod Jam mason jar wall art is adorable. I feel like mason jars were all the yuppie rage at one point and then semi-died out, which was sad. I am so glad that places are still embracing them.

    Da Crack pretty much sums up how I feel about tacos….for real. Until I look at the picture….gahaha. That logo is amazing!

    Seriously going to get a mid-morning snack now…

    1. I never had that combo on a bagel before and it was so good. I still have to replicate it back home. Probably in the Spring when hubby plants tomatoes again. The tomatoes from the market I just not the same.

      Funny because they had that cute wall art but then the jam was not in those vintage mason jars. They were just regular jars, but the jam was damn good. There are still many eateries here that serve drinks and stuff in mason jars, so I still see them all the time. I do think the fad is over. I have my very own mason jar glasses with handles that I barely ever use lol

      Da Crack still cracks me up lol

  2. Unlike Christine, I haven’t eaten breakfast, so I’m kinda drooling and dying over here. I. am. SO. HUNGRY. Shrimp scampi?!?! Don’t even remind me of the delish one I had earlier this week. PIZZA??? I also had that earlier. Italian cuisine will always be my favourite. RAMEN?!?! That’s just a glaring reminder that I have been craving pho and sushi for like a solid 3 weeks…. Basically, I should just book a flight to Kauai asap :’)

    1. Italian cuisine is at the top of my favorite foods. I was surprised to find some yummy Italian in Kauai, so I had to share. I love Pho! I hope you got to eat some already, if not gooooooo.

  3. Totally swooning over a bagel breakfast sandwich. I actually used to ask our place in NY to make mine on a croissant if they had fresh ones!

    I so feel you on the food moments with hubby! Food is definitely our love language – we keep a top ten meals ever list and it’s very, very serious!

    1. Hubby loves his croissant breakfast sandwiches too more than the bagels. I have to admit, NY bagels are the best. I guess I was more impressed by the ingredients on this bagel than anything. It was definitely a good combo.

      Thanks for reading!

  4. It sounds like you guys had a very yummy time in Kauai!! That tiramisu looks very yummy and I like that pesto is a big thing there! I love pesto! I never would have thought to combine it with cream cheese though. Very interesting. That bread company place also sounds amazing. I could have lived off that avocado toast!
    I like that the hot dog place has a veggie dog! Those relish options sound pretty fun. I want to try one!
    And I’ll definitely have that shaved ice! Looks delish!! Good thing I just ate ice cream.?
    When you go back, if your hubby isn’t interested in a repeat trip, call me!?

    Awesome post as per usual! You captured the food well in your photos!?

    1. Who would have known that pesto would be popular in Kauai? I can’t remember if it was in Oahu. I felt like I saw a pesto option everywhere we went. Thought it was odd but delicious, of course.

      I found that there were a ton of veggie options. I think you wouldn’t have a hard time finding menu options to fit your diet.

      Omg, the shaved ice was so good! Nothing like the snow cones we get on the streets of NY. It was like the shaved ice was so fluffy. Delish.

      And thank you for the comments on the photos. I was putting this post together and thinking, “I need to start taking better photos of the food.”

  5. Dang, all of this food looks amazing! I am sitting here drooling wishing that I had something tasty to eat, preferably one of the dishes you’ve shown here. I think I found the incentive to want to travel to Kauai.