Once we booked our trip to the garden island, where to eat in Kauai, was my next order of business. If you’re here, it’s probably because food is important to you as it is to me. There is not an ounce of shame as I admit that we travel to eat. Aloha!
Covid-19 August 20, 2020 Update:
The Hawaii government has extended the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers to September 31st.
And maybe, starting October 1, 2020 (this date is subject to change), out-of-state travelers traveling to Hawaii may show proof of a valid negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
You can stay-up-to-date and read more info here.
All the following places are where we ate during our 7 Days in Kauai. We stayed in an Airbnb in Princeville, so many of our dining experience took place nearby. Every day we left the area, we’d try something new for breakfast or lunch.
Normally, if I don’t enjoy an establishment, I won’t mention it. Unless it was truly horrifying and I think you need to stay away. Cause what I may have not enjoyed, you may love as you make your own discoveries.
Eating out in Kauai can be expensive, all depending on what you like to eat. So if you rented an Airbnb or another vacation type rental with a kitchen, you may want to pick up a few things at the nearest supermarket.
Tasty Itinerary Tip: Eat dinner on the early side. As everything begins to shut down once it starts getting dark.
When we are on vacation, we indulge and savor every bite. It wasn’t hard to accomplish this eating in Kauai. You only live once.
Where to Eat in Kauai
-NORTH SHORT KAUAI EATS-
Places to Eat in Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bread Company
Start your day off with coffee and breakfast at Hanalei Bread Company. The aroma of baked goods will lure you in and you’ll be resisting the urge to order everything.
I couldn’t resist not having something with their fresh-baked bread. Their avocado toast was divine. Whole wheat bread, topped with buttery avocados and watercress, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. The plate is big enough to share between two people.
Hubby loved his brekkie sandwich which basically is an egg, bacon, and cheese on a croissant. The quality of ingredients is what makes a sandwich like this delectable.
The homemade granola with fruit and milk almost had me and I swore that if I returned, I’d have to try it.
Hanalei Bread Company is also a great spot for lunch. If you’re planning to spend the afternoon at the beach, they have a pre-packed picnic you can take with you.
Location: 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy #4, Hanalei, HI 96714
As I started to organize this post, I asked hubby, “if you had one place to recommend to a friend where to eat Kauai from our last trip, where would it be?” His response, “oh, that place with the tapas in Hanalei was excellent.” I smiled, loving that we get to share these experiences together.
Our dinner at Restaurant Baracuda is our favorite. This is the one place I found repeatedly throughout all my Kauai research that is a must. After eating here, I understand why. This is also the only reservation we made in advance and I highly recommend a reservation.
Baracuda serves tapa dishes. All plates are sharable and prepared with local ingredients.
Aside from their standard menu, they have specials. We jumped at trying two of them, I had a whole tuna ceviche to myself and then we shared this amazing cucumber salad with feta and crunchy spiced chickpeas. I still think of this salad.
From the menu, papas ajos (not pictured) and lamb riblettes. It goes without saying that after a phenomenal meal, we could not and would not miss dessert. We topped our meal off with the mango cheesecake and the chocolate pot de creme.
If there is one night that you’d like to splurge a little, I’d save it for Baracuda. The specials change all the time, so what we ate may not be available when you dine there. However, this is the one place to be adventurous and order a few things from the menu.
Location: 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714 • (808) 826-7081
Our 2nd favorite spot, Tahiti Nui. We ate here a couple of times during the week, always late at night. The atmosphere here is casual, friendly and possibly the most nightlife you’ll find in Hanalei Bay. If you are in search of the best Mai Tai, Tahiti Nui has you covered!
My only regret is never being hungry enough to order one of the main entrees. We sat next to a pair of couples one night and their dinners came out, my eyes popped out its head. Beautifully plated fish dishes that look rich in comfort and colorful purple mashed potatoes.
I was well invested in the Mai Tai’s though and I enjoyed their coconut shrimp twice. Hubby had the Huli Huli chicken pizza and tried the ribeye beef poke, which he fell in love with. I can’t get him to eat poke back home because he does not like fish. I always say the poke bars here in LA should have a beef option, so he can have the meat and I can have the raw fish. Tahiti Nui is ahead of everyone else.
Tahiti Nui also has a weekly Luau. For $80 pp (adults) you get an open buffet, a show and Mai Tai’s on the house for the first hour. I’m in! It’s on my list for my next visit to Kauai.
Location: 5-5134 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
Ama is next door of its sister restaurant, Baracuda. Here you will find ramen noodle bowls, steamy buns, and cocktails.
We ate at Alma on our first night. The menu interesting and we got seated right away on their beautiful terrace that faces the lush mountains behind it.
Hubby and I had the ramen bowls for dinner. I won’t forget the delicious ahi tuna that I ordered with mine. The star of our dinner was the Bao Buns. Steamed buns with fried chicken topped with slaw and some other magical sauces. Just bring me another order of those buns!
Here I ordered my 1st Mai Tai of the vacation. Though tasty, it had its own unique twist. What I did love was the mocktails offered on the cocktail menu, since hubby is sober, he was able to enjoy one of their tropical non-alcoholic drinks.
The food here I remember being delicious, but I wish hubby and I had shared a bowl of ramen instead of each having our own. We were too full to try their housemade doughnuts.
Location: 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Wailele Bldg, Hanalei, HI 96714 • (808) 826-9452
The Hanalei Gourmet
This no-frills bar and eatery is open for lunch and dinner. We ate at Hanalei Gourmet a couple of times and watched as locals sat in the back corner of the bar, claiming it as their local watering hole. I loved the laid back Aloha vibe here.
The food here is I’d say is comforting and nothing fancy, but tasty. I tried fish and chips one night and another night clams in white wine sauce, each clam was the size of my hand. If you feel like a burger, this is a great place to have one for dinner. Every day they have the catch of the day. Plenty of fish options on the menu.
Ask the waiter about their local beers.
Hanalei Gourmet is one of the few places open after 9 PM. On some nights they have live music, which we enjoyed.
If you’re in the mood for Italian, Piazza is a great spot. They have a beautiful location with a great bar and there is a fantastic view of the kitchen.
It’s not the cheapest place to eat Italian though. When you’re staying in Princeville, you’re in the middle of multiple vacation resorts and high-end hotels. Many of the restaurants cater to tourists. Piazza does a great job serving great food and tourists.
Their pasta is made in-house. My shrimp-scampi tasted amazing, the pasta was just overcooked. After living with Italians for over 20 years, I’ve learned to eat it slightly al-dente and I prefer it that way. That didn’t stop me from eating my meal, it was delish. But, if you like your pasta al-dente make sure to ask for it that way.
Hubby ordered pizza and it got a thumbs up from him. We were just amazed at the prices of pizza everywhere we went on the island. I saw a slice of pizza for $8 at another location.
I give the tiramisu a thumbs up!
Location: Princeville Center • 4280 Kuhio Highway 05, Suite F100, Princeville, HI 96722
Kilauea Fish Market
After landing in Kauai, we picked up our rental car and drove straight t0 the North Shore. We were in awe with Kauai almost immediately and were too busy taking in the beauty of the island during our drive, we forgot about lunch.
I checked what was nearby our path and Kilauea Fish Market came up as a tasty option. This a casual place for lunch not far from Kilauea Lighthouse and Anini Beach. They serve delicious food at great prices.
The ahi tuna tacos with the works were filling and oh so yummy. That sauce that came on the side of the peppered pork hubby ordered was delish. You’ll find great quality fish options.
Location: 4270 Kilauea Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
-EAST SIDE KAUAI EATS-
Great Places to Eat in Kapaa
Oh, Java Kai, you have my heart. We have a hat and a mug along of yours along with great coffee memories and some light breakfast favorites.
In the photos above, I fall in love with a bagel smothered with cream cheese, pesto, and tomato. Throughout my week there, I had a few things with pesto. I think pesto is a thing Kauai – it was on every menu! Anyways, never had the combination before and I was in love. Plus, everything is always better when made with high quality, local ingredients.
Another day, we had their sunrise brekkie which came with half a papaya stuffed with fruit, granola, and strawberries. Hubby always loves a good breakfast sandwich.
We stopped here for iced coffees and lattes more than a few times during the week. It’s a busy place, so expect lines during certain times of the day. The staff here is super friendly and we begged the manager to open a Java Kai in Los Angeles.
If you are staying in Kapaa, Java Kai will become part of your daily ritual.
Location: 4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaʻa, HI 96746
If you’re looking for a local spot for breakfast, you have to go to Kountry Kitchen. This place was filled with tourists and locals. They’ve been open since 1975 so they are a staple on the East Side of Kauai.
Think of Kountry Kitchen as the local diner serving local favorites like the loco moco and macadamia nut pancakes. They specialize in breakfast and brunch with a few unch options thrown in.
As soon as you’re seated, you’re welcome with a yummy slice of warm cornbread. The menu is overwhelming as in it ALL LOOKS GOOD. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, so it’s difficult for me not to try it all. We ate here a couple of times, even once trying their loco moco. If you get the pancakes, say yes to their homemade coconut syrup.
The Loco Moco is comfort food in Hawaii and something you should try if you enjoy eating like the locals. It usually consists of rice, ground beef, an egg and then is smothered in gravy. This rich plate is enough for 2 people to share.
Next door of the restaurant, you will find the coffee shop. At the coffee shop, you can pick up coffee-to-go and quick bites. On our way to the airport, we stopped at the cafe for my last macadamia nut latte of the trip. I also ordered the Hawaiian waffle that is topped with caramelized pineapple, toasted coconut, coconut syrup, and whipped cream.
Let me tell you, I still think about this waffle. Their waffles are made to order, are perfectly crisp, airy and delicious. The toppings are just plus.
Location: 4-1485 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaʻa, HI 96746
There is a point during every vacation I start craving a burger. What is it that you crave?
After spending time at a beach, we found Bubba Burgers with a line out the door with locals and tourists. We figured they must be some great burgers. Let me tell you, they are! Move aside In-n-Out.
It’s a casual burger joint. Order at the counter and they’ll call you when it is ready. The staff behind the counter was super friendly.
You can find Bubba Burgers at 2 locations on Kauai. (They used to have a 3rd in Hanalei but it is now permanently closed.)
Wailua Shave Ice
Do not miss treating yourself to a shave ice treat. There are a number of places that you’ll find driving around, but we decided to try Wailua Shave Ice.
Location: 4-1306 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaʻa, HI 96746 (food truck)
-SOUTH SHORE KAUAI EATS-
If it wasn’t for Anthony Bourdain, I don’t know if I would have ever discovered Puka Dog on my own. This is one of Bourdain’s favorite eats and I needed to see what the fuss is about.
A hot dog or a polish sausage is wrapped in Hawaiian sweet bread, dressed in Puka Dog’s secret sauce and one of their delicious relishes and Auntie Lilikoi’s Hawaiian Mustard. There most popular relish is the Kauai Special, a mango relish. I got one with the mango relish and the works.
The hot dog is good. We enjoyed them. However, I don’t know if I’d run back to have them again. If you’re in the area and want to try one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite Hawaiian eats, definitely give Puka Dog a try.
Location: Poipu Shopping Village • 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa, HI 96756
What a name and logo! This hole-in-whole Mexican take-out joint impressed us. At Da Crack, you’ll find fish tacos, burritos and the like.
After a quick yelp, we had this for lunch one day. I was starving, so I ordered an ahi tuna burrito. It was HUGE, so amazing and so filling. This is another cheap eat that is worth trying and if you’re in the mood for Mexican.
Location: 2827 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
Imagine sitting in the passenger seat, the convertible top is down so you’re basking under the warm afternoon sun. Joy has made you oblivious, Kauai has done this to you. Then your driver makes a sharp u-turn and you’re yanked out of this state-of-euphoria, not you’re confused. What the…? Then you see this…
Monkeypod Jam, you had me at your cute wall-art and the quirky name. Guess what we found inside? JAM. Lots of amazing, homemade Kauai JAMS.
You can taste all the jams. Believe me, I did. We ended up purchasing some jars for me and as gifts for the family. Guess what? You can order the jams on their website. If you can’t make it to Kauai, have a bit of Kauai shipped to you.
Watch a video of all the jams they have packaged and ready to go here.
They also have coffee, breakfast, and other yummy treats.
Location: 2-3687 Kaumualii Hwy, Lawai, HI 96765
Other Kauai Eats You Should Look For
Pono Market in Kapaa – We were told by locals this is where to eat in Kauai for some true Hawaiian eats. Unfortunately, we never got to try it, so I’m handing off the info to you. Let me know how it is!
Poke – Do not miss out on the poke as I did. I kept putting it off because I was not in the mood and never got to try it. I hear the poke in Hawaii is out of this world.
Sushi – It’s easy for me not to make this a priority when hubby 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 spots.
Food trucks – They are all over and for some reason, we made it to only the shaved ice. Every time we were hungry, there weren’t any food trucks around. Next time I”m there, I’m 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. I totally fell in love with the local papayas. Tasted nothing like the ones I find here.
Supermarkets – 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.
There is still so much of Kauai to explore and many places to eat that did not make my list. My trip to Kauai may have been my first, but it most definitely won’t be my last. I do plan to return and continue discovering new Kauai eats. I will update this food guide as I do.
What sounds good to you? Where will you eat in Kauai? I’d love to know where you like to eat in Kauai.
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