Top Eats in Kauai - 2021
Kauai is the oldest of all of the Hawaiian Islands, known as the Garden Isle. It is boasting with beautiful, lush, tropical greenery. Kauai offers serenity, peace, and pure beauty. You can break away from the modern Hawaii life here, as it is far less crowded with tourists than most other Hawaiian Islands.
Now let's talk food.
Kauai's food scene has grown tremendously in recent years. Offering a combination of traditional Hawaiian food, Asian-inspired food, and fresh, organic fruit and juice stands. You can find acai bowls, smoothies, and fresh salad just about anywhere on the island. There are few higher end restaurants as well, providing an array of delicious fresh fish, poke bowls, tacos, and more. There aren't an overabundant amount of restaurants like you'd see on a busier island like Oahu or Maui, so keep that in mind when choosing places to eat in Kauai.
Many restaurants on the island of Kauai will take advanced reservations through Yelp, Open Table, or by calling the restaurant. Please be aware that many reservations fill up a month ahead of time. Covid-19 rules and regulations are taken much more serious on the Hawaiian Islands, and therefore seating is limited. Food trucks, food stands, and markets do not take reservations and are on a first come first serve basis. Be mindful that you are on "Island Time," so expect for slightly slower service and longer wait times than if you were on the mainland. Mahalo.
Top Eats in Kauai
I have compiled a list below of the top 8-12 best places to eat in the three main areas of Kauai. Continue scrolling to see all of them, or select a location below:
Top 12 Eats in Princeville/Hanalei (North Shore)
The main city of Hanalei (near Hanalei Bay) has a little downtown area that is filled with food trucks, restaurants, and quick bites. This is a great spot to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as it's a pretty booming area with the most consolidated food options.
Located on the far west side in Wainiha, Opakapaka is the only restaurant on Kauai's North Shore that offers ocean front dining. This is the last restaurant you will see before you hit Ha'ena State Park and the Na Pali Coast (the end of the road that goes around the Island). It is located inside of the Hanalei Colony Resort. Offering a semi-formal dining experience with delicious cocktails, steak, seafood, pastas, and more. Open for dinner only.
Located in the downtown Hanalei area, Pink's Creamery is THE place to go for fresh, gourmet ice cream and homemade waffle cones. They are also known for their famous Hawaiian grilled cheese sandwiches, which are absolutely to die for! You'll more than likely see a line outside of Pink's Creamery, but it moves pretty quickly and is 100% worth it. They also have vegan/dairy free options too!
Open daily 11am-9pm
Located in the downtown Hanalei area, Fresh Bite Kauai is a stand alone food truck serving up delicious and healthy eats. You can find salads, wraps, quinoa bowls, sandwiches, french fry baskets, poi, treats, and a wonderful keiki (kids) menu. All of their food is fresh and so tasty. Their meats are organic, grass fed, and most of their menu options are organic as well.
Open for lunch only.
Tues, Wed, Thurs: Closed
If the name doesn't make you want to stop in and check it out, then the food will! Trucking Delicious used to be a food truck, but now it is an actual cafe (inside of Wake Up Cafe). Serving up a full coffee bar, breakfast, brunch, and lunch in the downtown Hanalei area. Amazing food that you won't want to miss!
Tues-Wed: 7am-12pm (coffee bar only)
5. Da Fazenda
Located in the downtown Hanalei area, Da Fazenda is a Brazilian-inspired food truck serving up some very scrumptious eats. Da Fazenda is a farm to table concept, with the most fresh, delicious ingredients. Stop by for lunch and enjoy one of their many plates, bowls, soups, and refreshing drinks.
Located at the Hanalei Pier on Hanalei Bay, a perfect spot to grab some grub while you are relaxing on the beach! Pat's Taqueria is Five Stars in my book. The menu is relatively small, but delivers everything you could possibly want in a Mexican food truck: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, sides, and a kids menu. Everything is super good and the best part? It's one of very few food trucks that is open during the weekdays!
7. Hanalei Poke
You can't come to Hawaii without experiencing an AMAZING poke bowl. Located in the downtown Hanalei area, Hanaeli Poke will not disappoint! Featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Hanalei Poke serves us the best poke bowls on the North Shore of Kauai. A small food truck located in the downtown Hanalei area, boasting with flavor and fresh fish! A must eat while visiting the North Shore. OPEN DAILY!
Mon, Wed, Sun: 11:30am-5pm
Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 11:30am-6pm
8. Bar Acuda
Located in the downtown Hanalei area, Bar Acuda is a more upscale, restaurant on the North Shore. Featuring tapas style meals, fresh fish, salad, meats, desserts, and more. Additionally, they offer a great selection of wines, specialty cocktails, and draught beers. The food is absolutely divine. Be prepared for a more expensive bill, as this restaurant is probably the most high-end on the North Shore. Tip - Make a reservation far in advance!
By far, one of the best food stands in all of Kauai. Nourish Hanalei is kind of hidden - located in a residential area with scenic views. You can drive here or there is a small hike that leads to this adorable food shack. You can find its location on google maps. Nourish Hanalei serves up delicious acai bowls, smoothies, salads, wraps, lunch bowls, and more. It is SO GOOD. Definitely one of the highlights of the North Shore. Be sure to check it out when you are visiting! Open for lunch.
Located in Princeville, Saenz Ohana is serving up AMAZING breakfast for a small food truck! Chef Saenz takes pride in his business and the food will make you drool. Cozy up with some eggs benedict or indulge in the Hawaiian sweet taro french toast. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! They are serving up sandwiches, burritos, sides, and drinks. I vote this as the best breakfast in all of the North Shore of Kauai. Open for breakfast and lunch.
I'm not exaggerating when I say we stopped by this market on our way back to Princeville (where we were stayed) at least 6 times during our 5 days in Kauai. This is a mini healthy grocery market with a fresh cafe inside serving up fresh, delicious acai bowls, smoothies, bakery items, juices, coffee, and more. It is right off the main road of Kuhio Highway in Kilauea on the North Shore. If you are staying in this area or Princeville/Hanalei, I highly recommend stopping by Healthy Hut to grab some organic groceries, snacks, smoothies, and anything else you may need. In the refrigerated section on the right side of the cafe, they have this AMAZING Pumpkin slice and OH MY GOSH. It's the best thing I've ever had.
OPEN DAILY: 7:30am-8:30pm
A wine and tapas tasting room located in the heart of Kilauea on the North Shore. Palate Wine Bar and Restaurant is a more upscale joint, and a hot spot for date night, honeymooners, or celebrating. Serving up delicious small bites, charcuterie boards, fresh salads, mouth-watering flatbreads, and decadent desserts. Palate can also host private events and online ordering. Be sure to stop by here if you are staying in the area!
OPEN DAILY: 5pm-9pm
Top 10 Eats in Kapa'a/Wailua (East Shore)
The East Shore of Kauai is a very popular destination for visitors, and rightfully so. The beaches here are much more accessible and family friendly. With that being said, there are plenty of delicious places to grab some grub, and here are 10 you won't want to miss!
Located across the street from Anahola Bay/Beach on the east shore of Kauai. You will pass this on your way to/from Princeville and will probably see a decent line. Kalalea Juice Hale is an awesome food stand serving up delicious acai bowls, smoothies, juices, shots, coffee, popsicles, shave ice, and more. They have plenty of outdoor seating available as well as shaded areas. The "Next Level" Bowl is my favorite!
2. Pono Market
If you are on a budget, Pono Market is a great spot to stop by to grab a bite a eat. Located in Kapa'a. A lot of locals favor this eatery due to its fresh Hawaiian lau lau and poke bowls. The food is delicious, reasonable priced, and you can also pick up a few other snacks on the go here. It's a little hole in the wall, so keep an eye out! Open for breakfast and lunch only.
Located in Kapa'a near a few other food trucks on the beachside. This Mexican food truck is authentic, delicious and you can enjoy your meal on the beach! Their breakfast burritos are spectacular and the nachos and fish tacos are amazing.
Open Daily 8am-7:30pm except for Wednesdays
Located in Kapa'a, across the street from Pono Market, Scorpacciata is a Neapolitan Pizza food truck and WOW. You may not think you need pizza in Hawaii, but let me tell you, you do. All of their pizzas are made to order, and absolutely delicious. Don't forget to order a side of parmesan fries for the ultimate experience. Open for lunch and dinner.
Located in Kapa'a near El Ray Del Mar Food truck, Anatta's Thai Street Food is another delicious food truck serving up authentic, amazing Thai food in Kauai. If you are craving Thai food, this is definitely the place to go. The curries and pad thai are awesome. Their papaya salad is super fresh and yummy. Easy spot to grab food on the go and bring it out to the beach to eat! Open Everyday for lunch and dinner.
6. Java Kai
Located in Kapa'a, Java Kai is easily the best spot to stop and grab coffee, breakfast, brunch, bagel sandwiches, acai bowls, baked goods, and more. This eatery is quaint, and serving up the most scrumptious food. Their lattes are a local and tourist favorite, so be prepared to see a line out the door on some mornings. Definitely a must-try while in Kauai.
Open DAILY: 6am-7pm
Located in between Kapa'a and Wailua, Nana's Snack Shack is must stop! Serving up widely delicious acai bowls, salads, sandwiches, fresh baked goods, and more. The shack itself is awesome! The frozen oreo banana is to die for, and you won't regret it! Great spot for a quick lunch while hiking or exploring the area. Open for lunch.
Located in the Safeway shopping center in between Kapa'a and Wailua. Coconut's Fish Cafe is a restaurant offering indoor seating as well as orders to-go. The food here is awesome and the fish is fresh. The mahi mahi was delicious and the coconut shrimp was super tasty! The fish tacos were also wonderful. Service was very quick. This is a great spot if you wish to have a sit-down fast-casual experience in Kauai. Good for if on a budget as well.
Open daily 11am-8pm except for Wednesdays
Located in Kapa'a, JO2 provides a more upscale restaurant experience. Serving up gourmet Asian-inspired cuisine while incorporating Kauai-grown vegetables and fresh fish. The dishes are exquisite in both presentation and flavor. The wine list and cocktails are also wonderful. A great spot for a more fancy experience while on the island. Open for dinner only.
10. Kenji Burger
Located in between Kapa'a and Wailua, on the beach side. Kenji Burger is as unique as it gets. A cross between Japanese-inspired dishes and burgers... WOW. This eatery will not disappoint. Get weird with a soft shell crab burrito or cozy up with a chicken katsu bowl. All of their burgers are amazingly delicious as well. Kenji Burgers knows how to do it right! Don't forget to order their furikake fries (drooling). Open for lunch and dinner.
Top 8 Eats in Poipu/Waimea (South Shore)
The South Shore of Kauai is also very popular, and a big destination for families, as there are many resorts and restaurants attached to resorts in the Poipu area. You'll find a plethora of delicious eats - but here are my top 8 that you won't want to miss!
This list would not be complete without an iconic Shave Ice spot! Located in Koloa, just a few minutes from Poipu, I nominate The Fresh Shave as the best shaved ice spot in Kauai. Why? Almost all other shaved ice trucks use artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and every food dye on the face on the earth. The Fresh Shave prides itself on all natural, organic ingredients. The shaved ice here is amazing! Just read the yelp reviews if you don't believe me. YUM!
Located in Koloa, near The Fresh Shave. Koloa Fish Market: Poke Done RIGHT. There are many places in Kauai to get poke, but Koloa Fish Market for sure takes the cake! It is fresh, unbelievably flavorful, and decently priced as well. Their ahi tuna is also a winner here. This market is great to pick up additional snacks too and don't forget about their Haupia Pie!
Located in Poipu, Little Fish Coffee is by far one of the most desired spots for breakfast and lunch. I was so sad that we did not make it here during our trip due to how long the line was! TIP - get here EARLY (they open at 7:30am). Acai bowls, smoothies, juices, bagel sandwiches, coffee, and more. It has rave reviews and the food is all local and fresh. Open for breakfast and lunch only.
Open DAILY: 7:30am-1pm
4. Anuenue Cafe
Located in the Poipu Shopping Village, Anuenue Cafe is a breakfast and lunch spot serving up all your favorite traditional American-style dishes with a Hawaiian twist. Voted "The Best Breakfast on Kauai," Anuenue Cafe is beaming with five star reviews. If you are sick of acai bowls and smoothies for breakfast, then indulge in your classic favorites like eggs benedict, buttermilk pancakes, french toast, and more. Also offering kimchi fried rice with eggs, bacon, sausage, and burritos too! TIP - arrive early to avoid the long lines. Open for breakfast and lunch only.
Open DAILY: 7am-1pm
Located in Poipu, Keoki's Paradise is a whole experience. All of the dishes are Hawaiian-inspired fresh seafood and American-inspired. Keoki's is unique in that it is one of few restaurants that offers different menus for the occasion: lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, chef tastings, taco tuesday, beer and burger wednesday, paniolo platter thursday, and weekend grindz. The weekend brunch offers mimosa flights and the menu is insanely good! Definitely a great place to check out if you are looking for a sit down experience with a group. TIP - be sure to make reservations well in advance! Open DAILY for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Located in Waimea, Porky's Food Truck is a must stop on your way to/from Waimea Canyon. This food truck is absolutely amazing, serving up the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, and grilled cheese! WOWZA it is SO good. You will drool the entire time while eating your meal. I especially love this after a day of hiking in Waimea/Koke'e State Parks, where a savory, salty meal is calling your name. You'll regret not stopping by here.
Located in Waimea, the Shrimp Station is another great alternative to stop by on your way to/from Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Parks. Serving up fresh and local coconut shrimp, garlic shrimp, cajun shrimp, shrimp tacos, and shrimp burgers. The shrimp dishes are excellent here and all very unique in flavor. Open DAILY.
Located in Waimea, The Saddle Room is a really cool restaurant/dive bar serving up some traditional and interesting grub. Their burgers are delicious, but what is really bringing in visitors is the bone marrow and toast! It sounds weird and super bizarre for Hawaii, but don't knock it before you try it! Really fun atmosphere with excellent eats.
I hope you find some time to hit up these Top Eats in Kauai. There are many great restaurants on the Island, but don't miss these ones!