Mai E Komo (Welcome to Kauai). This is the welcoming melody for visitors to Hawaii’s oldest island. Here, hospitality and aloha are a way of life.
Kauai has so much natural beauty that it nearly defies description. At least once in your life, you must visit the Garden Island.
This small piece of paradise also has some of the tastiest cuisine in the world, sourced directly from its abundant fields and seas.
Farm to table was a notion here for many years before it became popular in the continental United States. Thus it’s not difficult to think that Kauai has refined their recipes and imaginative presentation.
Kauai offers numerous amazing dining options for such a tiny island, so picking favorites is difficult.
But we’ve compiled a list of our favorites where history, vistas, culinary quality, local mood, and service all perfectly merge to immerse guests in the beauty of Kauai via its engaging cuisine.
8 Must-Try Kauai Restaurants
Canoe Club Dukes
Lihue (808) 246-95993610 Rice Street
This renowned restaurant and barefoot bar, named for famed surfer Duke Kahanamoku, serves fresh island seafood, great steaks, live Hawaiian entertainment, and spectacular ocean views.
Our first supper at this laid-back beachside establishment is a family ritual that sets the tone for the whole vacation.
It’s also customary to order a Mai Tai, one of Duke’s inventive concoctions served in a tiki glass with, of course, an umbrella.
Dukes boasts an amazing cuisine and is open everyday for lunch, supper, and Sunday brunch. Several of our favorite meals originate in the Pps department.
Coconut shrimp is delicious with a lilikoi dipping sauce, and the Crab & Macadamia Nut Wontons stuffed with crabmeat, cream cheese, and mac nuts and served with a mustard-plum sauce are out of this world.
A word of caution: don’t overdo the pps since you’ll want to cap the dinner with one of Duke’s specialty desserts, the Hula Pie.
This huge piece of macadamia nut ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust is topped with hot fudge, macadamia nuts, and heaps of whipped cream, making it ideal for sharing.
Dukes is the place to go if you want to relax with a view and a meal that the entire family will enjoy. You’ll like it as well!
Gaylords’ Plantation Home
(2089 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue) (808) 245-95933
This old sugar plantation restaurant in the historic Kilohana Plantation not only offers magnificent garden views, but the food is also superb.
We never miss this restaurant when we visit Kauai since its farm to fork idea precedes the phrase by many years.
Gaylords sources its ingredients from its own gardens, so you can ensure its dinners are as organic, fresh, and healthful as the plants that produce them.
Plantation House is open everyday for lunch and supper and serves appetizers, salads, sandwiches, major meals, and desserts.
Panzanella-style Beet Salad with local beets and greens, goat cheese, red onion, and grape tomatoes topped with a lemon balsamic vinaigrette and naan bread is one of our favorites.
If you like fish, try the Red Curry Salmon, which is marinated in shoyu emulsion, pan-roasted, and served with shitake mushrooms in a Kabayaki and coconut Thai red curry sauce.
Another crowd-pleaser is Ahi Sashami Salad, made with carrots, kale, Kulauea greens, and red and green cabbage and dressed with sesame hoisin vinaigrette.
Order some wine to go with it, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a wonderful meal in a perfect environment.
The Plantation House provides a unique dining experience for a pastoral patio lunch surrounded by history and great service. Among the Kauai eateries, this is a must-try.
520 Aleka Loop, Kapaa (808) 822-0600
This dinner-only restaurant is another of our favorites on Kauai. After dining here, you’ll understand why it’s so popular and regarded as one of the greatest Kauai restaurants.
This traditional Hawaiian open-air waterfront jewel, located at the Kauai Coast Resort, offers it all: magnificent views, excellent cuisine, live gentle Hawaiian music, and tiki torches to create the tone for a delightful meal out.
Green efforts are very important to this island restaurant, which proudly mentions its farms and suppliers on its menu. With its on-site garden, the restaurant produces its own herbs as well as many of its veggies.
Hukilau’s staple is fresh seafood, which is incredibly delicious. But start with one of the restaurant’s inventive drinks, since the bartenders are quite proud of their concoctions. Entrees come with a salad or handmade soup of the day.
Go for the Tomato Pineapple Gazpacho if it’s on the menu. This delectable mixture topped with pineapple basil Koloa Rum sorbet is not only one-of-a-kind, but it also completely tantalizes the taste with its own distinct zing.
The choices and preparations of the seafood dinners vary on a regular basis, but if you want to experience more than one of Hawaii’s delicious fish entrees, order the Hukilau Mixed Grill.
Three types of fresh grilled local fish are served over orzo pasta with a Thai chili coconut sauce, blackened spice, and pineapple relish. The Ono, Naigiri, and Opah options were fantastic.
Those who don’t like seafood will find lots of other options, and my husband’s prime rib was one of the best-quality and best-prepared prime ribs he’d eaten in a long time.
HukilauLanai is the island restaurant that best portrays the mystical spirit of Kauai in our opinion. It’s a lovely spot and one of the top restaurants on Kauai.
The Kalypso Island Bar and Restaurant
(5156 Kuhio Highway, Hanalai) (808) 826-97005
Consider stopping at Kalypso Island Bar & Restaurant for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, or supper if you’re in the classic North Shore surf town of Hanalai (and you should be planning a vacation to this lovely portion of the island).
The open-air restaurant is beautiful, with surfboards and other tropical decor, as well as a colorful and festive tiki bar. The relaxed location is always busy, and eating is first-come, first-served.
We discovered that arriving a bit before or after popular eating hours results in a shorter wait.
While you won’t find gourmet cuisine here and shouldn’t expect it, the dishes are delicious and the quantities are generous. Don’t know what to order? Inquire with your server. They will lead you in the proper direction.
We enjoyed sharing Coconut Shrimp with a sweet chili sauce, Blackened Mahi-Mahi Sliders with a zesty island slaw, and Macho Nachos piled with melted cheese, black beans, tomato, black olives, green onions, pickled jalapenos, and a house salsa.
Kalypso is the pick among Kauai restaurants for some fantastic dining in a pretty nice surf town.
The Keokis Paradise
Kiahua Plantation Dr, Koloa (808) 742-75342360
Despite the fact that this dining restaurant is not on the sea, you will not find a greater island vibe and ambience anywhere else.
Keokis is truly dining in paradise, surrounded by beautiful tropical vegetation, lagoons, waterfalls, tiki torches, and thatched-roof seats.
Prices are fairly cheap for the quality of the dinners offered. Because of all of these qualities, the restaurant is constantly crowded, and reservations are required.
We began with a Kale Salad with local greens, pickled golden beet, Asian pear, Kunana Dairy goat cheese, candied macadamia nuts, and a honey white balsamic vinaigrette.
The menu’s staples are seafood and steaks, and my husband and I drooled over the Panko & Mac Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi served over wheatberry rice with a lemon caper beurre blanc.
We also had an excellent Seafood Risotto with lobster, shrimp, fresh fish, and shitake mushrooms. Inquire with your waitress about wine pairings, since the wine selection is both good and moderately priced.
Keokis Paradise exudes aloha, and eating here is a true pleasure. We strongly advise you to try this hidden treasure among Kauai Restaurants.
Broiler Brennekes Beach
Poipu Beach, Koloa (808) 742-75882100 Hoone Rd
Brennekes, situated on Poipu Beach with ocean views, is one of our favorite lunch spots on the island (though supper and breakfast are also offered).
After touring the lovely, sunny Poipu South Shore region and its iconic Spouting Horn blowhole, it’s the ideal spot to eat.
The relaxed beach-themed eatery’s tagline is “food, friends, and fun,” and that’s precisely what you’ll find here.
Apart from a variety of tropical drinks, the open-air second floor restaurant serves Kauai-style pupus, soups, salads, other bistro favorites, as well as their renowned Wagyu beef Beach Burgers. Surf & Turf, Pad Thai, fresh-catch treats, and daily specials are among the other supper specialities.
Our Furitake Crusted Ahi and Spicy Shrimp in a red miso sweet cream sauce were a hit.
This entrée was of the caliber seen in fine dining establishments, and the daily special was a gold-medal winner. With all of the seafood, we were craving a nice burger, and Brennekes Deluxe Beach Burger delivered.
Brennekes Beach Broiler is the place to go for a peaceful, easygoing, informal Poipu lunch with wonderful ocean views. It’s one of Kauai’s greatest restaurants with a view.
The Merrimans Fish House
Ala Kalanikaumaka #42, Koloa (808) 742-83852829
It’s pastoral with distant ocean vistas amid a historic Hawaiian plantation’s casual but exquisite environment. Chef-owner Peter Merriman is a Farm to Table pioneer, with 90% of his food farmed or harvested locally using only sustainable techniques.
Merrimans is a dinner-only restaurant that is definitely worth visiting. The inventive appetizers, dirt-grown salads, changing main courses, and shared sides at this gourmet Hawaiian staple thrill customers.
Seafood is usually a hit here, and if a scallop dish is on the menu, get it. If you like taro, the Smoked Taro Hummus here is one of a kind and extremely Hawaiian. We heartily suggest this delightful delicacy, which comes with Vegetable Crudit and Molokai Sweet Potato Chips.
My Scallop Dinner was seared and served over a creamy corn risotto with grilled asparagus on my most recent visit.
To say the least, incredible.
Make place in your stomach for Merriman’s show-stopping dessert, the Chocolate Purse. This chocolate pleasure is ooey, gooey, and topped with house-made vanilla bean ice cream, making it a great shared conclusion to a beautiful night.
Merrimans is your siren call if you want a nice yet relaxed dining experience with a Zen vibe. It is without a doubt one of the top Kauai restaurants.
Restaurant at the Beach House
Lawai Road, Koloa (808) 742-14245022 Lawai Road, Koloa
You will need to make appointments far in advance (particularly for a sunset sitting), and this will most certainly be your most expensive supper on Kauai, but we urge you do it at least once. This is why.
The sunsets here are among the most beautiful on the island. The scenery is picture-perfect. It’s romantic, and the Pacific Rim entrees are spectacular. Maybe they tasted so good because of the beautiful location.
In any case, this is the ideal location for a special supper to commemorate an engagement, honeymoon, anniversary, love, or just a holiday in paradise.
We’ve eaten meals here before, but this time we decided it would be fun to try some new, more diversified menu choices for sharing.
Lobster Deviled Eggs were a fantastic appetizer, with beautiful bits of local lobster, farm-fresh eggs, dill, and lime served with two glasses of Prosecco.
If you like salads with a twist, the Watermelon Salad with arugula, baby greens, kalamata olives, feta, and pea shoots with a candied lemon vinaigrette is a must-try.
We concluded with roasted local squash, chèvre, spinach, and toasted walnut sage pesto in Pumpkin Patch Ravioli.
Here’s a little secret. If you can’t secure a dinner reservation or the rates are out of your price range, come for Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and enjoy half-priced beverages and nibbles at the bar.
You won’t catch a sunset, but you will get some delicious cuisine and magnificent vistas.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy Beach House Restaurant, make sure it’s on your list of must-do Kauai Restaurants.
Wrap-Up of Kauai Restaurants
Please let us know if you have any additional eateries on the island that you think should be included in a best of or favorite list. We’re constantly seeking for improvements or new spots to visit on the stunning magical Garden Island of Kauai.
Visiting other places in Hawaii? Check out our other tasty guides:
- 7 Must-Try Ko Olina Restaurants
- 13 Best Traditional Hawaiian Dishes
- 10 Must-Try Breakfast Places On Maui
- Best Lahaina Maui Restaurants
- 10 Best Restaurants In Maui