10 Best Restaurants on Kauai’s North Shore + South Shore (2023)

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Looking for the best places to eat in Kauai?  This post has a roundup of all the best food in Kauai!  Eating in Kauai is a real treat, so if you’re on the hunt for where to eat in Kauai, I’ve included my picks for the best local food in Kauai including the best restaurants on Kauai’s north shore and south shore, as well as a bonus: the best breakfasts in Kauai! If you’re trying to decide where to eat in Kauai, this guide has you covered!  I’ve got the lowdown on all the best food in Kauai to inspire your next trip.  And if you’re already in Kauai, I’ll help you pick where to go for dinner tonight!

best places to eat in kauai

The Best Places to Eat in Kauai

If you’re traveling to Kauai, you might be wondering: is the food good in Kauai?  The answer is absolutely yes!

In addition to gorgeous beaches and waterfalls, there are also some amazing places to eat in Kauai.  If you’re trying to decide where to eat in Kauai, plan to include these picks on your Kauai itinerary so that you can make the most of your time on the island!

No matter where you go, you’re in luck, because I think Kauai is the best island to visit in Hawaii.  Not only that, but eating in Kauai is a very special experience.  There are incredible restaurants, and sampling the local food in Kauai makes for a memorable meal.

What Part of Kauai Has the Best Food?

A lot of visitors to Kauai wonder which part of Kauai has the best food.  Most travelers to Kauai stay on either the island’s south side in Poipu, or on the north side in Princeville or Hanalei.

The good news is that both parts of Kauai have great food!  I’ve divided this guide into sections on the best places to eat on Kauai’s south shore, the best places to eat on Kauai’s north shore, as well as a few extras: the best breakfast in Kauai, and my picks for the best local food in Kauai.  Read on for all of the details!

Best Restaurants in Kauai’s South Shore

Most of the best restaurants on Kauai’s south shore are clustered in or near Poipu, the main beach and resort area of the southern part of the island.  If you’re staying on Kauai’s south shore, chances are good that you’re staying in Poipu.

Most of the Poipu restaurants that I’ve listed here are walking distance from the larger resorts, but you’ll probably need to rent a car to get around the island anyways, so you may be better off with a short drive to dinner.

Where to Eat in Kauai: The Best Restaurants in Poipu

There’s so many places to eat in Poipu that choosing a restaurant can be a challenge, but here’s my picks for the best restaurants in Poipu.  Since Poipu has some of the best food in Kauai, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices for an amazing meal to end an island-perfect day in paradise.

1. Merriman’s Restaurant: One of the Top Places to Eat in Kauai

If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll love Merriman’s, which is one of my favorite places to eat in Kauai.  The atmosphere is laid-back elegant, and the menu features local seafood specialties, prepared with creative twists.  Merriman’s always makes the list for top places to eat in Kauai!

Merriman’s has live music on Monday evenings which is a fun side dish to a delicious dinner.  There are multiple locations of Merriman’s throughout Hawaii, so if you’re visiting more than one island during your time in paradise, you can hit up another location, too.

The Merriman’s in Kauai is located in The Shops at Kukui’ula, home to tons of shopping and dining.  Chances are good that you’ll visit this center during one of your evenings in Poipu, and Merriman’s is one of the best restaurants that the center offers, especially when it comes to eating in Kauai.

Even if you don’t eat dinner there, it’s a fun place to walk around in the evening, ideally with an ice cream cone in hand (see #4 below).

best restaurants in Poipu
It’s not uncommon to see rainbows at Poipu Beach in Kauai.

2. The Beach House: One of the Best Places to eat in Kauai With a View

If you’re looking for one of the best places to eat in Kauai with a view, The Beach House can’t be beat.  It’s one of the few restaurants in Kauai that is completely beachfront, meaning that the restaurant views while you’re dining are spectacular.  Book a table for around 6pm, which will give you a perfect sunset dining experience.

A 6pm dinner reservation might sound a little early, but chances are good that you’ll be up bright and early in Hawaii due to jet lag.  For more helpful tips on what to expect when you’re visiting Hawaii, check out these Hawaii vacation tips.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a meal at The Beach House, I still recommend visiting the bar for a drink right around sunset.  The location of the restaurant is just too pretty to miss, and your Kauai trip won’t be complete without visiting this oceanfront Kauai restaurant.

Having a mai tai or a glass of wine while you watch the surfers catch waves in front of the restaurant will make for a memorable evening, as well as some of the best food in Kauai.

best kauai south shore restaurants
I even asked these guys for Kauai restaurant recommendations…..

Located in the Ko’a Kea Hotel, Red Salt is a hidden gem and my top pick for the best restaurant in Poipu.  It’s one of the best places to eat in Kauai because of the delicious food and the personalized service.

The menu at Red Salt features both seafood and non-seafood entrees, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for where to eat in Poipu and you’re not in the mood for fish.  On certain nights, the lounge at Red Salt is also home to a Sushi Bar, so check it out if you’re in the mood for a few rolls.

Dessert at Red Salt is also incredible.  When I visited the restaurant on a special occasion, they brought out a gigantic spool of COTTON CANDY with a CANDLE in the middle for our dessert.  How cool is that?

Don’t ask me how they did it with the candle and everything, but it was so, so memorable.  So if you’re looking for fine dining restaurants in Poipu, Red Salt is not to be missed!

red salt kauai
I loved this specialty dessert at Red Salt in Poipu!

4. Lappert’s Ice Cream Has the Best Dessert in Poipu

Some of the best food in Kauai is dessert, and no trip to the island would be complete without a trip to Lappert’s for ice cream.  Located within The Shops at Kukui’ula, Lappert’s is a must on any Hawaii food bucket list, and it’s one of the best places for dessert in Poipu.

Take your pick from having a refreshing cone to cool off during the day, or stopping by for an after dinner treat.  I prefer the latter, but I’ve been known to do both in a day.

Where to Eat in Kauai: The Best Restaurants North Shore Kauai

Most of Kauai’s north shore restaurants are clustered in either Princeville or Hanalei, so I’ve broken my picks below into these two areas.  If you’re staying on Kauai’s north shore, you’re most likely staying in Princeville, since that’s where most of the resorts are located.

You’ll need a car to drive in to Hanalei for the places to eat below, although it’s a very short drive.  Read on for my top picks of the best places to eat in Princeville and Hanalei!

Where to eat in kauai
Kauai’s dramatic coastline is part of what makes this island so gorgeous.

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Best Restaurants in Princeville

Most of the restaurants in Princeville are located within the resorts that dominate this part of Kauai.  I’ve included my pick below for the best restaurant in Princeville, but it’s more of a special occasion spot.

For a Princeville restaurant that is more mellow (but still with fabulous views), check out Happy Talk Lounge at the Hanalei Bay Resort.

5. 1 Hotel in Hanalei Bay

Recently opened in 2022, the 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay is home to 1 Kitchen, one of the best places to eat in Princeville.  1 Kitchen will has some of the best local, farm-to-table food in Kauai, and it perfect for fine dining in Kauai.  

Book a table just before sunset to take advantage of the stunning views from the dining room of this upscale restaurant during dinner.

If time permits, having a pre-dinner drink in the hotel’s lobby bar will allow you to soak in the views of Hanalei Bay for even longer.

The Best Restaurants in Hanalei

Although Hanalei is a bit sleepier than the resort magnets of Poipu and Princeville, it’s packed with amazing restaurants.  In fact, it’s pretty tough for me to narrow down my picks for the best restaurants in Hanalei, but I think the list below has all of the best places to eat in Hanalei!

If you’re headed to Hanalei and are looking for restaurant suggestions, here are my top picks for where to eat in Hanalei, including some of the best local food in Kauai:

6. Bar Acuda – Best for Dinner in Hanalei

Bar Acuda is my top pick for the best restaurant in Hanalei, and it’s always the first reservation that I make when I am planning a trip to Kauai.  This upscale restaurant specializes in tapas-style food, so if you enjoy sampling lots of small dishes, you’ll love Bar Acuda.

The restaurant is situated in a plantation-style cottage, with most of the seating outside on the patio.  Book a table outside at Bar Acuda to enjoy the warm tropical nights in an enchanting setting as you sample some of Kauai’s best cuisine.

7. Tahiti Nui – A Perfect Casual Dinner on Kauai’s North Shore

For a casual dinner in Hanalei, look no further than Tahiti Nui, a Kauai institution and one of the best places to eat in Hanalei.

I love Tahiti Nui’s pizzas because the crust is coated in a special garlic sauce – YUM.  And of course, I’d never turn down a Tahiti Nui Mai Tai.  It’s very casual and also family-friendly.

Every Wednesday, the restaurants hosts a Family Luau which is a ton of fun – you can buy your tickets online ahead of time.  Alternatively, visit Tahiti Nui on one of the nights when the restaurant hosts live music – which I think might be every other night.

8. Postcards – The Best Restaurant Atmosphere in Hanalei

Adorable doesn’t even begin to describe the setting at Postcards.  Located in a plantation-style cottage that’s packed with charm, Postcards specializes in creative seafood and vegetarian dishes unlike anything else you’ll find in Kauai’s restaurants.

The service is understated elegance and you can’t go wrong with one of the daily specials.  If it’s a warm night, ask for a table on the outdoor patio – there’s no better place to eat in Kauai and enjoy an open air dining experience for a romantic dinner. Don’t miss the coconut shrimp!

best restaurants north shore kauai
The view of Hanalei Bay just never gets old!

The Best Places to Eat Lunch in Kauai

If you’re looking for where to eat lunch in Kauai, I have more recommendations!  Because in addition to the restaurants above, I’ve got even more places to include on this list of the best food in Kauai.

9. Common Ground – One of the Best Restaurants for Lunch in Kauai

For the best lunch in Kauai, I highly recommend visiting Common Ground.  This working organic farm supplies many of Kauai’s restaurants with produce, including some of the places I’ve listed above.

10.  Kilauea Fish Market – The Best Local Food in Kauai

To sample the best local food in Kauai, I highly recommend visiting Kilauea Fish Market.  This no-frills local spot is located close to Kilauea light house, so it’s a perfect stop before or after your visit to the light house and surrounding cliffs.

You can pick up a fresh catch to prepare grilled fish yourself for later, or order at the counter to enjoy other local favorites or a plate lunch.

Don’t miss the fish tacos and the poke, and load up on extra sauce for your tacos.  My other favorite thing to order here is a plate lunch with rice and macaroni salad – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.  If you’re visiting Kauai, you absolutely have to sample the local food in Kauai, and Kilauea Fish Market is one of the best places to do so.

Everything can be packaged to go, so if you’re looking for picnic food in Kauai, make Kilauea Fish Market your first stop.

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Make sure to enjoy the specialty cocktails in Kauai!

Best Food Kauai Has to Offer for Breakfast

If you’re up early, you’re probably looking for the best breakfast in Kauai!

You probably have a busy day ahead of you, so it makes sense to start your day in Kauai with good food to fuel up for a day of adventure ahead.  What better way to start your day than with a delicious breakfast?  Here’s my top picks for the best breakfast in Kauai:

#11 Java Kai for The Best Coffee on Kauai

If you’re staying near Kapa’a on the east side of the island, Java Kai is one of the best places for breakfast in Kauai.  Not only will photos of the building light up your Instagram feed, but they serve some great coffee, too.

It’s one of the best places to eat breakfast in Kauai because almost all of the food is local to Hawaii.  Beans at Java Kai come from multiple places in Hawaii, including Kona and Maui, and all of the batches are hand-roasted.

The breakfast menu at Java Kai is extensive, so whether you’re a sweet or savory breakfast person, you’ll find something delicious.  I love their Tropical Waffles and their breakfast burritos are perfect for a post-surfing fuel-up.

#12 Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand Has some of the Best Local Food in Kauai

It doesn’t get better for local food in Kauai than Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand, which has been open to the public since 1986.  Here you’ll find locally-sourced tropical and exotic fruits, along with fruit frosties, made entirely of….you guessed it, fruit.

Banana Joe’s sources fresh fruit that you’ll recognize (bananas, pineapples, etc.) as well as fruit that you might be seeing for the first time – like  atemoya and rambutan.

Last time I visited Banana Joe’s, I picked up some fresh pineapple and brought it back to the bar at our hotel.  The bartender used it to make me a fresh fruity cocktail – and it was incredible.

A fruit frosty is one of the best breakfasts in Kauai, but note that the fruit stand doesn’t open until 9:30am.  So if you’re an early riser, you’ll probably need a snack before you pick one up.

The Most Delicious Food in Kauai

Looking for the hands-down, all-out most delicious food to enjoy during your Kauai vacation? Here’s my top picks for the best food Kauai has to offer:

Best Shave Ice

Locals and visitors alike love to enjoy shave ice in Hawaii. If you’ve never had it before, shave ice is similar to a snow-cone, but the ice pieces are lighter and more delicate. If you enjoy sweet treats, you’ll love it!

Shave ice feels like an elevated version of the snow-cone, so don’t miss out while you’re in Kauai. My top pick for shaved ice in Kauai is Wailua Shave Ice, located in Kapa’a town.

Best Food Truck

Some of the best Kauai restaurants….aren’t actually restaurants. Unless you count a truck as a restaurant, of course! The gorgeous island of Kauai is known for its food truck scene, and for good reason. 

Eating at a food truck in Kauai is one of the best way to enjoy cheap eats and fresh local ingredients. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the food trucks parked close to Hanalei Pier, but I recommend Holey Grail Donuts for breakfast and Fresh Bite Kauai in Hanalei for lunch.

Best Fish Tacos

There’s nothing like an island taco from one of Kauai’s awesome taco joints to hit the spot after a day of hiking, water sports, or hey – just relaxing by the pool. Whether you’re looking for fish tacos or something vegetarian, you can’t beat Tiki Tacos in Kapa’a town.

st regis kauai
Enjoy this view from 1 Kitchen, one of the best restaurants in Kauai.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular restaurants in Hanalei?

The most popular restaurants in Hanalei are JoJo’s Shave Ice, Bar Acuda, Tahiti Nui and Postcards Cafe.

What are the most popular restaurants in Kauai?

The most popular restaurants in Kauai are The Beach House, Merriman’s, Lappert’s, Bar Acuda and Tahiti Nui.

What food is Kauai known for?

Some of the most popular traditional foods in Kauai include poke, lomi lomi, poi, loco moco, fish tacos, coconut shrimp, plate lunches and kalua pig.

There you Have it – the best places to eat in Kauai!

I hope this guide helps you decide where to eat in Kauai!  Now that you know where to find the best restaurants in Kauai, I can help you with packing, too.  Check out my guide to what to pack for Hawaii!

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