As with every Hawaiian island, Kauai’s cuisine is defined by fresh ingredients, global-inspired flavors and colors so vivid they’re usually reserved for rainbows. Whether it’s fine dining, local plate lunches or just-picked fruit from a roadside stand, fresh is always in season on the island of Kauai.
Hawaii Regional Cuisine—a decades-old cooking movement that focuses on island-grown ingredients—can be sampled at restaurants like Merriman’s Fish House and Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill, where you’ll dine on freshly caught mahimahi, wahoo and other fruits of the sea. In Koloa, Red Salt is another acclaimed, upscale option.
Reserve a night during your trip to feast on kalua pig and taro at an authentic Hawaiian luau, which you can do at several venues from Kapaa to Poipu.
Shave Ice is a distinctly Hawaiian dessert that can be found at stands around the island, while Kauai-based Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream shop is among the island’s favorite ways to stay cool. And be sure to sample fresh produce and locally made food products at Kauai’s Sunshine Markets (the local name for farmers markets), held throughout the island in towns like Lihue and Hanapepe.
Nestled in sunny Poipu Beach, Keoki's Paradise is famous for its fresh seafood, local island cuisine and exotic drinks served in a jungle-like setting.
Waiolu Ocean Cuisine offers a seafood dinner menu from 6pm-10:30pm daily. Enjoy seafood items as well as fresh sushi including traditional nigiri & new wave maki sushi. Daily Happy Hour specials. The restaurant is also open for lunch from 11am-6pm. Comp 4-hr valet parking. Call 808.683.7456.
Honu is owned by Chef Mark & Judy Ellman, located on the rocks of Mala Wharf. Have Lunch and watch the turtles and enjoy a Brick fired pizza or Crab Louie Salad, Ahi Bruschetta their signature dish or a Rasberry Lilikoi Tart from it's in house bakery.
STRIPSTEAK Waikiki, located on the 3rd floor of the International Market Place, is a new genre of modern steakhouse by James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina and is the first restaurant in the State of Hawaii to be named 'America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants 2018' by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Leilani's offers premier oceanfront outdoor seating serving Hawaiian seafood, also steaks, chicken, and lighter fare.
Down The Hatch located in the Wharf in Lahaina across from the Banyan Tree. Serving Southern Aloha for Breakfast, Lunch, Longest Happy Hour on Maui 2-6p, Dinner & Late Night - OPEN daily 7:30a-2a-Kitchen open ‘til 12a-Voted 2017 & 2018 BEST BAR ON MAUI & 2016 Best Late Night Kitchen! www.dthmaui.com
Cane & Canoe offers a window into the Hawaiian soul – both past and present. Here, in this historically rich locale, locals and travelers come together, savoring creative, modern cuisine that celebrates Hawaii’s diverse cultural influences while showcasing its freshest, locally sourced ingredients.
Hapuna’s new signature dining experience introduces an innovative menu inspired by the Mediterranean and infused with our island’s bounty.
With a focus on sustainability and delicious organic options only available in Hawaii, The Buffet at Hyatt is the perfect solution for foodies with hearty appetites.
A remarkable beachside seafood buffet under the stars with sounds of the ocean's surf and contemporary Island music. Saturday evenings, offered seasonally, at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
Eat Like a Local
Consisting of two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and everything from kalua pork, Korean barbecue, chicken katsu, beef teriyaki, or mahimahi, the plate lunch is a staple of local food.
No matter what island you’re on, grab a shave ice to cool off. These finely shaved snow cones are served with colorful flavors on the top with a choice of ice cream or azuki beans on the bottom.
“Pupu” is the Hawaiian term for appetizer, and every local restaurant in Hawaii offers a wide range of creative pupu platters to dine on, from poke dishes to sushi.
Treat your sweet tooth to a hot malasada (a Portuguese doughnut). Although Leonard's Bakery in Kapahulu is popular on Oahu, ask any local and they can tell you their favorite bakeries on each island to find these fresh and tasty treats.
For big appetites, try a “loco moco,” which is a hamburger steak and egg over rice, covered in gravy. You can find loco moco served throughout the islands, but Café 100 in Hilo on the island of Hawaii is said to have originated the name.