One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is exploring the local cuisines and I’m thrilled to say that Kauai, Hawaii did not disappoint. Whether it was enjoying local seafood, eating burgers with local beef, or enjoying the tropical fruit there were so many delicious and locally based places to eat on Kauai.
As we made our way around the island we dove into breakfast, shaved ice, happy hours, and so much more. To complicate this, I was traveling with one gluten and dairy-free eater and one vegetarian. While we were a little worried, this turned out to be rather simple to do on the island and all three of enjoyed finding tasty places to eat on Kauai.
While one of the great things about Kauai is that
Spots to Eat on the East Side
We stayed just north of the airport on the East side of the island. Making the Kappa area an easy place to get to when we wanted to grab a bite. Thankfully the area also has a wide variety of delicious options for any meal you’re looking for. And to be honest there were so many places in this area we didn’t have a chance to enjoy. It’s a great area to eat on Kauai.
Here you’ll find a cozy dinner with some island flair. We popped by for breakfast our first morning on the island and it was a great way to kick it off. They had wide variety of diner classics and many island standbys. I loved my pork breakfast burrito.
You’ll also want to pop back for lunch since there will be more than one thing on the menu you want to try.
We popped into Kappa for one more breakfast during our stay at Java Kai. While it looks more like a coffee shop, they have a full menu including breakfast burritos, sandwiches, bowls, and more. Their burrito was a flavorful treat.
On top of that, if you’re into coffee, their Kai Bar roasts were delicious. I particularly enjoyed their Kauai single origin roast.
With handmade corn tortillas these tacos start great from the base. You’ll find a wide range of options from fish to pork to beef to veggies giving you a chance to try a few different things. The tacos are also huge from my standard, not street taco size at all, so you can easily fill up on just two.
It might just be in a little shopping center but you’ll want to stop by Street Burger for a juicy bite. Their burgers are made with locally raised beef and come with a range of topping from island themes to classics. You’ll also find a homemade veggie patty to enjoy. They have a wide variety of beers from the islands and beyond as well. Overall you’ll find a delicious meal in a casual setting.
This was my favorite happy hour on the east side of the island. You could get a class of wine for just $5, which is pretty rare on the island. Along with some delicious snacks. While you’re facing east and don’t get the sunset, you’ll still enjoy a beautiful view as dusk arrives.
Have you had Malasadas before? If not,
To be honest, while shave ice is a big thing in Hawaii, it’s never really been my thing. With that, I was pleasantly surprised when we stopped at Wailua Shave in Kappa. The bowls are huge, three of us shared one. And the ice feels almost more like a cream. Plus the coconut cream topping make it feel so rich and tasty. You’ll definitely want to stop by this food truck when you drive by.
The Best of Kauai’s North Coast Eats
We spent about half a day wandering around the North Coast of Kauai. While there are currently closed roads once you pass Hanalei, the small town is still worth exploring. Plus, you’ll find some tasty places to get a bite.
In an adorable old school building you’ll find this impressive local bakery. Whether you’re picking up supplies to enjoy over your trip (we loved their granola), grabbing a cup of coffee, or stopping by for a meal you won’t to miss this spot.
Their breakfast and lunch menu have a fresh take to them and offer a variety of options.
On Kauai, you aren’t short of two things: fresh local food and food trucks. And Fresh Bite gives you both. You’ll find it along with a stretch of food trucks in Hanalei. Here you can enjoy a quinoa bowl, wrap or salad that goes with a selection of local flavors.
One thing I learned on my past visits to Hawaii is eating at the fish markets is always a good idea. And at Kilauea you’ll find a wide variety of Hawaiian food and tasty fish. Pop in for a burrito or a sandwich and enjoy.
Exploring Kauai’s Southern Bites
When you get to the Southern side of Kauai you’ll find a more touristy area with some of the major resorts. But don’t worry, you’ll also find some delicious spots to eat on Kauai. While we only spent two afternoons on this stretch of the island we found a handful of places we loved to eat.
If you’re looking for somewhere to watch the sunset this is the spot for you. Located at the Sheraton Kauai, you’ll find a restaurant with an almost 360 view of the coast. Their happy hour runs from 5:30 to 6:30 and was a steal, especially with this view.
We enjoyed the tasty drinks, a friendly bartender Benji, and then made our way back outside for the actual sunset. Making it a perfect last evening on the island.
On top of that, you get free valet parking if you’re going to the restaurant making your visit even easier.
Who knew that Hawaiian and Texas style BBQ go together well! But Kiawe Roots does it right. The restaurant is set up where you order before you take your seat but they you still have a server which made for a neat style.
They had a nice selection of beverages and so many different choices when it came to food. We enjoyed the brisket and the salmon with some delicious sauces.
I feel like every visit to Hawaii needs a stop at Duke’s and Kauai was no different. You’ll find a lovely view of Kalapaki Beach. Spend the afternoon on the beach and then head up to Duke’s Barefoot Bar for Aloha Hour where you’ll find drinks and bites at a great rate along with
This shave ice is nothing like the sugar loaded and artificially colored snow cones we often think of on the mainland. Instead, you’ll find all natural and locally sourced topping for this shave ice. Well worth a stop as you’re heading to the southern beaches on Kauai.
Best Bites on Kauai’s West Coast
While you might just use the West side of the island to get to your next destination whether it’s Waimea Canyon, beautiful sandy beaches or hopping on a sailing trip. The reality is that the west side has some of our favorite places to eat on the island. Make sure to stop by and enjoy the towns on your way from Waimea to Hanapepe.
We were looking for a
Stop by this spot on your way into Waimea Canyon for some tasty pastries on your way up in the morning or grab a delicious sandwich on their fresh bread after your hike in the canyon.
One of the islands local breweries and a delicious spot to grab lunch. It was a perfect spot to eat before shipping off on our boat ride to Na Pali Coast. Get a few of the sample size of their beers to get a feel for their flavor. And their food was delicious as well. Simple but extremely well seasoned. Their fish and chips were one of my favorite things I ate on the island. They use a local catch of the day and the breading was a perfect balance of crisp but without being too heavy or falling off the fish.
While chocolate covered macadamia nuts are a pretty classic Hawaiian treat, you’ll find something so much better at Kauai Chocolate Company that had one of my favorite things to eat on Kauai.
Make sure to try the Chocolate Opihi that is a local treat with chocolate and shortbread cookies. Or my favorite was a combo of dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, and caramel. If you want to bring some home for souvenirs they also have packages ready to go.
Finding the Best Spots to Eat on Kauai
There are so many great places to dig into the island’s cuisine but (as long as your not vegetarian) I suggest getting a chance to enjoy the Hawaiian pork, locally raised beef, and fresh seafood. There are very few places where you can enjoy all this local protein right in the same place. Getting local is one of the great things you’ll find when you eat on Kauai.
Even if you don’t eat out you can still enjoy the local foods. To help save some money we bought local fruit and local granola for most of our breakfasts. Then enjoyed them on the patio of our hotel room with a sunrise view. Whether or not you have a kitchen it’s nice sometimes to save a little by shopping at the local market for a few of your meals is a great way to eat on Kauai.
And if you’re island hopping you’ll also want to check out my favorite places to eat on Maui.