10 Best lunch spots on Kaua`i offer a varired array of awesome mid-day meal options
By Jade Eckardt
Whatever you're palate craves for lunch, you'll find it on Kauai. Whether you are looking for something to grab and go while moving onto your next exciting attraction or beach, or for a nice sit down meal to talk story and take in the scenery, 10 Best is here to guide you to the lunch spot that you're looking for on the Garden Island.
As local experts, we've searched the island for the top places. We showcase popular restaurants like Bubba Burger where you can get island raised beef burgers, as well as highlight lesser known hole-in-the-walls like Red Hot Mamas where freshly caught fished is served. We also help you find areas where Lunch are prominent - the Lihue area, for example - so that you not only get terrific dining recommendations, but you also have choices to boot. After all, if you're going to eat, you may as well do it right and take advantage of Kauai's best.
Kaua`i may be a small island but there's a lot to see and do, so it's important that you make sure to refuel while exploring the island. Here at 10 Best we feel confident that our top 10 restaurants list will bring you to find what you need, when you need it, and where you need it.
9 Kilauea Fish Market
There's a whole lot more than fish in store is the market's motto, and they're right! In addition to fresh local fish, they have an ahi fajita burrito, fish tacos, salads, plate lunches and great specials, along with grass fed beef. Seating is outdoor picnic table style, and you'll find a mix of locals and visitors enjoying fish. Price can vary depending on market price, but you can get a great meal for a generally affordable price. Very casual and ideal for lunch or to pick up a fresh slab of fish to cook back at the condo in nearby Princeville. (1 808.828.6244)
8 Mermaids Cafe
Healthy is the goal here with unique meals such as fish or tofu wraps, tacos, salads, satays and sandwiches. You'll find lots of veggies mixed in with the vegetarian options or the fresh local fish. They also make really great unique drinks such as hibiscus lemonade, as well as a regular and really good lemonade. It's pretty simple, order at the counter and take out or enjoy at one of the few sidewalk tables or tiny bar in the back. Great, healthy food that is quite different than anywhere else. Mermaid's is an easy place to stop and grab lunch to go or enjoy it at their few tables along the sidewalk. ((808) 821-2026)
7 Brick Oven Pizza
Travelers and locals alike lift up Brick Oven's as the best pizza on the island, and you will too once you sample the fragrant, hearth-baked pies. The family-owned establishment has honed its craft well over the past decades, and crisp crusts (white or whole-wheat), succulent sauces, and authentic toppings conspire to test your resolve. Local seafood, real cheeses, fresh vegetables, and even homemade sausage number among the options -- and that's just to start! The menu also offers salads and sandwiches made with fresh-baked breads. They offer a good selection of local beer to accompany pizza or other classic Italian dishes. (808-332-8561)
6 Bubba Burgers
This irreverent place eschews anything that reeks of pretense or formality, so come with a light heart and a fun spirit. The fantastic burgers, made from Kauai beef, have gained a large measure of local fame; the basic is 1/6 of a pound, while the Big Bubba pushes the 1/2 pound mark. Both grilled fish filet and chicken breast sandwiches can also be had, along with hot dogs, Italian sausages, and chili. There's even a ginger/teriyaki tempeh burger for vegetarians to savor. With locations island wide, Bubba's is an easy burger to grab and go or enjoy on the porch each location has. (808-826-7839)
5 Bouchon's Hanalei
Spacious and relaxed, this hip spot boasts an industrial feel, thanks to aged brick, exposed ductwork, and copper accents. It also features expansive windows, which fill the place with light and island views. Sushi and sashimi capitalize on fresh seafood, and the variety of rolls ranges from traditional to experimental. Entrees include pastas, stir-fries, and just-caught fish, along with rib-eyes, coconut shrimp, sweet-and-sour baby back ribs, and grilled chicken. Most dishes come with vegetables and miso soup. In addition, live bands play several nights a week � everything from blues to reggae, rock to island-flavored tunes. Drop in for lunch after a day spent in the sun at nearby Hanalei Bay. (808-826-9701)
4 Hamura Saimin Stand
This venerable diner entrances everyone who visits, bar none. Its old-school charm, people-watching opportunities, and affordable prices bolster its appeal, and the food isn't too shabby either. Saimin, the Hawaiian broth-and-noodle mainstay, is prepared with aromatic stock and filled with pork, vegetables, egg, and wontons. It's addictive and satisfying. Make sure to accompany a steaming bowl with barbecue sticks (skewered chicken or beef) and a slice of refreshing lilikoi (passionfruit) pie. Lines often form for the fabulous treat, but you won't wait too long before you're slurping away. Ideal for a late-night snack too. This is a local tried and true staple. (808-245-3271)
3 Papaya's Natural Food Market
Known for its selection of organic, vegetarian, and health-food fare, this market and gourmet deli is as good for eating as it is for shopping. Dining is available inside, but the best tables are outdoors, shaded by market umbrellas. Salads and soups are crafted from fresh ingredients and make terrific light snacks. A variety of daily specials ups the ante, offering chicken, fish, pastas, garden burgers, pizza, and an array of ethnic dishes. Smoothies and desserts also make yummy treats. Papaya's is one of the best places in Kapa`a for grab and go lunch to take to a nearby beach or attraction. (808-823-0191)
2 Duke's Canoe Club
In tribute to Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii's renowned swimmer, surfer, and Olympic athlete, this casual restaurant offers patrons a bit of island culture. An indoor waterfall, live Hawaiian music, and fresh local seafood are among the attractions that have folks returning again and again. Lunchtime brings quesadillas, burgers, pizza, and sandwiches, while dinner offers steaks and an abundance of just-caught fish, prepared to your specifications. An incredible salad bar also pulls in patrons, and the hula pie, a house special, is not-to-be-missed. Lunch here is amazing, but if you're looking for nightlife this is a great spot too, live music and dancing after dark. (808-246-9599, 808-246-5166)
1 Island Taco
Big portions of tasty food is what you'll get at Island Taco. The roadside eatery is simple, and resembles a Mexico taco stand, but totally clean, safe and awesome! It's order at the counter, where you can get a tiny peak into the kitchen, and enjoy at one of the roadside tables or take it to go. You can take it to go and enjoy at a nearby white sand beach, but with the big portions that can get a little messy. Vegetarians will fare very well here while meat eaters will find fresh fish, beef and chicken. All of the food is great, but tacos are a highlight. They add of unique elements such as cabbage and wasabi aioli sauce. A must stop while on the west side. ((808) 338-9895)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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