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10 Best Restaurants on Kauai Will Take Visitors on a Culinary Tour



Kaua`i may be the smallest of the main Hawaiian Islands, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in great food. In fact, Kaua`i has many truly amazing restaurants that range from casual to resort wear dress up, low to high priced, and all offer a variety of unique and charming atmospheres. There's also a nice wide array of cuisines. Whether you're in the mood or Italian, American, Pacific Rim, vegetarian or sushi, that and more is waiting for you on the Garden Island. 

A good rule of thumb while on Kaua`i is to experiment. The island is quite small and drives are short, so don't be afraid to drive to another part of the island to try something new. Try new things while eating on Kaua`i. Many local dishes are available at most restaurants such as unique local fish, tako (octopus), ox tail, interesting vegetarian options, haupia (coconut custard), and a lot more.

For the most well rounded selection of seafood on Kauai, make reservations at the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant & Fish Market. Outdoor, riverside seating offers a unique tropical ambiance. On the southern shore, the Kalaheo Coffee Co. & Cafe is Kauai's quintessential breakfast joint, with delicious food and coffee. For a hip and modern dinner experience, Bar Acuda Tapas & Wine is the place to go.

So enjoy a culinary tour of the Garden Island, thanks to our list of the ten best restaurants on the island.


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Should you be in the mood for a leisurely meal, surrounded by tropical foliage and the charm of a restored home-turned-restaurant, this winsome cafe is a wonderful destination. The creative menu gains inspiration from island produce and seafood and is eminently healthy. No red meat is served, but you'll find plenty of local fish (grilled with local fruit, dressed with wasabi cream), poultry, and vegetarian dishes. Daily specials, fashioned from what's freshest, are consistently top-quality. At night Christmas lights add to the ambiance for outdoor diners, enjoying wine or beer they bring themselves. The pace is rather relaxed, so plan accordingly.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Eat Healthy Cafe is a delightful eatery with great food, nestled amongst vines and foliage.

Read more about Eat Healthy 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. This small restaurant serves 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.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Mermaid's Cafe serves up unique and healthy dishes utilizing vegetables and fresh seafood.

Jade's expert tip: Try the ahi wrap and check out the specials.

Read more about Mermaids Cafe →




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. Dress up a bit for dinner and stay into the night dancing at the Barefoot Bar down on the beach.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Duke's is famous for serving delicious regional dishes and tropical cocktails in a beautiful, oceanfront location.

Jade's expert tip: A Hawaiian classic that turns into later night fun at the Barefoot Bar.

Read more about Duke's Canoe Club →


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Bar Acuda Tapas & Wine
Photo courtesy of tanksalot


Hip, gleaming Bar Acuda is a chef-run business that has taken the island by storm. Intent on creating stylish atmosphere and scrumptious food, the North Shore place is a great destination for dinner and drinks with friends or with a romantic interest. Diligently searching out top ingredients, chef Jim Moffat crafts them into dishes like lobster-stuffed squid with romesco sauce, roast chicken panzanella, slow-braised beef short ribs, and grilled pancetta-wrapped sea scallops. A carefully chosen wine list highlights vintages from western Europe and the western US, and a fantastic social scene is part and parcel of the goings-on. This restaurant is open only for dinner.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Bar Acuda is Kauai's newest and most modern eatery, serving an eclectic selection of food and drinks.

Jade's expert tip: Open only for dinner, and a great place for a group of friends or a fun and romantic date.

Read more about Bar Acuda Tapas & Wine →




One of Kauai's most celebrated Asian establishments, Kintaro has built its reputation on sublime cuisine and unobtrusive service. The eater is hands down a local favorite. Amid serene Asian decor, folks dive into sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, tempura, yakitori, and hot pot dishes. Chefs are eminently capable, crafting incredible fare from the freshest fish, vegetables, seafood, and meats. Tatami and table seating are both available, and dinners come with miso soup, pickled vegetables, rice, and tea. The sushi bar makes for a fun hangout, too. Open only for dinner, Restaurant Kintaro is one one of the best eateries on the island, and you can dress up or go casual.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Restaurant Kintaro is known for serving up sushi and other Japanese food with beautifully fresh local fish.

Jade's expert tip: Restaurant Kintaro is only open for dinner and reservations are necessary.

Read more about Restaurant Kintaro →


Kalaheo Coffee Co. & Cafe
Photo courtesy of kalaheo coffee


Down in southern Kauai, this wonderful cafe makes for a terrific respite any time of day. Coffee options are legion and feature blends from South and Central America, Africa, Indonesia, and the islands of Hawaii themselves. Hot or chilled, undiluted or laced with cream and sugar, the java is fantastic. To accompany it, go for a muffin or fresh pastry, or indulge in a slice of cake, pie, or cheesecake. Creative breakfast and lunch fare consists of burritos, omelets, sandwiches, burgers, and salads � perfect sustenance when hunger pangs strike. They offer free wireless internet so diners can use their laptops at the table.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Kalaheo Coffe Co. is Kauai's quintessential breakfast cafe, offering simple yet delicious meals and local coffee.

Jade's expert tip: They don't advertise it, but you can find free wifi here.

Read more about Kalaheo Coffee Co. & Cafe →


Postcards Cafe
Photo courtesy of spoon


Charm runs rampant at this delightful cafe, which brings a touch of Old Hawaii to guests via vintage photographs and island postcards. The menu does wonders with the local bounty, mixing fresh produce and seafood to great effect. In the evenings, vegetarian fare that does the genre proud is certain to convert even diehard carnivores. Make sure to try taro fritters and grilled fish, but don't neglect crisp salads, pastas, fish tacos, and quesadillas. Accompanying sauces are inventive complements, and desserts are worth sampling, especially given their use of fresh island fruits. Dinner reservations are necessary, while walk ins for lunch is usually sufficient.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Postcards Cafe serves gourmet Pacific Rim good that leans towards vegetarian, except for select fresh fish dishes.

Jade's expert tip: They offer several vegan and gluten free options.

Read more about Postcards Cafe →




If you're looking for an intimate, low-key place where you can enjoy good conversation and fabulous pastas, Pomodoro is ideal. Family-owned, this great restaurant offers well-prepared food at reasonable prices. The selection of pastas is substantial, whether you're looking for something dressed (fettuccine Alfredo) or stuffed (manicotti). If you're open to other possibilities, look to veal parmigiana, chicken saltimbocca, or one of the seafood dishes. The signature lasagne is also not-to-be-missed, and special requests can be accommodated as well. This is truly a hidden gem, great food in a small shopping center in the quite town of Kalaheo. The ambiance is romantic and dim, but the owner happily welcomes children.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Pomodoro is a hidden gem offering what locals agree is the best Italian food on the island.

Jade's expert tip: If you happen to be visiting during Lent, ask the owner for the special dessert she makes at that time each year.

Read more about Pomodoro Ristorante Italiano →


Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant and Fish Market
Photo courtesy of restaurant


With a fish market next door, it's no surprise that impeccably fresh seafood is the house specialty. Diners indulge in their favorite preparations along the shores of the adjacent river, savoring baked shrimp, ceviche, crab, and incredible fish cooked to perfection by the skilled kitchen. A selection of steaks and chicken dishes will also satisfy. While you wait for entrees (which can be pricey but are well-portioned), nibble on an order of stuffed mushrooms. The nautical themed restaurant as located right after the Hanalei bridge as you descend into Hanalei Valley. It's a great place to dress up for a date or family time, or come in casual.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Hanalei Dolphin is renowned as the best seafood on Kauai.

Jade's expert tip: You'll find a sushi bar, fish market, and restaurant all here.

Read more about Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant and Fish Market →


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Meet 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...  More About Jade

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