Traveling to Kauai soon and looking for the best local food? Look no further than my restaurant guide which includes everything from Food Trucks to Higher-end restaurants. Shave Ice to Coffee shops. People visiting Kauai don’t go for nightlife, but if you’re looking for a nightcap, don’t worry, there are a few within each area.
Best Local Food in Kauai
Just as you can easily get in the habit of eating hearty, fatty, comfort food, you can just as easily stay healthy with fresh fruits all around, all year long. Kauai is vegetarian-friendly with emphasis on local, sustainable, organic ingredients.
Fruits to try in Kauai:
- Pineapples (try to find the ones with white meat which is a local specialty)
- Passionfruit (my absolute favorite! Though it can be too sour for some)
- Avocados (they are LARGER in Kauai)
Local Hawaiian Delicacies:
- Shaved Ice:
- The best I’ve ever had at Wailua Shaved Ice (Kapa’a)
- Jojo’s Shaved Ice (open since 1992 with locations in Waimea and Hanalei Bay)
- Taro: in the form of Shaved ice, desserts
- Hawaiian Bread: Try the Grilled Hawaiian Cheese at Pink’s Creamery in Hanalei Bay. Or in the number of bakeries and cafes throughout Kauai.
- Poke: Poke is sold throughout food trucks, restaurants and markets.
- Loco Moco: A popular breakfast or any time of the day dish in contemporary Hawaiian cuisine. Typically topped with ground beef (burger patty-like) or spam + egg over rice. Try it at:
- Kilauea Market + Cafe on the north shore
- Kalapaki Joes in Poipu (local chill, sports bar type restaurant).
Best Restaurants, Food Trucks & Cafes
Some of the popular local chains throughout Kauai to try: Chicken in a Barrel BBQ and JavaKai Coffee.
North Kauai – Princeville & Hanalei Bay
- Hideaway Pizza at Poli Ka He in Princeville Resort has one of the best American style pizzas I’ve ever had.
- Food Trucks in Hanalei Bay: Use Ching Young Village Shopping Center as a starting point. There are over a dozen food trucks with a variety to choose from: Hanalei Poke, Vegan, Indian, Local Hawaiian Delicacies, Shaved Ice, Tacos and more. Within blocks are also restaurants, bars and cafes.
- Tropical Taco for the Best Fish Tacos.
East Kauai – Kapa’a, Wailea & Lihue
Breakfast: Kountry Kitchen. A very popular spot for both locals and tourists alike, expect at least a 15-30 minute wait. Try the Mac Nut Pancakes and Loco Coco.
Shave Ice, Juices, Coffee and Smoothies:
Java Kai: Coffee Shop located throughout Kauai
Kalalea Juice Hale: For the best Acai Bowl in Kauai, head to this adorable walk-up juice bar located off the mountainside of Kuhio Hwy in Anahola. Enjoy fresh coconut, cold-pressed juices, coffee, smoothies and shave ice while taking in the stunning view of Kalalea Mountain. Try the “King Kong” with shaved coconut.
Potions Kombucha Bar: After a day of paddleboarding, relax in a colorful café of Bhakti Yoga and Hare Krishna influence. Taste all of the six Kombucha on tap, as well as a variety of hot tea blends and healthy Indian vegetarian meals.
Wailea Shaved Ice: My favorite shave ice ever, sold off a food truck. If it’s in season, try the Lilipui (Passionfruit) Shaved Ice (pure heaven!)
This is located in downtown Kapa’a, where there are shops, bars and restaurants for several blocks. Definitely a fun part of town for some action. Wailea Shave ice is located within 3 steps away from Scorpaciatta which serves up some of the best pizza in Kauai as well as a savory, soul-filling Wasabi Fries.
While waiting for your food, walk towards the back truck to ALLLOVE Kauai. It’s a socially and environmentally conscious lifestyle clothing brand. I had the delight of meeting the owner and chatting up a storm of her vision in making inspirational apparel while my shaved ice melted outside. Your purchase fuels a revolution and fulfills the intention in so many of us to live in a better world.
Sam’s Ocean View in North Kapa’a: Chic atmosphere, delicious hand-crafted cocktails, great service, + a stunning view with live music on the weekends.
Eat Healthy Cafe in Kapa’a: Vegan casual dining gem in a laid-back, eco-conscious environment. Order the Papaya Dream Bowl + Purple Potato Samosas.
Paniolo in Kapa’a: Santa Maria style BBQ, modest prices that are run by an amazing family. If you love live music, this is your spot. BYOB!
RAMEN & SAIMIN in East Kauai:
Hamura’s Saimin in Lihue: An incredibly popular spot for the local Hawaiian version of Ramen.
Ama in Hanalei: Ramen with a breath-taking view of mountains gushing with waterfalls.
South Kauai – Poipu & Koloa
Beachhouse Restaurant is an absolutely stunning place to enjoy the sunset. Located in Poipu, Beachhouse has a large lawn for guests to sit and marvel at the gorgeous view (especially during happy hour!). Open for lunch, happy hour and dinner, the menu is typical of many other higher-end restaurants in Kauai – a mix of Hawaiian & classic American specialties: seafood, pasta, salads, desserts, and a full cocktail menu.
Address: 5022 Lawai Road, Koloa, HI 96756
Keoki’s Paradise is an open-air, typical positive-vibin’ Hawaiian atmosphere. The quintessential Aloha Spirit. Inspired by Hawaii’s farmers, fisherman and ranchers, which features locally sourced ingredients. Standing on a large restaurant, with a bar area for chiller vibes or a slightly nicer dining area. Fresh seafood, local Hawaiian favorites and standard American dishes are served.
Address: 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa, HI 96756
Drinking and Nightlife in Kauai
Kauai is a sleepier island compared to it’s more popular neighbors. Those visiting Kauai certainly do not come for the nightlife. Though there will be 1-2 bars within each area that may be open to midnight or a little past. In Poipu, visit Keoki’s. In the north, visit Tahiti Nui , a family-run restaurant since 1963 which also has lively dance performances, karaoke nights and oftentimes open later than midnight.
I suggest asking any locals which bars are open in the area and they’ll gladly tell you!
Try: Koloa Kauai Reserve Rum (can be purchased in markets or liquor stores)
The Local in Kapa’a: Fresh, locally-sourced food. Treat yourself to dinner and the best hand-crafted cocktails on the island!
Visit Kauai Beer Co. in Lihue: Casual setting. Food Trucks nights are every Thursday (which makes the setting even more lively).
To prepare for your trip, read my Kauai Travel Guide: https://www.bohemianvagabond.com/kauai-travel-blog/