As one of the least-populated islands in the state, casual spots abound on Kauai, but there is also no shortage of fine dining eateries that will satisfy any foodie. Visitors to Kauai will find Hawaii’s best selection of fresh, locally-sourced food on this lush island.
Find the right sit-down restaurant for any occasion with this guide, and don’t forget to appreciate all of the beautiful ingredients being celebrated by Kauai’s chefs.
Gaylord’s was named for Gaylord Parke Wilcox, the owner of Kauai’s Kilohana Plantation, one of the island’s most historic properties. The main house’s mansion courtyard was turned into Gaylord’s Restaurant in 1986 and has been serving up Hawaiian-influenced dishes with ingredients that support Kauai’s local farmers and fishermen ever since. Most of the produce and herbs used on the food and cocktail menus come from the plantation’s 67-acre sustainable farm.
Peter Merriman’s first namesake Kauai restaurant should exemplify the unique Hawaii Regional Cuisine style, considering he helped invent it. The menu contains quality products that are 90 percent locally grown or caught using only sustainable methods, and the restaurant is set in an old Hawaiian plantation. Diners can’t go wrong with the nightly fish special here—the star of the dish is always day boat caught and presented with seasonal local ingredients.
Situated on the edge of one of the south shore’s most picturesque beaches, The Beach House in Koloa is the brainchild of renowned Hawaii chef Peter Merriman and restaurateur William Terry. Enjoy breathtaking ocean views from the open-air restaurant while savoring the flavors of Kauai’s freshest seafood and the bar’s signature cocktails. To set the mood even more, The Beach House offers live music every day of the week at 2:30 p.m.
Bar Acuda in Hanalei serves up Hawaiian-inspired tapas and features an impressive global wine list in a comfortable setting, making it the perfect spot to meet up with friends. These condensed, shareable dishes have a Mediterranean flair and spotlight ingredients local to the island. Reservations are highly recommended, especially if you want to score some coveted spots under the covered lanai.
Seafood lovers will find their paradise at Duke’s Kauai, where the fish is always fresh, line-caught from local boats and never pre-frozen. Even better, the view from the ocean-front dining room will give you an opportunity to enjoy the salty sea air from Kalapaki Beach. No matter which fish dish you choose from the menu, rest assured that it was handled with respect and will be the best quality you could ask for. Be sure to save room for Duke’s signature Hula Pie for dessert.
Red Salt was voted Kauai’s best restaurant in 2018 by Honolulu Magazine, and it’s easy to see why. This trendy Poipu spot offers both breakfast and dinner and absolutely nails both with a modern twist on elevated island classics. Executive Chef Noelani Planas is a Kauai native, so she really knows how to honor the island’s diverse ingredients in the best way possible. Don’t miss the separate sushi bar outside of the main dining room, but definitely plan ahead as the bar portion is first come, first served.
What if we told you that you could dine under an elegant thatched roof set over a koi-filled lagoon with waterfalls in the background, without even leaving your hotel? If you’re a guest at the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa in Koloa, that’s the reality. The contemporary Hawaiian menu is filled with tantalizing dishes featuring everything from locally caught seafood to Kauai-raised, grass-fed steak to garden greens grown onsite. Don’t worry if you’re not staying at the upscale Hyatt, either (it’s not exactly cheap); the restaurant is open to non-hotel guests.
Hawaiian sweet bread French toast stuffed with blueberry-infused cream cheese or drizzled with house-made coconut syrup—it doesn’t get any better than that. Not a fan of a sweet breakfast? Opt for the local favorite, Loco Moco, made with fresh eggs and Kauai grass-fed beef from Makaweli Meat Company. Other fan favorites include fluffy macadamia pancakes the size of your head and breakfast sandwiches made with buttermilk biscuits. The casual style and homey decor at Kountry Kitchen will make diners feel like they’re having breakfast in a cozy living room.
Eating House 1849 is Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s homage to the original Eating House, initially opened in the mid-1800s and considered to be one of Hawaii’s first restaurants. The Koloa restaurant is only open for dinner, and the diverse menu paired with intimate ambiance makes it the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary or impress a foodie first date. The seasonal menu is heavy with dishes that pay homage to Kauai’s rich culinary history.
Keoki’s Paradise in Poipu offers a casual ambiance, great food, and a tropical setting. And isn’t that what you came to Kauai for? Grab a seat in the bar area for some budget-friendly drinks and food during happy hour, or enjoy a more romantic setting on the open-air restaurant side. The restaurant features live hula dancing and music performed by local musicians on select nights.