Kauai is the oldest island in the Hawaiian Islands chain, and arguably one of the most lush, tropical paradises in the entire world. Besides snorkeling in pristine waters, flying in a helicopter along the Na Pali Coast, ziplining over green canopy treetops, and jumping into waterfalls, you can also find a diverse array of food! Kauai’s food scene can be summed up into two words…food trucks! Though it has its share of sit-downs and fine dining restaurants, the food trucks are where you’ll find the real local flare and you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to fill your belly!
In this blog post I will share some of my favorite eateries on the island of Kauai, including food trucks and stand alone restaurants, broken down by location.
WHERE TO EAT ON KAUAI
“FT” = Food Truck
V = Vegetarian and vegan options offered
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- Eating Healthy Kauai (formerly Caffe Coco) (V)
- Kauai Boba & BBQ (FT)
- Kikuchi’s (FT)
Order the chicken kara’age (Japanese version of fried chicken) with ginger honey mustard sauce, and the fresh ahi wrap. For two dishes we spent $26 including tip.
- Porky’s (FT) – hot dog and gourmet sausage sandwiches on delicious bread
KAPA’A / WAILUA
- Art Cafe Hemingway (view of the river; uses local ingredients)
- Chicken in a Barrel (FT)
- Haole Girl Sweets (V)
- Java Kai Cafe (V)
- Kauai Juice Co. (V)
- Nixtamal (FT / V)
- Oasis on the Beach (inside the Waipouli Beach Resort)
- Papaya’s Natural Foods (natural grocery store) (V)
- Paradise Ramen (FT / V)
- Passion Bakery Cafe (V)
- Pono Market (great lau lau and authentic local Hawaiian foods)
- Portions Kombucha & Indian Food (V)
- Scorpacciata (FT / V) – pizza
- Small Town Coffee (FT)
- The Spot Kauai – acai bowls, juices, smoothies (V)
This is one of the only breakfast joints you’ll find open before 8AM. The bagels that the sandwiches come on, are locally made and organic.
KAUAI JUICE COMPANY
Located right next to Java Kai Cafe, you’ll find organic fresh cold-pressed juices and local spices and sea salts.
These are some of the best tamales I’ve had in my life! Run by a sweet younger couple, this food truck can usually be found in Kapa’a. And a rooster will photobomb you. Hey, it’s their island, we just live on it.
PORTIONS KOMBUCHA BAR & INDIAN FOOD
We walked into this place on a Saturday night with not a single person in the restaurant, which we usually take to be a warning sign, but we decided to chance it anyway because the Yelp reviews are good and the gal working behind the counter was really welcoming. They serve several flavors of home-brewed kombucha on tap, which was delicious! Our favorite was the cacao pepper. It’s a neat concept where you can sit at the bar or in the lounge area with comfy couches. The Indian food was decent; nothing spectacular, but if you’re looking for vegetarian food, this is the place. We really enjoyed our conversation with the gal behind the counter, who was also a world traveler, so it felt as though we were visiting a hostel in an expatriate community in South America!
POIPU / KOLOA
- Anake’s Juice Bar (same location as Makai Sushi) (V)
- Eating House 1849 Koloa (fine dining)
- Koloa Fish Market
- La Spezia Restaurant and Wine Bar (fine dining)
- Living Foods Market (V)
- Makai Sushi (inside Kukui’ula Local Market)
- Merriman’s Fish House (fine dining)
- Red Salt at Koa Kea (fine dining)
- RumFire Poipu Beach (fine dining)
- The Lanai (fine dining)
MAKAI SUSHI (located inside Kukui’ula Local Market.)
Order the spicy ahi tuna roll.
ANAKE’S JUICE BAR (at the very back of the store in the same place as Makai Sushi)
Great for smoothies, fresh juices, acai bowl or our favorite chia seed oatmeal with coffee-infused yogurt and fresh strawberries. Double yum.
PORT ALLEN & ELE’ELE
- Kauai Island Brewing Company
PRINCEVILLE, HANALEI & KILAUEA
- Ama (V)
- Hanalei Bread Company – North Shore (V)
- Healthy Hut (natural foods grocery store) (V)
- Trucking Delicious (FT)
If you’re driving from South to North and you’re craving a refreshing, cold kombucha (that’s us every day on Kauai), this is the perfect place to stop. It’s a small local organic natural foods store, carrying everything from a salad and cold foods bar, to all the beverages and chocolate you can imagine; most things sold in this store are local.
HANALEI BREAD COMPANY
This is my go-to breakfast place on the North Shore. We couldn’t decide to order the breakfast burrito, ham & cheese croissant, or the brekkie sandwich, so we ordered all three!
NORTH SHORE FOOD TRUCK PLAZA
Food trucks have become the latest craze on Kauai because rents are too expensive to own a restaurant, so instead they invest in a food truck to keep overhead costs low. This is a well-respected community on the islands, as most of the time the owner is both the chef and the person taking your order and payment, so you’ll get to connect with them and find out where the food comes from, what their concept was inspired by, etc. Locals call this “talking story”.
We decided on Trucking Delicious (cash only) because I was craving some local Kauai shrimp – one of the food staples the island is known for! The mermaid turquoise-colored truck lured me in, and the girls working inside were friendly.
I’m not gonna lie, de-shelling the prawns was not an easy task! I made a make-shift bib out of my paper napkin.
By the way, the neon pink-colored drink is all-natural; it’s their home made dragon fruit lemonade!
The mountainous views are stunning and there’s even an outdoor fireplace for those chilly winter nights! (It does actually dip into the 50’s F. on the North Shore of Kauai in the winter! To us locals, this is freezing!) 😉
We loved the poke with coconut milk; an interesting diversion from the normal shoyu (soy sauce) flavor. Other than this dish, we weren’t overly impressed with the food here. The ambiance, however, is what sold us.
- Midnight Bear Bread Bakery (V)
- Little Fish Coffee (V)
- Japanese Grandma’s Sushi
Are you ready to eat on Kauai? 🙂 Bon Appetit!
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