Our trip to the Garden Isle of Hawaii was made even better by the variety of delicious food (and drink!) we encountered. Whether you’re staying on the north or south part of the island, here are some places to eat in Kauai to get your mouth watering!
Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant and Sushi Bar
The open-air restaurant was cute and quaint and we got a seat right by the window overlooking a garden area with Hawaiian plants and rocks forming the shape of ocean waves.
We started out with some water and ordered a sushi roll with ahi and crab to split.
While it was meant to simply be an appetizer, it ended up being enough for our meal, so we skipped ahead to dessert and ordered the highly recommended ice cream pie with two spoons!
It was macadamia nut, banana and coconut ice creams layered onto an Oreo cookie crust drizzled in fudge and top with whipped cream! It was amazing! We ate every last bite!
Sam ordered a burger wrapped in lettuce and I ordered a garden burger.
A sign caught my eye that said, ‘Hawaiian Grilled Cheese’. Yes, please! We had to check it out! It was a little hole-in-the-wall place in a strip mall called Pink’s.
The grilled cheese sandwich consisted of muenster cheese (my favorite), pork and pineapple. The sandwich was delicious, but a little on the small side and you could barely taste the pineapple. I’m not sure it was worth the $9 we paid for it, but it was tasty nonetheless.
I had read multiple reviews that mentioned it was one of the best restaurants on the island and I knew it was located right along the beach, so I was desperate to try it. I also knew it was fairly expensive, which is why I thought going there for lunch was best! Our lunch still ended up costing us over $60, but we ordered drinks, a pupus (appetizer) and 2 entrees, so we knew it wasn’t going to be a cheap meal.
We ordered one of the drink specials to share; the description of citrus vodka, citrus juices and a splash of St. Germain sounded so refreshing!
We also ordered the spanakopita as an appetizer, which was delicious! I then ordered the ahi lettuce wraps (which I ordered macadamia nut encrusted), served with hummus, tabouli and babaganoush on the side and Sam ordered a gyro wrap with waffle fries, which he said was amazing! I wish we had room to order some baklava for dessert, but by that point, we were stuffed!
Hee Fat General Store
I had read that Hee Fat General Store was the best place on the island for shave ice, and since this was our first experience eating shave ice, we decided this would be where we’d try it! Sam asked the guy working the counter what the best combination of flavors was and he recommended mango, guava and passion fruit, so that’s exactly what Sam got. I ordered a combination of banana, coconut and pineapple. We both added a recommended scoop of macadamia nut ice cream to the bottom and went for the topping of a light drizzle of melted vanilla bean ice cream on the top. What an incredible first experience!
I don’t know if we could ever have plain shave ice after that! Needless to say, we made a few more stops to Hee Fat during our week in Kauai.
Chicken in a Barrel
I had read about a place called Chicken in a Barrel BBQ that sounded like a place worth checking out. I’m so glad we did! I ordered and ate one of the best burritos I have ever had in my life!
Sam ordered a plate of pulled pork and I ordered the kid’s chicken burrito. The flavor was amazing! I added a little bit of BBQ sauce to each bite, which took it to another level.
There was a nice beach/park right next to Chicken in a Barrel (which is called that because they literally cook their meat in barrel cookers)! We decided to take our food to the nearby park, sit under the palm trees and have an impromptu picnic!
They only took cash, so we had to walk to a nearby ATM. We both ordered an ahi burrito. It was a little lacking in flavor, but it was healthy and did the trick.
Small Town Coffee
This is more of a place to drink than eat, but it deserves a spot on the list nonetheless. I had read about Small Town Coffee in a Sunset magazine article, so we had to check it out! Sam ordered a coconut mocha, which he said was amazing!
Attached to the coffee shop was a tiny used bookstore, which of course, Sam wanted to check out. He ended up finding and purchasing a (1941 copyright) copy of The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald for $3!
Hemingway’s Café is another place to stop for coffee in Kapa’a.
Koloa Rum Company
We had a little bit of a hard time finding it, because the GPS in my phone was a little off, but we eventually found the Kilohana Plantation where the Koloa Rum Company was located.
They do tastings for a maximum of 16 people every ½ hour. The woman pouring the rum was very energetic and enthusiastic about the rum! It turned out to be more of a history lesson on the sugar plantation than it was about drinking rum.
We sampled each of the 4 types of rum (only equaling one full shot), pouring a tiny bit of each into a separate shot glass with some juice to make a mai tai. To be honest, we weren’t really impressed with the rum. I imagine it would be better mixed with other ingredients, such as coke or in other drink concoctions, but the only one we really enjoyed by itself was the Kauai spiced rum.
We bought a tiny bottle of the spiced rum and I, of course, bought my traditional travel shot glass. Not sure I would recommend the rum tasting experience to others, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
Lappart’s Ice Cream
How can anyone resist yummy ice cream served in freshly-baked chocolate dipped waffle cones. We visited Lappart’s a few times during our week in Kauai. We tried the peanut butter cup and fudge, caramel cashew turtle cluster and Kauai Pie. All were divine!
We both ordered the local favorite, Mexican enchilada wrap with choice of meat (I had chicken; Sam had carnitas), queso cheese, tortilla strips, enchilada sauce, and guacamole, served in a toasted wrap with a side of rice and beans. It was quite delicious!
Kauai Coffee Plantation
Okay, so this is another one that’s a place to drink instead of eat. The Kauai Coffee Plantation is a recommended stop for coffee lovers. I personally don’t not drink coffee, so this stop was all for Sam! The surrounding area was absolutely beautiful, so I simply enjoyed the scenery while Sam enjoyed the coffee!
The samples were free; his favorite was the coconut caramel crunch.
Keoki’s Paradise looked like a fun place to eat and based on prior research, the menu prices weren’t too outrageous.
We were very happy with our decision to go there! We got to choose our seats on the open-air patio right by a little pond surrounded by tropical plants. We started out with a frozen mai tai and a lava flow for pre-lunch cocktails.
I had a hankering for the fish and chips and Sam ordered two BBQ pork sliders and a crab cake slider. We were both pleased with our lunch selections.
Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt
Our meal at Tidepools was so incredibly romantic and delicious, it deserved its own post!
Duane’s Ono Char-Burger
Duane’s is a hole in the wall place with a lot of great reviews, so we figured it was worth a shot!
The girl at the window completely messed up my order, but it was still tasty! I didn’t want to waste food by having them remake my sandwich, and each order takes about 15 minutes.
Maloa’a Juice Bar
I had been eyeing the Maloa’a Juice Bar each time we drove past it, so we decided to check it out.
I ordered a pineapple, banana and strawberry smoothie. It was yummy!
A quick Yelp! search on my phone directed us to this tiny taco stand, which was located just a few miles from Waimea Canyon.
We both ordered burritos; Sam’s had carne asade and mine had teriyaki chicken. We ordered enchilada sauce to dip our burritos in, which was really good, but the salsa turned out to be even better! All of the flavors were so yummy, so we certainly left full and satisfied!
Jo-Jo’s Anueanue Shave Ice
Jo-Jo’s another raved-about shave ice establishment on Kauai. We were curious to see how it compared to Hee Fat, so although we were still a little full from lunch, we just had to try it!
We’re pretty sure we ordered the same flavors that we did at Hee Fat, but this time instead of the melted vanilla bean ice cream drizzled on top, it was some form of coconut liquid.
As far as how the two compared, Hee Fat’s shave ice was softer and easier to eat. Jo-Jo’s, although delicious and refreshing, had a little too much syrup.
Have you ever been to Kauai? What restaurant would you recommend that wasn’t on our list?
Also, it is highly recommended that you rent a car during your stay on the island of Kauai. Public transportation is fairly limited and having your own car will allow you the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want! We found a great deal on a convertible with Hertz.
Need help planning your own trip to the Garden Isle? For less than a buck ($1 USD), you can download our printable 4-page Kauai Destination Guide that includes information on: Transportation | Best Time to Visit | Weather | Recommended Lodgings and Restaurants | Suggested Activities Based on Interest | Money Saving Tips | Kauai Facts | Sample 7-Day Itinerary
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