You’ve spent the day exploring the beauty of the Garden Isle and there’s one last thing to do before calling it a day — eat a delicious dinner. We’ve hand-collected a list of the best places to enjoy a lovely meal on the South Shore of Kauai.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
If you’re happy with your meal, tag us @HawaiiIslander on Instagram to share the love.
Feature Photo: The Dolphin
Kauai native and award-winning chef Noelani Planas is in the kitchen of Red Salt, located inside the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort in Poipu. Voted #1 Restaurant in Kauai by Honolulu Magazine, Red Salt offers delectable dishes like Madagascar Vanilla Bean Seared Mahi Mahi. Open daily from 7am to 11am and 530pm to 8:30pm.
Family-owned and -operated for over 20 years, this place is serving seriously “ono-licious” (really tasty) food. The vibe is hip, the fish is as fresh as it gets, and the menu has got something for everyone, including all you plant-loving folk. The Dolphin is open daily from 5pm to 8pm.
From the day Owner-Chef Peter Merriman opened the doors of Merriman’s original Waimea location in 1988, he proved himself to be an early champion of sustainable and locally-sourced cuisine. The Waimea location is now Hawaii’s first carbon-neutral restaurant, and the Poipu location is not far behind, as over 90% of its ingredients are locally grown or caught using sustainable methods. Check out popular dishes like the Kalua Pork Quesadilla and the Ma Kai special, which changes nightly, and stop by on a Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday for live music. Advanced reservations are highly recommended through opentable.com. Open 4:30pm to 9pm daily. Happy Hour 4pm to 5pm.
At Tidepools, feel the mist from surrounding waterfalls as you dine in an open-air hale pili: a thatched-roof bungalow modeled after a traditional village. Their menu celebrates local ingredients and Hawaiian culinary tradition. Nestled by the Hyatt’s koi lagoon under the glow of tiki torches, you’ll enjoy fresh fish and steak such as the popular Macadamia Crusted Mahi, set over greens grown in their on-site hydroponic garden. You can also stop by the Hyatt’s other restaurant, Stevenson’s Library, for sushi. Lounge open 4:30pm – 9pm daily, restaurant 5pm – 9pm.
The Beach House
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or hoping to catch the sunset with a drink in hand, The Beach House won’t disappoint. Their oceanfront setting is known for its stunning sunsets, and their commitment to locally-sourced ingredients shine through in their Pacific Rim cuisine that reimagines classic favorites. Secure your spot with a reservation and explore their diverse drink menu, featuring imaginative cocktails and island-inspired non-alcoholic options. Open 3:30pm to 8:30pm daily. Happy Hour 3:30pm to 4:30pm.
This oceanfront hotspot, found inside the Sheraton Kauai, boasts 180-degree ocean views from every seat. Enjoy Kauai’s most extensive array of rums from around the world as you enjoy modern Kauai dining with global influences. Can’t decide what to order? RumFire understands. Sample up to four dishes on one plate with their entree flight options. Our tip: request Table 53, from which all net food & beverage proceeds are donated to charity. Open 5pm to 9pm, Thursday through Sunday.