The most enjoyable way to break up a busy vacation day is with the perfect midday meal. Try one of our recommendations for Kauai’s best lunch options, divided by area so you can find a restaurant near you no matter where you might be.
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 Bistro
Kauai Lunch Map
Lunch on Kauai's North Shore
Princeville - Hanalei - Kilauea
Hanalei Bread Company
Located in the heart of Hanalei, this organic bakery and coffeehouse is locally owned and operated. There’s a scrumptious selection of breakfast toasts, bowls and smoothies. Breakfast is served all day to enjoy on the lanai. Hanalei Bread Co is open daily 7am to 12:30pm.
Kalypso features a bamboo bar and outdoor patio, and is serving up local favorites like huli huli chicken, kalua pork sandwich and loco moco. Make sure to save room for the house-made ice cream cakes. Bonus — there’s a daily happy hour from 3pm to 5:30pm. Open Monday and Wednesday 2:30pm to 8:30pm, Thursday and Friday 11am to 8:30 pm, Saturday 10am to 8:30pm, and Sunday 8am to 8:30pm. Closed Tuesday.
Since 1999, The Bistro has been serving fresh European and Pacific Rim fusion cuisine made from local ingredients. The open-air, plantation-style restaurant has a goal of keeping a low environmental impact, in addition to cooking up tasty food. There are plenty of gluten-free and vegan options. Open daily from 3pm to 8:30pm with happy hour daily from 3pm to 6pm.
Little Fish Coffee
Little Fish Coffee is serving up flavorful breakfast dishes to keep you swimming all day. The menu is a delightful spread of acai bowls, bagels, sandwiches, smoothies and coffee. The fruits and veggies are locally grown and the coffee is organic and fair-trade. What else do you need before 11am? Open daily 7:30am to 1pm, and is grateful for your business.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
For a quicker and more budget-friendly meal that’ll still curb your appetite for Hawaiian food, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue will most certainly deliver. There are four total locations throughout Kauai, including this one in Hanalei, so you can find one near you easily. Order their Kalua pork with cabbage, SPAM Musabi or perhaps the BBQ burger — get a taste of what comfort food looks like locally. hawaiianbarbecue.com
For more than 30 years this family-run business has been serving fresh and delicious food in Hanalei. They’ve got burgers, they’ve got booze, and they’ve got a lovely open-air venue. It’s just the place to sink your teeth into a burger! Hanalei Gourmet is open Sunday through Thursday 11am to 8 pm and Friday 11am to 3 pm.
Self-proclaimed as Kauai’s most exotic Tiki bar, Tiki Iniki is a perfect place to enjoy Tiki Cocktails and Island Cuisine. The restaurant is decorated with Vintage Tiki, Hawaiiana, and Exoctica decor dating all the way back to the 1940s up until today. The owners of Tiki Iniki say that it is the place to eat, drink and be le’a le’a. Their most famous burger is the Iniki Burger, which comes with mixed crispy fried spam with beef, pickled veggies, provolone, cabbage slaw, and shoyu mayo. So stop by at Tiki Iniki if you’re looking for a great burger, great drinks, or somewhere to wind down for the day. tikiiniki.com
Lunch in Central Kauai
Lihue - Kapa'a - Hokuala
At Fish Express you can build your own poke bowl. The food is to go, but it’s always fresh and they’ve got lots of options. Check out the tasty daily specials, or if you’re feeling adventurous try some of their tako (octopus) poke. Open Monday through Saturday 10am to 2pm and Sunday 10am to 1:30pm.
Sleeping Giant Grill
Their Ahi Wrap was voted “Best Thing I Ever Ate” from The Food Network . This laid-back environment features fresh ingredients, with reasonable prices, and great portion sizes. Located behind the Coconut Market Place next to Islander on the Beach Resort. Sleeping Giant Grill is open Monday through Friday 1pm to 8pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Waipouli Deli & Restaurant
Waipouli offers a unique blend of American, Japanese and, of course, Hawaiian cuisine to give you plenty of choices with comforting, authentic flavors. The menu is extensive, with everything from the classic American cheeseburger to oxtail soup — with so much available, you’ll be certain to find a dish that you’ll love at a price that you can afford. The deli and restaurant is open for breakfast through dinner for most of the week, and from breakfast to lunch on Monday and Sunday. waipoulideli.com
Located on Kauai’s east side, Bubba Burgers has been serving tasty burgers since 1936. They don’t recommend lettuce and tomato; they want the meat to do all the talking. Bubba’s serves only Kauai grass-fed beef, on a toasted bun with mustard, Bubba relish and chopped onions. Enjoy your burger on the large lanai with the classic rock music pumping on the speakers. Open daily 10:30am to 8pm and would be happy to flip some burgers for you.
The concept at Kenji Burger is a fusion of sushi and burgers — think burritos and burgers dressed with teriyaki sauce and ponzu aioli. It’s strictly 100% Kauai grass-fed beef between these buns, and it’s best accompanied by some furikake fries. As the locals say, this is some ono grindz! Open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 11am to 8:30pm and Friday and Saturday 11am to 9pm. Closed Tuesday.
Shaka Burgers Hawaii
Shaka Burgers Hawaii is a food truck located in south central Kauai serving delicious, all-American burgers with a Hawaiian twist. The food truck is a local favorite, as all the ingredients are locally sourced, beef is grass-fed, and has many Asian-infused options. Shaka Burgers Hawaii’s most wanted burger is the Da Shaka Burger, which comes with a shaka-seasoned makaweli ranch beef patty, cheddar Cheese, local lettuce, pickles, tomato, onions 2 ways (crispy and raw), Bacon Jam and Shaka Sauce. You have to check out Shaka Burgers Hawaii as it’s the ultimate burger food truck experience for anyone traveling to the island of Kauai. hawaiianfoodco.wixsite.com
Wailua Drive In
Once featured on famed television show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives under the name Saimin Dojo at the time, Wailua Drive In carries on its legacy as a restaurant with delicious Hawaiian food that you’ll want to take the time to visit. There are plenty of menu items to choose from, including a teriyaki beef sandwich and ginger fried chicken. After eating here, you’ll know why Guy Fieri was intrigued. wailuadrivein.com
House of Sushi Food Truck Kapa'a
Looking for a great sushi food truck in the northeast of Kauai? Look no further than House of Sushi Food Truck Kapa’a. The food is centered right alongside the ocean, so customers can enjoy their sushi with a view of the Pacific Ocean waves hitting the coastline. The staff is one of the friendliest on the island, making sure each customer gets their fish the freshest and fastest it can be. Some of their special house sushi rolls include the Poipu Rainbow Roll, Spiderman Roll, and the Crunchy Paradise Roll along with many other delicious rolls.
Nowhere is the Garden Isle better celebrated than at Hualani’s, located at the Timbers Ocean Club & Residences. Their farm-to-table menu features fruits and vegetables grown at Timbers’ Farm at Hōkūala, which the bar complements with its selection of specialty cocktails, beer, and wine. Happy Hour is 3pm to 5pm — their Pau Hana “time after work” menu offers $5 beer, $8 wine, and bites like coconut shrimp, ahi dip with banana chips, and even “pupu-style” ribeye. Open for dinner 5pm to 8:30 pm Monday through Saturday. Bar open 11am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and 11am to 5pm Sunday.
Lunch on Kauai's South Shore
Poipu - Koloa - Waimea
Located on the south shore of Kauai, Keoki’s offers tasty Hawaiian fare in a tropical setting, with live hula almost every night. The menu features locally sourced ingredients, and the fresh fish varies according to season, and can be prepared kalo crusted, baked in garlic, or miso glazed, just to name a few of the ono choices. There are also veggie, gluten-free, and local meats options. Open Monday through Friday 11am to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 10pm.
Kauai Poke Co.
The Kauai Poke Co. food truck is serving up friendly, fast, and fresh poke for your culinary pleasure. Try the Plantation Bowl, with all the fresh raw fish you need scooped up into a bowl with sushi rice, seafood salad, fresh shave ginger and topped with fried onions. Open 7:30 am to 3pm daily. Check out their restaurant location at Poipu Bay.
What is now recognized as Kiawe Roots had once only been in the food truck business, but has since become a restaurant that deliciously captures everything you’ll want from a modern Hawaiian dish. Their menu offerings vary from sandwiches like their crispy pulled pork sandwich to a selection of smoked meats such as brisket, and extends from breakfast to dinner. There are also specialty drinks, and plenty of choices both alcoholic and nonalcoholic so that anyone in your party can experience Kiawe Roots to the fullest. eatatkiawe.com
Holoholo Grill, Koloa Landing Resort
Holoholo Grill is an on-site, poolside restaurant at Koloa Landing Resort in Kauai. The burgers at Holoholo Grill are known for their top-quality ingredients all while being crafted by celebrity chef Sam Choy, who’s written over 11 top-selling cookbooks and appeared on the Food Network numerous times. When you go there, you have to try the Holoholo burger which is filled with wagyu beef, tomato jam, burger sauce, lettuce, and crispy onions all assembled onto a toasted brioche bun. Holoholo itself means “a pleasurable journey of discovery” in Hawaiian, and Holoholo Grill certainly earns that title. koloalandingresort.com
Lava’s on Poipu Beach
Lava’s on Poipu Beach is one of the many restaurants located at Sheraton Kauai Resort. Guests can enjoy a taste of aloha whether it’s at breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, their lunch menu features some of the best burgers in Kauai including the Paniolo Burger which comes with a 4oz wagyu beef, American cheese, bacon, onion rings, bibb lettuce, and lava’s special sauce, all on a toasted brioche bun. You’ll feel like you’re in heaven enjoying one of these tasty burgers while watching the picturesque waves of the Pacific Ocean ooze onto Poipu Beach. Lavasonpoipubeach.com
Poipu Rock 'n Roll Sushi
Poipu Rock n’ Roll Sushi is a laid-back sushi restaurant in southern Kauai that features everything from sushi to teriyaki to Thai noodles to beer. Poipu Rock n’ Roll Sushi combines sushi and flavorful Thai cuisine into one great Asian-style restaurant. Many of their menu offerings are named after famous Rock n’ Roll musicians/bands such as the Jimi Hendrix Roll or the Rolling Stones Roll. Come enjoy some delicious sushi and Thai food while listening to nightly live music and sipping on some great specialty drinks. sushikauai.com
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.