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 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: Eating House 1849 Facebook
Kauai Dinner Map
Dinner on Kauai's North Shore
Princeville - Hanalei - Kilauea
Ama’s motto is “you’re in paradise, try the noodles” and we heartily agree! They use only local ingredients for their delicious house-made noodles and ramen mazeman dishes. Enjoy your meal on their gorgeous patio. Ama’s sister restaurant is Bar Acuda, also in Hanalei. Ama is open Tuesday to Saturday 5pm to 9pm.
Postcards’ Chef Javier Melendez has traveled the world and brings that to his dishes, combining French and Japanese technique with flavors from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. You’ll find everything from hamachi sashimi to cacio e pepe here, where you can trust in farm-fresh and ocean-to-table ingredients. Pair your meal with carefully selected wines and desserts featuring pure organic cacao. The restaurant is also vegan and vegetarian friendly. Open 5pm to 9pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
For 15 years, Bar Acuda has been offering an amazing tapas-style menu designed to be shared among friends — but there’s no shame in ordering to your heart’s content if dining solo. The ingredients are locally sourced, the wine list is extensive and the creative cocktails set the tone for one great meal on Kauai’s north shore. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Welina Terrace boasts the best sunset views on Kauai from its location inside the 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay. Nightly live music by local artists sets the mood while you explore an extensive selection of sakes, Japanese whiskies, beers, sustainable wines, and craft cocktails. Savor shareable plates from Chef Misao Masuda’s modern Japanese menu that pays tribute to Hawaii’s rich Asian culture. Bar open 4pm to 11pm nightly, restaurant 5pm to 9:30pm.
Kilauea Fish Market
Looking for a casual bite after a day at the beach? Search no further than Kilauea Fish Market. This cozy eatery offers a variety of gourmet plates and pupus like poke bowls, wraps, and tacos, perfect to enjoy on their outdoor patio. Or take home meat from their deli — fish is freshly-caught, while beef and chicken are free-range and hormone-free. And when your sweet tooth calls, don’t miss their shave ice stand located right in front of the market. Open 11am to 8pm, Monday through Saturday.
Dinner in Central Kauai
Lihue - Kapa'a - Hokuala
Hukilau Lanai sources only sustainably caught fish and is part of The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. The views here are great, and everything is made on site from scratch. There are several gluten-free options on the menu, and every night there’s a five-course tasting menu for $65, offered from 5-5:45pm. Reservations are recommended. Open Tuesday through Saturday 5pm to 9pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Jo2 Natural Cuisine
Chef Jean-Marie Josselin has created a menu that merges the culinary influences of his native France, the clean flavors of Japanese cooking, and Hawaii’s multi-ethnic community. Jo2 focuses on using local organic produce and freshly caught fish. Our recommended dishes include ono ceviche with coconut water foam, tempura lobster tail ramen, and sake cured steelhead salmon. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm.
Sam's Ocean View
“Eat, drink, fun” is the motto at Sam’s Ocean View, where high-quality food, a stunning ocean view, and a casual atmosphere come together to form your perfect dinner spot. Their fish options change each day, and their commitment to freshness carries through to their hand-mixed cocktails —locally-sourced ingredients and never a soda gun. Try their guava, lilikoi jalapeño, or blood orange margaritas while you enjoy global twists on American dishes. You might even spot a whale out the window! Open 4pm to 9pm, Thursday through Monday. Happy Hour 4pm to 6pm, Monday, Thursday, and Friday.
Dinner on Kauai's South Shore
Poipu - Koloa - Waimea
Eating House 1849
Well-renowned local chef Roy Yamaguchi is behind Eating House 1849. The menu features dishes both from mauka (the mountains) and makai (the sea). Start with your own appetizer, the Kamuela Farms Tomato & Mozzarella Cheese Salad, and then share an delicious entree like the Slow Braised Honey Mustard Grilled Beef Short Ribs or the Tiger Shrimp Pasta. Open Tuesday through Saturday 5pm to 9pm.
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.