The lush, beautiful landscapes of Kauai are no doubt a feast for the eyes. Taking in those breathtaking views is a treat in and of itself. However, an indulgence not to be overlooked is the incredible food that Hawaii’s Garden Island has to offer. The variety of flavors, the freshness of the cuisine, and the passion for the culture are prevalent throughout the island. Here are seven restaurants you need to make sure you visit during your stay in The Garden Isle.1. Duke’s Canoe Club
Just five minutes away from Lihue Airport is a tried and true Kauai favorite. The atmosphere immediately immerses you in the lifestyle of the island with a koi pond surrounded by trees that make you feel like you’re in the center of a tropical rainforest and tiki torches abound. Just steps outside the restaurant is the gorgeous beach where namesake Olympic swimmer and legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku rode the waves back in his day. This place is best known for its fresh island fish and tantalizing tacos (both Korean and fish). There’s also a relaxing barefoot bar and live Hawaiian entertainment. Oh, and definitely do not forget to try the famous Kimo’s Original Hula Pie for dessert!
Keoki’s has a very similar vibe to Duke’s. Its jungle-like setting perfectly complements its menu with exotic drinks like the delectable Poipu Pina (served in a locally grown pineapple) and food inspired by Hawaii’s farmers, fisherman and ranchers. The locally sourced ingredients embody the spirit of aloha and are masterfully crafted into dishes like their Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Grilled Thai Shrimp. Keoki’s commitment to supporting local Hawaiian farmers and their families is incredibly commendable and one of the reasons you definitely need to check out this Poipu Beach pick.
3. Hukilau Lanai
You’ll notice a theme on this list: Kauai loves their local farmers and fishermen. Tucked away in the Kauai Coast Resort is Hukilau Lanai—a fantastic restaurant that features a menu which puts fun and flavorful twists on local ingredients. However, while the food (like Adam’s Poke Nachos and Sweet Potato Ravioli) is fantastic, this place is known for its live entertainment that switches every night of the week. From Easy Living Jazz to traditional Hawaiian music to bluegrass and country, there isn’t a single musician here that disappoints. (We also highly recommend booking a reservation for their $50 five-course tasting menu, complete with wine pairings and upscale, hyperlocal dishes).
Chef and owner Peter Merriman is a pioneer of the “Farm to Table” concept. At least 90% of all his ingredients are locally grown or caught and his international menu is prepared in a manner that brings out and enhances each unique and natural flavor. However, while the food is without question top-notch here, the star feature is the restaurant itself. Enter an Old Hawaiian Plantation and enjoy dinner with an incredible mountain or ocean view (and be sure to stick around for an absolutely gorgeous sunset).
Head outside at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and make your way toward the open-air thatched bungalows for a dining experience in the center of paradise. Set at the base of a waterfall and seemingly floating above a koi-filled lagoon, Tidepools was inspired by the natural ingredients and rich traditions of Kauai. Enjoy the exciting and mouthwatering menu that pays homage to the classic fare of Hawaii in unexpected and new ways like the Mahimahi with roasted banana-macadamia nut sauce or the Opah with volcano candy spice. This romantic hideaway will amaze you with its exceptional service and unbeatable ambiance.
At The Beach House, not only is the fish sourced from local Kauai fishermen, but their beef and coffee come from neighboring ranches. Plus, they incorporate local fruits and vegetables into their delectable dishes whenever possible and make all of their breads, buns, and desserts from scratch in-house. Take a look at their seasonal menu and enjoy your meal in a stunning ocean-front location with unparalleled sunsets that features renowned local folk artists. This iconic destination has won the prestigious Hale ‘Aina Award for “Best Restaurant – Kauai” for 16 years running and it’s not hard to see why.
We end our list with one of my absolute favorites, where I enjoyed some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted! Chef Garrison Price presents a tour-de-force menu, and 90% of the ingredients he uses to craft his dishes are cultivated and grown in Hawaii. Chef Price and his team curate different unique and delicious sushi creations every night that can be enjoyed alongside one of their signature martinis or tropical drinks in their intimate indoor lounge or outdoor porch with sweeping views of the surrounding resort and Pacific beyond. Make sure to time your visit to catch a spectacular sunset over Hanalei Bay!