Top 10 Restaurants on Kauai

Kauai is Hawaii's westernmost island. Well, it's the westernmost island that you can visit. Visible off Kauai's west coast is the actual westernmost island, but Niihau is privately owned. A security team will arrive to escort you back to Kauai the second you step on the island to keep you away from a population of people that still live an ancient lifestyle.

Unfortunately, all those Niihau residents are missing out on Kauai's abundant beauty. Kauai is known as "The Garden Isle" because it is Hawaii's most lush and verdant island. Mount Waialeale, the island's central dormant volcano, is the rainiest place on earth. And all that rainfall carves navigable rivers into the island; the only navigable rivers in the state.

The Garden Isle is rather quiet. The island's government has banned any building from being taller than a palm tree, and most of the island shuts down early. It's kind of island that attracts the outdoorsy types that like to challenge themselves on one of the island's hikes before returning to the hotel for deep sleep. And there are plenty of hikes that explore the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Alakai Swamp.

But the unpretentious island is a great place to grab an authentic meal. The ingredients are locally sourced as The Garden Isle provides abundantly. The digs are usually laid back, and the food can be absolutely exquisite, fresh and healthy. And it needs to be healthy in order to refuel the adventurous nature lovers that flock to the island.


tableDown in the southern reaches of Kauai, where the weather is reliably hot and dry, you'll find Merriman's. This is Hawaiian food at its freshest. The chefs are Merriman's makes it a point of pride to use only locally caught fish, sustainable proteins and island vegetables. The result is fresh, healthy and filling. It's also beautifully plated. You can dine on an incredible array of seafood, some of which was caught the same day, while you enjoy an outdoor table overlooking the verdant fields of Kauai. Off in the distance, you can hear the faint crash of waves at Poipu as live music plays nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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The Beach House

setting The setting of the Beach House is absolutely stunning. The entire restaurant sits right on one of the best snorkeling beaches in all of Kauai -- Lawai -- down on the southern side of the island. The weather here is reliably hot and dry, so an outdoor seat is a must at the Beach House. And the restaurant does a beautiful job of blurring the line between outdoors and indoors with plenty of open-air areas. Not surprisingly, the Beach house focuses on clean, healthy and sustainable seafood with much of it caught nearby. And the bar's colorful tropical drinks add a splash of vibrant color to the azure blue of the sea.

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Duke's Kauai

cheersDuke is a state treasure. The U.S. Olympian was born at the turn of the 20th century and he lived long enough to see Hawaii become America's 50th state in 1959. In the early 1900s, he toured the world putting on surfing exhibitions effectively introducing the Hawaii-made sport to the planet. You can pay homage to the Duke by visiting his restaurant down in Nawiliwili Harbor. The restaurant is tucked away. You'll have to walk down a stone trail lined with tiki torches, but once you get there, you can dine on Hawaiian inspired staples like Kalua pork sandwiches, poke and fresh fish.

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Bar Acuda's Tapas & Wine

WineThis sexy little restaurant waits for you on the secluded north side of the island. You'll find the restaurant on Hanalei's main road, but the tables are tucked away exclusively. This chef-owned restaurant is only open for dinner and is one of the most romantic date spots on the island. And what's not to love? You can indulge in lobster stuffed squid, pancetta-wrapped sea scallops or slow-cooked short rib in modern digs. This place buzzes every night as north shore vacationers descend on the restaurant for its incredible cocktails and wine menu. The wines have been carefully curated from all over the world to add to the romance.

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Eating House 1849

reservedThe Eating House pays homage to Hawaii's culinary past. The story goes that a man named Peter Fernandez opened the first restaurant in the Hawaiian islands back in 1849. It was named the Eating House. Now chef Roy Yamaguchi uses only the freshest Hawaiian ingredients to craft a seasonal menu that is sure to satisfy. You can find Eating House down on the south side of the island where you'll find clear skies, hot air, and blue water. It's a beautiful setting for a high-end dinner. The menu is decidedly haute cuisine, but it is approachable because of the locally sourced ingredients. It's simple yet sophisticated.

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The Fresh Shave

Fresh ShaveThere's more than one way to feel good down at the Fresh Shave. This tiny little food truck serves up some of the best shave ice in all of Hawaii, and they only use fresh ingredients. You won't find any artificial colors, preservatives or chemicals in this healthy treat. The ice is pure, the flavors are fresh and it's all-natural. And the business is centered around Aloha, Ohana, and Aina. Aloha means that you'll always receive a friendly and caring service. Ohana means that The Fresh Shave is family-owned. Aina means land. Fresh Shave only uses sustainable ingredients. And all the menu items are named after mustache styles to keep with the barber theme.

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Keoki's Paradise

hula show Kauai's south side is the perfect setting for this beautiful restaurant. The weather is reliably beautiful which makes the near-nightly hula show possible in this open-air concept. You'll enjoy your meal in the midst of a lush tropical setting full of fruit trees and tiki torches. It'll really open your eyes as to why Kauai is known as The Garden Isle. And the chefs use all that Kauai has to offer to create a stunning menu of fresh dishes. You can enjoy a cultural fusion of foods by ordering up some poke, Kalbi beef bao, and jumbo lump crab cakes.

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Red SaltRed Salt

Executive Chef and Kauai native Noelani Planas brings Red Salt to the south side of Kauai. This Poipu restaurant uses freshly caught Kauai fish in dishes fused with locally sourced vegetables and fruits. You can dine on dishes like vanilla bean seared mahi-mahi and ahi tartare while taking advantage of more traditional American foods like the decadent Red Salt burger. You'll find this incredible restaurant inside the Koa Kea Resort which comes complete with a pool bar. It's an atmosphere that blends laid back, casual and refined all in one.

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Monkeypod Jam

billMonkeypod Jam is less of a restaurant and more of a food maker. This small company works with over 55 different growers on Kauai to make the most spectacularly fresh jams you'll ever taste. The company only works with growers that commit to the most sustainable farming practices, so you know you're getting a wonderful product. You can find these jams at a variety of stores on the island, but the best way to buy Monkeypod products is at a local farmer's market. These take place all over the island on separate days, so there's always an interesting place to buy produce, nicknacks and other local food products.

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Aulii Luau

Aulii LuauThis nightly luau takes place down on the reliably hot and dry south side. You'll be adorned with lei as you arrive, and you're welcome to look around the oceanfront property. You'll find a bar with drinks included in your luau price as well as a large area of communal tables. Soon, men dressed in traditional Hawaiian garb will unearth the Kalua pig from the underground oven known as an imu. The pig will then be prepared just before the buffet-style dinner opens up. Don't miss out on the pork, poi and lau lau. Then the nightly dance starts in front of the sparkling blue ocean as the sunsets.

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