Knowing where to eat (and not eat) on Kauai will save you a lot of time and money, plus you’ll have a happy tummy!
While my husband and I did buy some food and snacks from Costco and Walmart while we stayed on Kauai, the majority of our meals we went out to eat. I did a decent amount of research and highlighted some places that sounded good. Most were amazing with a few duds in between (you win some, you lose some). I’m sharing where we ate, what we ate and the location of each place so you’ll know where to find each establishment (or avoid it altogether).
Places To Eat on Kauai
Costco (4300 Nuhou St. Lihue, HI)
Before my husband and I went inside to buy some snacks and other food, we stopped by Costco’s food court which is outside the entrance. I was surprised to see that the menu and pricing for everything was almost exactly the same as it is on the mainland. That means we still paid $1.50 for a hot dog and a drink! The only bummer was that they didn’t have any churros. Also, be aware that straws and other plastic utensils are a little harder to find, probably as a way to discourage you from using them if you don’t need them. (Hawaii is really cutting down on their use of plastic.) In all, Costco was definitely the least expensive and most cost effective place to buy yourself some lunch or dinner on Kauai.
What we ate: Hot Dogs, Drinks, Berry Ice Cream Sundae
Da Crack (2827 Poipu Rd. Koloa, HI)
Da Crack was highly recommended to me by multiple people so I knew we had to go there for lunch or dinner while on the south shore of Kauai. It’s a little Mexican place that is squeezed in between a general store and a couple snorkel and surfing shops. Parking is somewhat limited so you may have to park across the street. Seating is also basically non-existent so plan on taking your food with you to eat at the beach, in your car, or standing. But the food is amazing! (This was the only place we at at twice the entire time we were on Kauai so that’s saying something.) You can choose between a bowl, burrito or tacos, then choose your meat and your toppings. It’s generally pretty busy but the wait is only about 10 minutes or so.
What we ate: Pork Burrito, Steak Burrito, Pork Bowl, Chips and Salsa
Puka Dog (2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr. Koloa, HI)
Another place that was suggested to us, Puka Dog was right up the street from our hotel within easy walking distance. It’s in an outdoor shopping area called Poipu Shopping Village. They serve a Hawaiian style hot dog which is basically a hot dog, placed inside a bun that goes all the way around the hot dog, with the sauces inside. They have something called a relish, which is really just a sweet fruit jelly type sauce. They were friendly, helpful and patient as we asked questions and figured out what to order. It was a fun and unique little place to try out. They have some seating there, or you can sit on the grassy area or a bench. We opted for the bench and listened to the live music playing while we ate.
What we ate: Kauai Special and Pineapple Field (minus the mustard)
Keoki’s Paradise (2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr. Koloa, HI)
Also in the Poipu Shopping Village, Keoki’s Paradise is a great place to go for a nicer sit down meal. The whole atmosphere is relaxing and comfortable. We loved listening to the live music and watching the hula dancer that performed as well. My husband and I got there in time to order the Chef’s Tasting Menu which came with an appetizer, entree and dessert. The carrot spice muffins they served before we ordered were so amazing that we wanted to ask for more. Thankfully, there were no nuts in them (for anyone with nut allergies). We each ordered something different so we could try each other’s entree. My husband loved the steak and I have to agree it was cooked perfectly. I was able to try swordfish for the first time and I would definitely eat it again. And then dessert options were a fruity sorbet and a chocolate creme brulee. I’m still wishing I could have more!
What we ate: Carrot Spice Muffins, Caesar Salad, Short Rib Bao, Prime Top Sirloin, Keoki’s Style Hawaiian Catch (I had swordfish), Papalani Sorbetto, Chocolate Creme Brulee, Mocktails: Island Flower and Passion Sour
Kalapaki Beach Hut (3474 Rice St. Lihue, HI)
My husband was in the mood for a burger so we stopped at Kalapaki Beach Hut. They are a pretty typical burgers, fries and shakes type place. Like a lot of places, they serve taro fries, but they were out when we got there so we ordered regular fries. The place looked to be run mostly by teenagers (it was June when we went) and my husband ended up with some mustard on his burger even though he’d asked them to keep it off. Also, the jalapenos they give you aren’t fresh so be aware of that if you order them. I’m including this place as a yes because what I had was really good, but my husband wasn’t overly impressed.
What we ate: Kahuna Burger, Aloha Classic Burger, Fries
Trucking Delicious (5100 Kuhio Hwy Hanalei, HI)
There is a food truck area in Hanalei with 4-5 food trucks. Trucking Delicious was the one we ate it. My only issue with this place was that the only sides they offer (coleslaw and potato salad) aren’t food my husband and I like. They did give us an extra serving of rice, but between the main dish and the rice, you really did need something else to break it up. The reason I’m including this on my list is because the Sweet and Spicy Coconut Shrimp was pretty amazing and the portions were generous. For drinks, there is a pop machine around the side of a liquor store, as well as an ice machine to fill up your coolers.
What we ate: Sweet and Spicy Coconut Shrimp and Rice
Lappert’s (2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St. Koloa, HI)
If you’re looking for some good ice cream, definitely go to Lappert’s. They have three locations on Kauai but we went to the one in Koloa located in Kukui’ula Village Shopping Center. Lappert’s has some really fun and unique flavors and you can try any of the flavors. It was so hard to choose, but my husband and I each got two flavors and still wanted to go back for more!
What we ate: Tutu’s Anniversary, Banana and Salted Caramel, Chocolate Ganache
Hee Fat General Store ( 4-1354 Kuhio Hwy Kapa’a, HI)
The outside of the store may not look like much but don’t let that fool you! The shave ice we had at Hee Fat was the absolute best we tried. First, they put a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream in the bottom, then a huge dome of shave ice, topped with real fruit syrups. There are a few benches outside the store to sit on and enjoy your yummy shave ice. Out of all the places we went, my husband and I are sad we weren’t able to stop by Hee Fat at least one more time before leaving Kauai for some authentic, light as air, shave ice. (They don’t have a website, but you can look at the pictures on Yelp for a menu.)
What we ate: Hawaiian Sunrise and P.O.G. (Passion, Orange, Guava)
Waikomo Shave Ice (2827 Poipu Rd. Koloa, HI)
In the same parking lot as Da Crack, you’ll find Waikomo Shave Ice. Their portions are a little smaller than Hee Fat, but they are still delicious. Something different they do is add chopped fresh fruit to the top of the shave ice. (Hello fresh, ripe pineapple!) You can also get ice cream in the bottom before they add the shave ice, which I totally recommend. They are only open for about 5-6 hours a day, or until they run out of ice. I definitely would go here again.
What we ate: Pineapple Coconut and Raspberry Passion Fruit
Places to Avoid Eating on Kauai
While we made mostly good food choices on Kauai, we had a few misses as well. We only ate at each of these places once so it’s possible they were having an off day. I only include these to share my personal experience and say that I wouldn’t bother going back or recommending them to anyone.
Wishing Well Shave Ice (5-5080 Kuhio Hwy Hanalei, HI)
There are a few reasons I wouldn’t recommend this place. First, the consistency of their shave ice was crunchy and more like a snow cone. Another problem for me was that we paid a little extra for the real fruit juice syrup, but honestly, it was flavorless and not sweet at all. Lastly, the ice cream on the bottom was too soft and the combination of the crunchy ice and melting ice cream wasn’t good at all. The only positives about the Wishing Well were the shaded seating area and the awesome Hanalei mural right next to it.
What we ate: Even after looking at their menu, I actually don’t remember what my husband and I had. Sadly, it was that unmemorable.
Bubba’s Burgers (2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St Building L Koloa, HI)
Full disclosure: we were actually told by one of our zipline guides, who is also a local, that Bubba’s Burgers wasn’t that great. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t follow his advice and went there anyway because we were craving a burger. Bubba’s is one of those burger places that serves something one way and any extras will cost you. For example, they don’t include lettuce or tomato on their burgers. If you want some, you have to pay extra. The wait is long, the food was subpar and overpriced, and it makes me wonder at all the autographed pictures of celebrities on the walls who said they loved the place.
What we ate: Double Bubba Burgers and Frings (fries and onion rings)
El Taco Feliz ( 4-1395 Kuhio Hwy Kapa’a, HI)
El Taco Feliz is a little taco food truck down the street from Hee Fat General Store. This was the first place we ate on Kauai (besides Costco) and I wasn’t all that impressed. The service was fairly quick but the food wasn’t overly flavorful and the rice was a tad dry. They did have water in a cooler so you could fill up your water bottle or cup.
What we ate: Fish Tacos, Carne Asada Tacos, Refried Beans and Rice
And there you have it! My recommendations for where to eat (and not eat) on Kauai. I hope you find it helpful as you plan your trip!
If you’ve been to Kauai, I’d love to hear the places you ate and what you liked (or didn’t like) so I can add to my list the next time we go! If you haven’t been to Kauai, which place sounds like something you’d like to try?
I just want to GO to Kauai forget about eating! That was interesting to find that Costco prices were still about the same!
Oh my gosh, I’ve never been to Kauai but now my mouth is watering! And we almost ALWAYS eat at Costco when we travel, it’s just so inexpensive!
I went to Kauai a few years ago and your post makes me miss it. I love that you found so many delicious treasures. I remember Hawaiian shave ice being THE BEST!
Someday I will get to Hawaii. The pictures of the shaved ice are amazing! And I would want to try lots of food, but it’s good to know there are still $1.50 hot dogs because it can get expensive there!
Kauai is in my bucket list, this place looks amazing! I had no idea that there was a lot of variety of food there, I would love to try all of them!
I’m from Kauai. West side. Kekaha. Like…grandparents, parents, everyone born and raised. Haha. Definitely could have told you to avoid Bubba’s. But as a local also wouldn’t have suggested Puka Dog.
If you wnat more “local” kine places… Garden Island BBQ in Lihue is by far the best for local plates. You won’t find tourists in there. That’s how good it is. (Also it’s not actual bbq. It’s locla food like teri beef, wonton, katsu etc)
Jojos shave ice is the best on the island, but way over in Waimea so if you aren’t going to the west side it’s kinda out of the way.
I have a laundry list of where to go. Let me know!
I’ve never heard of a hawaiian style hotdog…how do they get the dog and sauces inside?? Do they bake the bun around it? So many questions, lol.
I’ve been eyeing your burger on social media all day! Those hot dogs sound really interesting and yummy as well!
I absolutely love the food in Hawaii! Their garlic shrimp is some of the best I’ve ever had!
cute & little
Even though you should definitely try new things when you travel as that’s basically the point OF travelling, I also like knowing there are familiar brands and stores nearby too. I would definitely have to stop by Costco if I was here!
This is so helpful. I always wonder where are the must find places to eat when in a new place.
Omygod I want to fly there now and try this stuff. SOOO GOOD!!!
This is a such a helpful list, and that shave ice from Hee Fat’s looks so tempting. On a hot day, there really is nothing better.
Just returned from a week in Kauai. Our third time on this island. Need to add a couple of suggestions to this great list. “Chicken in a Barrel” at Kapaa. Huge portions of some of the best barbecue we have ever eaten. The downside was the tarps in the heavy downpour at the outside eating area did not keep us dry as we ate. The “Shrimp Station” had the best coconut shrimp and Cajon shrimp we have ever eaten anywhere! The only downside: you had to peel the Cajon shrimp and it was messy. Jo-Jo’s shave ice gets 5 stars for quality and quantity! Wish they had more locations!
Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time to share your suggestions with me! I will definitely add these to our list to try the next time we are in Kauai.