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What to Eat in Kauai

Classic Hawaiian dishes often come in the form of comfort food (don't expect a whole lot of salads) and are typically a unique blend of the many different cultures that have immigrated to Hawaii. One of the best examples of this cultural immersion is reflected in a dish called saimin. What appears to be just plain ramen is actually a combination of Japanese (broth), Chinese (noodles), Filipino (green onions), Portuguese (sausage), Korean (kimchi) and Hawaiian (ham) ingredients. Hamura Saimin in Lihue, situated in southwestern Kauai, is said to have some of the best saimin on the island.

Saimin is just the start of imports with a Hawaiian twist. There's also Spam musubi, which is basically sushi, but instead of fish, the substitute is flavored Spam. If that's a little too unconventional for your liking, try manapua. Manapua resembles traditional Chinese pork buns that are much bigger in size and packed with unconventional fillings, such as sweet potato, barbecue pork or curry chicken, to name a few. For something sweet, sink your teeth into malasada. This dessert was brought over by Portuguese immigrants and is basically a hole-less doughnut coated with sugar and filled with a custard, chocolate or fruit-based filling.

Another tradition is the plate lunch, a robust dish that always consists of two scoops of rice and macaroni salad alongside a serving of meat that could range from kalua pork (the type of meat traditionally served at luaus) to mahi-mahi. Loco moco is the island's version of an English breakfast. But instead of a hodgepodge of meat, there is a slab of teriyaki-flavored beef that sits on a bed of rice and is topped with a fried egg and gravy. If all that sounds a bit too heavy, try huli-huli chicken, a grilled chicken dish coated in a sweet teriyaki marinade.

You also can't leave the island without trying poke, the Hawaiian classic that is currently sweeping the mainland. Poke is marinated, cubed raw fish typically accompanied with rice. Whatever meals you decide to sample in Kauai, be sure to top it all off with flavored shaved ice, Hawaii's unofficial state dessert.

Find the Best Restaurants in Kauai

  • #1
    Porky's Kauai
    #1 of 22 Places to Eat in Waimea
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 654 reviewsTripAdvisor (654)
    $ | American, Barbecue, Hawaiian
    9630 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, Kauai, HI 96796
    Read More »
  • #1
    Anake's Juice Bar
    #1 of 52 Places to Eat in Koloa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 217 reviewsTripAdvisor (217)
    $ | Healthy
    2827 Poipu Rd Ste B, Koloa, Kauai, HI 96756-8553
    Read More »
  • #1
    Pink's Creamery
    #1 of 56 Places to Eat in Hanalei
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 594 reviewsTripAdvisor (594)
    $ | American, Grill, Hawaiian
    4489 Aku Road #1572 Turn Right Onto Aku Road As Soon As You See Kalypso Resturant. Pink's Will Be on Your Right, Hanalei, Kauai, HI 96714
    Read More »
  • #2
    Waikomo Shave Ice
    #2 of 52 Places to Eat in Koloa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 176 reviewsTripAdvisor (176)
    $ | Fast Food, Street Food, Hawaiian
    2827 Poipu Rd, Koloa, Kauai, HI 96756-8553
    Read More »
  • #1
    Wailua Shave Ice - Kauai
    #1 of 140 Places to Eat in Kapaa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 237 reviewsTripAdvisor (237)
    $ | Hawaiian
    4-1306 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-1656
    Read More »
  • #3
    Makai Sushi
    #3 of 52 Places to Eat in Koloa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 485 reviewsTripAdvisor (485)
    $ | Japanese, Seafood, Fast Food, Sushi, Asian, Hawaiian
    2827 Poipu Rd, Koloa, Kauai, HI 96756-8553
    Read More »
  • #1
    The Fresh Shave
    #1 of 5 Places to Eat in Lawai
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 149 reviewsTripAdvisor (149)
    $ | Hawaiian
    3540 Koloa Road, Lawai, Kauai, HI 96765
    Read More »
  • #2
    Hee Fat General Store
    #2 of 140 Places to Eat in Kapaa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 569 reviewsTripAdvisor (569)
    $ | Hawaiian
    4-1354 Kuhio Hwy Ste 1, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-1669
    Read More »
  • #3
    JO2 Natural Cuisine
    #3 of 140 Places to Eat in Kapaa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 856 reviewsTripAdvisor (856)
    $$ | Seafood, Asian, Hawaiian
    4-971 Kuhio Hwy In a Little Shopping Center, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-1553
    Read More »
  • #1
    Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Company
    #1 of 18 Places to Eat in Kalaheo
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1109 reviewsTripAdvisor (1109)
    $ - $$ | American, Cafe
    2-2560 Kaumualii Hwy, Kalaheo, Kauai, HI 96741-8316
    Read More »
  • #4
    Hukilau Lanai
    #4 of 140 Places to Eat in Kapaa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 2799 reviewsTripAdvisor (2799)
    $$ | American, Seafood, Polynesian, Hawaiian
    520 Aleka Loop across from Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-1452
    Read More »
  • #2
    Ishihara Market
    #2 of 22 Places to Eat in Waimea
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 433 reviewsTripAdvisor (433)
    $ | Seafood, Asian, Hawaiian, Deli
    9894 Kaumualii Highway, Waimea, Kauai, HI 96796
    Read More »
  • #4
    Lappert's Hawaii
    #4 of 52 Places to Eat in Koloa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1088 reviewsTripAdvisor (1088)
    $ |
    4425 Ala Kalanikaumaka Kukuiula Shopping Village, Koloa, Kauai, HI 96756
    Read More »
  • #1
    Skinny Mike's Ice Cream and Shave Ice
    #1 of 135 Places to Eat in Lihue
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 201 reviewsTripAdvisor (201)
    $ | Fast Food, Hawaiian, American
    3501 Rice St Suite 1006, Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766-1765
    Read More »
  • #5
    NOM Kauai
    #5 of 140 Places to Eat in Kapaa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 157 reviewsTripAdvisor (157)
    $ | American, Fast Food, Fusion, Street Food
    4-1101 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-4600
    Read More »
  • #6
    Coconut's Fish Cafe
    #6 of 140 Places to Eat in Kapaa
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 249 reviewsTripAdvisor (249)
    $ - $$ | American, Seafood, Hawaiian
    4-831 Kuhio Hwy Ste 420-424, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-1578
    Read More »
  • #1
    Midnight Bear Breads
    #1 of 24 Places to Eat in Hanapepe
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 119 reviewsTripAdvisor (119)
    $ - $$ | French, European, American
    3830 Hanapepe Rd, Hanapepe, Kauai, HI 96716
    Read More »
  • #2
    Wishing Well Shave Ice
    #2 of 56 Places to Eat in Hanalei
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 308 reviewsTripAdvisor (308)
    $ | Hawaiian
    5-5080 Kuhio Highway 5-5080 kuhio HWY, Hanalei, Kauai, HI 96714
    Read More »
  • #2
    Lappert's Hawaii
    #2 of 24 Places to Eat in Hanapepe
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 405 reviewsTripAdvisor (405)
    $ |
    1-3555 Kaumualii Highway, Hanapepe, Kauai, HI 96716
    Read More »
  • #3
    Jo Jo's
    #3 of 56 Places to Eat in Hanalei
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 361 reviewsTripAdvisor (361)
    $ | American, Fast Food, Hawaiian
    5-5190 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Kauai, HI 96714
    Read More »

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