Are you looking for the best places to eat in Kauai? Man, oh, man do we have a list for you! Before our first trip to Hawaii, we never dreamed that one of our favorite experiences in the islands would be the FOOD. Hawaii is way more than just pineapple and SPAM, that’s for sure! On the Garden Isle of Kauai, I have found my most favorite hot dog, shave ice, and pulled pork. Read on to see where you can find all the deliciousness!
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Ono Family Restaurant
Kapa’a, Kauai, HI
Address: 4-1292 Kuhio Hwy
“Ono” just so happens to mean “delicious,” so the Ono Family Restaurant sounds like the place to go, right?! We absolutely loved getting breakfast at this quaint restaurant, so laid-back that it felt very much like eating breakfast on my grandmother’s porch.
With no air conditioning, the fans are going and the windows are open. We sat by a window with a nice breeze coming in from outside. The friendly staff will help with recommendations and suggestions from the you-can’t-go-wrong-with-anything menu, but I knew I needed the macadamia nut banana pancakes!
If you’re a pancake-lover (and I am, but a super picky one!), you’ll want to order the macadamia nut banana pancakes. These fluffy yummies come with fresh banana slices, shaved coconut, a warm coconut syrup, and a bit of whipped cream on top.
Now, let me tell you that I am not the biggest fan of coconut. I’ll eat it, but you won’t catch me ordering coconut cake or anything like that. That being said, I LOVED the coconut syrup on these pancakes! It was so smooth and creamy. Honestly, I could drink it on its own.
Not a pancake fan? Order a plate of eggs, Spam, toast, and eggs! A more traditional breakfast with that Spam twist… because you gotta eat Spam in Hawaii!
See Related: The Best Souvenirs from Kauai
JoJo’s Shave Ice
Waimea, Kauai, HI | jojosshaveice.com
Address: 9734 Kaumualii Hwy
Ready to satisfy that sweet tooth? JoJo’s Shave Ice has to be one of my favorite sweet treats ever! We visited twice during one trip, and, honestly, I’m not sure my body could have withstood any more than that no matter how much I love it!
The sizes at JoJo’s are MONSTROUS. The shave ices pictured here are the small version. Yeah. The Da Kine is 28 ounces and the Big Kahuna is 40 ounces. You better show up hungry! Know that all of JoJo’s profits go towards sending Hawaiian kiddos to camp. This sweet shop really is sweet!
JoJo’s makes their own syrups, utilizing sugar cane and flavors made in Hawaii, and all of the cream toppings are homemade too! It’s not just the care and the local flavor that make JoJo’s different from anything we’ve had back home in Mississippi; it’s the ice cream on the bottom!
Yes! At the bottom of this huge-mongous shave ice is either vanilla or macadamia nut ice cream. We recommend the mac nut because Hawaii. Once you get down to the ice cream, the flavors of the shave ice will have mixed with the ice cream. Basically, you’ll be full but have to keep eating because it’s so good!
Also, watch out for chickens. We saw a particularly brave rooster try to snatch one of these big boys out of a lady’s hand. She lost her grip, and said rooster was then covered in shave ice, and he was MAD. If you’ve never encountered a sticky rooster, just be thankful.
See Related: 6 Movies To Watch Before Visiting Hawaii
Koloa, Kauai, HI | pukadog.com
Address: 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive
I have found one of my favorite foods of all time, and it is called the Puka Dog. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! During normal trips and vacations, we’ll make our way through local restaurants once, but Puka Dog is so incredibly delicious that we went twice during our week in Kauai! Honestly, it’s a good thing we ate it for the first time LATER in our trip or I would have begged to go every day!
So, just what is a Puka Dog? In simple terms, it’s a Hawaiian hot dog. To be more specific, it’s a Polish sausage encased in a fresh bun with your choice of garlic lemon secret sauce, tropical relish, and mustard.
The bread is slipped over a spike that essentially toasts in inside of the bun. Clever, right? Sauces and sausage are then loaded up inside the fresh bread and handed off to the customer, ready to be enjoyed. Grab a bag of Maui Chips and a fresh lemonade to complete your meal.
See Related: Top 10 Foods to Try in Hawaii
What sauce and relish do we recommend? Okay, pay attention because this is what you should order and what I could probably eat every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it: Polish sausage with mild garlic lemon secret sauce, Pineapple Field (pineapple relish), and Auntie Lilikoi’s Hawaiian Mustard. Heaven in an equally heavenly bun!
If you need more convincing, Puka Dog was featured on the Travel Channel with none other than Anthony Bourdain himself. Man, I wish we had found this place during our first trip to Kauai! I won’t miss a chance to eat here again!
Waimea, Kauai, HI | porkyskauai.com
Address: 9899 Waimea Road
Are you a fan of Hawaiian-style pulled pork? Then Porky’s is the place for you! Get your pulled pork on a beef hot dog, pineapple sausage, grilled cheese, or over rice. With your choice of sauces, there’s so many ways to satisfy that pork craving!
This little food truck, whose motto is “Aloha in a bun,” is rated number one for Kauai on TripAdvisor.
Hawaiian-style pulled pork is a must-eat when you visit the islands, and we can recommend the Porky’s beef dog. I’ll be trying that pineapple sausage and grilled cheese when we go back though!
See Related: 40 Things To Do in the Islands of Hawaii
Waimea, Kauai, HI | theshrimpstation.net
Address: 9652 Kaumualii Hwy
We discovered Shrimp Station during our first trip to Kauai in 2015. It’s an excellent place to stop and recharge your energy after sightseeing at Waimea Canyon.
Place your order at the window and grab a seat outside at a picnic table. Your order will be brought over, hot, fresh, and mouth-watering! Mark always goes for the fried shrimp, and, though I’ve had the shrimp tacos twice, I may opt for the fried shrimp next time.
Just look for the pink Shrimp Station sign, and pull over for some shrimpy-goodness!
See Related: Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon: A Photo Essay
Midnight Bear Bakery
Hanapepe, Kauai, HI | midnightbearbreads.com
Address: 3830 Iona Road
Finding Midnight Bear Bakery in Hanapepe was such a happy accident! We pulled into town, looking to get some photos of the Lilo & Stitch mural (Hanapepe is their hometown), and just happened to park near Midnight Bear. If you know anything about me, it’s that I will brake for baked goods!
As soon as we opened the door, the smell of fresh pastries hit my nose, and I was basically drooling over everything in the glass display case. There seemed to be one clear choice though… the macadamia nut cinnamon roll (It’s as big as my head!).
When in Hawaii, it’s pretty much a rule that you have to eat as many macadamia nuts as possible, right? The macadamia nut cinnamon roll at Midnight Bear Bakery was incredible! The fresh, flaky roll with the bite of the mac nuts and the sticky, sweet glaze and the cinnamon makes a delicious start to your day (or a snack!).
We do recommend going early in the morning for the best selection. Grab a cup of coffee or (free!) water before heading out to explore Hanapepe.
Kauai, HI | islandfishtaco.com
Address: 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa / 9643 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea
When you’re near the ocean, you absolutely must eat seafood! And tacos are perfect any day, right? Put them together, and you have Island Taco. You’ll want to stop by for the hand-crafted tortillas and tasty options.
Blackened Mahi Mahi, Cajun shrimp, Kalua pork… the flavors are oh so Hawaiian, and so are the toppings! You won’t believe the pineapple pico or any of the other sauce/relish flavors.
With a menu that changes, you’ll want to go back again and again to try more of their tasty masterpieces. Island Taco is more than just tacos; you’ll also find tostadas, chimichangas, quesadillas, and more! I’m gonna need to try the Kalua pork nachos next time!
Kapa’a, Kauai, HI
Address: 4-1429 Kuhio Hwy
Bubba’s Burgers has been in business since 1936, and they’re in the business of serving up good, old-fashioned hamburgers their way. The juicy, but never-greasy burger comes in several sizes (one, two, or three patties) to satisfy your hunger. You can even get a teriyaki burger or a “Slopper” covered in chili!
Bubba’s prides itself in NOT being like the famous “Have It Your Way” Burger King. With Hawaiian grass-fed beef, toasted bun, and condiments of ketchup, mustard, relish, and mayo, they recommend these, or a combination of these ingredients only. Why? Because why question a burger that’s been done right since 1936? And also because the veggie produce comes from the mainland, and they can’t control the quality.
One of Bubba’s most popular items, besides the burgers, is the Chili Rice, which I just had to try. It’s a local favorite of Bubba’s chili over white rice. Filling? Yes. Comfort food? Yep. The food at Bubba’s Burgers is simple, but that also means it’s done well.
Smith Family Luau
Kapa’a, Kauai, HI | smithskauai.com
Address: 3-5971 Kuhio Hwy
The Smith Family Luau isn’t a restaurant, but a luau is a place to go for some great Hawaiian food! The best kalua pork I’ve ever had came from the Smith Family Luau on the island of Kauai. Guests are invited to watch the ceremony of removing the cooked pig from its underground oven (imu).
This kalua pork is so tender that it almost melts in your mouth, requiring no sauces or seasonings because it is so savory and tasty. I could have made an entire meal just from the pork, but a luau with a buffet is also a great place to try other Hawaiian dishes.
Taste traditional Hawaiian dishes like poi and poke at a luau’s buffet. A buffet is the ideal place to try new foods for the first time because you can eat as much or as little as you like. Don’t be wasteful, but get outside of your comfort (food) zone, and experience a new flavor! You may just find your new favorite dish!
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Are you planning a trip to the island of Kauai? Will you be adding any of these places to your itinerary? Have you visited Kauai before? Is there a great place to eat that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!