As an Oahu local who has visited Kauai numerous times, I’ve come to love the food on this Hawaiian Island. While it’s less visited than Oahu and Maui, Kauai boasts an equally incredible, innovative culinary scene with Hawaiian favorites and international cuisines.
Here are a few of my favorite places to eat on Kauai, including my top recent discoveries and tried-and-true classics.
I discovered Street Burger on my most recent trip to Kauai. In the heart of Kapaa, this burger spot has a menu bursting with creative options and fresh local ingredients. From the kaiola burger with a port reduction to the gyro-inspired lamb burger, you can’t go wrong.
My favorite is the eponymous street burger, which has cured pork belly, peppery arugula, tangy blue cheese, and a runny fried egg — a somewhat surprising combo that left my taste buds very happy.
First things first: Saimin is a local noodle dish that’s a combination of Japanese ramen, Chinese mein, and Filipino pancit. It’s the perfect soup to warm up with during Kauai’s many rainy days.
Hamura Saimin is the place to go on Kauai. This casual local hot spot is pretty much always packed, and many people opt for takeout, as it’s tough to snag one of the few tables. Order either the regular saimin, which has green onion, spam, and kamaboko (fish cakes), or the special saimin, which has all the typical toppings plus wontons, roasted pork, and an egg. Although your belly may feel like bursting, don’t pass up the lilikoi — passion fruit — chiffon pie for dessert.
At Japanese Grandma’s Café, you’ll feel like you’re eating a meal in a welcoming Japanese grandmother’s home. The small space is cozy, and the food has that extra deliciousness that exists only when it’s homemade.
This Hanapepe restaurant is primarily known for its sushi, made by a traditional Japanese sushi chef with over 30 years of experience. Even if you’re not much of a sushi fan, the other entrees, like the pork tonkatsu and fish misoyaki, won’t disappoint.
Wake up to the crow of the Kauai rooster and head to Little Fish Coffee. This quaint turquoise breakfast spot has long lines from the moment it opens, so you’ll want to get an early start. (On one trip, I had to visit three times before the line was short enough.)
While Little Fish Coffee serves all sorts of breakfast fare — from breakfast bagels to fruit-packed smoothies — I recommend the acai bowls. The acai is extra creamy, the granola is extra toasty, and the fruit is extra sweet. Enjoyed at one of the open-air tables, it makes for a perfectly light and refreshing meal.
Musubis are some of Hawaii’s iconic local foods. Originally from Japan, these handheld rice-and-seaweed bites were brought to Hawaii and given a local spin — that’s how the famous spam musubi came to be.
The Musubi Truck in Kapaa serves up classic musubis with spam and versions with tofu, beef, and chicken. but that’s certainly not all It also has mouthwatering musubi spin-offs, including the deep-fried OG musubi, the ahi katsu musubi, and the kalbi-filled “da bomb” musubi.
Owned by the famous local chef Roy Yamaguchi, Eating House 1849 is known for its upscale local fusion cuisine. Nearly every dish on the menu is unique, and you’ll want to keep coming back to try them all. To start, order the slow-braised honey-mustard grilled beef short ribs as your entree and Yamaguchi’s melting-hot-chocolate souffle for dessert. 
To have the best experience at Eating House 1849, make a reservation for a table on the lanai. There, alongside your meal, you’ll get to enjoy the calming ocean breeze, beautiful sunset, and island-inspired live music from the surrounding shopping area.
Taro has long been an important part of Native Hawaiian culture. Ancient Hawaiians used taro to make dishes including poi and kulolo. Today, Holey Grail Donuts uses taro to make doughnuts.
Holey Grail Donuts turns Hawaii-grown taro into a purple-tinted dough and fries the mixture in coconut oil. The result is a perfect doughnut — fluffy, with just the slightest crisp on the outside. Another big part of Holey Grail Donuts’ appeal is its weekly rotating and unique flavors, which in the past have included dragon-fruit lemonade, saffron snickerdoodle, and miso honey.
I don’t go on juice cleanses or drink green smoothies for the health benefits — I drink juice simply because I like the fruity, fresh flavor. And while Kauai Juice Co. certainly has drinks for juicing aficionados and health-focused clients, it also has options for people like me who drink juice just because it tastes good.
The berry-heavy akala is absolutely fantastic, and the omega is bursting with tropical notes. And all the juices are made with locally sourced fruits and veggies. There’s a very good chance you’ll end up going back to one of Kauai Juice Co.’s three locations during your Kauai trip (I did.)
The Koloa Fish Market is another casual hot spot that serves (among other things) two of the most beloved Hawaii dishes: plate lunches and poke.
Plate lunches are basically a Hawaii version of a bento box. They’re traditionally filled with foods like kalua pig or loco moco (white rice topped with a burger patty, a fried egg, and gravy). To get some culinary insight into Native Hawaiian and local culture, I recommend ordering the Hawaiian combo plate, which offers a generous serving of kalua pig, lau lau, chicken long rice, white rice, and lomi lomi salmon.
Then there’s poke, a dish traditionally made with cubed raw fish (usually ahi) and loads of seasoning. Koloa Fish Market is known for its spicy ahi poke and avocado ahi poke, both of which are fresh and delicious. 
Grab your takeout plate lunch or poke bowl and enjoy it at one of the nearby beaches.
There’s a lot of controversy concerning the best shave-ice spot on Kauai. (Yes, shave ice. Not “shaved ice.” If a place says “shaved ice,” that’s a dead giveaway that it’s inauthentic.) Many people say it’s the popular Wailua Shave Ice, and others pledge their loyalty to Uncle’s or JoJo’s. But I’ll put a different horse in the race: Waikomo Shave Ice.
This tiny food truck in a tucked-away corner of Koloa serves up some of the best shave ice in the islands. First, it’s mastered the perfect ice consistency: not so hard that it makes little cuts in your mouth, but not so soft that it melts immediately in the Hawaii summer heat. But Waikomo Shave Ice really won my heart with its natural yet concentrated fruit syrups. Try a few of its funky flavors like lilikoi, blackberry, and calamansi lime.
View Insider’s comprehensive guide to visiting Kauai, Hawaii.
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