Good Places for Families to Eat on Kauai

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

I’m sure you are well aware this is a travel/miles and points blog and not a foodie blog (I don’t even know enough adjectives to write a foodie blog), but for my family, eating and experiencing “local cuisine” is a part of the travel experience. We aren’t usually found at the very best restaurants, but we do try to at least do a little research and hit up some of the unique or highly recommend joints around whatever town we are visiting when possible. And other times we just try to get something in our stomachs quickly so we don’t all starve and have catastrophic meltdowns…

For the final post in my series on our family trip to Kauai I want to mention some of the good spots for families to eat while they are on the island.  Some of these I visited myself and some we hope to visit on a future trip to the island.

Shave Ice:
Obviously a family can not live on shave ice alone, but on Kauai you sure could try.  Shave ice is inexpensive and almost a sure-fire hit with kids of all ages, so I recommend that you add this to your eating to-do list while on Kauai.  Make sure to note it is “shave ice” and not “shaved ice” – may sound minor, but they take their shave ice seriously.  I’m sure everyone has their favorite shave ice, but I very much enjoyed Uncle’s Shave Ice located on the south side of the island about 5-10 minutes from the Grand Hyatt Kauai in The Shops at Kukui’ula.
The ice wasn’t crunchy at all – it was like soft snow-like substance that just melted on your tongue.  In fact, their menu features not only “shave ice”, but also “shave snow” that is a combination of milk, water, flavoring, and sugar frozen together.  Of course we had to try both and loved both!  Shown below the blue is the “ice” and the red is the “snow”.
Another shave ice company that gets consistent praise is JoJo’s Anunue, but be careful as there are many different similarly named shave ice shacks, and Heaven forbid you eat anything but the best shave ice available.  We also visited a store that sold shave ice right across from the Poipu Beach playground.  I don’t remember the name, and it probably wasn’t on the “Top 10” shave ice list, but it was still yummy and my kid could have cared less whether or not it was “the best”.
There are several restaurants in Kauai where the menu is 100% devoted to shrimp.  You know, like in Forest Gump, where “Bubba” lists off all the different kinds of shrimp…   Anyway, the one we had a chance to visit this time was Savage Shrimp, located in the The Shops at Kukui’ula right next to Uncle’s Shave Ice.  This is a serve-on-paper-plates, cash-only joint, and you had to pay $2 extra if you wanted the shrimp peeled for you, but it was worth it.  Savage Shrimp used to be a food truck, but it is now an actual restaurant with some of the same low-key elements that come with a food truck, including some outdoor tables.
I had the garlic shrimp (which I do recommend), but you can choose from various flavors of shrimp, fish tacos, fish and chips, etc.  My daughter is a shrimp fanatic like I am, so this place was a big win for us.  While we did not make it this time, I have also read good things about Shrimp Station in Waimea.
Heck, we even ate shrimp one more time at the airport before leaving the island.  I can’t remember that restaurant’s name, but it was located right next to Starbucks.  The service was slow, but the food was decent for an airport.
If you are after seafood in general, I have also heard good things about the view and service from the Beach House restaurant in Poipu, though this option is a bit fancier than the shrimp stations and shave ice.
Bubba Burgers:
One of the most consistent pieces of Kauai advice I received was to make sure and eat at Bubba Burgers.  I got this from folks young and old and folks who have been dozens of times as well as those who had just been once.  Lucky for me, this was also located in the The Shops at Kukui’ula with Uncle’s and Savage Shrimp, so it was easy to get to from the Grand Hyatt (though there are also two other locations on the island).  This place had an edge to it and had signs everywhere that it was not McDonalds or Burger King and that they don’t want to serve a burger that costs less than a can of dog food.  Fair point.
The beef is grass-fed and raised on Kauai and is 88% fat free, yet it was still quite juicy.  The burgers start at $3.50 for a 1/6 pound burger and go up from there.  We got the 1/6 pound burger and shared it as a “snack”.  They also have things like french fries, onion rings, chicken sandwiches, shakes, etc.  I want to try the teriyaki burger next time and grab another Bubba’s t-shirt.  I got one for my husband and he darn near lives in it!
Farmer’s Markets:
A big must-do on our list for next time we visit Kauai (and there is a next time), is visit a Farmer’s Market or two.  This is the way to go to try some local meats, cheeses, produce, etc.  Here is a list of some of the markets, but I would love to hear from those who have visited some as to which are their favorites.
Other Great Options:
A few other options that are worth mentioning based on recommendations are Brick Oven Pizza located on the south shore in Kalaheo, Kilauea Fish Market (outdoor eating/to-go only), and I also enjoyed our outdoor lunch (and drinks) at Gaylord’s at the Kilohana Platnation.  They had a kid’s menu, a little grassy area for C to explore while we waited for the food, and delicious drinks made with local rum.
Have you been to any of these spots?  What did you think?  Did I leave off your Kauai favorite?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. We just returned from a 9 night stay at the Hyatt about a week ago. We ate at several of the places that you listed. I am a vegetarian, so I didn’t try Savage Shrimp, but someone else in our group ate there and enjoyed it very much. We also stopped at Shrimp Station in Waimea which got a big thumbs down from our group. It was very dirty and greasy.

    Some favorites of ours in the Poipu area were Keoki’s Paradise and Roy’s both located at Poipu Shopping Center. We like eating in the bar area at Keoki’s more than the full service restaurant. Puka Dogs is in the same shopping center and is good for a quick takeaway option.

    Brick Oven Pizza was so good that we actually had their pizza twice. The first time we ate at the restaurant, but the second time we had it delivered to the Hyatt by a delivery service called Delivery Kauai. The delivery charge ($7) was higher than a normal pizza delivery, but well worth it since it was a good 20 minute drive from the Hyatt.

  2. Hanalei Pizza in the adorable town of Hanalei on the north shore was my favorite. Amazing pizza in a charming little shop.

  3. Papakea ice cream near Puka Dog serves ice creams and sorbets ” to die for “and Coco Cafe outside Kapaa near the Wailua RIver and Postcards in Hanalei are among my favorite restaurants anywhere. Also, the Kalaheo Care&coffee company has wonderful food.

  4. The Fish Express is a fish market and an amazing take-out place in Lihue. It’s across the street from Wal-mart. Great for picnics or to take food back to a condo.

  5. And, I second Keoki’s Paradise. Also, near Poipu, Joe’s on the Green was a fun place for brunch or lunch. It’s on the golf course just above Poipu. We spent almost 3 weeks on Kauai in Jan/Feb 2012 and 10 days in Feb 2013. We’ve stayed in all 3 Marriott Timeshares and have come to love Kauai.

  6. My family stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in early June, and we enjoyed several good meals in Old Koloa Town: the Koloa Deli makes fantastic deli sandwiches on fresh baked French rolls. Our favorite dinner spot was called Pizzetta, where they served good pizzas and excellent pastas. In addition, they have a small gelato bar at the front of the restaurant. The POG flavored gelato was out of this world. (POG stands for Passion Fruit, Orange, Guava)

  7. For me, eating on Kauai means going to the Farmer’s Markets. I love them not only for great fresh food at reasonable prices, but also for what i can and do learn about some tropical fruits and vegetables that I rarely see at home. Farmers are happy to answer questions, tell you how to prepare a dish, etc.
    The Wednesday market in Kapaa is the biggest of all the Kauai markets that I have been to. The one in Kilauea seems to have the most organic produce.
    I found great crafts and food at the Tuesday Hanalei market.

  8. The best place for a plate lunch on Kauai is a hidden gem. It is called Mark’s Place and is not to far away from Costco. Read about it on Tripadvisor a few years ago and now it is our favorite plate lunch place in all the islands!

    We even try to go straight there after our plane lands! Then a visit over to Costco! Our son (9) loves their chicken! We usually visit more than once a trip since they have so many incredible options. The only place to sit is outside at the few tables or take it with you.

  9. Dolphin Fish Market! They have locations in Hanalei and in Poipu (I believe in the same area as Bubba’s). The attached restaurant is somewhat pricey, but you can order the BEST sushi rolls in the market. We had ahi rolls since that’s what was in season. They are $10 and are some of the largest rolls I’ve ever seen. I have to admit that we ate more than a few “snacks” there.

  10. Sushi Bushido in Kapaa. So much fun and the food is delicious! We go there every time we go to Kauai. Also, The Tavern in Princeville. The view from The Tavern is unbelievable and they give you free popcorn. We have eaten there many times and never had a bad meal. Wait staff is great. Can be kind of hard to find but it’s worth it.

  11. The most delicious fish tacos on Kauai can be found at Al Pastor Tacos in Kapaa. It’s a taco truck right on the side of the road in Kapaa. You can read about theme on Trip Advisor. Some days they use Ahi and some days Ono. We’ve had both and they are super delish. We ate there three times on our trip! We also really liked the chicken smoked in the barrels also in Kapaa. Super yummy! If you are staying in Poipu, Kapaa is quite a ways to drive for a meal, but if you are exploring the North Shore/Princeville, you can stop at Al Pastor on your way to or from the North Shore.

  12. Absolutely loved this mexican food joint called “Verde” in Kapaa. I am a vegetarian and I can safely that I have never eaten a better veggie burrito.
    There is another taco joined in Kapaa called “Tiki Tacos”. It’s a place to avoid though.

  13. Agree with the other assessment of Bubba’s — ate at the one on the North Side and hated it.

    Please take this the right way: Next time, I really hope you are able to eat outside the malls more. It sounds like you really enjoyed your meals, and when staying at the Hyatt, the mall is really convenient. But there are lots of great hole-in-the-wall joints around Kauai that can’t afford the high mall rent and are geared more toward locals than tourists. Next time I would try to hit places like Hamura’s Saimin in Lihue and two other highlights you referenced — Kilauea Fish Market and the farmer’s markets (though honestly, we seek them out primarily because of the Right Slice, which sells amazing pies at all of the markets (and from a shop)!).

    I’m glad you and C had such a great time — Kauai is an addiction, so I’m sure you’ll have plenty of future trips to try other places!

  14. A little off-topic (not food-related) but I’m looking at booking a trip to Hawaii (on the direct flights to/from DFW) for my family of 2 adults + 2 kids (4 year old + 7 month old infant).

    We’ll have 8 nights in Hawaii. Kauai and the Grand Hyatt are our main interests. Was thinking of spending 5 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai then flying to OGG to stay 3 nights at the WA Grand Wailea. Do you think that sounds like an ok plan, or too ambitious with such young kids? Would 8 nights all at the Grand Hyatt Kauai be too much / is the 5 nights we’re thinking of spending there too short? I’d be happy to stay just in one place to make it more relaxing, but we don’t want to be bored, either! We like pools but we won’t be spending all-day-every-day lounging poolside. Def would like to get off the resort for food and sightseeing… which might mean 8 days would go by pretty fast?

  15. Love all the additional suggestions and I agree about the Kauai Revealed book or app. 😉

    Tara, honestly it all depends on your family, but I think you can fill a week or so easily on Kauai. I would consider staying a few days on the Princeville area of Kauai instead of flying to another island for a few days with kiddos in the mix. I would keep your 4/5 nights at Grand Hyatt and then do 3/4 on the North side of the island.

  16. @Tara…our most recent trip to Kauai was just a couple of weeks ago, but our trip to Kauai before that was when my daughter was 4 and my son was 7 months old in 2008. I agree with Mommy Points to split your time in Kauai if you feel that 8 nights at the Grand Hyatt would be too much. When we traveled in 2008, we spent 8 night in Princeville and then finished our trip with 4 nights at the Grand Hyatt. Even if you are super organized, you basically lose a day while island hopping. Another nice thing when we were traveling with a baby was that we ended buying an inexpensive activity center/walker, boogie boards, etc. at Walmart or Kmart on our first day. I felt a little stupid shelling out $40-50 for baby equipment, but it was well worth it. I’m definitely too cheap to do that on two separate islands! Same goes with food, etc. You can transport it from hotel to hotel around the island, but not so much when you island hop.

  17. @ Tara: I agree on staying on the North Shore — if you have SPG points, check out the Westin Villas. They’re right by the Princeville, but they have in-unit washers and dryers and small kitchens. Especially toward the end of the trip, being able to do laundry makes life much easier! We brought beach towels (mainly because I hated buying them at Wal-Mart and using unwashed towels on our first trip, so now on our 8th or so, we pack the old ones) and only packed clothes for the first part of the trip. They also have outdoor grills you can use to make one of your dinners if you’d like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *