Dining in Kauai gives you all kinds of options, whether it be type of cuisine, eating out at a fine dining restaurant, or at a food truck. Of course, I tend to prefer to eat where the locals eat and not the tourists, so I stuck to the hole in the walls, the food trucks, and the BBQ joints. Here’s the food and restaurants in Kauai that I enjoyed the most.
The Essential Guide To The “Must Eat At” Food And Restaurants In Kauai
1. Chicken In A Barrel BBQ
Chicken In A Barrel BBQ was so good that I ate there twice. The ribs were the perfect level of smokiness and fall off the bone tender. The Texas style beans on the side were great, too. I would have preferred cole slaw or mac and cheese over the rice, but, hey, it’s Hawaii. Everything comes with rice. The pulled pork was also good, but not as good as the ribs. I ran out of time (and stomach) to try the chicken that the place is named for, but they do have a sampler plate that lets you try everything. They have two locations in Kauai. You know you’re getting close when you smell the smoke.
2. Seared Cajun Ahi Salad At Kilauea Fish Market
The seared Cajun Ahi Salad from Kilauea Fish Market is worth the trip to Kauai alone. I didn’t find a better ahi salad than this all over Hawaii. It’s served with a miso ginger dressing which complements the ahi, and the ahi is seared perfectly. They are also known for their poke and their fish tacos, and this is definitely one of the restaurants in Kauai you shouldn’t miss.
3. Shave Ice At Hee Fat General Store
Most people consider Hee Fat General Store in Kapaa to have the best shave ice on the entire island of Kauai. Their shave ice is as big as your head! Pay the extra cost and get the natural fruit flavors, as they are better than the artificial ones. Also, try the macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom. It’s out of this world! It’s great paired with one of their hot dogs with a topping of pineapple salsa.
4. Tacos Al Pastor
Tacos Al Pastor food truck doesn’t just make some of the best tacos in Kauai, they make some of the best al pastor and fish tacos I’ve had anywhere, and, yes, that includes Mexico. Of course, the owner is from Oaxaca, so he knows what he’s doing. They load the tacos with pastor (wish they used this much meat in Mexico!).
I actually made 4 tacos from the two I ordered. The meat is crispy in all the right places, yet moist, perfectly seasoned. The Habanero salsa burned my lips off, but was sooo good!! I also tried the fresh ahi tacos on a separate visit which were cooked perfectly and were the best ahi tacos I had on the island. ¡Muy delicioso!
5. Huevos Rancheros At Federico’s
Ok, so maybe they aren’t the same style of huevos rancheros you get in Mexico, but they were damn good. Chorizo and fried eggs on the tostadas and excellent cornbread.Though, I had to laugh at their half-hearted attempt to give you a side of fruit. 3 tiny pieces of pale, lifeless watermelon is a garnish, not a side! Federico’s still made a great breakfast, and inexpensive, too, a combination that wasn’t easy to find at the restaurants in Kauai.
6. Nom Kauai
Nom Kauai wins the award for the best breakfast in all of Hawaii. This food truck’s Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich made my heart melt. A Belgium waffle bun, buttermilk fried chicken, bacon, fried egg, pineapple bourbon compote (yep, you read that right), and maple syrup is the stuff dreams are made of. I didn’t have time to make it back for their burger, something I regret every day.