On the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, the food ranges from upscale meals in restaurants situated along the waterfront to easy-to-miss buildings offering takeout only. In fact, many of the best eateries on the island are located in unpretentious buildings and serve up no-frills local comfort food. And for the places that offer takeout only, no problem – you’re never far from a beautiful beach on which to enjoy your meal with a view! To enjoy a true foodie experience, be sure to add these top 5 local only Hawaii restaurants on Kauai to your dining itinerary!
This takeout Hawaii restaurant is a local favorite, especially for those who live and work in or near the east coast town of Lihue. This locally owned and operated restaurant strives to support local farmers and fishermen by using fresh local products as much as possible. They are also part of a catering company, great for anyone serving large groups or planning an event. And if you simply want to enjoy a local-style lunch, this is a great place to go. We recommend the Combination Plate, which allows you to select three entrees of your choice, such as Korean chicken, chicken katsu, teriyaki beef, or teriyaki chicken, among others. They also serve burgers and fries. And if you have yet to try one of Kauai’s favorite snacks, Spam musubi, this is the place to do so!
Konohiki Fish Market
Forgo the fancy seafood restaurants and enjoy fresh seafood the local way – from a small-town fish market. Located on the east coast, Konohiki Fish Market is situated in an unassuming strip mall next to a laundry mat and with apartments tucked away above. If you can get past the exterior, you’ll find deli cases packed with an array of options on the interior. This small market offers takeout ordered at the counter from a whiteboard menu. If you have yet to try poke (pronounced poh-keh), go for the poke bowl. Poke consists of raw ahi tuna, sea salt, seaweed, and limu as the base, with additional ingredients added in to more modern styles. Other favorites here are the fried chicken and the spareribs plate.
Sueoka Snack Shop
If you’re on the island’s south side spending the day at Poipu Beach Park or browsing The Shops at Kukuiula, Sueoka Snack Shop makes for a great lunch spot. Sueoka Snack Shop is a small takeout window attached to Sueoka General Store, and despite the name, they actually serve up plate lunches that are popular with locals. Sueoka’s offers local favorites such as mochiko chicken, teri beef, and loco moco, all served up with white rice and Hawaiian-style macaroni salad. Their burgers and fries are also some of the best around. Pick up food at Sueoka Snack Shop to be enjoyed at one of the nearby beaches, such as Sheraton’s or the Kukuiula Boat Harbor.
This locally owned eatery located on the island’s east side is a favorite for plate lunches and dinners. Order at the counter and eat in while catching the latest surf competition on the flat screen TV or get takeout to be enjoyed at one of the nearby beaches. Their claim to fame here is the chili pepper chicken, perfectly fried and smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce. They also offer other local plates such as kalua pork and chicken katsu, along with a variety of saimin bowls.
Hamura’s Saimin Stand
Serving noodles to Kauai residents for nearly 70 years, Hamura’s Saimin Stand is a mainstay on the island. Located in the east coast town of Lihue, there’s often a wait to snag a chair at this decades-old establishment. If you’re not sure about inhaling a bowl of hot noodle soup during your island vacation, Hamura’s will cause you to reconsider. Saimin traces back to the island’s plantation era when immigrant workers cooked and served these noodles to their families with whatever additional ingredients they had on hand. This has evolved in what today is a popular dish on Kauai – steaming egg noodles, char siu (sweet roasted pork), won ton (pork-filled dumplings), fish cake, and green onions, among other ingredients, in their secret-recipe broth. Stepping into the converted army barracks building, you’ll be greeted with low counters and stools where strangers sit alongside each other to indulge in their day’s noodle feast. Try the Special Saimin with a side order of BBQ chicken sticks and save room for a slice of their famed lilikoi chiffon pie! Pies can also be purchased whole to be shared and enjoyed later.
Bonus Places to Go
Just missing the cut for our top 5, Leong’s Meat House, Pono Market, and Pono Bakery are three more great options when you’re looking for a tasty meal with local flair. Leong’s Meat House features grass-fed Kauai beef cuts, poke bowls, bento boxes, and more. Pono Market offers delicious bowls and plates with your choice of entrée; options include shoyu chicken, fried noodles, kalua pig, and more, with different options every day of the week! Pono Bakery is a great spot to start your morning with a cup of coffee, sweet or savory roll, or even pick up some donuts or turnovers.
Leave the upscale oceanfront restaurants behind and instead discover some amazing hidden gems where the line of locals is long and the food is ono (Hawaiian word for “good to eat”). Try all the local favorites at these top 5 local only restaurants on Kauai! Contact us!