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Posted on Nov 26, 2013 | 9 comments

Eat Like a Local on Kauai

Eat Like a Local on Kauai

There is no shortage of great places to eat like a local on Kauai. The only real problem you will have is not having enough time to visit all of them. Something we did not get a chance to do and already have a list of places to try for the next time we are on Kauai. For this round, here are our favorite places to eat like a local on Kauai

Eat Like a Local on Kauai

There’s a reason they call this place Ono!

Duane’s Ono-Char Burger

This red and white roadside stand is easy to drive right past. But with the best burgers that we tried on Kauai you will want to make sure that you don’t. With so many different kinds of burgers, fish, shrimp, and sandwiches, it can be hard to decide on what to order. Save yourself some time and order the popular, juicy Local Boy Burger with teriyaki sauce, cheese, and pineapple. Adding bacon to it kicks it up a notch and you might as well throw in an order of their crispy onion rings, too. There isn’t a lot of seating here and you will be eating with the chickens (something we actually love to do), so either get there before the lunch crowd or take it to go.

You can find Duane’s Ono-Char Burger at 4-4350 Kuhio Hwy, Anahola.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

Shrimp, Lobster, Ahi, and Octopus Pokies.


Yes, Foodland is a grocery store, but it’s got some seriously good eats. In their deli you can find a selection of hot foods like Portuguese sausage with eggs and rice, an assortment of musubi, and a large poke bar. Foodland is a great place to pick up easy food on the go or to make a meal out of trying an assortment of their pokies. We do both, on more than one location. On a side note, Foodland also has the best reusable shopping bags, anywhere.

Foodland can be found in Kapaa and Princeville.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

Call in your order of Saimin to go for quicker service.

Hamura Saimin

Being right by the airport, Hamura Saimin is our first stop to eat once we land on Kauai. No matter the time of day, expect a wait. The heaping bowl of made-from-scratch saimin noodles in a hearty pork broth with fish cake, egg, ham, roast pork, Chinese cabbage, and pork wontons will fill you up and make you happy. We also split a large with a couple of their teriyaki beef and chicken sticks on the side. Don’t eat too much or you won’ have room for a slice of their Lilikoi chiffon pie for dessert.

You can find Hamura Saimin at 2956 Kress St, Lihue.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

The Candied Ahi is one of our favorite dishes at the Hukilau Lanai.

Hukilau Lanai

Hukilau Lanai is a must when on Kauai. With its beautiful view and delicious food it’s the perfect place for a nice dinner out. Our favorite is their Tasting Menu and poke nachos or you can try one of their many wonderful entrees.

You can find Hukilau Lanai at 520 Aleka Loop, Kapaa.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

All the sushi was fresh with well balanced flavors.

Kintaro Japanese Restaurant

A neighborhood favorite in Kapaa, at Kintaro you can order from many appetizers, sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, and a selection of entrees. We opted to split a few maki sushi and appetizers. As soon as we ordered, free fried wontons were brought to our table. Everything was fresh and served at just the right temperatures. The inventive maki may not be for strict sushi purists, but we enjoyed every bite. Be warned; the portions are large and you will most likely end up taking leftovers with you.  Save room for a piece of their outstanding green tea mud pie at the end.

Kintaro Japanese Restaurant can be found at 4-370 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

On your first visit to Mark’s Place, the Mark’s Special is always a great place to start.

Mark’s Place

Mark’s Place is a great little no frills locals spot. It’s basically a tiny lunch counter on the industrial side of Lihue. There isn’t a bathroom or many tables. It’s the kind of place you call in your order and pick it up to go. What Mark’s Place lacks in ambiance, they fully make up for in food.

The plate lunches here are among the most popular on Kauai. Mark’s special is the way to go to get a taste of local favorites in beef stew, katsu chicken, and teriyaki beef served with rice and potato mac salad. I liked that teriyaki beef so much that we went back the next day so I could get another plate of just that.

Mark’s Place can be found at 1610 Haleukana St, Lihue.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

One of our favorite lunches while on Kauai.

Mermaids Cafe

Mermaids Cafe is a counter service food stand located on the side of the road. After you place your order, grab a seat to watch the ebb and flow of visitors and locals to this island community. The way to go at Mermaids Cafe is their Ahi Nori Wrap. With perfectly seared ahi wrapped in a green tortilla with rice, cucumber, nori, wasabi cream sauce, pickled ginger, and soy sauce, it’s easy to see why this is a local favorite. It could end up being one of the best things you eat on Kauai.

Mermaids Cafe can be found at 4-1384 Kuhio Hwy B1, Kapaa.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

If you want to try more than one tropical relish, ask for it on the side to keep your dog from tasting too sweet.

Puka Dog

The best way to describe a Puka Dog is a Polish sausage slipped inside a tube-like-bun that’s garnished with Lilikoi mustard, a garlic-lemon secret sauce, and a tropical relish of your choosing. They have a selection of sauces and relishes made from local ingredients to pick from. We enjoyed both the pineapple relish and the mango relish. It’s the perfect afternoon snack after a day at Poipu beach.

Puka Dog can be found at 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

The papaya ginger tarter sauce brought out the flavor of the coconut shrimp.

Shrimp Station

If you are heading to the Waimea Canyon, Shrimp Station is the perfect place to stop for lunch. You can have anything you want on their menu – as long as it’s shrimp. Got Garlic Shrimp plate lunch, our favorite, is heavy on garlic, sauteed in olive oil and white wine for a finger-licking sauce you will love. They don’t shell the shrimp for you to make them extra juicy and to hold on to more flavor. It can get a bit messy peeling all those shrimp, but Shrimp Station has you covered with an area to wash up after you are done.

Can’t hang with having to peel your own shrimp? The Coconut Shrimp are fantastic, too. Some even call them the best Coconut Shrimp on the planet. Dipped in a secret batter, coconut flakes, and deep-fried to perfection they pair perfectly with the papaya ginger tartar sauce.

You can find Shrimp Station in Waimea and Kapaa.


Eat Like a Local on Kauai

The Mai Tais at Tahiti Nui.

Tahiti Nui

This Hanalei kamaaina (Hawaiian for old-timer) looks like a bit of a dive from the outside, but it’s all local on the inside. Once inside Tahiti Nui has a quaint South Pacific feel with carved tikis and woven matting. With live music nightly, you will want to get here early because Tahiti Nui can fill up quick. We shared a round of their Mai Tais which knocked us on our butts while sharing their sear-crusted ono. It was the perfect way to spend an evening after a full day of frolicking in the Hanalei Bay.

Tahiti Nui can be found at 5-5134 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei.

Where do you go to eat like a local on Kauai?

All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.

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About Kimmy Hayes

Kimmy Hayes is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfterGlobe; a site on becoming debt free and traveling the world as a married couple. In 2012, she planned and coordinated her own do-it-yourself destination wedding on the beautiful island of Maui while serving as a moderator for the on-line community, The Knot. She is passionate about traveling to experience new cultures, snorkeling the waters of the world and reading with her toes in the sand.


  1. If only I could think of the names of these places…

    But one is a separate building in the Coconut Marketplace right where the Wednesday afternoon Hula show is held. (Ask for info about the show at the Cultural Center there in the Marketplace. They put it on.) They have very unique, delicious foods–you sit at a picnic table outside. Good prices, too.

    Another is a stand built off a grocery store in Koloa. They serve delicious, wonderful teriyaki burgers for about $2–just hand them out the window to you. We learned of it via the AAA Kauai book years ago when we went on a very tight budget. It was still there when we went back last year.

    Anyone else tried these places?
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  2. We also went twice to the breakfast buffet at Scotty’s on Kuhio Hwy in Kapaa. It is a little shabby inside, local to be sure, but decent and one whole wall is window overlooking the ocean. We enjoyed the food.
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  3. Got to the end of the post craving Hawaiian food…all of those look SO good. Ugh. Drooling. :)

  4. Kilauea Fish Market gets a lot of our business while traveling. Excellent fish tacos, and they will put together fish kebab skewers with their amazing soy teriyaki sauce while you wait.

    On the south/west side, Yumi’s in Waimea (next to the theater) is inexpensive, friendly, and no-frills – nothing fancy, and menu isn’t huge, but the food is good and fresh and the service is wonderful.

    • David, we saw Yumi’s when we were in Waimea and were already full of shrimp. We may try it when we return next year. Kilauea Fish Market is on the list for sure! We wanted to go this time, but ran out of meals.
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