Here we go with the best Kauai restaurants East Side of the island. There’s a lot! I was just thinking back 10 years and there was not the choice and variety there is today. Kapa’a and Wailua are brimming with places to eat. Lots of good ones too!
Updated April 2021
Ono Char Burger
Ono Char burger is a place right next to Whaler’s in Anahola (blink and you’ll miss it) the Hawaiian Homelands between Kapa’a and Kilauea. For those who eat burgers, it has a great reputation and this is one of the few restaurants that has been here a long time; more than 20 years. Maybe more than 30! Note: still not open as of April 2021
Kalalea Juice Hale
This is right there almost opposite Ono Char underneath Kalalea – the extraordinary iconic mountain that towers over Anahola, the Hawaiian Homelands.
You can read more about Kalalea and its spiritual and cultural significance in my Kauai Guide and also here.
Kalalea Juice Hale was started a few years ago by a local Hawaiian family. Most ingredients are organic and local. Great smoothies, organic Shave ice (perhaps best on the island because it’s Organic) and Acai bowls. Imaginative. lovely place to stop and definitely one of my top picks for Kauai Restaurants East Side.
Great view from this cafe on the north end of town. Great food. I love the fact that the fish is always local, never frozen and they buy from local farmers too. . Consistently has good ratings from guests and it has an ocean view. What more could you want on Kauai? Open every day except Sunday 4 – 9, Happy hour 4 – 6 and Sunday Brunch 9 – 3pm. One of Kauai’s best Restaurants East Side.
For more info on Organic and locally sourced products, take a look at my post Organic Kauai.
Quite simply the best restaurant on Kauai. If Michelin visited Kauai, this would have a star.
Oh my, words fail me. Chef Jean-Marie Josselin is celebrated throughout Hawaii and beyond and I (and many others) are so happy he has come back and opened JO2 here in Kapa’a. A Pacific Cafe closed some years ago to the dismay of many good food lovers so Chef Jean-Marie could travel. But he’s back! And even better. I read a review on Trip Advisor where the reviewer said she thought she had “died and gone to heaven”. Quite. If Michelin made it out to Kauai, JO2 would have at least one star. My last visit I was transported to heavenly realms with every dish. Creative does not suffice. I am reminded of Roger Verge, three starred Michelin Chef at “Moulin a Mougins” outside Cannes, South of France many years ago.. but better. Chef Jean Marie has now added several vegetarian dishes which are incomparable. I won’t even try to describe them. If you appreciate gourmet cuisine, if you appreciate organic local ingredients, just go. Book. It’s located in an unprepossessing shopping square right off the road in Kapaa, don’t be deterred!
This is a food wagon right on the street in between the Pono Food Market & Vicky’s Fabrics. Terrific “Neopolitan” Pizza. Love the Mediterannean. Fresh & tasty. Currently the best pizza on Kauai. (remember in Eat, Pray Love, the best pizza was in Naples…..’nuff said).
This is a food truck located at the north end of Kauai almost opposite the Kauai Fair not far from Otsuka’s furniture store. Pretty much all of the food trucks are there. I would say most of them are ok… but Cafe Nirvana is excellent. Robin, the owner makes homemade Indian food which he cooks fresh daily.
He shares the space with another food truck so unfortunately he’s only there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Hours are 11 – 3pm or until he runs out of what he makes. So get there in good time! Excellent Indian food. More info : 808 333 2061
Cafe open in the morning and day for drinks, cafe food. It’s good. Still open at night for similar. Great eating on the beach experience. I was there the other day, bit windy on the beach but still enjoyed the best Fish Tacos on the island – sorry food trucks and Mexican restaurants, but it’s the truth!
Lava Lava Beach Club first opened on the Big Island and Co – Owners Eric von Platen & Scott Dodd opened the second one here in 2016. It was almost an instant hit and continues to be so with locals and tourists alike.
Kapa’a talk for Coffee. On the main street next to Mermaid’s. Coffee, chai, limited cafe menu. Java Kai has been there for years and is a Kauai favorite.
My daughter loves these burgers. I personally don’t eat meat but these burgers are made from Kauai beef, grass fed cows. There’s a lot to be said for that. As she points out…it’s across the road from that establishment which serves what can only be described as something vaguely reminiscent of food, where there always seems to be a line. At Kenji, it’s the original burger as it’s supposed to be. She swears by the Truffle burger, though apparently they are all amazing. They also do them in bowls, burritos and more. I have had the vegetarian burger as well as fish here and both were excellent.
For those not fond of red meat, they do offer vegetarian burgers and chicken. Real food folks! A wonderful addition to the Kauai food scene, thanks Kenji burger!
Right next to Java Kai, another Kapa’a institution is Mermaid’s cafe.. a hole in the wall facing the high street that does fresh stir frys, wraps and terrific Hibiscus Lemonade. The Ahi on Foccacia is a favorite. Very reasonable.
Kauai Juice Co
Around the back of Java Kai & Mermaids, this is the Kapa’a location for Kauai Juice co, serving amazing freshly made on a daily basis fantastic juices – all locally sourced, organic, so good for you and yummy to boot. Also nut milks (yum), shots of Olena (Tumeric) and more and some great noodle items. Don’t miss it
El Taco Feliz
Food truck next to Paco Taco’s.
Across the street is Paco’s Taco’s Kapa’a. They also have a location in Kilauea by the Healthy Hut. Standard fayre mexican. They have salsa dancing on Art night…. Oh yes! They put a dance floor down on the ground outside the restaurant and it’s salsa time!
Cafe on the corner by the lights. Mostly organic and local food including grass fed beef and local Taro. I do love the fact that Chef Erin includes Taro quite a big : Taro hummus and burger for example. Currently still closed in April 2021… disappointing!
Pretty good pasta. Mediocre ambience but that’s not why they are there. Great for families.
Oasis on the Beach, Waipouli Resort.
One of the few places where you can be in a restaurant practically on the beach. So it’s worth it for that. No need to book most nights.
Hukilau Lanai at Kauai Coast Resort
Upscale, very good food and also music near the beach at the resort.
Then there’s Art Hemingway, right on the road and serving good food. Difficult parking though. Small Town Coffee saves good coffee and pastries. Nom Kauai serves a southern style and Sukothai serves Thai food.
Food truck next to Scorpiaciatta’s. Good shave ice but not organic though the fruit is locally sourced in most cases. These guys now have locations in Portland and San Diego.
Eat Healthy Cafe is where Cafe Coco’s used to be. Great location as you are downtown Wailua but have tons of space, it’s quiet as it’s set way back from the main road and there’s great parking.
The food is wonderful too. I’ve eaten here for breakfast and lunch. I love the outside seating area and the menu is extensive, fresh and good. Locally sourced, organic food, vegan but if you are not vegan, don’t let that deter you, the food tastes delicious! Just change the name! (sorry owners, but the name, though it describes what you do, is not that inviting! Just saying)
Next to the Foodland shopping center, this new in 2019 Saimin restaurant offers local food. It’s the enterprise of the guys who own Wailua Shave Ice, local guys who wanted a restaurant that they want to eat at. That’s always a good thing. Good local food and reasonable prices.
Kombucha bar in the Wailua shopping mall on the corner. Tiny but they serve great kombucha and curries; all vegetarian, locally sourced and organic.
For more information about the East Side of Kauai in general, check out my post on that here, Kauai’s East Side, The Coconut Coast.
Here’s links to the restaurants on the other parts of Kauai :