Kauai Restaurants South Shore

Lobster Kauai

This post covers restaurants anywhere from Lihue to Poipu, Koloa and Kalaheo.   Again, restaurants on Kauai seem to be an ever changing phenomenon.   There are a few that have been here years and it seems others constantly opening (and some closing).   So here’s the pick of Kauai Restaurants South Shore.    


Cafe Portofino

Oceanfront dining in Lihue.   Thanks to Giuseppe Avocadi, this authentic this Northern Italian restaurant serves food and has live music most nights.    You also have a lovely ocean view.    Anipasti al Fresco.   Perfetto!    This is one of those restaurants that’s been here forever.    Actually since 1990.   and it’s still going strong.    The entrance is through the Marriott so there is ample parking including valet parking.   

The menu is traditional, extensive.   Consistency has been variable over the past 6 months.    

Duke’s Kauai

“Duke” Paoa Kahanamoku  was born in 1890 in Honolulu.    He won 5 Olympic medals  for the US for almost 20 years, introduced surfing to the US west coast, Australia and further afield.    Often referred to as the “grandfather” of surfing.    He was loved by Hawaiians and it seemed, wherever he went.    He became a hero after rescuing 8 people from a capsized fishing boat off Corona del Mar, CA.     

He opened Duke’s in Waikiki in 1962.    Unfortunately, there has been and continues to be argument and lawsuits over his trademarked name, but that’s another story.   

Duke’s here on Kauai echoes the original restaurant in Waikiki and it’s worth a visit for the view, the atmosphere and the history.    Duke’s in Lihue is a great places for drinks and some food.  If you haven’t been to Duke’s on Oahu, it’s a cafe style, relaxed atmosphere, usually busy.   Good food, great drinks.  

Hamura Saimin

Often cited as being the best Saimin on Kauai.    It is rather reminiscent of the 50s and is very basic, but terrific food.     This is old fashioned Mom and Pop style Saimin.   Very basic but if you enjoy Japanese Saimin done well and with a local flavor, this is the place for you.   Also very reasonable.   Another one of those places that’s been here forever.  

Ha Coffee Bar

Good coffee shop & cafe.   Although the outside is not that prepossessing, inside is a haven of wood and the smell of coffee.   Pastries and snacks too.    Healthy Acai bowls and smoothies.   They also offer the innovative Kuleana.work… where locals and visitors can have a space from which to work on a daily, weekly or full time basis so if you’re stuck and need to do some office work or need wifi, here is a great place. 

Kenji Burger

Outstanding establishment with another location in Kapa’a serving Kauai grown grass fed burgers.    My daughter can only go a few days without a Kenji burger.    The Truffle burger is her favorite but she loves them all.    I have tried the vegetarian burger and had fish here and both were excellent.

Everything is quality here; the meat, the fish, chicken and other ingredients.   Kenji burger is truly a wonderful addition to the Kauai Food Scene and I’m sure will be here for many years to come, for which many locals are ardently grateful.   Don’t miss it.

South Shore

Koloa & Poipu

Merriman’s Fish House

Merriman's Tempura Ono & SHrimp

Merrmian’s Tempura Ono & Shrimp

Excellent cuisine from Peter Merriman.     The Los Angeles Times called him the “Pied Piper of Hawaii Regional Cuisine”.   Quite a title .  That could be because Peter was indeed a pioneer in offering fresh “farm to table” food in the islands.    He opened his first restaurant doing just that in Waimea on the Big Island in 1988 and this one opened in 2008.     The gourmet restaurant is upstairs with the “Pizza and beer” cafe downstairs.   Lovely old plantation style building with views across the green and the ocean in the distance.  I do so appreciate Peter for encouraging local farmers, fishermen and ranchers so that we can all eat locally.    Lovely atmosphere.  A treat and most definitely the top pick for Kauai Restaurants South Shore.     

There is now a Pizza and burger place underneath the Fish House serving “gourmet pizza and burgers”.    The pizzas are organic.   I have to say I have not yet tried but am looking forward to it!

Eating House 1849

Roy Yamaguchi’s newest eatery,  is not far from Merriman’s.   Many are familiar with Roy’s and this restaurant does not disappoint either.       Apparently named after the restaurant started by a Chef in the mid 1800s who started a place called Eating House using local food.    That’s the tradition.    Roy has always been an imaginative chef.

Tidepools at the Hyatt

This is the Hyatt’s Gourmet restaurant; very good cuisine  but the name describes the lovely  ambience created by a tropical landscape interspersed with pools.     An around experience which is definitely a positive one! 

Anuenue Cafe

Opened in 2015 and this was needed!    Open for delicious breakfast and lunch up to 1pm.  Organic, fresh ingredients,  the menu has stalwart breakfast items with a local twist.  Located in the Poipu shopping mall.    

The Beach House

Something of an institution on the South shore.   Beautiful view as you are right on the ocean, the only one of its kind really.   Now owned by Peter Merriman but the Chef is Blanchard.    Excellent food, prices to match.   Open for lunch and dinner.. the lunch menu is obviously more affordable and tasty.    Considered by many to be the best Kauai Restaurant South Shore. 

Red Salt at the Koa Kea Hotel

This upscale hotel is now a couple of years old, as is the restaurant.   The food is really inventive and the executive Chef is a local Kauaian : Noelani Planas.   In a world dominated by men, I have to say I’m happy to see Chef Noelani here!     Her credentials are impressive too; she has worked in a three starred restaurant under the celebrated (and multi Michelin starred) Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas and also with Wolfgang Puck.

Keoki’s Paradise

Great mid priced cafe for lunch and dinner although it seems more expensive than it was.    I personally love this place.   It’s good food, reasonably priced and it’s great atmosphere with a lot of buzz.    The Hula Pie  is legendary.  Open lunch and dinner every day and often has live music at night. 

Papalani Gelato

Papalani Gelato Kauai

Papalani Gelato – best ice cream on Kauai!

Best ice cream in my humble opinion on the island.   Yummy!   Located in the Poipu shopping center.   Lots of different flavors, they do also supply some of the island’s restaurants and cafes including JO2,, Palate Wine Bar, Duke’s and Art Hemingway.  


Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co

This is one of the places that’s been there for years; 1994 to be exact.    Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner right there in Kalaheo.     When I lived there, they were open for breakfast and lunch but now they are also open for dinner.   The breakfasts are what really put them on the map and locals love them, as do tourists.   They have everything from traditional breakfast plates to omelettes to sandwiches, smoothies and more.   yum.     At lunch there’s everything from deli sandwiches to burgers and ..breakfast.     The dinner menu includes catch of the day.  Reasonably priced and although not all sourced locally, they do try to use local where possible.

Brick Oven Pizza

Family run restaurant since 1977, now expanded to other islands.    Good pizza, reasonable prices and great for families.

Paco Taco’s at the Golf Course

Paco’s Taco’s have certainly expanded fast on Kauai.   They now have 4 locations including this one at the Kukiolono Golf course in Kalaheo.


Special Mention:

Midnight Bear Breads

Rosemary & Hawaiian Sea Salt baguette

Rosemary & Hawaiian Sea Salt Bagueet courtesy of Midnight Bear Breads Kauai

Artisan breads and more in Hanapepe.   A top pick for Kauai Restaurants South Shore.   Serves Tea, coffee, the best croissants and pastries on the island and they make the best bread on the island.  No question.   Someone here has spent time in France because these are the best croissants (and most authentic) I have eaten in the US.    Unfortunately only available at their shop here (I understand that, they would have to have deliveries every day going island wide otherwise).    The bread however, is found at all the good Health Food stores including Harvest Market, Healthy Hut, Hoku in Kapa’a.     Ursa Swift and Evan McAfee have been making bread on island since 2012.   They use European equipment and all organic ingredients.   It shows.   Absolutely first class.  All types of fabulous bread including my favorite Rosemary & Hawaiian sea salt baguette but wait the Ciabatta is amazing too and the Walnut Cranberry sourdough…. ooh!  The cafe serves sandwiches,   Panini’s.  Pizza.  All delicious.   Don’t miss it!   

So that’s the round up of Kauai Restaurants South Shore.   For more info on the South shore in general, check out my post here.    Aloha!

For info on restaurants on the other parts of the island, here are links:

Kauai Restaurants West Side 

Kauai Restaurants East Side

Kauai Restaurants North Shore

Merrimans Prawn Ono         

WHere to Eat on Kauai South Shore

About the Author

Kauai Advisor ~ Francesca Azuremare ~ has lived on Kauai for 20 years. I feel blessed to live in such a magical, beautiful place. Over the years I have helped thousands of people find the perfect place to stay on Kauai whilst also advising on everything from places to propose to the best Na Pali boat ride. Now I'm sharing that information here. It's the Hawaiian way. Aloha!