Kauai Favorites

We love Kauai and usually visit once a year. We go to Oahu every few years and we have been to Maui a few times too. Obviously, we can't get enough of Hawaii. It is definitely our preferred vacation destination and the kids love it. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite places to eat, shop, stay, and explore in Kauai with all of you!


Duke's: This would be my number one pick. Blake and I were engaged at the Duke's in Kauai in 2003, upstairs at the big round table in the corner by the salad bar. On this trip we ate at Duke's 3 times. I can never get enough of Duke's! 

Beach House: We went there on Easter Sunday for brunch. The restaurant sits right by the ocean, so the views are amazing and it has some of the best picture spots! It is also an open restaurant where you can walk right outside to the ocean. I love to go just to take pictures.

Kintaro: It is a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. It is so good and always fun.

The Dolphin (there are 2 locations): It is very laid back and one of my favorites. We went there twice on this trip. You must order the artichoke crowns and stuffed mushrooms!

Kauai Pasta (there are 2 locations): This is a great casual Italian restaurant with excellent food.  

Cafe Portofino: Classic, upscale Northern Italian dishes served in the open air & accompanied by subdued harp music. This is right next to Duke's. Everything is really good, but I love the steamed clams.

The Bull Shed: It is a steakhouse serving upscale surf 'n' turf in a relaxed, airy setting with ocean views since 1973. It is very reasonable considering the incredible ocean views. I love their salad bar and everything is usually amazing. I love this place.

Puka Dog (this is a must if you love hot dogs): it is a chill spot for specialty Polish sausages with a Hawaiian twist & homemade lemonade. The lemonade is out of this world. There a related spot with the same great stuff called Hula Dog in Oahu.

Lappert's (for ice cream, Kona Coffee all the way): This is a small chain serving coffee, homemade ice cream & baked goods featuring macadamia nuts. Their cookies are out of this world. Best cookies I have ever had, and that is saying something!

Monico's Taqueria: This is a down-to-earth Mexican spot dishing up fresh food & drinks for dine-in or takeaway. They are closed Mondays and this is Blake's favorite.  They have real authentic Mexican dishes.

Tortilla Republic: Upscale Mexican restaurant that is amazing. Their fajitas are really good, but I love their ensalada de espinacas!

Eating House 1849: History-minded Hawaiian spot by Roy Yamaguchi for traditional & modern fare with local sourcing. I had the hot pot rice bowl with butterfish and it was amazing.

Savage Shrimp: It's a tiny counter-serve seafood shop with many shrimp dishes & a few outdoor tables. We went there twice. I love this place. I always get a garlic shrimp plate. It comes with garlic shrimp, white rice, and slaw. The entire plate is out of this world. It started out as a food truck, but the food was so good they outgrew the truck and needed their own restaurant.

Tide Pools: This is at the Grand Hyatt and offers upscale Hawaiian cuisine in open-air thatch huts along a lagoon. This is a beautiful setting.

Red Salt: Upscale, modern restaurant in the Koa Kea Hotel serving inventive Hawaiian plates with ocean views.

Merriman's (upstairs only, the downstairs is just okay):  Sophisticated, multi-level restaurant preparing locally-sourced, regional Hawaiian dinners. The downstairs is much more casual and I did not love it. The upstairs is a lot nicer and I loved it.

Sam's Ocean View: Relaxed, open bistro with fine American dishes, seafood & cocktails, plus ocean views & artsy decor. The views of the ocean were beautiful and the food was so good. The Crispy Cauliflower is a must!

The Right Slice: You can get pies by the slice, mini little pies that you can eat in one big bite, or an entire whole pie.  They are the best ever.  There were so many different flavors and believe me we have tried them all and they are so good.

BTW, these are all kid friendly, as we took our 2 kids to almost every one of these restaurants.

Where to stay:
(these are the only places I have ever stayed when we have come to Kauai).  I would highly recommend any of them.


Poipu Shopping Village. This is where Puka Dog is located. They have a great children's store called Sand Kids, a convenient Whaler's General Store, Sand People and so much more! They also have entertainment with Hawaiian music and dancers every Monday and Thursday at 5pm.

Kukui'ula Village Shopping Center is a newer shopping center that has quickly become a favorite. It has lots of great restaurants like Bubba's Burgers, Savage Shrimp, The Dolphin, Eating House 1849, Lappert's, Merriman's, and Tortilla Republic. They have some great stores too, like Blue Ginger, Mahina (women's clothing and accessories), Quicksilver, SoHa Living, Sunglass Hut, Tommy Bahama, Tori Richard, and a nice Longs Drugs. I'd have to say this is my favorite shopping center in Kauai. We ate here almost daily and shopped a lot!  I love this center!

Kukui Grove Shopping Center is good too. This shopping center has a Macy's and I swear I find stuff at this Macy's that I never see in any stores at home. I love it. This shopping center is big with a Kmart, Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Pier One Imports, a nail place, a place for haircuts, Ross and so much more.  If I'm being honest, I mainly love it for the Starbucks and Macy's.

I also love on Kuhio Hwy in Hanalei there is a nice shopping area. It has a great kids store called Kokonut Kids, Sand People, some surf shops, a great snow cone shop, and so much more.  We always go to this shopping center at least once.  The kids store is the best.  

If you are looking for a Luau, Smith's Luau is the best. 

Hopefully some of this information helps you and you will be planning a trip to Hawaii soon. There is really nothing better. I love every island, but I am partial to Kauai since we were engaged there. I just love it so much.

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