Bar Acuda (tel. 808/826-7081)
After starting two successful restaurants in San Francisco (the Slow Club and 42°), chef/owner Jim Moffat moved to the tiny town of Hanalei and opened this sleek, romantic restaurant specializing in his favorite tapas dishes from the Southern European regions along the 42° latitude (southern France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal). In an atmosphere of candlelight and exotic mouthwatering aromas coming from the open exhibition kitchen, wonderful food and terrific service make this a must-stop.
The Beach House (tel. 808/742-1424)
Though there has been a major cosmetic overhaul at this beachfront magnet in Lawai, the food is as good as ever. The Beach House remains the south shore's premier spot for sunset drinks, appetizers, and dinner -- a treat for all the senses.
Caffè Coco (tel. 808/822-7990)
This gets our vote for the most charming ambience on Kauai. Caffè Coco is just off the main road at the edge of a cane field in Wailua, its backyard shaded by fruit trees, with a view of Sleeping Giant Mountain. Gourmet fare is cooked to order -- and at cafe prices. The food is excellent, with vegetarian and other healthful delights such as spanakopita, homemade chai, Greek salad, fish wraps, macadamia nut-black sesame ahi with wasabi cream, and an excellent tofu and roast veggie wrap.
Dondero's (tel. 808/742-1234)
This is one of your best bets for a romantic dinner on Kauai. Dine either under the stars overlooking the ocean or tucked away at an intimate table surrounded by inlaid marble floors, ornate imported floor tiles, and Franciscan murals. All this atmosphere comes with the best Italian cuisine on the island, served with efficiency. It's hard to have a bad experience here. Dinners are pricey and worth every penny.
Duke's Canoe Club (tel. 808/246-9599)
Tropical atmosphere overlooking the ocean, great fresh fish at attractive prices, and dependably good meals. Don't miss the wallet-pleasing drink prices at happy hour.
Hanapepe Café (tel. 808/335-5011)
Now under new management, Hanapepe maintains the same wholesome cuisine in a casual, winning ambience that has drawn foodies for a decade. During lunchtime the place is packed with businesspeople who drive 30 minutes to eat here. On the Friday-night dinner menu, such Italian specialties as lasagna quattro formaggio with spinach, mushrooms, and four cheeses steal the show. There's no liquor license, but you can bring your own wine.
Kilauea Fish Market (tel. 808/828-6244)
Perfect for a takeout lunch or dinner on the beach, this tiny deli pumps out incredibly delicious meals (even dishes for vegetarians) with fresh, healthy, locally grown and caught ingredients.
Mediterranean Gourmet (tel. 808/826-9875)
This "hidden" restaurant, located next door to the Hanalei Colony Resort, nearly at the end of the road, was awarded "Best New Restaurant" on Kauai by a local magazine and is very deserving of the distinction. The oceanfront location is the perfect backdrop for chef/owner Imad Beydoun's Middle Eastern dishes, which he embellishes with an island twist.
Mermaids Cafe (tel. 808/821-2026)
This tiny sidewalk cafe, with brisk takeout and a handful of tables on Kapaa's main drag, serves healthy, organic, home-cooked meals. Mermaids uses kaffir lime, lemon grass, local lemons (Meyers when available), and organic herbs, when possible, to make the sauces and beverages to go with its toothsome dishes.
Postcards Café (tel. 808/826-1191)
The charming plantation-style building that used to be the Hanalei Museum is now Hanalei's gourmet central. Postcards is known for its use of healthful ingredients, fresh from the island and creatively prepared and presented.
Roy's Poipu Bar & Grill (tel. 808/742-5000)
This is a loud, lively room with ceiling fans, marble tables, works by local artists, and a menu tailor-made for foodies. The signature touches of Roy Yamaguchi (of Roy's restaurants in Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Tokyo, New York, and Guam) are abundantly present: an excellent, progressive, and affordable wine selection; fresh local ingredients prepared with a nod to Europe, Asia, and the Pacific.
Tidepool Restaurant (tel. 808/742-1234)
An ultraromantic setting (literally hanging over the water), fabulous creative cuisine, and quick, efficient service with a smile make this restaurant in the Grand Hyatt a standout.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.