The dining scene on the island of Kauai is spectacular, but upscale restaurants tend to attract the bulk of the attention. When you crave a casual dining experience, however, you can still find plenty of excellent options that please the palate without compromising your dining budget. We’ve highlighted a few of the best cheap and local eats in Kauai, with a clear focus on local cuisine.
This Lihue hotspot has certainly earned its reputation. Chef Mark Oyama is the mastermind responsible for this local gem, which regularly earns high praise.
Mark’s Place is where you go to score the island’s best katsu, loco moco, beef stew, or other Hawaiian staples. There are also daily specials, so you can always expect to find something new and enticing. Local catches and other ingredients are used whenever possible, ensuring that everything looks and tastes fresh.
The full plate is sizable, but you can always opt for the available mini version if you need a lighter lunch. If you’re really on a budget, you can also order one of the sandwiches; all are available for under $10.
The teriyaki chicken and beef sandwiches are especially tasty but the ahi quinoa tofu burger is a unique option worth trying. Most visitors end up ordering takeout, but you’re welcome to grab a spot at one of the picnic tables.
Porky’s Kauai Waimea
With the motto “aloha in a bun,” you know that any Porky’s experience will feel true to the spirit of Kauai. A local favorite since 2013, this gem offers a handful of reasonably priced options, all of which incorporate Porky’s signature Hawaiian-style pulled pork.
The menu may be small, but you don’t need a large selection to be satisfied. You can’t go wrong with the pineapple sausage sandwich, although the rice bowl also makes for an enticing meal. No matter what you order, a drink will be included in the price.
There are just a few tables available onsite, but you can also hit up the park across the street and enjoy your meal with a view. If you choose to eat inside the restaurant, you’ll appreciate the friendly vibes and the bright, airy interior.
You’ll find a second motto (“the pursuit is happiness”) emblazoned on the wall; this, plus the warm ambiance and tasty food will almost certainly ensure that you leave with a smile on your face.
Anattas Thai Street Food
With locations in Lihue and Kappa, Annattas Thai Street Food is a local staple that vacationers will definitely not want to miss. Spring rolls, pad Thai, green curry…everything sold at these food trucks should be exceptionally fresh and full of flavor.
The owner hails from Thailand, so you can feel confident that anything you order will be authentic. If you have dietary restrictions and are struggling to find low-priced options, you’ll be pleased by the vast selection at Annattas, where both vegetarian and gluten-free dishes abound. Grab a meal for takeout if you have accommodations nearby — or make the most of the nearby tables.
Anake’s Juice Bar
Treat yourself to a nutritious and reasonably priced beverage or snack at Anake’s Juice Bar. Conveniently situated within the Kukuiula Grocery Market, this cute little juice bar is the very definition of a hidden gem.
You’ll find plenty of refreshing options to give you a healthy burst of energy on a busy day. Smoothies and acai bowls are the definite highlights here. When in doubt, try the Funky Monkey, which includes banana and peanut butter, plus chocolate chips and granola to make your order a bit more indulgent. Da Dragon is another essential if you love all things lilikoi.
After you visit the juice bar, feel free to grab a few snacks or ingredients at the market, which is worth a visit in its own right. If you stay nearby in accommodations that include a kitchen or kitchenette, you can cut your dining budget considerably by purchasing ingredients for healthy, easy-to-prepare meals.
Koloa Fish Market
As the ultimate hole-in-the-wall, the Koloa Fish Market should be your go-to for takeout. The poke found here is always fresh, but be prepared: you’ll almost certainly stand in line, as the word has definitely gotten out about this Koloa lunch spot.
One taste of the spicy ahi tuna or the smoked swordfish, and you’ll quickly realize that these flavorful offerings are more than worth the wait. The quantities can be sizable, so you can expect not only a delicious lunch but also, plenty of leftovers.
Al Pastor Tacos
Hit up Kapaa for the island’s tastiest tacos. Served from a humble food truck in a parking lot, this dining experience just might exceed anything else on the island.
The signature pork tacos are a must. You’ll also be impressed by the fresh fish tacos and the grilled fish burrito. The housemade pico would make this taco truck worth a visit all on its own.
Al Pastor Tacos opens at 11 am each day. If possible, you’ll want to show up early — local favorites have been known to sell out quickly.
From juice bars to taco trucks and everything in between, you can always find tasty cheap local eats in Kauai if you know where to look. You just might realize that Kauai’s most casual meals are also the most appealing.