Where to Eat in Waimea, Kaua‘i

With no shortage on types of cuisine, dining styles from on-the-go casual to a nice sit-down meal, and plenty of local specialties, waiting until you’re hungry to pick where to eat in Waimea, Kaua‘i is only going to make it a tougher choice. Here’s a round up of local favorites and options to satisfy everyone’s tastes.


The decor stays true to the name at Wrangler’s Steakhouse (9852 Kaumuali‘i Hwy., 808/338-1218, for lunch 11am-4pm Mon.-Fri., for dinner 4pm-9pm Mon.-Sat., $17-28), where the restaurant is decorated with cowboy trinkets and gear. Indoor and outdoor seating are offered, and I’ve learned that with little ones who have a hard time sitting still, the outdoor seating in the back is a good idea. Wrangler’s is known for their great steaks, and they offer a salad and soup bar with each meal. A full bar is stocked with a variety of liquors, wines, and beers to please any palate. The menu offers a hefty assortment of red meats, poultry, and seafood, but surprisingly, vegetarians can enjoy a sufficient and tasty meat-free meal. Service is friendly and there is also a small paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) museum as well as shell jewelry for sale.

To peel, or not to peel, that is the question at The Shrimp Station (9652 Kaumuali‘i Hwy., 808/338-1242, $11-12), where shrimp is served up in a number of ways. At this very laid-back eatery, seating is on picnic tables under a tent right on the side of the main road. The menu includes shrimp entrées, drinks, desserts, and ice cream. Kama‘aina discounts are available and service is friendly but to the point. It’s across from Island Tacos.


Obsessions (9875 Waimea Rd., 808/338-1110, 6am-2pm Wed.-Sun.) is a homestyle breakfast café with absolutely no frills. Eggs, sausage, pancakes, coffee and other usual breakfast dishes are served. The food is decent, simple, and perfectly satisfying. The atmosphere is very homey, with artwork and letters from the town’s schoolchildren on the wall. Food is served on disposable plates.


In the same building as Wrangler’s is Pacific Pizza and Deli (808/338-1020, 11am-9pm Mon.-Sat.). They serve really good pizza, calzones, deli sandwiches, drinks, and ice cream. The small shop puts a twist on traditional pizza with options such as Thai, Filipino, Portuguese, and Mexican tastes, reflecting the flavors of each country. Smoothies, coffee, and ice tea are offered to refresh you in the west-side heat.

A young woman eats a cone of shave ice on the beach.
Shave ice is a favorite Hawaiian treat. Photo © maridav/123rf.

Local Treats

Finely shaved ice and 60 flavors can be found at Jo-Jo’s Clubhouse (9734 Kaumuali‘i Hwy. across from mile marker 23). What’s commonly known as a snow cone in the Mainland is called shave ice in Hawaii. The line can be long, but it’s a testimony to their great shave ice. Try some local flavor combos like lychee and coconut or liliko‘i and melona.

An easy and healthy breakfast or snack in the hotel room or while camping can be found at Kaua‘i Granola (9633 Kaumuali‘i Hwy., 808/338-0121, 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., 10am-3pm Sun.). Unique flavors like pina colada, Hawaiian zest, and guava crunch are available and sold along with Waimea-made chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, dried fruit, cookies, and pastries. Nestled in a small shop next to Island Tacos, it’s another option to bring home a taste of paradise.


Island Tacos (9643 Kaumualii Hwy., 808/338.9895, 11am-5pm Mon.-Sun., $12) in Waimea is a simple order-at-the-counter taco stand with seating, reminiscent of roadside taco stands in Mexico. The large menu offers local fish, pork, chicken, and even a wide variety of satisfying vegetarian and vegan options. Portions here are large, with unique toppings like a wasabi-spiked aioli sauce and the option of fat-free dishes. Perfect for a quick stop on a drive through Waimea or to satisfy a craving after camping at Polihale, this place is really good. As locals would say, ’nuff said.

Mostly Vegetarian

Organic, vegetarian, vegan, and natural breakfasts, lunches, smoothies, and desserts can be found at the new family-run Happy Mangos Healthy Hale (Alawai Rd., 808/338-0055, store 6:30am-5pm, café till 4pm Mon.-Fri., 7am-3pm, café till 2pm Sat., $8). The local owners serve freshly made food along with natural and organic groceries and produce. Located in a small plantation-style building across from Lucy Wright Beach Park, the health food store is the only natural and organic choice in Waimea. They serve non-vegetarian sandwiches too.

Related Travel Guides