One might not assume so about the smallest of the four main Hawaiian Islands, but the truth is that Kauai is a boon regarding food trucks. North Shore, South Shore, West Side, East Side, mixed plate, shave ice, local coffee…throw a coconut, and you’ll hit a unique food truck with delicious menu options (please don’t throw coconuts).
As it turns out, the biggest food truck challenge for Kauai visitors is knowing which food trucks to choose, given the multiplicity of options. What follows is our introductory guide to the cream of the crop - the landmarks (if landmarks can move) that you can’t afford to miss during your visit.
In 2023, here are the best food trucks on Kauai.
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Wailua Shave Ice
Shave ice is an iconic Hawaii treat, and nothing embodies the tradition more than ordering it straight from a local food truck.
Wailua Shave Ice is the quintessential shave ice truck - and believe us when we say the shave ice here might be the world’s best.
Owner Brandon Baptiste was born and raised in Wailua. Still, before the truck, he studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at none other than the French Laundry in California. Yeah, seriously, he did - right before he opened this shave ice truck with co-owner Josh Tamaoka.
As you can imagine, the shaved ice is pretty good. The truck can be found at 04-831 Kuhio Hwy #206 in Kapaa. They are open every day from noon to 8:30 PM.
Kickshaws is a unique and beloved Kauai favorite, offering a highly creative comfort food menu.
Owner and chef Seth Peterson is a biologist by training. Word on the street is that he uses unconventional, science-based techniques to discover new flavor combinations others worldwide have yet to consider.
The most popular menu item here is the 100% Awesome Burger, made from meat cured for no less than 30 hours. Aside from this and a handful of other permanent staples, the menu changes weekly to keep up with Peterson’s ongoing flavor breakthroughs.
Kickshaws is located in Koloa at 5371 Koloa Rd. They are open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 3 PM.
Hanalei Taro & Juice Co
Grown on the same local farm for six generations and counting, part of the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co plan for world domination involves owning and operating a food truck (or, in their words, "lunch wagon") that visitors flock to from miles around.
Unsurprisingly, taro is the hot item you can buy straight. However, taro is unobtrusive in virtually every dish on the menu - from taro smoothies to taro veggie burgers.
The truck is located at 5-5070 Kuhio Highway in Hanalei, and they are only open on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. They can also be found at the Puhi Park Farmer's Market Saturdays: 9:30 am-12 noon or until they sell out.
Al Pastor Tacos
If you’re craving Mexican food, this truck in Kapaa shows up on the top of just about everybody’s list.
Owned by couple Faun and Paulino Hernandez, it’s not difficult to figure out what the most popular dish is at Al Pastor Tacos. However, other menu items are perhaps equally popular - their insanely tasty ahi burritos.
Al Pastor can be found in the Kapaa Food Truck Court at 4-1602 Kuhio Highway. They are open every day except Monday, from 11 AM to 5 PM.
Small Town Coffee
Another straightforward establishment with an easily identified signature product, Small Town Coffee is often the favorite among locals for their morning brew or afternoon pick-me-up.
Humbly self-described as “the little red bus in North Kapaa,” this ultra-local coffee spot has been serving premium roasts, lattes, and homemade pastries since 2004. Since the truck is parked in the old Kojima Center, plenty of parking is around, making it an easy stop for coffee and snacks.
One menu item to be sure to try is the London Fog latte. Others rave about their breakfast pies - Aunty M’s Paradise pies, to be precise - which come in both veggie and meat variations for maximum inclusivity.
Small Town Coffee is located in Kapaa at 4-1543 Kuhio Highway. They are open from 6 AM to 2 PM every day except Sunday.
These are just the top 5 on an island where dozens of delicious food trucks sit within a relatively close geographic area. It’s hard to go wrong here, and you’ll likely be amazed at the variety of cuisines.
Mahalo and best wishes for your visit!