Over the past few years, Kauai has developed into a foodie destination, with everything from high-end restaurants featuring regional cuisine to specialty shops serving gluten-free baked goods, chocolate, and more. You might go to Kauai for its lush beauty, beaches, and outdoor activities, but make sure you partake in the island's amazing food scene, too. Here are some of my favorite spots.

Kalaheo Coffee Company

About 15 minutes west of Poipu is the town of Kalaheo. The center of the Kalaheo universe (OK, maybe my Kalaheo universe) is the Kalaheo Coffee Company. The best time to go is for breakfast. Try one of the restaurant's scrambled egg sandwiches, wraps, or—my personal favorite—the tropical Sweetbread French Toast. If you're on the way to a hike, buy something from the bakery to take along. I like the treat called “knuckles”—a delicious combination of a cinnamon roll and croissant.

French toast at Kalaheo Coffee Company 

Kauai Chocolate Company

On the west side of the island, in Eleele, you'll find the Kauai Chocolate Company. The specialty at this shop is the Opihi, a chocolate-covered shortbread cookie with caramel and a macadamia nut. Note that many shops in Poipu carry chocolates from these folks, so if you're staying on the south side of the island, it may not be necessary to make the drive to enjoy their treats.

Sweet Marie's Bakery

This little place used to be located in the tiniest of shops in Kapa'a. It always was a stop on my way from the south to the north part of the island. Now, however, Sweet Marie's Bakery is located in Lihue, which means it is more centrally located. Marie, the owner, has celiac disease and specializes in gluten-free pastries, cookies, cakes, and muffins. Marie is quite the character—meeting her is worth the visit.

Kauai Coffee Company

Stop by the Kauai Coffee Company during regular visiting hours and you can fill up on samples. Every couple of hours, the plantation has walking tours that lead visitors through the estate and teach about coffee production. Tours also present a good case for why Kauai coffee is better than the java you can get on Kona. 

Viewfinder Tip: Take advantage of the Kauai's warm weather and spend time outside exercising between meals.

Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill

Specializing in small plates, Josselin's Tapas Bar & Grill serves Pacific Rim specialties that you won't find elsewhere. Hands down, this place has the most beautifully prepared meals on the island. Try one of the lychee or pomegranate sangrias from the rolling drink cart.

Oasis on the Beach

Located on the beach inside the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa in Kapa'a, Oasis on the Beach consistently serves up unique menu items. About 90 percent of the restaurant's menu ingredients are sourced locally. More than anything, that is what I think keeps people—including me—coming back.

What are your favorite restaurants on Kauai?