5 Best Hole in the Wall Restaurants in Oahu

Hey there, fellow foodies!

Are you planning a trip to Oahu and looking for the best places to eat? Look no further because I’ve got you covered. As someone who has been visiting this island regularly with my boyfriend, we have discovered some of the most amazing hole-in-the-wall eateries that serve up mouthwatering meals. Trust me; these hidden gems are worth seeking out.

But here’s the thing:

Finding these restaurants can be quite challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of our favorite spots serving fresh seafood, juicy meats, pan-Asian meals, and Hawaiian favorites. Get ready to indulge in some of the best fares on Oahu.

Warning: After reading this article, your taste buds will beg for more!

Are you ready to discover Oahu’s culinary secrets? Let’s dive in!

Ethel’s Grill – Best Hole in the Wall Restaurant in Oahu

Ethel’s Grill - Best Hole in the Wall Restaurant in Oahu

This restaurant is a perfect example of the diversity in Oahu, as everyone eats at Ethel’s; politicians, truck drivers, construction workers, locals, famous chefs, and the lucky ones who can find it. Tucked away in Kalihi and owned by a Japanese couple who bought it in 1978, Ethel’s serves incredible food with a fusion of cuisines and flavors. 

Try Ethel’s version of the Hawaiian loco moco, grilled beef topped with savory gravy on scoops of white rice and sunny side eggs. A crowd-favorite item on their menu is the Ahi Tataki, pan-seared tuna sashimi served in a pool of aromatic sesame oil. 

You’ll be seated in their small dining area, rubbing shoulders (quite literally) with the next person as sounds and smells of delicious food waft from the kitchen and onto your table. 

There’s nothing like Ethel’s Grill for a taste of Hawaiian, and Japanese food, as they’re the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Oahu.

  • The food costs as little as $8 per person. 
  • Their servings come in ‘sumo’ sizes, so expect a huge plate. 
  • Their Okinawan Tacos are a great spin on the Mexican classic with Asian flavors.

Address: 232 Kalihi Street, Oahu.

Ono Seafood – Best Locally Owned Restaurant in Waikiki

Ono Seafood - Best Locally Owned Restaurant in Waikiki

Hidden in the back alleys of Waikiki, Ono Seafood prepares the best poke (raw marinated fish over white rice and veggies) in Oahu, made from fresh catch everyday. Since it’s a local favorite joint, you’ll often find it crowded, so get takeout instead, as their food stays fresh for a long time.

Their most popular poke is the Spicy Ahi, with fatty bits of fish coated with a creamy and spicy mayo sauce. Other great flavors are their much-loved Shoyu Ahi, and Shoyu Tako, served with a sweet, ginger-flavored shoyu sauce, crunchy seaweed, and kukui nuts.

We’re fans of the food at Ono Seafood and consider it the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • They serve delicious fresh sashimi and taegu.
  • Take your food to the nearby Waikiki beach and enjoy it with an unmatched view.
  • Try their tasty half-and-half bowl with two poke flavors. 

Address: 747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Oahu.

You might also like: Best Oahu restaurants with a view

Liliha Bakery – Best Hidden Gem Restaurant in Waikiki

Liliha Bakery - Best Hidden Gem Restaurant in Waikiki

As tourists head to trendy cafes with oceanside views for breakfast, locals take a detour to the Liliha Bakery, an island institution for 65 years. They’re an excellent bakery serving freshly baked desserts like coco puffs with a creamy custard filling (a must-try) and diner-style breakfasts. 

Liliha Bakery also takes the prize for their incredible malasadas – Hawaiian-style donuts coated in sugar, which the bakery serves with delicious passionfruit and coconut fillings.

You want to try their flavorful breakfast specials; loco moco, Portuguese sausage, and fresh Mahi Mahi with eggs. 

We love Liliha Bakery’s irresistible desserts and laid-back setting, making them the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • There’s usually a crowd of locals outside, but the efficient waitstaff attends to newcomers quickly.
  • They have great lunch and dinner menus. 
  • Liliha Bakery has several locations across Oahu. 

Address: 515 N Kuakini St, Honolulu, Oahu.

Related: The 7 Best Restaurants in Waikiki With a View

Ray’s Cafe

Ray’s Cafe

Park your cars at the beginning of Kalihi, and walk to Ray’s Cafe with all the twists and turns that lead here, home to the most delicious seafood and meat dishes in Oahu. The chef and owner, Ray, makes food to rival the finest dining restaurants in Honolulu, and his recipes and attention to flavors will beat all the fancy places you’ve been to before.

Of course, the cramped interior means you’ll be sitting quite close to other diners, but with delicious food and huge portions, who even cares? Try their Prime Rib, a 2-inch thick slab of meat bigger than the plate and oozing with meat juices, with a side of shrimp scampi. 

Other house specials include pork chops, salmon and butterfish, lamb rack, and anything on the specials menu that changes daily.

You’ll love the no-frills atmosphere at Ray’s and become a regular after trying the food, as it’s the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Oahu.

  • The chef is friendly and often chats up with diners during meals.
  • Ray’s Cafe is famous for its huge portions.
  • Their food is super cheap, with the priciest meal being $15.

Address: 2033 N. King St., Kalihi, Oahu.

Palace Saimin

Palace Saimin

Your search for delicious food in Oahu will lead you to the streets of Kalihi yet again (noticing a pattern here?) to the doorstep of Palace Saimin, with its flashy neon sign and modest interior. They’ve been operating since 1946 and serve only a handful of items perfected over time like any authentic eatery. 

Saimin is a classic part of Hawaiian cuisine, and Palace Saimin serves it traditionally with chewy wheat noodles in a fish broth garnished with sliced green onions and wontons. Their menu also has mouthwatering BBQ sticks of crispy beef, wonton min, and udon.

The food at Palace Saimin promises a burst of umami in every bite, making them one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Oahu.

  • Their prices are as low as $10-12 per person for filling portions. 
  • Their authentic recipes and menu have been the same since 1946. 
  • If you get takeout, have the noodles and broth packed separately to keep it fresh.

Address: 1256 N King St, Honolulu, Oahu.

Top Hole in the Wall Restaurants in Oahu

Restaurant NameNotable Menu ItemsAddressOther Details
Ethel’s GrillHawaiian Loco Moco, Ahi Tataki, Okinawan Tacos232 Kalihi Street, OahuFamous for fusion of Hawaiian and Japanese cuisine, diverse crowd, affordable ($8/person), sumo-sized servings
Ono SeafoodSpicy Ahi Poke, Shoyu Ahi Poke, Shoyu Tako Poke, fresh Sashimi, Taegu747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, OahuKnown for their poke dishes, local favorite, often crowded, takeout recommended, nearby beach location
Liliha BakeryCoco Puffs, Malasadas, Loco Moco, Portuguese Sausage, Mahi Mahi with Eggs515 N Kuakini St, Honolulu, OahuPopular bakery serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, known for their desserts, several locations across Oahu
Ray’s CafePrime Rib, Shrimp Scampi, Pork Chops, Salmon and Butterfish, Lamb Rack, Daily Specials2033 N. King St., Kalihi, OahuKnown for huge portions, affordable prices (up to $15), friendly chef-owner, homely atmosphere
Palace SaiminSaimin, BBQ Sticks, Crispy Beef, Wonton Min, Udon1256 N King St, Honolulu, OahuServing traditional Hawaiian cuisine since 1946, famous for Saimin, affordable prices ($10-12/person)

Wrap-Up: The Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in Oahu

Oahu’s food streets and dining options are unmatched, as you get original flavors of many cuisines from the eateries here. If you’re in Oahu and looking for delicious food, generous portions, and low prices, head to its hidden gems. Also consider the food court or a hidden wall deli as prime options.

Try Ethel’s Grill and Ray’s Cafe, recognized as some of the best restaurants in Oahu, for top-notch meats and seafood.

Head to Ono Seafood for the best poke and Palace Saimin for a hearty bowl of noodles, a Hawaiian twist on this comfort food staple.

Experience the thrifty luxury of cheap food without compromising taste or quality, in the heart of the city. One prime spot is near Diamond Head, where culinary gems hide in plain sight.

Don’t miss the baked goods and breakfast from Liliha Bakery.

The best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Oahu, like the bustling wall deli, are unmissable! It’s not just about where you eat but the memories and experiences you create. The diverse culinary scene in Oahu is sure to make your visit memorable.

In addition to these fantastic dining options, don’t forget to check out the best plate lunch in Oahu for a truly local culinary experience.


What hidden gems can you find for authentic Hawaiian food at reasonable prices in Honolulu, HI?

During my last trip to Hawaii, I discovered a few hidden gem restaurants in downtown Honolulu that served authentic Hawaiian food at incredibly reasonable prices. Some of the great experiences were plate lunches packed with fresh fish and delicious fried chicken, as well as mouthwatering shave ice desserts. Don’t miss out on exploring these local food spots during your travel adventures!

Can you recommend some cheap and quick eats near Kuhio Ave or Ala Moana when visiting Oahu?

Absolutely! While roaming around the Kuhio Ave and Ala Moana areas, I stumbled upon some amazing wall delis and bustling food courts offering great food options for a cheap price. They featured plate lunches rich in Hawaiian flavors alongside refreshing snacks like super fresh shave ice – perfect for a hot day on the island.

Where can one enjoy traditional Hawaiian snacks like oxtail soup or items with a unique twist near popular tourist spots in Hawaii?

When looking for traditional Hawaiian snacks such as oxtail soup or dishes with an interesting twist, check out places located close to famous landmarks like Diamond Head or Aloha Tower. On my recent visit to Hawaii, I found numerous casual eateries serving extraordinary meals near pineapple plantations too! Also worth mentioning is Leonard’s Bakery known for their delightful malasadas.

Are there any notable Big Island eateries that offer exceptional lunch options during a Hawaii Food Tour on your travel tips list?

Yes! The Big Island has numerous outstanding restaurants where travelers can savor genuine hawaiian cuisine during their Hawaii Food Tour adventure. With plenty of lunch choices featuring freshly caught seafoods, exotic fruit selections from nearby farms, or even wall place establishments serving delectable plate-lunches; it’s clear why good quality eats are considered an essential part of Hawaii’s travel tips.

Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Brigitte