Hey there, fellow foodies!
Are you planning a trip to Honolulu and wondering where to find the best food? Look no further! As a regular visitor to Honolulu with my boyfriend, I’ve tried and tested some of the most delicious eateries on the island. Trust me; you won’t want to miss out on these culinary gems.
Honolulu’s food scene has exploded in recent years due to increased tourism, attracting chefs from all over the world who bring their unique recipes and flavors. With such diversity in people comes an array of cuisines, including Japanese, Korean, American, Italian, and local Hawaiian dishes.
But with so many options available in Honolulu’s tourist hub, it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to eat. That’s why I’ve put together this article featuring only the must-try eateries for your next visit. So sit back and get ready for a mouth-watering journey through some of Honolulu’s finest restaurants.
Warning: You may leave this article feeling extremely hungry!
Ethel’s Grill – Best Restaurant in Honolulu Overall
Tucked away in the back streets of Kahili, your food journey in Honolulu needs to start at Ethel’s Grill, an island institution since 1978. The restaurant was bought by a Japanese couple who never changed the previous name, as their focus was on making amazing food for customers.
The seating in their dining area is cramped, and you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the next person, who could very well be a celebrity chef, politician, or famous personality because everyone eats at Ethel’s with no worry for ambiance.
You can find a fusion of Japanese, Hawaiian, and Mexican flavors. For example, try Ethel’s version of the traditional loco moco – huge beef patties topped with a savory gravy served with white rice and two sunny side eggs.
In addition, seafood lovers will get hooked on their Ahi Tataki, which includes seared tuna served in a fragrant pool of sesame oil.
We’re fans of their Okinawan taco rice, an assortment of rice, ground beef, lettuce, shredded cheese, and a fried taco shell.
Here’s why we consider Ethel’s Grill one of the best restaurants in Honolulu:
- The food costs $8 max per person.
- The plates comes in huge ‘sumo’ portions, enough for 2-3 people.
- Smells from the kitchen carry to your table and enhance the dining experience.
Address: 232 Kalihi Street, Oahu.
Koko Head Cafe
Honolulu is teeming with celebrity chefs serving gourmet food in their eateries, and Koko Head Cafe by Chef Lee Ann Wong is one of the best. She spins classic Hawaiian meals into fancy favorites and makes the best Kaimuki-style brunch in Oahu, which is a must-try if you can bag a reservation here.
If you come for breakfast, try the Chef’s version of the classic loco moco, served in a pot of scorched rice. Other great items include the pancakes, which are super soft and served with applewood bacon, and black pepper maple syrup.
My boyfriend and I love coming to Koko Head Cafe, as the flavors here are a unique fusion. With crowd favorites like the Bibimbap – skillet rice, Portuguese sausage, runny eggs, kimchi, and the cornflake-crusted French toast with Hawaiian smoked bacon.
Here’s why Koko Head Cafe is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu:
- They offer a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu.
- They have reasonable prices for gourmet-quality food.
- Their service is timely and excellent.
Address: 1145 12th Ave Ste C, Honolulu, Oahu.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food – Best Seafood Restaurant in Honolulu
As an award-winning eatery in Honolulu, Helena’s Hawaiian Food serves traditional and local island food packed with flavor. You can try a range of Hawaiian meals from their extensive menu; each prepared perfectly by the local chefs.
Some of their popular dishes include the seafood specials like Lomi Lomi Salmon made from freshly caught seafood, a tender Luau Chicken, and the crowd-favorite Kalua Pig.
We’re big fans of their Pipikaula, air-dried, juicy short ribs with a crunchy exterior, and the Squid Luau made with octopus and taro leaves soaked in creamy coconut milk.
Here’s why we consider Helena’s as one of the best restaurants in Honolulu:
- They serve authentic local food with unmatched island flavors.
- A terrific mac salad accompanies each dish, loaded with mayo and veggies.
- Their haupia (coconut) pudding is a delicious local-favorite.
Address: 1240 N School St, Honolulu, Oahu.
The Pig and the Lady
If you’re looking for Vietnamese cuisine in Honolulu, head to the Pig and the Lady near Chinatown, serving authentic flavors from Vietnam with some Asian fusion. They’re one of the best fine-dining restaurants on the island that you have to try for more modern flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.
Try their Banh Mi Pho with french dip, a crowd-favorite made from slow-cooked beef brisket, on top of a crunchy baguette with their rich pho 75 dipping sauce.
The real winner on their menu is the pho, served with your choice of meat like beef, oxtail, chicken, and a vegan version. We love their Pho 75 which has a rich steak broth and the classic chicken Pho Ga Tron.
End your meal with their light cheesecake topped with fish oil, which is a must-try to experience an umami-like sweet flavor.
The Pig and the Lady is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu, and here’s why you’ll agree:
- They deliver the most authentic flavors of Vietnamese food in Oahu.
- Their sister restaurant Piggy Smalls serves terrific fusion food.
- They have friendly and timely service.
Address: 83 N King St, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Merriman’s Honolulu – Best Restaurant in Honolulu with a view
If you like fancy decor, great cocktails, and local food, head to Merriman’s Honolulu, founded by Chef Peter Merriman, a pioneer of Hawaiian cuisine on the island. Merriman’s extensive menu includes a range of delicious items, but it’s their killer Mai Tai that you don’t want to miss.
Some delicious things you have to try from here are the Kalua Pig Quesadillas with a tangy mango chili sauce and house-made kimchi, the Bag o’ Biscuits with honey butter, and the seasonal signature smoked oysters. Each dish has a unique flavor profile that you’ll be craving days after the meal (I know I was!)
We consider Merriman’s one of the best restaurants in Honolulu, and so will you after trying it.
- Their outdoor seating offers a great view to enjoy the delicious food.
- Chef Peter’s food is a must-try for newcomers in Honolulu looking for local food.
- Their prices are reasonable for the quality of food and portions.
Address: 1108 Auahi St, Honolulu, Oahu.
Another of Chef Peter Merriman’s wonderful restaurants, MonkeyPod Kitchen, has multiple branches in Maui and Oahu, so you know the food is in high demand. However, the tourist crowd in Honolulu loves to stop by here, so get reservations beforehand.
They have a terrific brunch menu with delicious starters like roasted chicken wings, lobster devilled eggs, and poke tacos. You’ll also love the hand-tossed Margherita pizza, Maui beef cheeseburger, and the classic Hawaiian Saimin, with handmade wheat noodles, in a rich broth and fresh veggies.
We highly recommend a stop at MonkeyPod Kitchen if you’re in the outskirts of Honolulu, because:
- Their range of desserts like pies and cheesecakes are unmissable for those with a sweet tooth.
- They have lower prices compared to other upscale eateries.
- Their flavors are irresistible and will have you visiting often.
Address: 92-1048 Olani St Suite 4-107, Kapolei, Oahu,
MW Restaurant – Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Honolulu
Owned by the husband-wife chef duo of Michelle and Wade, MW is famous for its terrific food and award-winning desserts. They’re an upscale eatery near Waikiki beach, boasting a relaxed atmosphere in which diners will enjoy eating.
You’ll want to try their delicious appetizers like the crispy Unagi and Butterfish Arancini, and Crab Cakes, followed by the Miso Honey-Glazed Butterfish main, served with a Kimchi Potato Salad.
They also serve terrific short ribs, beef tenderloin, seafood fried rice, and even have a Raw Seafood bar with lobster claws, scallops, oysters, shrimp, and cocktail sauce.
Don’t leave MW without trying Michelle’s fruit creamsicle dessert, a recipient of the James Beard Pastry Chef Award.
Here’s why MW is considered one of the best restaurants in Honolulu:
- They offer an intimate and personalized dining experience.
- Their gourmet-quality food is some of the best for fine dining on the island.
- Other signature desserts are the Lilikoi Brulee, and MW candy bar.
Address: 888 Kapiolani Blvd. Commercial Unit, Suite 201, Honolulu, Oahu.
If you want to taste the authentic flavors of any city, head to its hole-in-the-wall eateries. Ray’s Cafe in the winding alleys of Kahili is just that, run by Chef Ray, whose seafood specials and meat dishes can rival the best fine-dining restaurants in Honolulu.
In the spirit of hole-in-the-wall eateries, you’ll be cramped in a small dining hall, with mouthwatering smells of food wafting to your table.
They have delicious meats like the Prime Rib, a thick slab of ribs big enough for two people, served with a side of shrimp scampi. We love their house specials like pork chops, salmon, butterfish, and lamb rack, each packed with rich flavors.
We highly Ray’s as one of the best restaurants in Honolulu. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- They have a casual dining atmosphere.
- The Chef, Ray, is friendly and chats with diners during the meal.
- Their prices are super low for the big portion sizes.
Address: 2033 N. King St., Kalihi, Oahu.
Rainbow Drive-In – Best Place to Eat on Honolulu on a Budget
A bit far from Honolulu’s main tourist areas, the Rainbow Drive-In is a favorite restaurant amongst locals in Oahu. You’ll get the best plate lunches and Hawaiian classics here, and a lack of tourists crowding it makes it a must-try.
You want to try their Mixed Plate with BBQ beef, boneless chicken, and Mahi Mahi, served with heaping scoops of macaroni salad and two scoops of white rice. Another popular dish is the Loco Moco with fried beef patties instead of the usual grilled, fluffy rice, gravy, and mac salad.
Their menu also has other delicious items like BBQ plates, Shoyu Chicken, and juicy cheeseburgers. However, Rainbow Drive-In has huge serving sizes, so bring an appetite as the plates are enough to feed two to three people.
A bit far from Honolulu’s main tourist areas, the Rainbow Drive-In is a favorite restaurant amongst locals in Oahu. You’ll get some of the best plate lunches and Hawaiian classics on Oahu here, and a lack of tourists crowding it makes it a must-try.
Here’s why we consider Rainbow Drive-In one of the best restaurants in Honolulu.
- They have a traditional and comfy diner-style seating area.
- They serve some of the most authentic Hawaiin food in Oahu.
- Their prices are super cheap.
Address: 3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, Oahu, HI,
Orchids at the Halekulani – Best Dinner Restaurant in Honolulu
Those seeking a fine dining experience in Honolulu should head to Orchids at the Halekulani Hotel, close to Waikiki beach and boasting views of the shore from their dining area. Their extensive menu offers a unique mix of Hawaiian, Japanese, and American dishes.
Orchids is famous for its brunch, with stations for meat, cold food, breakfast classics like eggs and pancakes, and even a seafood table with excellent sushi. The best part about brunch is their efficient service, which keeps the food warm and tables full.
We also love coming to Orchids for an evening meal, as dinner is an intimate affair with their signature orchids artfully placed on each table. Their flavorful Lobster Bisque, Foie Gras, Risotto, Lasagnette, Tenderloin Filet, and New York Strip are some of the best dishes you can try.
Here’s why you’ll agree that Orchids is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu.
- The atmosphere is perfect for an intimate meal.
- Their terrific Coconut Cake is a favorite among regulars.
- The servers are friendly and efficient.
Address: 2199 Kalia Rd Halekulani, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Head to the ground floor of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which houses Azure, a world-class restaurant on Waikiki beach, where each table looks out at the gorgeous ocean and provides a stunning view. Azure’s specialty is its delicious seafood dishes, made from fresh island fish daily.
You want to try their four-course menu, which features delicious items like asparagus salad with ricotta and pickled green strawberries, and the poached scallops in lemon.
For the main course, there’s a juicy Wagyu striploin served with truffled cream corn and braised leeks, and the dessert is a Russian honey cake to round the meal perfectly.
Here’s why Azure is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu.
- The restaurant offers terrific food and stunning sunset views from the beach.
- Head Chef, Shingo Katsura, checks on diners during the meal to ensure food quality.
- They have delicious vegetarian and vegan options for each course.
Address: 2259 Kalakaua Ave, The Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Maguro Brothers – Best Japanese Restaurant in Honolulu
With its two branches in Waikiki and Chinatown, Maguro Brothers is a local favorite restaurant for Japanese food in Honolulu. The two brothers running it prepare the food in front of customers to showcase their impressive knife skills.
However, you’ll have to wander through the backstreets of the International Market in Waikiki to find Maguro Brothers, but their amazing food is worth it.
Their menu includes a range of fresh seafood classics like sushi, poke bowls, sashimi platters, grilled Hamachi, and our favorite donburi with fluffy rice.
Maguro Brothers is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Honolulu, and here’s why you’ll agree:
- They serve authentic Japanese flavors in their food.
- Their prices are low for the big portions.
- Get the food packed and enjoy it fresh on picnic tables in the market area.
Address: 1120 Maunakea St Maunakea Market Food Court #111, #112, Honolulu, Oahu.
Izakaya Torae Torae
Izakaya Torae Torae is Honolulu’s best for traditional Japanese and Asian fusion food. With their Tokyo-inspired interior and live kitchen, it feels like you’re eating a meal right from Japan’s streets. However, call ahead to get a reservation, as they’re often crowded.
You’ll love their sushi, Ahi Tataki, Hamachi, and Snapper Carpaccio, which are favorites among locals and Japanese tourists alike, and incredibly delicious.
Also try traditional dishes like Shrimp Tempura, that’s crispy and light, and their Signature Pork Belly Kakuni. We love the Truffle Edamame from their fusion food, which comes in a big serving that’s enough for two people.
Izakaya Torae Torae is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu, and here’s why you’ll agree:
- Their authentic Japanese flavors are unmatched.
- They offer low prices and large portions.
- Their service is quick, and you’ll be served within 15 minutes of arriving.
Address: 1111 McCully St, Honolulu, Oahu, HI,
Kyung’s Seafood – Best Korean Restaurant in Honolulu
This one’s a treat for Korean food lovers, as Kyung’s Seafood serves authentic Korean fare with lots of delicious banchan (side dishes.) Although it’s a hole-in-the-wall eatery, locals frequent this place, so get your reservations before coming.
Kyung’s has terrific seafood (hence the name), so try their sashimi platter loaded with fresh catch that’s big enough for two people. We also tried their Ahi and salmon poke bowl, which was well-seasoned with lots of garlic.
Other great dishes aside from seafood are their Galbi platters, spicy pork, and kimchi fried rice.
Here’s why we consider Kyung’s Seafood one of the best restaurants in Honolulu:
- They serve authentic Korean food and flavors.
- They’re a must-try spot for those craving good spicy food.
- Their strawberry soju pairs well with the spicy flavors.
Address: 1269 S King St, Honolulu, Oahu.
Senia is Honolulu’s hottest new fine dining restaurant, which quickly gathered fame for its unique flavor pairings of Hawaiian and American cuisines. They have a terrific Chef’s Tasting Menu that requires reservations, and their lunch and dinner items are also amazing.
Start your meal with their Smoked Ahi Cigars and blue cheese beignets. They also have big sharing platters like the Smoked King Salmon and Braised Beef cheeks, enough for two to four people.
We’ve worked our way around their extensive menu, and some of our favorites are the Citrus Cured Hamachi, special Roasted Bone Marrow, Citrus Scallops, and Sweet Corn Agnolotti which are excellent choices for seafood and meat lovers.
Senia is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu, and here’s what makes them even better:
- They offer an eclectic menu with irresistible flavors.
- Their light and creamy cheesecake is an almost perfect dessert.
- Service is efficient and friendly at Senia.
Address: 75 N King St, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Morning Glass Coffee
All the young people in Honolulu head to Morning Glass Coffee for its Bohemian vibes and fusion menu which have also made it a favorite among locals. Check them out if you’re in Manoa for their delicious coffee, that’s a perfect way to start your morning.
One of the most popular dishes on their menu is the Mac n Cheese pancakes, made with Vermont cheddar and an applewood smoked bacon topping, bursting with enough cheese to satisfy a cheese lover, and balanced with savory flavors from the bacon.
Their brunch menu draws quite a crowd, with a range of breakfast items like fried rice omelet topped with spicy mayo and oatmeal brulee with caramelized brown sugar and fresh fruit.
As for coffee, try the Iced Americano and Matcha Lattes, both made fresh from their locally sourced coffee range.
Morning Glass Coffee is the best restaurant in Honolulu, and here’s why you have to visit them:
- Their display case of baked goods offer delicious fresh pastries.
- The baristas at Morning Glass make their own brews so don’t leave without trying them.
- They offer a delicious and filling breakfast.
Address: 2955 E Manoa Rd, Honolulu, Oahu.
The Liliha Bakery has been a hub for locals since its opening 65 years ago, as they serve authentic Hawaiian breakfasts and a range of fresh pastries. With multiple bakeries around Oahu, Liliha gets its fame from its decadent coco puffs filled with creamy custard and the classic Hawaiian malasadas.
Liliha Bakery serves classic diner-style breakfasts, like Portuguese sausage and fresh Mahi Mahi with eggs, and the loco moco that’s a must-try for meat lovers with its huge beef patties, savory gravy, and sunny side eggs.
Here’sw hy Liliha Bakery is one of the best restaurants in Honolulu:
- Their haupia and lilikoi-filled malasadas are incredible dessert options.
- They offer low prices for filling baked goods and meals.
- The portion sizes are Hawaiin-style huge so save your appetite.
Address: 515 N Kuakini St, Honolulu, Oahu.
Keeping up with Honolulu’s love for breakfasts, your food tour will take you to Over Easy, a great spot for an early breakfast, late brunch, or any meal in the day, as they’re a favorite among locals and tourists both.
You’ll have to make your way to Kailua to try them, but the food is worth the trip. However, this small eatery is always packed, so be prepared to wait or make reservations in advance.
From their amazing range of breakfast, try the golden pancakes with perfectly crispy edges and topped with a sickly sweet syrup. Other favorites are the pork hash with Lomi tomatoes and an Okinawan sweet potato side, the bacon-cabbage broth over rice and Portuguese sausage, and the classic Kailua eggs.
Over Easy is one of the best restaurants for breakfast in Oahu, and here’s why you’ll love them:
- The serve a terrific island-style breakfast.
- Their have low prices for great quality food.
- The service is quick and friendly here.
Address: 418 Kuulei Rd #103, Kailua, Oahu.
What is the most famous food in Honolulu?
Honolulu locals love Hawaiian classics like loco moco, malasadas, Kona coffee, and poi-filled desserts. And from the range of cuisines found in Hawaii, some favorites are katsu, pho, spam musubi, sushi, and more. Take a food tour around Honolulu’s best eateries, and you’re bound to find some local favorite foods.
Where did Anthony Bourdain go in Honolulu?
Famous chef personality Anthony Bourdain has visited Honolulu and loved the local food from the Puka Dog Waikiki (which is closed now) and New Uptown Fountain. He also tried the popular Ono Hawaiian Food and Side Street Inn restaurants, which are casual eateries and favorites amongst the locals.
Does Oahu have a Michelin star restaurant?
La Mer is regarded as Hawaii’s only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes 5-Star restaurant, one of Oahu’s most prestigious fine dining eateries. La Mer boasts oceanside views from the Halekulani Hotel and serves some of the most delicious meals on the island.
What are the best restaurants in Honolulu with a view?
Honolulu has some terrific restaurants which boast oceanside views from their dining areas or outdoor seating. Head to Orchids at the Halekulani Hotel, and Azure in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for unmissable views of the Waikiki shoreline at sunset.
What are some tasty Vietnamese spice combinations that can be used in cooking?
Some delicious Vietnamese spice combinations include lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. These spices add a burst of flavor to any dish and are commonly used in traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
What is Hawaiian regional cuisine known for?
Hawaiian regional cuisine is known for its use of fresh local ingredients such as seafood, fruits, and vegetables. It also incorporates flavors from different cultures such as Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese.
Where can I find the best local fish tacos?
You can find the best local fish tacos at many local restaurants that specialize in seafood dishes. Some popular spots include beachside food trucks or upscale restaurants with a focus on using fresh locally caught fish.
A prix fixe menu is a set menu offered by restaurants where customers pay a fixed price for multiple courses. This type of menu allows customers to try different dishes without having to order each item separately.
How do young local foodies regard upscale Hawaiian staples?
Many young local foodies regard upscale Hawaiian staples as an exciting way to experience traditional Hawaiian food with modern twists. They appreciate the use of fresh ingredients and creative presentation found in these types of restaurants.
Yes! Many Japanese izakaya-style small plates restaurants offer vegan-friendly vegetable dishes on their à la carte menus. Some popular options include edamame beans, grilled mushrooms, or tempura vegetables.
An à la carte menu at a traditional Hawaiian food restaurant typically includes individual items that can be ordered separately rather than part of a set meal like prix fixe menus offer. Popular items may include kalua pork (smoked pulled pork), poi (mashed taro root), or lomi-lomi salmon (a tomato-based salad).
In what units are measurements provided when ordering from a local chain restaurant’s online delivery service?
When ordering from most online delivery services provided by local chains you will see both metric and imperial units listed for measurements such as weight or volume depending upon your location settings.
Winding Up the 18 Best Restaurants in Honolulu
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you’ll know that Honolulu has some of the best eateries in Oahu, each catering to a different flavor palette. Honolulu has an unmissable food scene, from places serving breakfasts and brunch only to five-course menus and fine dining meals, and some specializing in only one major meal or cuisine.
If you want to taste authentic Hawaiian flavors, head to Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Liliha Bakery, Rainbow Drive-In, Ray’s Cafe, and Ethel’s Grill.
Those with a sweet tooth will love MW’s desserts, Over Easy’s pancakes, and the delicacies at Chef Peter Merriman’s eateries.
Don’t miss the Rainbow Drive-In, Liliha Bakery, Morning Glass Coffee, and Over Easy for amazing breakfasts to start your day.
If you’re craving pan-Asian flavors, head to Kyung’s Seafood, Maguro Brothers, Izakaya Torae Torae, and the Pig and the Lady.
The best restaurants in Honolulu will have you spoiled for choices!
Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Brigitte