Greetings, fellow food adventurers!
I’ve been on a gastronomic journey for quite some time now, exploring the culinary delights that Oahu has to offer. It’s no secret that amazing food can truly enhance a vacation experience, and trust me, my boyfriend and I have had our fair share of mouth-watering discoveries.
Together, we’ve dined at just about every restaurant imaginable in Oahu – from hidden gems tucked away in alleys to bustling food trucks parked along sandy beaches. Through trial and error (and several expanding waistlines), we’ve managed to narrow down the crème de la crème of dining spots you simply can’t miss during your stay.
You see, we’re driven by an insatiable desire for scrumptious meals that not only satisfy our taste buds but also introduce us to new cultures and flavors. And oh boy, do these places deliver! We’re talking succulent shrimp plates, fluffy soufflé pancakes, zesty empanadas… The list goes on!
Warning: Be prepared for spontaneous drooling as you read through this list of must-try eateries. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
So without further ado (and before my stomach starts growling too loudly), let’s dive into the must eat places in Oahu!
#1 Helena’s Hawaiian Food – The best authentic and homemade Hawaiian food
Address: 1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817
This is a true local gem. They have been serving traditional native food and feeding the community since the 40s. It’s a rear place where everything on the menu is a great choice. Everything is fresh, locally sourced, made from scratch, and served with love. This is a true local favorite, and if you want to taste what the natives cook traditionally at home, this spot is a must.
The food is high quality, with a hole-in-the-wall relaxed and genuine service (very humble spot).
My favorites include the Short Ribs Pipikaula Style, Fried Butterfish Collar, Long Rice Chicken, and Kalua Pig & Cabbage. The portions are well-sized and hardy. The meat is always really well cooked and seasoned. For dessert, they sell homemade Haupia by the pound or pan!
They also have an extensive takeout menu. I recommend choice D (my absolute favorite) which includes Kalua Pig, Lomi Salmon, Pipikaula Shortribs, and Luau Squid. You will have an incredibly filling and tasty meal (even with a large appetite).
Helena’s Hawaiian Food is the top spot to eat in Oahu because:
- This is a long-standing local restaurant that serves traditional and homemade food.
- The portions are great and everything is made from scratch and fresh.
- This place is a hidden gem, not influenced by tourism, but rather humble and focused on taste.
- They also have an excellent take-out menu.
#2 Musubi Cafe Iyasume – Best handmade rice balls and Udon noodles on the island
Address: 2427 Kuhio Ave Fl 1 Aqua Pacific Monarch Hotel Honolulu, HI 96815
I love the food here because it’s always fresh and the rice is the best I’ve ever had. I also appreciate that they have several locations so we can easily visit and re-visit before or after heading to the beach. They also offer online ordering for pick-up and delivery.
Their menu is extensive and there is something for everyone. Especially those looking to experiment and try different flavors. Asides from the many spam Musubi, they have amazing Udon Noodles (try the thin beef), different bowls (try the spicy minced fried chicken), and traditional Japanese rice Balls (Musubi). My favorite Musubi is the Miso Salmon.
Whatever you order you will love the food. The portions are large, filling, and really well-seasoned. They make everything by hand with high-quality ingredients. It’s also a light meal option, and something that can be eaten later – most options keep really well. We take their food on hikes sometimes.
This is my second place for a great meal because:
- They have lots of great and diverse food options including noodles, rice balls (Musubi), different bowls, and even spam Musubi.
- The food is fresh and made with high-quality ingredients which makes it – tasty!
- They have several locations and it’s easy to stop by.
- They offer delivery and pickup, all with friendly service.
#3 Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – The best shrimp truck with hot sauce
Address: 66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
If you are on the North shore, stop by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Lovers of deliciously prepared shrimp and amazing hot sauce will visit and revisit this food truck on your trip. The shrimp served here is large, fresh, and full of flavor. The portions are large and the sides are generous. Unlike some spots, the prices here are still reasonable.
The choices here are simple, and each plate is served with a dozen jumbo shrimp and two scoops of rice. Choose the shrimp scampi (with garlic), the no refunds shrimp (hot and spicy), or the Lemon butter (sautéed in butter and lemon sauce). If you don’t like shrimp, they also have the mouthwatering jumbo garlic hot dog. If you want, they also have a homemade mac as a side.
I love spicy food so no matter what plate I choose I ask for hot sauce on the side. My favorite is the shrimp scampi with garlic, hot sauce on the side, and a passion orange drink. Service is really fast and always smiling. Everyone is really friendly.
This is a cash-only truck, so make sure to have cash with you, or you will be disappointed! Not a big deal and worth the hassle for an excellent meal, especially because it was rated as the best food truck in north Oahu.
Visit this awesome food truck because:
- The shrimp is perfectly seasoned and fresh (delicious!)
- The portions are large and you can get hot sauce on the side with any order.
- The jumbo garlic hot dog is also awesome.
- Service is excellent and super friendly.
#4 Aloha Kitchen Waikiki – The Best breakfast and great Hawaiian food
Address: 432 Ena Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
If you are big on breakfast (like me) the soufflé pancakes here will make your mouth water!
The restaurant is elegant with a super casual and local vibe. The inside seating is spacious and there is booth seating available. They also have some outside seating, but it’s not as good. They serve a mix of different foods including lots of sweet and savory options.
For breakfast my favorites are the French toast and berry Soufflé Pancake with House made Berry sauce, ice cream, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. It’s really a unique treat (and it’s huge). The dough is fluffy and the toppings are not too sweet. There are also other options like banana, coconut, and apple. They are all good (yes, I’ve tried them all!).
The savory options for lunch are just as good. Try the Wagyu Loco Moco, Garlic Butter Ahi, or a Pulled Smoked Pork Sandwich. Everything is very flavorful and the portions are generous. This is a spot where you can also get a great hamburger! (I usually crave a good burger after a few days of fish and seafood!) I get mine with onion rings!
The service is efficient and friendly. They do get busy (especially in the mornings), so sometimes it’s a wait. My advice is to be patient (the food is worth it), and don’t let them rush you once you are seated.
Visit this amazing breakfast and lunch spot because:
- They have amazing savory and sweet options for breakfast and lunch.
- They are famous (with good reason) for the soufflé pancakes which are perfectly fluffy and topped with fruit and sauce that doesn’t overpower the dough.
- The portions are large and the food is well prepared.
- It’s a great spot to get a good hamburger and fries (or onion rings).
#5 MAMIS Empanadas – Best Hole in the wall Latin cuisine (food truck)
Address: 2525 Cartwright Rd. Honolulu, HI 96815
This hidden gem serves amazing Cuban and Columbian food that is easy to eat on the go. They use an amazing spice pallet which is super tasty and a great change while vacationing in Hawaii. The food here is fried, crispy, and great to eat with your hands. They have great dipping sauces that you will want to take home.
I highly recommend the Cuban sandwich and Sofrito chicken empanadas. But they also have amazing combinations of other empanadas, corn cakes, and even a Colombian hot dog. Everything will be made even better by the green sauce or the garlic. I could eat it with a spoon. (Definitely get all 4 sauces to try).
Service is mostly quick and friendly. Sometimes there is a long line, but don’t be discouraged. The food will make up for it. Order online for pickup, if you want to enjoy your food on a hike or at the beach. It’s an easy option to take with you.
Check out Mamis Empanadas for some great Latin treats because:
- The food is always fresh and handmade when you order. It’s super tasty and different.
- They have four amazing dipping sauce options and you will enjoy all of them.
- It’s an opportunity to try Colombian hot dog.
- The food is easily eaten with your hands and good to take to the beach or a park.
- Service is fast and friendly, even if the line is long.
Oahu is an amazing island to visit. There is so much to see and do, that it attracts people from all around the world.
It’s also a great culinary experience (influenced by its different cultures). They have it all from fine dining to some of the best food trucks in Hawaii.
Experience all the amazing flavors of Oahu by visiting my top 5 places to eat. No need to break the bank or dress up. Just high-quality tasty food with large portions.
No matter what you like you will find amazing options at each place.
Don’t miss out and enjoy!
Last Updated on May 4, 2023 by Brigitte