Apart from stunning views and rich culture, Hawaii does not disappoint with its food scene. Honolulu offers an array of fantastic dining options and one week was hardly enough to explore it all. Whether you’re looking for cheap eats, a hole-in-the-wall local diners or upscale restaurants, there is literally something for everyone. Here’s a list of my restaurant recommendations in Honolulu, Hawaii if you happen to plan a trip there.
BREAKFAST & BRUNCH
I was looking for breakfast spots that offer not only good food, but also beachfront views. Duke’s Waikiki, was my top pick known for its stunning vista surf ‘n’ turf, tiki vibe & umbrella drinks. Their avocado toast was delicious, as was the acai bowl.
Kai Market by Sheraton Waikiki is another great spot to start the day with beautiful ocean views. They offer quality Asian and American buffet which starts at 6 am.
House Without A Key by luxury hotel Halekulani was by far my favorite lunch spot. Their service is impeccable and the atmosphere is very relaxing, not to mention delectable food options that include inventive island cocktails & pupus (appetizers). I devoured their tomato bisque, coconut shrimp and the coconut cake, Halekulani’s signature dessert which must not be skipped. They also have live dancing and music show under the stars every night making it a perfect place for casual romantic dinner. I haven’t been, but Orchid’s, another more refined restaurant by Halekulani also rates as one of the best in Waikiki and can be enjoyed for lunch and dinner.
This is our perennial favorite for casual dining anywhere we go in the States. Try their ahi tuna salad, as well as tomato cream soup and lumpias, among other things.
This is a seven-decade-old casual spot that offers some of the best traditional Hawaiian food in Honolulu. It’s located in the trendy neighborhood of SALT which is a great place to walk around after your meal.
The food truck revolution has overtaken Hawaii, bringing casual and creative lunch and dinner options cooked with Hawaiian ingredients and incorporating various traditional and modern techniques. Honolulu hosts a monthly food truck rally called Eat the Street Honolulu which takes place the last Friday of the month at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park. You can also find food trucks on Wiakiki at Pau Hana Market and the Saturday KCC Farmers’ Market.
If there is one Hawaiian restaurant you go to, make it Roy’s. The chef has two locations – Roy’s Waikiki and Roy’s Hawaii Kai. I’d personally skip the mains and offer a variety of appetizers (don’t forget America is known for its infamous big portions). I was particularly fond of the watermelon salad with Thai vinaigrette, Hawaii Kai crab cakes, and Sea of Flames roll. We liked the restaurant so much we actually revisited it for lunch the next day!
The Pig and The Lady
Located in a bit fishy Chinatown, this restaurant is definitely not to be skipped. The collaboration between chef-owner Andrew Le and his mother, Loan “Mama” Le offers a mélange of traditional and modern cooking techniques that result in Vietnamese cuisine with global accents. The industrial décor with funky fixtures and communal tables make for a fun and casual atmosphere. We loved almost everything we tried including their staple ahi tataki on tomato toast and LFC wings meant to share, as well as mains bucatini (octopus and chorizo ragu) and seared foie gras.
This upscale restaurant is helmed by the famed chef Alan Wong who is known for his innovative and colorful Hawaiian fare. The highlights of our tasting menu included chilled tomato soup (can you see the trend here?) with foie gras and kalua pig, lobster and shrimp lasagna, and twice cooked short rib.
The words cannot describe how much I enjoyed our special dinner in this majestic place. La Mer is yet another opulent restaurant by Halekulani, the only restaurant in Hawaii to be awarded a five-star designation by Forbes Travel Guide for multiple years. The menu (again, we opted for the tasting menu which didn’t disappoint) features French-influenced dishes that feature locally sourced, tropical ingredients. Most importantly, the excellent food is matched by the utterly romantic atmosphere. We were seated by the balcony of the elegant open-air dining room which overlooked the beautiful courtyard and the deep blue Pacific. The golden glow of the sunset gave way to the deeper hues of the blue hour and was later replaced by the moonlight dancing onto the ocean. Imagine the refreshing breeze, the sounds of Hawaiian live music and crashing waves, the outline of palm trees and the glittering city lights in the background. It was truly a singular experience which made me feel like I stepped into one of the James Bond movies.
There are so many other great places to eat in Honolulu as well as Oahu, a repeat trip is definitely in order. If you’re a serious foodie, I recommend consulting with Honolulu Magazine‘s list. When cross-referenced with TripAdvisor reviews, I found it to be a very helpful resource for picking our restaurants.
Do you have any recommendations for great restaurants in Oahu, Hawaii? Please, share them with me for my next visit!