Oahu is home to the metropolitan center of Hawaii, and its vibrant dining scene means that it’s an excellent place to find creative and delicious food representing diverse cultures. Splurge on dinner at one of the buzzworthy high-end spots in Honolulu, or save your vacation funds by finding tasty fare at casual spots, coffee shops and food trucks. On Oahu, you can eat like a local in smaller neighborhoods like Kapahulu or dine in high style at Hawaii’s top-rated restaurants in neighborhoods like Waikiki, Kaimuki and Chinatown.
Oahu is home to some of the best chefs in the world. Alan Wong (Alan Wong’s Restaurant), Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Waikiki), George Mavrothalassitis (Chef Mavro Restaurant) and Phillippe Padovani (Elua) were some of the founding chefs of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement 25 years ago, and their legacy has continued to spark Oahu’s restaurant renaissance today. These local legends take the freshest local produce and ingredients to create flavorful dishes, combining traditional Hawaiian cooking with influences from Japan, China, the Philippines and classic American cuisine among many others.
You’ll also find delicious modern interpretations of Hawaiian and Asian cuisines from the next generation of great chefs as well, who carry on the traditions of using local ingredients and creative preparations at Honolulu restaurants like The Pig and the Lady, Lucky Belly and Mud Hen Water.
On the North Shore, you’ll find a distinctly laidback vibe as well as a focus on fresh seafood. Fish tacos are a staple in surfer-friendly towns like Haleiwa. Shrimp trucks (food trucks whose menu offers a variety of shrimp-centric plates) are a local staple as well, along with the frozen Hawaiian treat shave ice (similar to a snow cone), which is a perfect way to cool off on a hot day.
Eat Like a Local
Consisting of two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and everything from kalua pork, Korean barbecue, chicken katsu, beef teriyaki, or mahimahi, the plate lunch is a staple of local food.
No matter what island you’re on, grab a shave ice to cool off. These finely shaved snow cones are served with colorful flavors on the top with a choice of ice cream or azuki beans on the bottom.
“Pupu” is the Hawaiian term for appetizer, and every local restaurant in Hawaii offers a wide range of creative pupu platters to dine on, from poke dishes to sushi.
Treat your sweet tooth to a hot malasada (a Portuguese doughnut). Although Leonard's Bakery in Kapahulu is popular on Oahu, ask any local and they can tell you their favorite bakeries on each island to find these fresh and tasty treats.
For big appetites, try a “loco moco,” which is a hamburger steak and egg over rice, covered in gravy. You can find loco moco served throughout the islands, but Café 100 in Hilo on the island of Hawaii is said to have originated the name.
The Veranda is the hottest spot for the trendy Honolulu crowd as well as hotel guests searching for the place to see and be seen. Overlooking the beach, with a stunning contemporary alfresco area, the Veranda is Honolulu’s living room of the stars.
The Island BBQ at the Polynesian Cultural Center offers an all you can eat buffet featuring a quality continental menu. Served in a beautiful and spacious dining hall reflecting the islands of the Pacific, our family-friendly “all you can eat” menu comes with dishes to please your entire Ohana.
Cane & Canoe offers a window into the Hawaiian soul – both past and present. Here, in this historically rich locale, locals and travelers come together, savoring creative, modern cuisine that celebrates Hawaii’s diverse cultural influences while showcasing its freshest, locally sourced ingredients.
The Plantation House Restaurant is an award winning restaurant recognized for it's food, views, and wine list. Named on e of the top restaurants in the US for Sunset Dining, and one of Maui's most romantic places to dine. Open all day.
Island Vintage Coffee Company has been providing the finest gourmet 100% Kona coffee for coffee lovers around the world. Extra care is taken in choosing only the finest coffee beans, grown in the fertile volcanic soils on the upper slopes of the Kona district on the Island of Hawaii.
Hawaii’s premier RoofTop Bistro, Lounge and Nightclub, located 19 stories above the heart of Waikiki. Enjoy breath-taking views of Oahu’s picturesque sunsets & the clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean on a wrap around lanai. Indulge in a signature cocktail, tapas menu, and live music.
Hoku's at The Kahala Hotel & Resort is heralded for its innovative fusion fare which melds Hawaiian, Asian, Mediterranean and European flavors. The restaurant’s twist on contemporary Island cuisine ensures that it is consistently ranked as one of Hawaii's best restaurants.