From casual eats to fine dining and hidden gems, this updated list has it all! Come eat, explore, and experience all the best restaurants (and food spots) in Honolulu.
Welcome to Honolulu! Whether you're a first time guest to our islands, a frequent visitor, or a local, I hope this guide comes in handy. There are so many wonderful places to eat in Honolulu and I've captured favorite spots that best represent our beautiful city.
I've been to every place on this list many times and recommend them wholeheartedly. I've gone with friends, family and on my own. These restaurants, cafes, sweet shops, bakeries, and takeout spots (good food is found at a diverse range of places) feel "very Hawaii" to me and I hope you feel the same. Enjoy ^_^
A few notes:
- The below list is in no particular order. They are all great spots and I hope you try visit as many as you can.
- I update this list once a month so you can count on it always being current.
- Eating guides to specific neighborhoods in Honolulu are coming soon. So far we've covered Manoa and Kaimuki. Waikiki is up next.
Hawaiian food and local are two different things, and our favorite restaurant for Hawaiian food is Helena's! If you don't know much about Hawaiian food (no worries ^_^), then a visit to Helena's is like Hawaiian food 101. From to glorious Pipikaula to Chicken Long Rice, Kalua Pork (and Kalua Pork and Cabbage), Lau Lau, Opihi, Tripe Stew, Squid Luau, Lomi Lomi Salmon, and Poi, everything here is incredibly delicious.
Click here for the full post and tips on Helena's Hawaiian Food.
After you visit Helena's, make sure you also check out Yama's Fish Market. This is another legendary Hawaiian food spot. Helena's is a sit down restaurant, and Yama's is a to-go spot (though they have a few tables outside). Order any of the Hawaiian plates - I am partial to Hawaiian Plate Lunch #7 because it has Lau Lau, Poke, Rice, Lomi Lomi Salmon, and Haupia. And then you must get dessert! Look in the refrigerated case and load up on the haupia brownie, it is SUPER ono.
Click here for the full post and tips on Yama’s Fish Market.
You can't visit Hawaii and not have saimin at least once (or twice!) Saimin is a noodle soup dish from Hawaii. It's similar to ramen but lighter and more comforting. I could eat saimin every day. Head to Shige's Saimin Stand in Wahiawa for a super experience.
They make the noodles fresh in-house daily and ohhh man is it ono! If you come with a friend, share a bunch of different dishes. Get regular saimin and the fried saimin (so you can compare), and don't forget the teri cheeseburger. Saimin and burgers are a classic pairing in Hawaii.
Click here for the full post and tips on Shige’s Saimin Stand.
We have many different farmers markets in Honolulu. If you have time to visit them all, please do so! It's very fun and full of good food. Most popular for visitors is the KCC Farmers' Market. Locals love the Kaka'ako Farmers' Market (and it seems like visitors are starting to catch on to this market). Kailua also has a great Sunday farmer's market! From fresh fruits and produce to lots of prepared food, sweets, and drinks, make sure to bring an empty stomach. You'll notice that a number of the market vendors also have brick and mortar shops in Honolulu, this includes The Pig and The Lady, The Rice Factory, Islander Sake, etc.
MW Restaurant (and Artizen)
We love MW Restaurant! This is our go-to spot for a nice dinner with family ^_^ They recently moved to a new location on the second floor of Velocity Honolulu. Stop in at the bar for super good cocktails and snacks (they have a daily happy hour). Or make a reservation for one of the best dinners you'll have on the island. MW is owned by husband and wife team Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka. Favorite dishes include mochi-crusted kampahi (I always order this for my entree!), Kona lobster on warm pretzel buns, and ahi poke chirashi (with mochi rice chips). Don't miss Michelle's stunning shave ice and floating island - she is a dessert genius. Actually, just get ALL the desserts on the menu.
Artizen is MW's casual takeout spot on the first floor of Velocity Honolulu. It's open throughout the day for lunch and dinner. You can even stop by just for dessert, like Michelle's rainbow cake and a super decadent buttermilk chocolate cake.
Afternoon tea is a must when you are in Hawaii! There are three main afternoon tea places I like to rotate between: Moana Surfrider, Kahala Hotel, and the Halekulani Hotel (currently being renovated). They are all different and unique in their own way. This post goes into the details of the pros/cons of each spot.
If you really love afternoon tea, then visit all three! Set aside a few hours in the afternoon and get ready to relax. Tea, scones, finger sandwiches, and delicate desserts. Where else in the world will you get to experience afternoon tea right by the ocean?
Click here for the full post and tips on Afternoon Tea in Hawaii.
Like with poke spots, we have many great shave ice spots on the island. From old school classics to new and modern spots, you could eat shave ice every day of your vacation and still have more to try! One place I return to over and over again (since middle school) is Waiola Shave Ice. Make sure you visit the original location on Waiola Street location.
Many locals have their go-to orders and mine is the azuki bean bowl which comes with ice cream (hidden under the shave ice), azuki beans, condensed milk and fresh mochi. There are a few benches right in front of the shop - find a shaded seat and enjoy that shave ice!
Check out our guide to Shave Ice in Hawaii.
Located on the 3rd floor of Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki, Restaurant Suntory is loved by both locals and visitors. The food here is so wonderful and there's something on the menu for everyone. From the teppanyaki stations (super fun for family dinners) to sushi and sashimi (date night!), shabu shabu and sukiyaki sets, everyone leaves Suntory Restaurant quite happy. A real pro tip? Order the beautiful Shusaizen set - it is super ono and an excellent value.
Click here for the full post and tips on Restaurant Suntory.
You can't leave Honolulu without having dim sum! Check out our guide to the best dim sum spots in Honolulu. Take your pick between Jade Dynasty at Ala Moana Center to Tim Ho Wan in Waikiki, Legend Seafood in Chinatown, and newcomer Yung Yee Kee...all these places are wonderful! Getting together for dim sum with family and friends is a popular tradition in Honolulu.
Mochi is one of my favorite food things about Hawaii! Hawaii's local-style mochi is pretty different from Japanese mochi. You'll find mochi all over Honolulu and you should definitely make a stop at Nisshodo Candy Store / Mochiya (they've been in business for over 90 years) for many flavors of fresh, housemade mochi and most importantly...the super amazing chichi dango! Order both the plain and kinako-dusted chichi dango.
There are SO many great poke spots in Hawaii and it is be impossible to pick a "best" or "favorite." We love Ono Seafood for many reasons and it's been a go-to spot for years. It's conveniently located on Kapahulu Avenue (super close to Leonard's Bakery).
Picture a tiny takeout spot with a few tables out front. You can pick two different poke options on each bowl. I like to chose one ahi poke and one salmon or tako (octopus) poke. Super fresh and made to order. P.S. Ono also has a poke truck called Poke Bowl Patrol, it's usually at Kaka'ako Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
Check out our full post and tips on Ono Seafood.
Love fresh ho fun noodles? Then you’ll LOVE Lam’s Kitchen. This is one of my all time favorite spots in Chinatown. My grandma and I come often for lunch. We’ll eat a feast and then order pounds of fresh ho fun noodles to take home.
What to order? The plain cheung funn rolls (which you top at the table with sesame sauce, chili oil, and hoisin sauce), beef tendon (or wonton!) look funn noodle soup, beef black bean chow funn, and the preserved egg and pork jook (make sure to add on the fresh fried you tiao). It’s a family business and the food is wonderful.
Check out our full post and tips on Lam’s Kitchen.
Oh man, Maguro Brothers is onolicious! They are all about fresh sashimi, chirashi, and ahi poke on rice. You can’t go wrong with any menu item. I usually order the king salmon bowl and add a side of ikura, natto, and/or uni. Or you can order the half-poke and half-chirashi on rice. For larger gatherings and potlucks, consider the large poke or sashimi platters. They have two locations - Chinatown is open during the day and Waikiki is open at night.
Check out our full post and tips on Maguro Brothers.
The Pig and the Lady
What’s not to love about The Pig and the Lady? From hearty bowls of oxtail pho, braised pork belly on rice, and a pho fresh dip sandwich, the menu is flavorful and satisfying. Order soft serve for dessert. The flavors change often and include everything from brown sugar custard and coconut to strawberry swirled with black sesame. Also check out Piggy Smalls (in the Ward/Kakaako area) which is their sister restaurant. Similar energy, different menu, visit both.
P.S. Pig and the Lady also has a stand at the Wednesday Blaisdell, Thursday Kailua, and Saturday KKC Farmers Market.
Can't get enough Hawaiian food? After stopping at Helena's and Yama's, make sure to also check out Waiahole Poi Factory. Get a combo plate (I like the lau lau and squid lu'au combo), which comes with rice or poi, lomi lomi salmon and haupia. Save room for dessert because you really must try the Sweet Lady of Waiahole! What is this dessert? It's a big scoop of haupia ice cream topped with warm (key word being warm!!) kulolo. It's like an ice cream sundae, Hawaii-style ^_^
P.S. If you're really into haupia ice cream, kulolo, and kalo, visit Kalo Bombs in Waianae.
Ala Moana Center is the country’s biggest open air shopping mall, but for locals, it’s just where we go all the time to run errands, get dim sum, meet friends, etc. The word “mall” doesn’t do Ala Moana justice because the food here is impressive. From beautiful Japanese dessert shops like La Palme D’or (see paragraph below), to three sprawling food courts that offer everything from laksa at SingMaTei, pastries at Brug Bakery, and endless musubis and bentos at Musubi Cafe Iyasume (a must visit!).
You can get some of the best dim sum in Honolulu at Jade Dynasty, hot pot at Shabuya, ramen, Sichuan, Korean bingsu (similar to shave ice) at Jejubing Dessert Café, Mariposa at Neiman Marcus (hello, popovers with strawberry butter), warm cookies from Cookie Corner, a prime location of Liliha Bakery, and so much more, Ala Moana really does have it all.
Check out our Ala Moana Center Eating Guide.
La Palme D’or
La Palme D’or is located within Ala Moana Center but it deserves a solo post. This slightly fancy Japanese bakery is popular for beautiful drinks. Remember our obsession with the Coffee Jelly drink? This is my favorite spot for it. Coffee jelly, a layer of whipped, cream, ice, and your choice of milk. Stir, mix, and drink!
They also do a Plantation Iced Tea version of this jelly drink (with pineapple jelly and iced tea). For the dessert - orders the roll cakes which come in chocolate, green tea, vanilla, and strawberry. The seasonal cakes are delicious as are the classics like strawberry shortcake, flourless chocolate cake, and Japanese cheesecake.
See more about La Palme D’or in our Ala Moana Center Eating Guide.
Everyone seems to have a "favorite" garlic shrimp truck place on the North Shore. I love them all but I find myself at Romy’s Shrimp Truck most often. We always order the butter garlic shrimp (or prawn) plate. It comes with two scoops of rice and a spicy shoyu (soy sauce). Add a soda and li hing mui pineapples for dessert and you are set. P.S. Romy's is conveniently located across the street from Kahuku Farms!
Make garlic shrimp at home with our recipe ^_^
House Without A Key is located at Halekulani Hotel (currently under renovation). Come here for sunset mai tais and live music and hula. It's peaceful (though can get busy), elegant and is everything you dreamed Hawaii would be. We love taking visitors, and we also love coming here ourselves for a special treat. If I could spend at least one sunset hour at the Halekulani every week, I certainly would.
We love Breadshop! Located in the onolicious Kaimuki, Breadshop makes some of the most wonderful bread and pastries in Hawaii. I love the furikake focaccia (and so does my grandma), the hearty brown butter oat loaf, pineapple brioche, baguette, and so much more. Make sure to also try the different sweet and savory pastries like chocolate-cherry snails, taegu (seasoned codfish)-manchego-spinach croissant, and fragrant orange-cardamom morning buns.
Check out our Kaimuki Eating Guide.
No reservations are taken at this super popular tonkatsu spot on Kapahulu. Best bet is to come early and be prepared to wait. The pork tonkatsu is most popular but I am crazy for the oyster katsu (fat, plump, crisp!) Grind your own sesame seeds at the table for the dipping sauce. The rice (which comes from The Rice Factory) is DELICIOUS and you can get free refills. Everyone loves the rice. Come and see.
One word: malasadas. Malasadas are like yeast doughnuts but even better. At Leonard’s Bakery they are generously rolled in sugar and served hot. This place is famous and for good reason. Day or night, there is always a line at the Kapahulu flagship but it moves fast and is worth the wait.
They actually have a big malasadas menu including malaadas rolled in flavored sugars (like coffee and li hing mui). They also make filled malasadas, but I love the plain, unfilled malasada the best. Order a dozen and eat it hot. I like to visit in the early morning when it is slightly less busy and not so hot and sunny. Coffee and malasadas make an excellent breakfast.
Everything at Mud Hen Water in Kaimuki is so ono. From the dinner classics like buttered ‘ulu (breadfruit), smoked meat carbonara, and chicken long rice croquettes to specials like Molokai venison lau lau, I crave many dishes here. Brunch at Mud Hen Water is also not to be missed! We are crazy for the sourdough banana pancakes (which come with whipped brown butter), the u’ala doughnuts, and fish with lu’au stew. They also have a nice outdoor seating area.
Check out our Kaimuki Eating Guide.
This secluded Japanese restaurant in Kaimuki is very popular among locals. It’s almost feels like you’ve discovered your own little secret spot (any guest will be impressed if you take them here). What we love to eat at Aki: the yakitori, the fried oysters and soft shell crab, the sushi and sashimi, and the soymilk spicy sesame hot pot. P.S. They have great lunch deals. It’s also a little quieter during lunch.
Check out our Kaimuki Eating Guide.
There are two parts to Diamond Head Market and Grill. On the right side is the Grill where you can get takeout plate lunch including dishes like Loco Moco, Spam, Eggs, and Rice, etc. The left side is the Market side. Within the Market side is the Bakery area….I come here for the Bakery. Look for the refrigerated case on the left as you turn in.
They make so many local desserts that we’ve talked about on this blog. From Pumpkin Crunch (a MUST) to Lemon Crunch Cake, fresh Mango Cream Cheese Squares, Butter Mochi, and giant blueberry cream cheese scones, there is something (or rather, many things, for everyone). Don't leave without a hot Spam Musubi.