Waikiki is full of great food if you know where to look. From fine dining to casual takeout spots, sunset mai tais, coffee, and desserts, these are the best restaurants in Waikiki.
Waikiki is packed these days. And with the rental car shortage still going on, it seems many people are just staying in Waikiki. Nothing wrong with that. Waikiki is super walkable and you can take a taxi/bus/uber anywhere you need to go. There's great food in Waikiki if you know where to look ^_^
Here are our favorite spots in Waikiki! I'll update this list every quarter (like I do for our Best Restaurants in Honolulu / Oahu list). These are places I like to go with family and friends, and also take friends who are visiting the island.
Some are nice sit down restaurants. Others are casual takeout spots. There is afternoon tea, housemade udon, sushi, dim sum, lots of fresh sashimi and ahi poke. There are cafes and dessert places and everything in between. I hope you enjoy!
Oh, Suntory! This is the restaurant we visit the most in Waikiki. It's a wonderful Japanese restaurant right in the center of Waikiki and is popular with both locals and visitors. If you visit for lunch, pre-order the Shunsaizen lunch set. It's a great value and must be ordered when you make reservations. They make a limited number of sets each day and often sell out. Shunsaizen is a monthly changing lunch set that features about 8 small, seasonal, and delicious dishes.
But don't fret if they're sold out of the set. They have regular lunch specials that are also super good! I love the miso butterfish and sashimi combo.
For dinner, we love getting a group together to enjoy teppanyaki. Just make sure to specify teppanyaki room when making reservations so that they can seat you in the right room. If you're in the the regular dining room, order a mix of sashimi, tofu dishes (so many great tofu dishes) and sukiyaki. Definitely get the sukiyaki. Everything here is onolicious.
Check out our full post and tips on Suntory Restaurant.
Sashimi! Poke! Rice! The original Maguro Brothers is located in Honolulu Chinatown. We loved it but the hours were limited. So we were super excited when this new Waikiki location opened! The Chinatown location is open for lunch. The Waikiki location is open for dinner. So now you can get Maguro Brothers for lunch and dinner ^_^
What to get here? The King Salmon Donburi with a side of uni (pictured above) is my go-to order. I am salivating just thinking about this dish. You can also order Chu-Toro Donburi or Hamachi Donburi or Chirashi Donburi (which has a mix of fish).
I also love the fresh ahi poke bowls. They have so many good flavors from the classic Hawaiian Limu Ahi Poke to the Shoyu Onion Ahi Poke (the most popular local flavor) and Ume Shiso Ahi Poke (inventive!). Can't decide between the Donburi or the Ahi Poke? No worries, they have a combo Donburi and Poke plate. You can also pre-order larger sashimi platters from them. Get a side of rice and take it back to your hotel room to eat. Oh man, so good.
Check out our full post and tips on Maguro Brothers.
Who doesn't love matcha soft-serve? It's called "soft cream" here and you can order it by the cone or as a parfait (my go-to order!) The Maiko Special parfait layers match soft cream with cubes of matcha chiffon cake, azuki beans, roasted chestnuts, and fresh shiratama mochi. Oh man, it is super onolicious.
There are other Matcha Cafe Maiko locations in San Francisco, but the Hawaii one is the original and most tasty location. There also have a few special Hawaii-only menu items like the Uji Kintoki shave ice (pictured above) which combines shave ice with soft cream.
There are three "main" afternoon tea spots in Honolulu: Kahala Hotel, Halekulani Hotel, and Moana Surfrider. Halekulani Hotel (currently renovating, reopening Fall 2021) and Moana Surfrider are in Waikiki. Moana Surfrider offers afternoon tea on Saturdays and Sundays by reservation only. Call early, they book up fast.
Afternoon tea is served on the Veranda and it is the complete experience, Hawaii-style! From savory bites to warm scones with clotted cream and lilikoi butter and petite sweets (don't miss tthe haupia roll cake), and a fun selection of teas, afternoon tea is always so enjoyable. Bring your best friend (or your mom and grandma!) and have a very relaxing afternoon.
Read about afternoon tea in Honolulu. Read our in-depth post about afternoon tea at Moana Surfrider.
If you're going to do one glorious meal in Waikiki, make it Sushi Sho. Located inside the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach, this intimate and beautiful (wait till you step inside…wowow) sushi spot is a bucket list restaurant for many sushi lovers. Omakase is around $300 per person and worth every penny.
Reservations are a must, usually far in advance (though you may get lucky with a last minute cancellation). When you're looking for fine dining Waikiki, Sushi Sho can't be beat.
If you can't get a reservation, or prefer not to spend that much on sushi, try the $50 takeout bento. It's not the same as enjoying omakase at the restaurant, but it's a fun way to get a taste of Sushi Sho. Bento ordering instructions are posted on their Instagram.
P.S. Read more about Sushi in Hawaii.
Udon! Big, glorious bowls of udon made fresh in house. They have so many different types of udon, I always get something different depending on my mood. Tan Tan Udon is super, as is the Sukiyaki Udon. I love Uni Udon on a cold day. And they even have Ahi Poke Udon! This place is always busy and also great for groups.
P.S. The $9.95 lunch special (Monday to Friday only) is the best lunch deal in town. You get your choice of udon and mini donburi ^_^
Marukame Udon Waikiki
Oh we do love udon in Hawaii. After you check out TsuruTonTan, make sure to also visit Marukame Udon. You'll spot this cafeteria-style restaurant on Kuhio Avenue by the crazy long long lines out the door from opening to closing (lines for udon even in the morning!)
Thankfully the line moves pretty fast. Fresh udon noodles made in-house and very affordable prices. Marukame has other locations in the US, but it's well known that the Hawaii location tastes the best.
P.S The other Marukame locations on the mainland are spelled Marugame, but in Hawaii it is Marukame.
Alii Coffee has three locations in Honolulu and the Waikiki location is inside the Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach. They have many fun coffee drinks and sandwiches (get the breakfast sandwich). It's also nice and air conditioned inside, so if it's too hot and sunny while you're walking around Waikiki, just come here and order the Ube Latte (one of their signature drinks). Sit down, cool off and enjoy.
Katsu! This is the only US location Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin (visit the original in Tokyo). From katsu loco moco to katsu donburi and katsu curry, it is all about the katsu here. The Pork Loin Katsu Set is popular and comes with rice, miso soup, and unlimited refills of the shredded cabbage (a very key side). Make reservations. Dinner is often packed, but lunch is less busy and they have great lunch specials. They also offer takeout katsu bentos, donburi, and katsu sandwiches.
P.S. If you're really into katsu, make sure to also check out Tonkatsu Tamafuji which is just a few minutes outside of Waikiki.
Tim Ho Wan
We love dim sum, and Tim Ho Wan (originally from Hong Kong) is a go-to spot! Situated on the 3rd floor of the Royal Hawaii Shopping Center, this is the only dim sum place in Honolulu with outdoor seating. It's bright and breezy and the food is delicious.
Favorite dishes include bbq pork buns with a beautiful crust, steamed and saucy bean curd stuffed with shrimp, deep-fried eggplant and shrimp, and the ever popular siu mai. Their siu mai is sooo ono! Also pay attention to any Hawaii-only special items on the menu like the lobster dishes and pineapple-filled black rice mochi.
Hau Tree Lanai
This recently opened restaurant at Kaimana Hotel (newly renovated) has a prime location right on the beach. It's a picture perfect spot ideal for brunch with friends or a sunset dinner. The menu is a crowd pleaser with dishes like lemon ricotta pancakes and lobster rolls for brunch, and steamed mahi mahi and grilled kanpachi at dinner. Reservations are a must. Don't skip dessert! I love the toasted coconut cake.
This breakfast spot is famous for souffle pancakes! Come for breakfast or brunch and be prepared to wait in line. Come on a weekday if you can because the weekend lines are very, very long. Or go later in the day, around 1pm.
Imagine a pancake crossed with a souffle. Golden, super light, fluffy. The pancakes come in many different flavors. Think fresh strawberry, mixed berries, bananas and blueberry compote. One order of the souffle pancakes, a cup of hot tea, and I am set.
Located inside the Prince Waikiki hotel, Katsumidori is a great and relatively affordable sushi spot. We love coming for lowkey lunches and dinners with family and friends. Katsumidori is from Japan and this is their first location outside of Japan. Make reservations! It's casual but always busy. The fish is generously cut, always so satisfying and unpretentious.
It's also good for groups. From sushi to hot dishes and udon, there is something for everyone. When coming alone or with just one friend, we reserve the sushi bar and just go sushi all the way. When coming with more than two people, book a table and order a mix of sushi and cooked dishes.
*Currently under renovation.
House Without A Key is located inside Halekulani Hotel. The whole hotel is currently under renovation (we are excited for them to open back up very soon!) Put this place at the top of your to-visit list once they are back open. We love coming to House Without A Key for sunset mai tais and live music and hula. It's all very beautiful and soothing (assuming you don't go on a really busy day). You really feel like you're on vacation and man those mai tais. We bring all friends visiting from out of town here (I love any excuse to visit the the Halekulani). And as locals, we also like coming here on our own when we need a little break from day to day life.
For the best experience come around 5pm (aim for an hour before sunset). Cross your fingers for a good outdoor table, order a mai tai, and enjoy the beach views and live music and hula. I always have a wonderful time here.
Check out our full post and tips on House Without A Key and Halekulani Hotel.
Come for a fun and delicious night in Waikiki! The restaurant is half indoor, half outdoor (I like to ask for the outdoor courtyard seating). Make reservations. This local Japanese spot puts a heavy emphasis on local ingredients. Order a bunch of dishes and share them all.
We like everything from the sauteed Kona abalone, to the mochiko chicken, agedashi tofu (tofu comes from Aloha Tofu Factory, take a look inside the factory here), sashimi platter, chilled moringa noodles, and so much more. It's fun, it's casual, and feels like a "very local" spot in the middle of Waikiki.
Hooray for ice cream! This is a semi hidden spot located at the back of Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. Head up Kealohilani Avenue and look for the parking ramp. Walk right and you'll find Double Fat Ice Cream. It's delicious. What to get? We love the Crack Seed Delight Sundae which has sweet cream and strawberry ice cream topped with li hing mui powder, mochi crunch, condensed milk, and whipped cream.
You can also just get flavors by the scoop. Make sure to try the Kona coffee, hojicha, lilikoi, and guava. There are lots of fun local toppings like li hing mui powder, furikake, and mochi crunch (both key ingredients for Hawaiian Hurricane Popcorn heheh ^_^). There are a few seats in front of the ice cream stand you can eat and enjoy it there.
The lines out the door of Kona Coffee Purveyors every morning should tell you enough. Come here for excellent coffee, fun drinks like pineapple shrub soda, and wonderful pastries from B. Patisserie. Yes, the same B. Patisserie from San Francisco! The kouign-amann is a dream, along with sweet and savory croissants, and chocolate cake. Kona Coffee Purveyors is located on the ground floor of International Marketplace. It's a great place for starting off the day in Waikiki and also a fun meet up spot with friends.
We love this musubi place so much that we have an entire post dedicated to it! Musubi Cafe Iyasume is a super causal takeout spot. It's perfect for picking up breakfast or lunch to-go...take it to the beach or a hike or even just back to your hotel room. They make 38 (for real!) types of musubi ranging from the classic Spam Musubi to a super fun Spam-Omelet-Avocado-Unagi Musubi.
They also make mini bentos (think musubi with chicken karaage, sausage and omelette), and hot bowls of curry rice. Affordable and delicious, this place always satisfies. There are three Musubi Cafe Iyasume locations in Waikiki.
Check out our full post and tips on Musubi Cafe Iyasume.
See you next time!
Ok, that's it! Hope this list of best places to eat in Waikiki in handy. Enjoy Waikiki, wear sunscreen, and eat well.
P.S. Make sure to check out our Best Restaurants in Oahu post ^_^