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Kaimuki Restaurants (Oahu)

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Located a 15 minute drive from Waikiki, Kaimuki is local Hawaii neighborhood filled with mom and pop eateries, sweet shops, and all around amazing food. Here are all the good spots (plus a few non-food places).

Coffee counter at The Curb

Kaimuki Neighborhood

Welcome to Kaimuki! This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Honolulu, and one that I spent a lot of time in growing up.

Like Manoa Valley, Kaimuki is a very local neighborhood (it's starting to get popular with visitors, which is a mix of good and bad). Kaimuki has serious charm and old school vibes. The folks invested in this neighborhood make a big effort to #keepitkaimuki as the neighborhood slowly begins to modernize.

The main reason I love Kaimuki? There are so many great things to eat! Below is a list of all the best places to eat in Kaimuki. Waialae Avenue is the main vein that runs through the neighborhood and most restaurants are located either on or right off Waialae Avenue.

Because there are so many places to visit, I divided the neighborhood into two parts:

  • Kaimuki: Upper Half (above 11th Avenue)
  • Kaimuki: Lower Half (below 11th Avenue)

Kaimuki: Upper Half 

Listed in alphabetical order ^_^ 

Asuka Nabe + Shabu Shabu
This place is always busy and super packed. It's causal and cozy, but you'll definitely want to make reservations. It's great for night out with friends. Each nabe or shabu set ranges from $18-36 a person. Open for dinner only. Head to Pipeline Bakery up the block for dessert afterwards. 3620 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Li hing mui Icee from Crack Seed Store

Crack Seed Store
The beloved Crack Seed Store! Mr. Young retired recently, but the store is in great hands with Mei Fang and family. You must visit this place and order the Li Hing Mui Icee (details in this post), and pick up a few of your favorite crack seed items (I like the king li hing mui and wet mango). 1156 Koko Head Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

E.A.R.L
A fun and wonderful sandwich shop! They have another location in Kakaako, but I prefer this Kaimuki original. I usually order the French Dip or Vegan Beet sandwich...both so different, but equally tasty. It's located in a small complex (alongside Oahu Grill and Japanese Restaurant Aki, also in this list). 1137 11th Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816

Hale Vietnam
One of the nicer (but still super causal) Vietnamese restaurants in town. It's a bit more expensive than Vietnamese places in Chinatown, but worth it for the convenience. I'm not sure how this came to be, but Hale Vietnam seems to be extra popular with tourists from Japan (funny because Kaimuki isn't yet a big tourist destination). 1140 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Oden from Japanese Restaurant Aki

Japanese Restaurant Aki
Aki is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in Honolulu. This place has great lunch specials during the day and a dinner menu full with excellent yakitori, sashimi, soy milk hot pot, and beef tongue shabu. Don't miss the oden! I could make a whole meal out of oden alone here. No need reservations at lunch, but you'll need reservations for dinner (it gets super busy). 1137 11th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96814

Koa Pancake House
Quick and casual, no frills, breakfast and lunch spot. You can get everything from omelets to crêpes and pancakes, fried rice, and build your own loco moco. 1139 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Koko Head Cafe
From celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong, this is a super popular breakfast/lunch/brunch restaurant. There is usually a wait (shorter on the weekdays, long on the weekends). We usually order the breakfast jook/congee (complete with cinnamon-bacon croutons), the two eggs breakfast plate with maple-siracha sausage, and poi biscuits and gravy. Breakfast bibimbap is also great. 1145 12th Ave C, Honolulu, HI 96816

Corned beef hash, eggs, and hashbrown breakfast at Moke's

Moke's Bread & Breakfast Kaimuki
Moke's original location is in Kailua and we are thrilled they opened in Kaimuki! This is a breakfast and lunch spot. Casual, comfortable, and really friendly service. It's a great spot to bring the whole family. Moke's is famous for the lilikoi pancakes (must get!), loco moco, and housemade corned beef hash. 1127 11th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Lau lau, tripe stew, lomi salmon...Hawaiian eats at Oahu Grill

Oahu Grill
Oahu Grill is a Kaimuki newcomer but already a favorite among all the locals. It's not easy to find Hawaiian food in this part of town so we are very grateful to have them here! Oahu Grill is a family business, and the menu is rich with classic Hawaiian dishes. Order the lau lau, chicken long rice, squid luau, and salt meat with watercress. Also! Don't forget the mac salad which they make old fashioned style with macaroni and spaghetti mixed together. 1137 11th Ave #104, Honolulu, HI 96816

Mini bentos from Okata Bento

Okata Bento
An old school Hawaii spot! There are not many of these kinds of places left. It's pretty amazing how they've managed to keep the prices so low and accessible to everyone. Order from the takeout window, no seating. Okata is ideal for picking up bentos (like chicken katsu, beef teriyaki, mahi mahi, loco moco, etc) for pre/post visit to the beach. 3616 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Cheesecake from Otto Cake

Otto Cake
For cheesecake! This place is all about the cheesecake which is offered in dozens of flavors like lilikoi, lemon, and caramel. They also make several non-cheesecake sweets including a very, very good carrot cake. Cash only. 1127 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Lilikoi cream cheese bar from Pipeline Bakeshop

Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery
My wish for Hawaii is to have more bakeries and sweet shops like this, where you can meet friends, eat desserts, and sit around and chat. There's always a good reason to visit Pipeline. Craving hot malasadas (or malasada bread pudding)? Come here. What about Pumpkin Crunch? They got. Ice cream? Check. Cakes and bars and brownies? Done and done. Full post on Pipeline here. 3632 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Sprout Sandwich Shop
If E.A.R.L is the more indulgent sandwich shop of Kaimuki, then Sprout is the lighter sandwich shop. Lots of fresh veggies and greens here. I often order the mozzarella, tomato, basil or the tomato hummus, kale, and carrots sandwich.. 1154 Koko Head Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Chocolate and haupia at Via Gelato

Via Gelato
Wonderful gelato shop! A neighborhood fixture and a must-visit when in Kaimuki. I definitely have go-to flavors (Fierce Chocolate, Haupia, and Black Sesame), but keep an eye out on Via Gelato's instagram for daily specials. P.S. They make the waffle cones in-house...always smells so good in there. 1142 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Yakitori Ando
This place is yakitori heaven. Reservations are a must (make it a few weeks in advance because they are always booked). Specify that you want to sit at the bar. No menus, omakase only. Favorite pieces: bacon mochi, chicken gizzards, and Kauai shrimp. The dinner finishes with an incredible motsunabe (which I love even more than the yakitori itself). 1215 Center St #200, Honolulu, HI 96816

Kaimuki: Lower Half 

Listed in alphabetical order ^_^ 

Bean About Town
A semi hidden coffee spot in Kaimuki. Bean About Town use beans from Sightglass and Verve. I usually order the cortado or shakerato (which not many places in Hawaii offer). They also have a small savory menu, pastries, and smoothies. They have a tiny parking lot in the back. 3538 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Whole pie! half-Big Red and half-Spinach-Garlic at Boston's Pizza

Boston's Pizza
Boston's has been around since we were little kids! They had after school kids specials so we'd take The Bus here for $2 spinach-garlic pizza slices. Those days are long over, but I still come back with friends. The move here is to get a whole pie (the slices never taste as good as the whole pies made to order). Get it with half-Big Red and half-Spinach-Garlic. Don't forget the sodas....I always crave soda when eating pizza. 3506 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Pineapple jam and vanilla streusel brioche at Breadshop

Breadshop
Our family visits Breadshop at least once a week. I love the brioche and the hearty loaves. My dad loves the furikake focaccia. And our whole family loves the small sweet and savory snacks like kale and blue cheese flatbread, pineapple jam and vanilla streusel brioche. Also, croissants! 3408 Waialae Ave #104, Honolulu, HI 96816

Coco Bloom Kitchen
It's all about the pork katsu sandwich at Coco Bloom Kitchen. Soft Japanese milk bread, crispy fried katsu, can't go wrong! Coco Bloom is also a good place for salads (which can sometimes be hard to find in Hawaii). The Chopped Salad features 13 ingredients, many of which are local. They're also popular for dessert fruit cream sandwiches (get the strawberry one) and smoothies (also a fan of the strawberry one).

Korean rice cakes from Hae Dong Sang Hoe

Hae Dong Sang Hoe
Hae Dong Sang Hoe is a whole Korean sweet rice cake factory that sells to all the Korean supermarkets and restaurants in town. They don't have a formal retail space here, but you can poke your head in (if the door is open, which it usually is during the day), and nicely ask if they have any extra mochi/rice cakes/dduk for sale. Cash only. Places like this make Hawaii so special. 1213 10th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Salmon and Ikura Cup Sushi, and a mentaiko and egg musubi
Cup Sushi and Musubi from Higoto

Higoto Japanese Eatery
This tiny takeout shop offers a collection of beautiful bentos, classic and fun musubi, and their signature "cup sushi." What's cup sushi? It's basically sushi layered in a cup...the perfect eating at the beach meal ^_^. Go early for the best selection. Full post on Higoto here.

Kaimuki Superette
A bright and sunny breakfast and lunch spot. Order at the counter and seat yourself. We usually order the he’e roll (like a lobster roll, but with poached octopus), and the daily changing vegetable sides. For breakfast, I order the brioche French toast (made with brioche from Breadshop just down the block). Don’t forget to get the grilled lemon lemonade...grilling the lemon makes a really neat difference. 3458 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Refreshing smoothie from Leahi Health

Leahi Health
Leahi Health is all about the plant-based food. It's my go-to spot for smoothies. They have multiple locations throughout Oahu, but the Kaimuki one is most convenient. I get the Poi Boy (which has kombucha with coconut milk, pineapple, taro, banana, and goji berry), or the Lowenbehold which is basically Poi Boy plus greens, maca, hemp, chia, flax, and spirulina. They also have healthy sandwiches and salads for lunch.  3441 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Sourdough Banana Pancake at Mud Hen Water

Mud Hen Water
Ed Kenney owns several restaurants and Mud Hen Water is my favorite of the bunch. This restaurant incorporates a ton of Hawaiian ingredients and techniques into the menu, and the result is delicious. At dinner I love Yaki o Pa‘i’ai (paiai* grilled with shoyu and sugar), Chicken Long Rice Croquettes, and He’e Lu’au (a fancy take on squid luau stew). As for brunch? The Sourdough Banana Pancakes might be my favorite pancake in Hawaii. It comes with whipped brown butter...bliss! 3452 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

*Paiai is pounded taro root. Add water to thin paiai out, and that's how you make poi.

Super Pho
Reliable neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant. Casual, no frills, and always hits the spot. I order the pho dac beit (basically pho with all the meat toppings) and a glass of plum soda.  3538 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Ahi poke from Tamura's

Tamura’s
Tamura's is a market divided into three sections: 1) wine, liquor, and beer store, 2) gourmet groceries (with things that are often hard to find in Hawaii like clotted cream for scones), and 3) fresh poke bar. Come for one part or all three. We often stop here before visiting a friend's house, pick up a bottle of wine and ahi poke by the pound. 3496 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

"The George" at The Curb

The Curb
A great coffee shop perfect for meeting with friends, or enjoying some alone time. It's got a bustling, cheerful neighborhood vibe (with mix of Kaimuki people and students from nearby University of Hawaii). I like "The George" (double espresso, chocolate, and milk, shaken and served over ice). They also have other neat drinks like Lavender Matcha, Honey Latte, and a small food menu (including poi banana bread). 3408 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

town (Closed November 21, 2020)
town is Kaimuki classic with a mix of both indoor and outdoor seating. Get any of the daily specials (especially if there's fish involved and pasta (think gnocchi and hand cut pastas with pork-porcini ragu). Same owner as Mud Hen Water and Kaimuki Superette. 3435 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Guava Strawberry Cupcake from We Heart Cake Company

We Heart Cake Company
Tiny cupcake shop (they also specialize in custom birthday and wedding cakes) that recently moved from downtown Honolulu to Kaimuki. I like to get the Guava Strawberry Cupcake and Chocolate Espresso Cupcake. They have two small tables for sitting inside. 3468 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Waiting in line at W & M Bar-B-Q Burger

W & M Bar-B-Q Burger
We prefer teri bugers over hamburgers in Hawaii. What are teri burgers? It's a regular burger but with teriyaki sauce (made from shoyu, sugar, and garlic) mixed into the burger patty. Go-to order: Royal Burger (basically a teri burger with all the toppings), fries, and a soda. 3104 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

XO Restaurant
Fun and rich and cravable foods. Come with a group to make the most of the menu at XO. There are hearty dishes like adobo fried chicken, foie gras with crispy rice, and always an excellent duck breast entree. Don't miss dessert: ice cream pies all the way. 3434 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

All Kaimuki: Non-Food

From comic book stores to book stores with an emphasis on locally published books and a bead shop, Kaimuki is rich with one of a kind gems. There places are not to be missed:

Bead It! Kaimuki
Into beads and crafting? This is your place. Sign up for jewelry making classes, stock up on beading equipment, and get crafting inspiration. It's a cheerful family run shop (and just two doors down from the Crack Seed Store). 1152 Koko Head Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Gecko Books & Comics
I used to visit Gecko's at least once a week throughout my teen years. They carry the largest selection of comic books in Hawaii (at one point I had the biggest Archie comic collection on the island! I bought a lot of those comic books from Gecko's). I still go back, mainly for nostalgic reasons. It's cool to see a whole new generation of kids geeking out on comics. 1151 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Inside da Shop bookstore

da Shop
A beautiful bookstore with an emphasis on Hawaii writers and locally published books. da Shop opened just a year ago, and is a must-visit in Kaimuki. They carry many harder to find local titles, alongside books from large mainland publishers. Even if you're not planning to buy anything, it's worth visiting to discover the impressive collection of local cookbooks, history books, scary story books (my favorite!), and everything you can imagine. 3565 Harding Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

The Public Pet
A real fun and inviting dog and cat supply store. The Public Pet has everything from raw food to fancy accessories (and all the little extras you didn't you know your pet desired!) This is also a great place to give and get pet gifts. 3422 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Kaimuki: Other Notes

Kaimuki Parking Options
Kaimuki has two main paid lots (Propark lot that you can enter from 12th Avenue, and a Municipal Lot you can enter from Koko Head Avenue) and a lot of metered street parking. You might have to circle the paid lots a few times during prime lunch and dinner hours but everyone can find parking in the end. 

Walking In Kaimuki
Most of the restaurants and food places on this list are located on Waialae Avenue (or right behind it). You can walk to/from any one of these places to the other. Kaimuki is a fun and walkable area, BUT there is little shade. It's all sun, sun, sun. Kaimuki is hot temperature wise (in comparison, Manoa Valley has lots of shade and breeze). Bring your sunglasses, and perhaps a hat (or visor!) 

P.S. For other neighborhood dining guides, check out this one to Manoa Valley (just 15 minutes drive from Kaimuki) ^_^

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Mahalo for Reading!