The very best places to eat on Oahu, from Waikiki to the North Shore. We cover the best hidden finds, local favorites, and the GOOD touristy spots. From breakfast to dessert!
I’ve been able to visit Oahu quite a few times (thanks dad for being stationed there so many years!). And it’s true: Oahu is heaven on earth. The beaches, the sunsets, the tiki torches, the stunning views.
But there’s another thing worth mentioning. The food.
Oahu’s food is incredible, fresh, and unique. And it isn’t just SPAM (although there is plenty of SPAM and you should try it).
You can find anything on Oahu (sushi, towering burgers, so much macaroni salad and white rice). But these are the restaurants and eateries that you should seek out. Some are fancy, some are beachside, some are hidden little huts that you need to look for a little harder. All of them offer unique and delicious food—whether it’s authentic regional cuisine, the freshest local seafood, or a modern spin on classic dishes.
Let’s talk about some of these ono grinds (Hawaiian for delicious food) in our list of The Best Places to Eat on Oahu.
Mahalo! (P.S.: scroll to the bottom of this post for a dictionary on some Hawaiian foodie lingo!)
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu
Breakfast, poke, shaved ice, SPAM, Kalua pig… we’ve got it all covered and more in the best places to eat on Oahu.
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Breakfast
The quintessential breakfast food? SPAM. But don’t worry: there’s also fluffy guava pancakes, tropical mimosas, and some acai bowls for good measure.
Island Vintage Coffee: Island Vintage has four locations around the island (in the Ala Moana Center, in the Royal Hawaiian Center, at Ko’olina Station, and in Haleiwa across from Matsumoto’s). They also have a natural store attached to their Royal Hawaiian Center location, and two adorable shave ice shacks in Honolulu. While their coffee is incredible (with my all-time favorite being their Hawaiian Honey Latte), they also offer some of the best Acai Bowls on the island. Try the Liliko’i Moana Bowl for an ultra-tropical taste of the islands or the Cocao Moana Bowl for a nutty, chocolate twist.
Eggs ‘n Things: When it comes to breakfast in Oahu, it doesn’t get simpler or quicker than Eggs ‘n Things. The eatery has three locations around the island (two in Waikiki and one near Ala Moana). On the menu you’ll find eggs benedict, Loco Moco, speciality omelettes, crepes, waffles, and pancakes galore. My favorite way to eat here is to keep it super simple with the SPAM and eggs, which includes super-crispy SPAM, two island eggs any-style, and a scoop of steamed rice for under ten bucks.
Cinnamon’s: Cinnamon’s has two locations on the island, one in Kailua and one in The Ilikai Hotel. Their perfectly pink Guava Chiffon Pancakes were rated one of The 15 Best Pancakes in America by Time Out. Cinnamon’s is known for their creative pancakes—there’s also the popular Red Velvet, Cinnamon Apple, and a pancake version of carrot cake. Their cinnamon rolls are raved about, too (although when I tried one it was pretty dry, and I wasn’t a fan). What I was a fan of, though, was their tropical and flower-topped Mimosas (so Instagram-worthy) in flavors such as POG, strawberry-guava, and liliko’i.
Sweet E’s Cafe: This charming little cafe might just be my favorite on the island. Honolulu’s Sweet E’s Cafe serves delicious and inspired fare. You can find almost anything you’re craving on the menu, from Kalua Pig-stuffed omelettes to stuffed Hawaiian Sweet Bread French Toast. My favorite has to be the “Extreme Mess,” which includes eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, hash browns, scallions, cheddar cheese, etc. (you get the point) all scrambled together. If you’re extra hungry, add their fried rice to your breakfast. You won’t be sorry.
GOOFY Cafe and Dine: GOOFY really embodies what the islands are all about. The Honolulu restaurant focuses on hyper-local cuisine with easy-going vibes. There’s the usual suspects (Portuguese sausage, eggs benedict, Loco Moco) mixed in with some healthier additions. For those looking to keep it light, their Acai Bowls and fresh juices and smoothies do not disappoint. Don’t really care about that? Definitely get the Big Island Honey French Toast, which you can order one of four different ways from the tropical fruit-topped Hawaiian version to the decadent Local Dark Chocolate Lava. And don’t leave without trying their popular Maui Coffee Jello.
Egghead Cafe: Honolulu’s Egghead Cafe is a newer and more modern addition to the Oahu breakfast scene. The eatery offers Taiwanese-meets-Hawaiian brunch fare, including pork baos, pork belly omelettes, and Green Tea Azuki Pancakes with fried mochi. One of their specialities, the LiHingMui Sweet Potato Fries, combine sweet, savory, and sour into one epic bite. Their drink menu is just as serious as their food. There’s honey lattes, macadamia lattes, blended taro, and teas of every kind (Thai, green, lychee, Chai, peach). Want red beans, lychee, coffee jelly, OR ice cream added to your drinks? They got you.
Boots and Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen: Like 99.9% of breakfast joints on Oahu, expect a bit of a wait when you come to Boots and Kimo’s. The popular eatery serves up authentic Hawaiian fare and is especially popular for their onolicious breakfast. The sugar-cured crispy bacon and Maui Portuguese sausage are delicious. The Onolicious Fried Rice and the Pitaya Bowl are also epic. But my favorite? Naturally, it would have to be their famous heavenly Macadamia Nut Pancakes, which offers an ultra-creamy sauce on top of fluffy pancakes. I highly recommend choosing the banana pancakes!
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Lunch
Don’t leave Oahu without getting an authentic Hawaiian Plate Lunch, but here’s some other good options, too.
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers: With locations all over the island, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers offers up a tasty, quick, and family-friendly lunch. There’s burgers, baskets, fries, salads, and shakes. You can keep things classic or go with more island-inspired sandwiches, such as the Kilauea Fire BBQ-topped Volcano Burger or the Hawaiian Burger with teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple. A must, though? A Kona Coffee Shake.
North Shore Shrimp Trucks: Sometimes the best places to eat on Oahu come in food truck form. A trip to the North Shore will put you in prime shrimp truck paradise. There’s quite a few of them to choose from—try the popular Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck or Macky’s, or read Hawaii Magazine’s guide to the best North Shore shrimp trucks. But these trucks offer up a similar menu: fresh shrimp (either in a garlic-butter Scampi-style, spicy, in lemon butter, or in a fried Coconut Shrimp version) with a scoop or two of rice (or mac salad) and a fresh salad. The quintessential North Shore lunch.
Seven Brothers at the Mill: This Kahuku eatery used to simply be called Kahuku Grill, but now it’s Seven Brothers. The cute little hut focuses on fresh food and ingredients with very reasonable price tags. There’s plates (from Coconut Macadamia Shrimp to herb-grilled Ahi Steak), inspired salads, fresh fish sandwiches, and loaded burgers. I love their seafood plates, but their burgers do sound tempting—especially the pro surfer-created Bruce Irons Burger, topped with caramelized teriyaki sauce and avocado.
Rainbow Drive-In: The ultimate in Hawaiian Plate Lunches, Rainbow Drive-In, is a no-frills spot that serves up cheap and generous plates. There’s hot dogs, bacon-SPAM sandwiches, and breakfast, but the real winner here is the Plate Lunch. You choose your entree, accompanied by two scoops of white rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. Entree options include BBQ Steak, Fish of the Day, Loco Moco, and Shoyu Chicken. Can’t decide? Try the Mix Plate, with BBQ beef, fish, and boneless chicken.
Papa Ole’s: Another epic plate lunch spot is North Shore’s Papa Ole’s. This spot, popular amongst locals, allows you to order your plate lunch in either Mini or Regular form. The prices are reasonable and the portions are generous. Some of their most popular plates are the fried chicken, Pulehu Ribs, or the Uncle Ole’s Special with grilled New York steak, mushrooms, and onions. A local favorite is the Peanut Butter Bread, which sells out early and quickly. (Tip: be sure to ask for it even if you don’t see it on the menu.)
Kahuku Farms: Kahuku Farms in (you guessed it) Kahuku provides healthier options for lunch that do not fall short on ono-factor. The farm offers up incredible tours of the property and serves up their farm-fresh produce in their cafe. Grab a seriously fresh smoothie and one of their salads or sandwiches. Their Grilled Veggie Panini is a favorite, with fluffy foccacia sandwiching grilled eggplant, pepper, zucchini, tomato, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic-herb mayo. Their specialty salad dressing, Liliko’i Balsamic, is fruity and tangy. And don’t forget to take home some goodies. There’s Liliko’i Jelly, Kahuku Honey, more of that famous dressing bottled, and luxurious honey-mango bath products, too.
Maui Mike’s Fire-Roasted Chicken: Sometimes the best lunch is the lunch that you can take with you. Wahiawa’s Maui Mike’s is a popular chicken spot that sells Combos and Feasts for-there or to-go. Grab a quarter chicken, half chicken, or shredded chicken. Feel like a sandwich? Try a Maui Wowie Melt Sandwich with chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and honey mustard. The sides? They’re delicious, too—from BBQ baked beans to Cajun fries. And don’t forget to choose from one of seven dipping sauces to complete your meal. Some of the options include sweet, smoky, Blazin’ Chili, Lava Hot, or Island Teriyaki.
Da Hawaiian Poke Company: How delicious is poke? For a simple and delicious poke bar, try Honolulu’s Da Hawaiian Poke Company. You can build your poke bowls your way, with either locally-caught ahi, fresh Atlantic salmon, shrimp, or Madako Tako poke. Sauces are flavorful and island-inspired, from Hawaiian salt-speckled Spicy Aioli to Miso Garlic. You’ll find classic additions on the toppings list (Furikake, Nori, cucumber) alongside some local touches (Maui onion). There’s also their spin on seafood-forward Hawaiian Plate Lunches, which includes the Ahi Loco Moco, topped with a sous-vide egg, Hamakua Mushroom Gravy, and Lump Blue Crab-laced potato salad.
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Happy Hour
What’s better than a Mai Tai? Well, a half-priced Mai Tai, of course.
Haleiwa Joe’s: Haleiwa Joe’s has two incredibly scenic locations in Oahu—one at Kaneohe’s Haiku Gardens and the other overlooking the North Shore beach. What all options have in common is their awesome Aloha Hour, Mon-Fri from 4:30-6:30 or Friday and Saturday from 10PM to midnight. During Aloha Hour, drinks and Pupus are up to half-off. For Pupus, share some Island Ceviche, Peel and Eat Fire Shrimp, or Thai-Fried Calamari. For a unique drink, try the Maui Mule made with local Hawaiian vodka, ginger beer, fresh lime, and liliko’i.
Tiki’s Grill and Bar: This lively Waikiki spot is definitely a tourist favorite, but it has a great happy hour. Tiki’s makes a fine Mai Tai and they’re only five bucks during their happy hour (2-5 daily). There’s also $3 draft beer (including Kona Longboard), $3 Sex on the Beach, and $5 Blue Hawaiians and margaritas. Snacks are tasty, too, from savory beef gyoza to their famous coconut shrimp. Come for the happy hour and stay for the live music, offered 7 nights a week.
Monkeypod Kitchen: Kapolei’s Monkeypod Kitchen hosts happy hour daily from 3-5:30PM and again from 9-11PM. Monkeypod focuses on craft cocktails and locally-inspired cuisine. During happy hour, appetizers are half-off and pizzas are just ten bucks. All of their “handcrafted culinary cocktails” are $9.50, beers are 5 bucks, and Maui Ocean Vodka Cocktails are $6. A must-try? The wood-fired Hamakua Wild Mushroom and Truffle Oil pizza.
Hula Grill: Waikiki’s Hula Grill serves up happy hour from 2-6PM in their Plantation Bar. You can choose between tropical drinks like the Fresh Squeezed Hula Mai Tai, Pa’ina Punch, or Strawberry-Thyme Daquiri for $7-$8. There’s also local draft beer and wine for just 5 bucks. Hungry? They’ve got Pupus, too, from $5 Short Rib Sliders on La Tour Bakery taro buns to Crab Mac Nut Wontons.
Kona Brewing Company: Kona Brewing Company, located in Koko Marina, offers not only a lovely view of the water, but a great happy hour. Monday through Friday is their Pau Hana, where drinks and certain appetizers are just $3.95. This includes pints of beer, wine, well cocktails, Kalua Pork Tacos, pepperoni rolls, and garlic cheese bread. Can’t think of a better way to relax after-work than that.
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Dinner
Hungry from all those Mai Tais? Whether you’re looking for something fancy or a bit more low-key, here’s the best places to eat on Oahu for dinner.
Duke’s: It’s impossible to create a list of the best places to eat on Oahu without talking about Duke’s. The beachfront Waikiki restaurant is gorgeous, especially if you can dine outside under the tiki torches with a live band playing. But the food and service is amazing, too. The indoor dining room offers fresh fish and steaks with a lovely salad bar. The Barefoot Bar is a little more relaxed, but just as good. Don’t leave without ordering the macadamia ice cream-loaded Hula Pie, pictured above.
Little Village Noodle House: Little Village Noodle House serves up authentic Chinese cuisine in downtown Honolulu. The inside is lively and almost always crowded, but the food comes out hot and fast. Start with the Green Onion Pancakes or Seaweed Tofu Soup. If you’re craving noodles, the Dried Beef Chow Fun is a Hong Kong favorite. Other house specialities include Duck Leg Ramen, Spicy Garlic Shrimp, Lamb Stew Hot Pot, and Shoyu Cornish Hen.
Marukame Udon: Marukame has two locations in Honolulu (Waikiki and Fort Street Mall), both of which specialize in freshly-made udon noodles using imported Japanese wheat flour. The noodles themselves are worth the wait. They’re perfectly cooked and chewy. Marukame’s menu is small, but everything they do, they do very well. Choose between big bowls of curry, Kake, Ontama, or dipping udon. And don’t forget to add some Spam Musubi or tempura on the side.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food: This casual, cash-only spot specializes in home-style Hawaiian cooking. But don’t be deceived by its looks: Helena’s Hawaiian Food is actually a James Beard winner. They’ve been in business 65 years and it’s easy to see why. You’ll find all the classics on the menu: imu-cooked Kalua Pig, Pipikaula short ribs, lomi salmon, poke, fried ahi. All meals receive complimentary onions with Hawaiian salt and haupia for dessert.
Arancino di Mare: Craving Italian? Arancino has three locations on Oahu and is voted the best Italian on the island. The menu combines imported Italian ingredients with locally-grown Hawaiian produce. Their pasta is quite delicious, from tagliatelle with smoked salmon to squid ink spaghetti. Arancino’s specializes in seafood-forward dishes with plenty of options for steak-lovers and vegetarians, too. I highly suggest getting a pitcher of the floral Sangria Fiore to share, made with Pinot Grigio, fresh fruit, and St. Germain.
Nico’s Pier 38: Honolulu’s Nico’s Pier 38 specializes in fresh, local line-caught fish. They buy more fish than any other restaurant on the island and also have a fish market and retail store. Buy fresh local fish from the market to take home, or grab some prepared platters or poke to-go. For dining, the restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with peaceful marina views. Nosh on grilled peppercorn swordfish, steamed clams, or pan-seared ahi. Completing your meal with a coconut mango-infused Pier 38 Punch and a slice of cheesecake is a smart choice.
The Pig and the Lady: The Pig and the Lady can be found all around the island, from Chinatown to a handful of different farmers markets. The Chinatown brick-and-mortar serves up a fine dinner menu, with ice-cold oysters, smoked pork jowl, and specialty noodle dishes. For more small plate options and authentic Pho, stop by their sister-restaurant Piggy Smalls at Ward Village. Which, by the way, I’m pretty positive is the best name for a restaurant ever.
Doraku Sushi: At their Royal Hawaiian Center and Honolulu locations, Doraku supplies tasty cocktails, sushi, and inventive Japanese cuisine. Some of their menu highlights include the crispy panko-crusted and rice-less Emperor Roll, the super-spicy God of Fire roll, the ahi poke, and the charred shishito peppers. The Eggplant Miso is also one of the tastiest vegetarian dishes I’ve ever had. Japanese-influenced tropical cocktails don’t disappoint either, with some favorites including Saketinis and Tokyo Cosmopolitans.
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Sweets and Treats
Do not (I repeat: do not) leave Oahu without trying at least one (or all) of these treats.
Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha: Honolulu’s Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha is just that. Uncle Clay’s makes it a priority to use fresh, local produce in their shave ice with never any artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or additives. I dig that. They let you build-your-own bowls if that’s what you’re feeling, but I’m particularly fond of the Strawberry Dream Bowl, with strawberry shave ice, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries, and creamy Dream Sauce.
Matsumoto Shave Ice: Haleiwa’s Matumoto is one of the island’s most well-known shave ice shops. They have every flavor you could imagine (almost 40 of them!) with reasonable price tags to boot. The toppings include all of the classics, from azuki beans to condensed milk to ice cream. To take your shave ice next level, go for the Ichiban Special. Six bucks gets you a shave ice (any flavor) with ice cream, condensed milk, azuki beans, AND mochi, all in a waffle bowl.
Liliha Bakery: This 24-hour diner and bakery has been on the island since 1950. With two locations in Honolulu, Liliha specializes in cakes, breads, and pastries of all kinds. But what they’re known for is their famous cream puffs. Liliha sells thousands of these tasty little puffs everyday, available in four flavors: Cream, Coco, Chocolate Cream, and Green Tea.
Leonard’s Bakery: If you’ve never had malasadas before, now is as good a time as any to try one. Don’t try them anywhere else besides Leonard’s Bakery, the Malasadas King of Honolulu since 1952. These fluffy Portoguese doughnuts (without a hole) are fried to perfection, dusted with sugar, and filled with custard. You can grab them plain, too, with just Cinnamon Sugar or Li Hing powder and they would be just as good. But for a real treat, try the Haupia (Coconut), Dobash (Chocolate), or one of their Flavor of the Month options (such as fruity mango).
Sweets and Treats Continued:
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream and Desserts: Any round-up of the best places to eat on Oahu is bound to have multiple shave ice joints, but Koko Marina’s Bubbies focuses on a different frozen treat: Mochi. There’s homemade ice cream and cones, too, but the star here is the pastel-colored perfectly round mochi treats. Mochi is available in dozens of flavors, from tropical to the more unique (Irish Coffee, anyone?). If you can’t make it to Koko Marina, Bubbies sells their mochi at stores and Whole Foods throughout Oahu.
Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut: A trip to Kaneohe’s Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut will give you options to sweets and treats galore. Whether you’re craving a freshly-cracked coconut, free coffee, dessert, or a snack, you can find it here. What you’ll find in their store? Tons and tons of macadamia nuts, from sweet (Kona Coffee Glazed) to savory (Maui Onion and Garlic).
Cake Couture: Cupcake lover? In my honest opinion, Honolulu’s Cake Couture are the best on the island. The menu changes daily (so check the website!) and cupcakes are baked fresh (and taste so). Some favorites include Banana Caramel, Strawberry, Orange Creamsicle, and Hostess-style cupcakes. Oh, and there’s ice cream macaron sandwiches, too.
Ted’s Bakery: You may go to Sunset Beach’s Ted’s Bakery for a plate lunch or quick breakfast, but one thing should always happen: get a slice of pie. The bakery also has pastries, breads, and cookies of all kinds, but their pie is the star of the show. And there are so many pies. I’m partial to the cream variety (Coconut, Macadamia Nut, or Chocolate), but Strawberry Guava or Liliko’i Cheese Pie are also fantastic choices.
Now that you know the best places to eat on Oahu, let’s make sure we know the lingo!
The Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Words to Know Before You Go
Liliko’i: passion fruit
POG: passion-orange-guava juice
SPAM: the canned meat, popular in Hawaii since World War II
SPAM Musubi: deep-fried SPAM wrapped in sushi rice and Nori
Loco Moco: a dish consisting of white rice, hamburger patty (sans bun), a fried egg, and brown gravy
Hawaiian Plate Lunch: a plate with two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad, and an entree (more than one entree makes it a mixed plate)
Kalua Pig: Kalua means “to cook in an underground oven” (known as an Imu); Kalua pork has been wrapped in ti leaves and slowly cooked
Malasada: a Portuguese yeast donut, deep-fried, coated in sugar, and often filled
Portuguese Sausage: also called linguiça; a popular Hawaiian sausage that is smoked in banana leaves
Azuki: a sweet bean that is usually made into a shaved ice topping
Ling Hi Mui: a sweet-and-salty sour powder made from salty dried plum
Pau Hana: happy hour
Haupia: a Hawaiian coconut pudding found at luaus
Taro: a starchy plant similar to a sweet potato or yam with bright purple flesh
Poi: a thick paste made from taro, typically served at luaus
Lomi-Lomi: a chopped salad made from raw salmon, fresh tomatoes, and onion
Poke: bite-sized pieces of raw fresh fish, usually mixed with a sauce and/or simply Hawaiian salt, green onions, and sesame oil
Manapua: pillowy buns typically filled with char siu (BBQ pork)
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of The Best Places to Eat on Oahu! Planning a visit soon? Let me know which ones you plan on checking out, and what you think of them!
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