82 Best Restaurants in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, Oahu

Mud Hen Water

$$ | Kaimuki

The name of this restaurant is the English translation of waialae (meaning a gathering spot around a watering hole). Renowned chef Ed Kenney explores modern interpretations of the Hawaiian foods he remembers from his childhood with an ever-changing locavore menu. Sit at the bar, on the lanai, or in the casual, homey dining room. Spread out and talk story with your neighbor. That's what inspired Kenney to open the place, after all.

Mugen

$$$$ | Waikiki

Food lovers in the know—including the Obamas, who ate here on a recent visit—recognize that chef Jason Yamaguchi's (Roy’s nephew) tiny, French-Japanese restaurant offers a truly memorable Waikiki dining experience. Although the perfectly plated dishes on the 11-course tasting menu change seasonally, standouts have included the duck with farro risotto and huckleberry and the veal with persimmon; desserts are incredibly delectable as well. Book well in advance, and note any dietary restrictions when doing so.

Murphy's Bar & Grill

$ | Downtown

Located on the edge between the financial district and Chinatown, Honolulu's go-to Irish bar serves Guinness on tap and an Irish-American menu of pubby favorites such as spicy chicken wings, jalapeño poppers, fish 'n' chips, corned beef and cabbage, and grilled New York steak—without that Waikiki price tag. But probably the most popular menu item is the Blarney Burger, gooey with Guinness-infused cheddar cheese. The list of daily specials is worth hearing, and while the comfort food is its trademark, the specialty salads are noteworthy and inventive. And pie day, every Friday, brings in rabid fans looking for their favorite slice. The restaurant has been featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. The dining room's booths attract business big wigs, journalists, and staff from the nearby Kumu Kahua Theatre. Meanwhile, the young and restless play darts and shuffleboard in the bar. It takes over the block for Saint Patrick's Day, and it's the go-to spot for after work pau hana (after work) gatherings and a quick bite before a show at the Kumu Kahua Theatre.

2 Merchant St., Honolulu, HI, 96813, USA
808-531–0422
Known For
  • Stick-to-your-ribs Irish fare
  • Creative salads that add diversity (and heart relief) to an otherwise heavy menu
  • Fun setting that has you smiling on the way out the door
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted

Recommended Fodor's Video

PAI Honolulu

$$$ | Downtown

Michelin star–restaurant chef Kevin Lee and his general manager wife, Justine, are at the helm of the innovative, upscale Pai (short for ho'opai, meaning "to encourage" in Hawaiian). The tantalizing and surprising fusion cuisine is served in a modern, arched dining room and patio tucked into the atrium of the Harbor Court condo building. You can expect friendly service as you choose from either à la carte items or the chef's seasonal tasting menu. For the tasting option, try to snag a seat at the counter so you can pick chef Lee's meticulous culinary brain. Dogs are welcome with their owners at the courtyard tables and get their own canine menu options.

55 Merchant St., Honolulu, HI, 96813, USA
808-744–2531
Known For
  • Homemade breads
  • Superb cocktails and wine pairings
  • Attention to detail in each dish
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch.

Panya

$$ | Kakaako

Run by Hong Kong–born sisters Alice and Annie Yeung, this easy-breezy café is known for its pastries, desserts, and happy hours but also offers crowd-pleasing, contemporary fare, both American (salads, sandwiches, pastas) and Asian (Thai-style steak salad, Japanese-style fried chicken, Singaporean seafood laksa). Dine inside for the air-conditioning and disco vibe, or choose a spot on the covered lanai. Across the street is South Shore Market with its local shops, Nordstrom Rack, and T. J. Maxx.

1288 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96814, USA
808-946–6388
Known For
  • French-style pastries and cakes
  • Eclectic and extensive menu
  • Japanese cheesecake
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Pho To Chau Restaurant

$ | Chinatown

Those people lined up on River Street know where to go for bowls of steaming pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) with all the best trimmings. This hole-in-the-wall storefront was the go-to pho spot long before hipsters and foodies found Chinatown. Many Vietnamese restaurants have since opened, and some have surpassed To Chau's quality—it's all in the broth—but eating habits die hard in this city.

1007 River St., Honolulu, HI, 96817, USA
808-533–4549
Known For
  • No-frills service and sometimes a wait for food once seated
  • Old-school, 1970s decor
  • Large pho can be easily shared
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No dinner, Reservations not accepted, Cash only

Queensbreak

$$$ | Waikiki

Across from popular Kuhio Beach, and three floors up from busy Waikiki on the pool deck at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, this laid-back, multilevel, terrace restaurant is a great place to grab a casual bite (fish tacos, poke, Caesar salad, burgers) and a beer, a glass of wine, or a tropical cocktail. In addition to ocean views, you can enjoy happy hour specials and live music. Reservations are a good idea.

Roy's Waikiki

$$$ | Waikiki

Enjoy a taste of modern Hawaiian cuisine from the chef who started it all, Roy Yamaguchi. Situated in the center of Waikiki, the sprawling, stylish restaurant has been serving innovative pan-Asian dishes since 2007 and remains a fan favorite. Today, executive chef Jason Ichiki uses locally sourced ingredients to prepare such delectable signature dishes as spicy ahi hand rolls, ginger soy-glazed ora king salmon, and honey mustard–braised short ribs. Enjoy a multicourse chef’s tasting dinner in the main dining room, sit at the sushi bar, or simply snack on some happy hour pupu plates at the bar on the lanai. There’s something for everyone here, including an excellent children’s menu.

RumFire Waikiki

$$ | Waikiki

If the perfect sunset happy hour means cocktails, bite-size shareable plates, tropical breezes, ocean sounds, and flaming oversized torches, then "Meet me at Rumfire" should be your motto. Enjoy such dishes as lemon-herb mahimahi, island fish tacos, and "local style" sesame-ahi poke; sip signature concoctions like the RumFire Mai Tai or the Fire Runner, made with spiced rum and tropical juices. At night, RumFire is a club–lounge that promises an edgy and exciting experience amid fashionable people and exquisite views.

2255 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96815, USA
808-922–4422
Known For
  • Beachside nightlife scene with great food and cocktails
  • Fabulous location right on the beach
  • Hip vibe that attracts young professionals

Sasabune Hawaii

$$$$ | Moiliili

Try to get a coveted seat at the counter, and prepare for an unforgettable sushi experience—if you behave, as chef Seiji Kumagawa prefers that diners eat omakase-style, letting him send out his favorite courses (generally two pieces of sushi or six to eight slices of sashimi), each priced individually and each served with instructions ("please, no shoyu on this one" or "one piece, one bite"). People who've defied Kumagawa have been kicked out of the restaurant midmeal. The parade of dishes, which continues until you cry uncle, always includes the signature California baby squid stuffed with Louisiana crab.

1417 S. King St., Honolulu, HI, 96814, USA
808-947–3800
Known For
  • One of Honolulu's top sushi spots
  • Fast service
  • No phone calls allowed in the restaurant
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. Lunch is takeout only., Reservations essential

Scratch Kitchen

$$ | Kakaako

Tucked into the chic South Shore Market in Kakaako's Ward Village, Scratch Kitchen has hipster decor, an open kitchen, and creative comfort food. It's popular for breakfast and brunch and has both small plates and generous entrées on its dinner menu. The motto—"simple, rustic, approachable"—might seem a bit overstated, particularly as diners struggle to select just one or two things from the creative menu. But the good food, fun vibe, and location have people hooked.

Side Street Inn Kapahulu

$$ | Waikiki

The original Hopaka Street pub is famous as the place where celebrity chefs gather after hours; this second Kapahulu Avenue location is also popular and closer to Waikiki. Local-style bar food—salty panfried pork chops with a plastic tub of ketchup, lup cheong fried rice, and passion fruit–glazed ribs—is served in huge, shareable portions. This is a lively, casual place where you can dress any way you like, nosh all night, and watch loud sports on TV. Pupu (in portions so large as to be dinner) are served 3–11:30 pm daily. It gets crowded quickly, so make a reservation or prepare to wait awhile.

614 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96815, USA
808-739–3939
Known For
  • Portions that can seemingly feed you for a week
  • Popular local spot with a crowd of regulars
  • Sports-bar feel with lots of fried food
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No lunch

South Shore Grill

$ | Diamond Head

Popular with locals, this counter-service spot is just minutes from Waikiki, on trendy Monsarrat Avenue near the base of Diamond Head. It has something for everyone: generous plate lunches (try the wahoo coated with macadamia-nut pesto and served with a tangy slaw), fish tacos, burritos, burgers, ciabatta-roll sandwiches, and entrée salads. Leave room for dessert—especially the Peanut Butter Temptations, a signature treat that sells out every day.

3114 Monsarrat Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96816, USA
808-734–0229
Known For
  • Casual surfer vibe
  • Takeout for the beach
  • Peanut Butter Temptations for dessert
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations not accepted

Sugoi Bento and Catering

$ | Iwilei

This breakfast-and-lunch spot located in a strip mall was among the first of a new wave of plate-lunch places to take particular care with quality and nutrition, offering brown rice and green salad as options instead of the usual white rice and mayo-loaded mac salad. Sweet-and-spicy garlic chicken and mochiko (rice-batter-dipped and fried) chicken, adapted from traditional Japanese dishes, are specialties that bring locals back again and again. Service is quick and cheerful. Pick up a bottle of the restaurant's pungent garlic sauce to relive the experience back home.

Tangö Contemporary Cafe

$$ | Kakaako

On the ground floor of a glass-sheathed condominium, Tangö's spare contemporary setting stays humming through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Finnish chef Göran Streng honors his heritage a bit with unfussy dishes such as gravlax with crispy skin, but the menu is, by and large, "general bistro," running from bouillabaisse to herb-crusted rack of lamb, with some Asian nods. The weekend brunch menu is a local favorite as well. The Scandinavian decor includes Marimekko prints on the walls, blond and birch woods, and cloudlike hanging white lamps. Don't expect a touristy experience: Streng caters mostly to his discriminating city-dwelling clientele.

1288 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96814, USA
808-593–7288
Known For
  • Hamakua mushroom risotto
  • Loco moco (unlike any you'll have elsewhere)
  • Attentive staff
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No dinner Sun., Reservations essential

Taormina Sicilian Cuisine

$$$$ | Waikiki

Honolulu has its share of Italian restaurants, and Taormina, taking its culinary cues from Sicily, is considered one of the best by foodies, locals, and visitors alike. In a sleek, elegant room (there is outdoor seating, but this is one place it's best to dine indoors), you can dine on well-executed classics, from porcini risotto with sautéed foie gras to a breaded veal chop "alla Taormina" (the restaurant's take on veal Parmesan). Pastas include spaghetti vongole (with clams), sarde e finochetti (sautéed sardines with fennel, anchovies, olives, and capers), and the trademark uni (sea urchin) with tagliatelle. Don't miss the artfully presented antipasti misti (mixed appetizers). For dessert, go traditional with cannoli or tiramisu. The wine list is extensive, and prix-fixe menus are offered for lunch and dinner.

227 Lewers St., Honolulu, HI, 96815, USA
808-926–5050
Known For
  • Intimate, quiet respite in bustling Waikiki
  • Authentic Sicilian cuisine
  • Extensive wine list
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Teddy's Bigger Burgers

$ | Waikiki

Modeled after 1950s diners, this casual spot serves classic, tender, messy burgers—including the Hawaiian teriyaki burger with grilled pineapple and the Kailua with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and grilled onions—along with turkey and veggie burgers, salads, and chicken breast and fish sandwiches. The fries are crispy, and the shakes rich and sweet. The original location in Waikiki combines burger-shack simplicity with surfer cool—there's even a place to store your surfboard while you eat—and there are other locations around the island, from Kailua to Haleiwa and beyond.

134 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96815, USA
808-926–3444
Known For
  • Messy burgers, great fries, and rich milkshakes
  • Diner-style service, with food to go
  • Local chain for dependable quick lunches across the island

The Surfing Pig Hawaii

$$$ | Kaimuki

This fancier sibling of the island's four Kono's barbecue spots focuses on Americana-tinged-with-Hawaiian food and drink served in a small, lofted eatery with a surfer-industrial vibe. Heaping portions of juicy smoked and grilled meats are the specialty, but the menu also has several great fish appetizers and entrées. Order à la carte or choose the Friends Night Out or Date Night prix-fixe meal options. The playful cocktails, several of which are presented under a bell jar filled with smoke, are worth trying. Note that most of the seating is upstairs, with bar seating below; brunch is also an option.

3605 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96816, USA
808-744–1992
Known For
  • Old-fashioned with bacon-infused bourbon, bacon garnish, and "smoking" cloche presentation
  • Pork, beef, and porchetta slider trio
  • A strong neighborhood brunch option

Tokkuri Tei

$$$$ | Kapahulu

The playful atmosphere at this local favorite belies the quality of the food created by chef Hideaki "Santa" Miyoshi. Best to just say "omakase, kudasai" ("chef's choice, please"), and he'll order for you. Famous for his quirky menu names (Spider Poke, for example, where the menu reports, "There's a spider in da poke"), the chef delivers creative options that can intimidate at first glance. Just be aware that some of the more rare seafood dishes can cost up to $45 (each). Although other izakaya joints come and go, this one has stood the test of time—and for good reason.

449 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96816, USA
808-732–6480
Known For
  • Japanese food that delivers time and again
  • Salmon skin salad
  • Ahi tartare poke, which is everything locals dream about
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No lunch Sun., Daytime reservations only

Waiola Shave Ice

$ | Kapahulu

Longtime local favorite Waiola Shave Ice, known for its super-soft and powdery shave ice (or snow cone) and wide variety of flavors, became nationally known through regular appearances on the reboot of the Hawaii Five-0 TV show. It's a fast-moving line, so know your order when you get to the window. Customize your cone with add-ons, such as ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, mochi and adzuki beans (sweet red beans). The original location on Waiola Street in the McCully neighborhood has even more of an old-school feel.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener

$$$$ | Waikiki

The Honolulu outpost of the NY-based original serves good steaks that have been dry-aged on site, as well as classic shrimp cocktails, slabs of Canadian bacon, crab cakes, creamed spinach, broiled jumbo lobster, and the token grilled fish selection. If it sounds like Peter Luger's on the Pacific, then it won't come as a surprise to learn that owner Wolfgang Zwiener was once head waiter at that legendary Brooklyn steak house. Stop by during happy hour for a prix-fixe sampler deal, or wander in for lunch and then spend the rest of the day lounging on the beach.

2201 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96815, USA
808-922–3600
Known For
  • Classic NY steak house vibe, food, and attentive service
  • Great location in the heart of Waikiki
  • Surprisingly varied brunch menu (with a killer Bloody Mary)

Yanagi Sushi

$$$ | Downtown

One of relatively few restaurants to serve a complete menu until 2 am (until 10 pm on Sunday) offers not only sushi and sashimi around a small bar, but also teishoku (combination menus), tempura, stews, and cook-it-yourself shabu-shabu. The fish can be depended on for freshness and variety.