Oahu Restaurants

Oahu is undergoing something of a renaissance at both ends of the dining spectrum. You can splurge on world-class contemporary cuisine at destination restaurants and explore local flavors at popular, very affordable holes in the wall. Whatever your taste and budget, you’ll find places that pique your interest and palate.

You may wish to budget for a pricey dining experience at the very top of the restaurant food chain, where chefs Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, George Mavrothalassitis, Chris Kajioka, and others you've seen on the Food Network and Travel Channel put a sophisticated spin on local foods and flavors. Savor dishes that take cues from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, the United States, and Europe, then are filtered through an Island sensibility. Take advantage of the location and order the superb local fish—mahimahi, opakaka, ono, and opah.

Spend the rest of your food dollars where budget-conscious locals do: in plate-lunch places and small ethnic eateries, at roadside stands and lunch wagons, or at window-in-the-wall delis. Snack on a musubi (a handheld rice ball wrapped with seaweed and often topped with Spam), slurp shave ice with red-bean paste, or order Filipino pork adobo with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad.

In Waikiki, where most visitors stay, you can find choices from upscale dining rooms with a view to Japanese noodle shops. When you’re ready to explore, hop in the car, or on the trolley or bus—by going just a few miles in any direction, you can save money and eat like a local.

Kaimuki's Waialae Avenue, for example, is a critical mass of good eats and drinks. There you’ll find an espresso bar, a Chinese bakery, a patisserie, an Italian bistro, a dim-sum restaurant, Mexican food, and a Hawaiian regional-cuisine standout (3660 on the Rise)—all in three blocks, and 10 minutes from Waikiki. Chinatown, 15 minutes in the other direction and easily reached by the Waikiki Trolley, is another dining (and shopping) treasure, not only for Chinese but also Vietnamese, Filipino, Malaysian, and Indian food, and even a chic little tea shop. Kakaako, the developing urban area between Waikiki and Chinatown, also offers a mix of local eateries, upscale restaurants, and ethnic takeout.

Outside Honolulu and Waikiki there are fewer dining options, but restaurants tend to be filled with locals and are cheaper and more casual. Windward Oahu's dining scene has improved greatly in recent years due to the visitors to Kailua and Lanikai beaches, so everything from plate lunches to Latin foods to creative regional offerings can be found there. Across the rest of the island, the cuisine is mainly American—great if you're traveling with kids—but there are a handful of Italian and Asian places worth trying as well.

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  • 1. MW Restaurant

    $$$ | Ala Moana | American

    The "M" and "W" team of husband-and-wife chefs Michelle Karr-Ueko and Wade Ueko bring together their collective experience (20 years alongside...Read More

  • 2. Vintage Cave Honolulu

    $$$$ | Ala Moana | Contemporary

    One of Oahu's priciest and most exclusive and creative dining options is Vintage Cave, a luxurious, art-filled reinvention of what was once...Read More

  • 3. Akasaka

    $$ | Ala Moana | Japanese

    Step inside this tiny sushi bar tucked between the strip clubs behind the Ala Moana Hotel, and you'll swear you're in an out-of-the-way Edo...Read More

  • 4. Bac Nam

    $ | Ala Moana | Vietnamese

    Tam and Kimmy Huynh's menu is much more extensive than most, ranging far beyond the usual pho and bun (cold noodle dishes) found at many Vietnamese...Read More

  • 5. Big City Diner

    $ | Ala Moana | American

    Part of a local chain of retro diners, Big City offers Hawaii-style comfort favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning you get...Read More

  • 6. Chef Chai

    $$$ | Ala Moana | Fusion

    This sleek, contemporary dining room on the edge of Kakaako offers an eclectic, fusion mix of seafood, meats, and creative starters and salads...Read More

  • 7. Mariposa

    $$$ | Ala Moana | Asian

    Yes, the popovers and the wee cups of bouillon are there at lunch, but in every other regard, this Neiman Marcus restaurant menu departs from...Read More

  • 8. Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar

    $$ | Ala Moana | Japanese

    With a soaring ceiling, crazy red mobile sculpture, contemporary Japanese grazing plates, fruity vodka "sodas," and hungry young people, Shokudo...Read More

  • 9. Sorabol

    $$ | Ala Moana | Korean

    Open 24 hours a day on weekends and until 1 am on weeknights, with a tiny parking lot and a maze of booths and private rooms, Sorabol offers...Read More

  • 10. Tangö

    $$ | Kakaako | Eclectic

    On the ground floor of a glass-sheathed condominium, Tangö's spare contemporary setting stays humming at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Finnish...Read More

  • 11. Greens and Vines

    $$ | Ala Moana | Vegetarian

    Honolulu's only raw-food restaurant was an immediate hit when it opened in 2012, having filled a healthy hole in the city's dining landscape...Read More

  • 12. Royal Garden

    $$ | Ala Moana | Chinese

    This is one of the best dim sum spots in town, and people don't mind paying a little more for the quality they get (about $4 per four-piece...Read More

  • 13. The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong

    $$$ | Ala Moana | American

    For some people, this restaurant is the only reason to go to Macy's. At Alan Wong's more casual second spot, the chef de cuisine plays intriguing...Read More

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