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. 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Eclectic

    With the top-to-bottom renovations of the Prince Hotel, the former Prince Court (known for its buffet and views) has become the 100 Sails, a...Read More

  • 2. Arancino di Mare

    $$ | Waikiki | Italian

    Three locations in town offer fresh seafood, hand-trimmed beef, pastas cooked to order, handmade pizza dough and bread, house-made desserts...Read More

  • 3. Bali Steak & Seafood

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Steakhouse

    This many-windowed, multilevel room takes delightful advantage of the restaurant's perch above the beach, facing Diamond Head. The chef creates...Read More

  • 4. BLT Steak

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Steakhouse

    BLT Steak remains one of the swankiest rooms in town, where chef Fred DeAngelo blends global fare with local ingredients. From the tables of...Read More

  • 5. Chart House Waikiki

    $$$$ | Waikiki | American

    Enjoy the sunset views over the yacht harbor as you take in live music nightly while sipping a signature "Guy-Tai" cocktail at this Waikiki...Read More

  • 6. dk Steak House

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Steakhouse

    Honolulu has its share of national-chain steak houses, but D.K. Kodama's local steak house serves steaks free from hormones, antibiotics, and...Read More

  • 7. Doraku Sushi

    $$ | Waikiki | Japanese

    From entrepreneur Kevin Aoki, son of Benihana founder Rocky Aoki, comes this low-lit bells-and-whistles sushi-roll chain (Miami and Atlanta...Read More

  • 8. Duke's Waikiki

    $$$ | Waikiki | American

    Locals often take visiting friends and family from the mainland to this popular open-air hotel restaurant for the beachfront setting—it's right...Read More

  • 9. Hau Tree Lanai

    $$$$ | Waikiki | American

    Countless anniversaries, birthdays, and family milestones have been celebrated under this spectacular hau tree, where it's said that even...Read More

  • 10. Hula Grill

    $$$ | Waikiki | American

    The placid younger sister of boisterous Duke's, downstairs, this restaurant and bar resemble an open-air plantation-period summer home with...Read More

  • 11. Hy's Steak House

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Steakhouse

    If the Rat Pack reconvened for big steaks and a bigger red, they'd feel right at home at Hy's, which hasn't changed much since it opened in...Read More

  • 12. Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar

    $$$ | Waikiki | Italian

    Il Lupino doesn't reinvent Italian cuisine—you get pretty good renditions of tried-and-true favorites such as fried calamari, caprese salad...Read More

  • 13. Kai Market

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Eclectic

    A buffet in a giant resort hotel might send some discerning diners running, but the mass-market Sheraton Waikiki has pulled off this farm-to...Read More

  • 14. Kaiwa

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Japanese

    At this sleek, contemporary Japanese restaurant, choose from the teppan bar, the sushi bar, the main dining room, or the sexy zashiki room...Read More

  • 15. La Mer

    $$$$ | Waikiki | French

    Looking out on its namesake, La Mer is the most romantic dining room on Oahu, with carved wooden screens setting an elegant art deco–ish tone...Read More

  • 16. Michel's at the Colony Surf

    $$$$ | Waikiki | French

    Often called Waikiki's most romantic spot, Michel's is an old-school French favorite on Waikiki's tranquil Gold Coast, where you pay for a...Read More

  • 17. Morimoto Asia Waikiki

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Japanese

    Locals were surprised when chef Masahara Morimoto vacated the Modern for new digs at the renovated and rebranded Alohilani Resort (formerly...Read More

  • 18. Nobu

    $$$$ | Kakaako | Japanese

    Always a local favorite, Nobu's move from Waikiki to the chic Kakaako high-rise Waiea has only made it better. It remains a magnet for visiting...Read More

  • 19. Orchids

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Seafood

    Perched along the seawall at historic Gray's Beach, Orchids in the luxe Halekulani resort is open all day—it's a locus of power breakfasters...Read More

  • 20. Rumfire Waikiki

    $$ | Waikiki | Asian

    If the perfect sunset happy hour means cocktails, bite-size shareable plates, tropical breezes, ocean sounds, and flaming oversized torches...Read More

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