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. 12th Avenue Grill

    $$$ | Kaimuki | American

    A local favorite since the doors opened over a decade ago, this award-winning American brasserie from chef-owner Kevin Hanney keeps surprising...Read More

  • 2. Alan Wong's Restaurant Honolulu

    $$$$ | Moiliili | American

    James Beard Award–winning Alan Wong is the undisputed king of Hawaiian regional cuisine, earning love and respect for his humble demeanor and...Read More

  • 3. Koko Head Cafe

    $ | Kaimuki | American

    When Lee Anne Wong, best known as a competitor on the first season of Bravo's "Top Chef," moved to the Islands, foodies waited with bated breath...Read More

  • 4. Livestock Tavern

    $$ | Chinatown | American

    Livestock scores big with its seasonal menu of comfort foods, craft cocktails, and cowboy-minimalist decor. Although meat commands the menu...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 3660 on the Rise

    $$$$ | Kaimuki | American

    Named for its address on Honolulu's premier Waialae Avenue, this restaurant brought fresh dining to Kaimuki when it opened in 1992, inspiring...Read More

  • 7. Ama Ama

    $$$$ | American

    There's nothing "Mickey Mouse" about the food at the fine-dining restaurant of this Disney resort. Add to that the views of the Ko Olina lagoons...Read More

  • 8. Big City Diner

    $ | American

    This outlet of the popular retro diner chain has outdoor lanai seating, a bar, and is across the street from a small bird sanctuary. It's a...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen

    $ | American

    Sometimes you wait an hour for a table here since the restaurant's fervent followers come back again and again for the banana pancakes topped...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Cinnamon's Restaurant

    $ | American

    Known for uncommon variations on common breakfast themes (pancakes, eggs Benedict, French toast, home fries, and eggs), this neighborhood favorite...Read More

  • 13. Diamond Head Market & Grill

    $ | Diamond Head | American

    Just five minutes from Waikiki hotels is Kelvin Ro's one-stop food shop—indispensable if you have accommodations with a kitchen or if you want...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Fete Hawaii

    $$ | Chinatown | American

    Fete slipped into its cozy brick-walled space amid the Chinatown culinary boom in 2016, and it's been packing in regulars ever since. Folks...Read More

  • 16. Haleiwa Beach House

    $$ | American

    The newest restaurant on the North Shore, Haleiwa Beach House takes full advantage of its epic views of the water and the glorious building...Read More

  • 17. Haleiwa Joe's Haiku Gardens

    $$ | American

    The Haleiwa location may be the namesake and claim the surf, but this Windward-side spot offers all the same friendly vibe and grilled seafood...Read More

  • 18. Haleiwa Joe's Seafood Grill

    $$$ | American

    After the long drive to the North Shore, Haleiwa Joe's open-air lanai and a mai tai may be just what you need as you watch boats and surfers...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Highway Inn

    $ | Kakaako | American

    Highway Inn serves up what it does best: local favorites like Kalbi ribs, kalua (roasted in an underground oven) pork sliders, beef stew,...Read More

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