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. 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

  • 4. The Pig and the Lady

    $$ | Chinatown | Asian

    Chef Andrew Le's casual noodle house attracts downtown office workers by day, but by night it becomes a creative contemporary restaurant, pulling...Read More

  • 5. Town

    $$ | Kaimuki | International

    Town remains a hot spot for Honolulu's creative class and farm-to-table diners, where chef-owner Ed Kenney and his partner Dave Caldiero offer...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Hank's Haute Dogs

    $ | Kakaako | Hot Dog

    Owner Hank Adaniya's idea of a hot dog involves things like wild boar sausage with cran-apple relish. Originally a true hole-in-the-wall, the...Read More

  • 11. Hoku's

    $$$$ | Kahala | Asian

    Everything about this room speaks of quality and sophistication: the wall of windows with their beach views, the avant-garde cutlery and dinnerware...Read More

  • 12. Honolulu Museum of Art Café

    $$ | Downtown | American

    The Honolulu Museum of Art's cool courtyards and galleries filled with works by masters from Monet to Hokusai are well worth a visit and, afterward...Read More

  • 13. Lucky Belly

    $$ | Chinatown | Asian

    A hip local crowd sips cocktails and slurps familiar noodle dishes with a modern twist at this popular fusion ramen bar. Try the Belly Bowl...Read More

  • 14. Moku Kitchen

    $$ | Kakaako | American

    In the hip SALT complex, Moku's draws locals, including both foodies and families, as well as visitors looking for authentic farm-to-table cuisine...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Mud Hen Water

    $$ | Kaimuki | American

    The name of this restaurant perched on busy Waialae Avenue is the English translation of Waialae (meaning a gathering spot around a watering...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Prima

    $$ | Pizza

    The beautifully blistered pies are cooked in a white-tiled Ferrara kiawe wood-burning oven that you can see in the open kitchen of this bright...Read More

  • 19. Roy's

    $$$ | American

    Roy Yamaguchi is one of the 12 founding chefs of Hawaiian regional cuisine, a culinary movement that put Hawaii on the food map back in 1991...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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