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
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
Oahu is undergoing something of a renaissance at both ends of the dining spectrum. You can splurge on world-class contem

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. 53 by the Sea

    $$$$ | Kakaako | Contemporary

    Housed in a McVilla aimed at attracting a Japanese wedding clientele, this restaurant serves contemporary Continental food that focuses primarily...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Kaahaaina Cafe

    $ | American

    Hidden behind the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, this café offers what most every other hospital café in the world doesn't: good...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Nico's at Pier 38

    $$ | Iwilei | Seafood

    Lyonnaise chef Nico Chaiz's harborside restaurant is steps from the Honolulu Fish Auction, which explains his "line to plate" concept—superfresh...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Spalding House Cafe

    $ | Makiki Heights | American

    In the exclusive Makiki Heights neighborhood above the city, the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House's casual café spills out of the ground...Read More

  • 14. Top of Waikiki

    $$$$ | Waikiki | American

    Top of Waikiki, which opened in 1965, remains one of the best spots in town to take in Honolulu's stunning panorama. Lance Kosaka, who was executive...Read More

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