Eating Out

Whether you're looking for a dinner for two in a romantic oceanfront dining room or a family get-together in a hole-in-the-wall serving traditional Hawaiian fare like kalua (cooked in an underground oven) pig, you'll find it throughout the Islands. When it comes to eating, Hawaii has something for every taste bud and every budget. With chefs using locally grown fruits and vegetables, vegetarians often have many exciting choices for their meals. And because Hawaii is a popular destination for families, restaurants almost always have a children's menu. When making a reservation at your hotel's dining room, ask about free or reduced-price meals for children.

Meals and Mealtimes

Breakfast is usually served from 6 or 7 am to 9:30 or 10 am.

Lunch typically runs from 11:30 am to around 1:30 or 2 pm, and will include salads, sandwiches, and lighter fare. The "plate lunch," a favorite of many locals, usually consists of an Asian protein, like shoyu chicken, seared ahi or teriyaki beef—served with two scoops of white rice and a scoop of macaroni or potato salad. The phrase "broke da mouth," often used to describe these plates, refers not only to their size, but also their tastiness.

Dinner is usually served from 5 to 9 pm and, depending on the restaurant, can be a simple or lavish affair. Stick to the chefs’ specials if you can because they usually represent the best of the season. Poke (marinated raw tuna) is a local specialty and can often be found on pupu (appetizer) menus.

Meals in resort areas are pricey and only sometimes excellent. The restaurants we include are the cream of the crop in each price category. Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed are open daily for lunch and dinner.

Reservations and Dress

Hawaii is decidedly casual. Aloha shirts and shorts or long pants for men and Islands-style dresses or casual resort wear for women are standard attire for evenings in most hotel restaurants and local eateries. T-shirts and shorts will do the trick for breakfast and lunch. We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie.

Regardless of where you are, it's a good idea to make a reservation if you can. In some places, it's expected. We only mention reservations specifically when they are essential or when they are not accepted. For popular restaurants, book as far ahead as you can (often a month or more), and reconfirm as soon as you arrive. Large parties should always call ahead to check the reservations policy.

Wine, Beer, and Spirits

Hawaii has a new generation of microbreweries, including on-site microbreweries at many restaurants. The drinking age in Hawaii is 21 years of age, and a photo ID must be presented to purchase alcoholic beverages. Bars are open until 2 am; venues with a cabaret license can stay open until 4 am. No matter what you might see in the local parks, drinking alcohol in public parks or on the beaches is illegal. It's also illegal to have open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles.

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