The Best Restaurants on Oahu Hawai’i

Arvo Cafe - Hawaii - best oahu restaurants

If you’re hiking around town and need to find a place to eat, check out this list of the best restaurants on Oahu. I actually send this list to my personal friends and family whenever they come to visit.

Cheap Eats

  • Ono Seafood: This is a small no-frills place for poke and sashimi here. It’s always fresh and plentiful. It’s a little hole in the wall but worth a visit if you’re craving some fresh fish.
  • Choi’s Kitchen: Great Korean bbq and a little hole in the wall.
  • Storto’s Sandwich Shop: I love this sandwich sub shop and it’s one of my favorite restaurants on Oahu. The bread is always fresh, soft, and slightly sweet with all the toppings. I love the Waimea particularly and add in Italian dressing.
  • Loving Hut: A small vegan/vegetarian restaurant. They have various options with a slight lean towards Vietnamese food. I like the summer rolls, the brocco pua, and happy spaghetti.
  • Maui Mike’s: Maui Mike’s is a roast chicken joint with two locations. I like getting the chicken plate (white or dark) with rice or fries as a side and a drink.
  • 711: (yes, really). You can get spam musubi, sushi, yakisoba, and this delicious ham and cheese on sweetbread sandwich. There’s also manapua and dim sum even!
Scratch – The milk & cereal pancakes

Breakfast and Brunch

  • Arvo Cafe: If you want healthy but pretty “Instagrammable” food – you’ve come to the right place. The loaded Avocado toast, smoked salmon toast, and chia pudding is delicious and beautifully plated. It’s located in SALT in the Kaka’ako neighborhood. Parking is located nearby and they do validate!
  • Moke’s Bread & Breakfast: Another hip joint in Kaimuki. It’s simple, carb-heavy, but yummy. They’re famous for their lilikoʻi pancakes and farm-fresh omelets!
  • Sweet E’s Cafe: Solid breakfast & brunch place with lots of options and it’s served all day!
  • Scratch Kitchen & Eatery: I like the Milk ‘n Cereal pancakes and the presentation is nice.
  • Koko Head Cafe: This is an island-style brunch house with an eclectic mix of Asian, American, and Hawaiian fusion. Their baked goods are always a treat and check what type of dumplings they have that day.
  • Cafe Kalia: Another solid breakfast & brunch place but it is in Hawaii Kai. It’s always busy so be prepared for a little bit of a wait.

Ethnic Foods

  • So Gong Dong Soondubu: I love this no-frills Korean restaurant. Their original soondubu is my go-to comfort dish but we also like their seafood pancake and you can’t go wrong with their bbq dishes.
  • Ethiopian Love: If you’re craving for some Ethiopian Love, get it here down in Chinatown. It’s BYOB and plenty of vegetarian options
  • Casablanca: This is a Moroccan restaurant in Kailua. It’s BYOB but they only have 5-course meals available. You eat with your hands unless you specifically ask for utensils.
  • Little Village Noodle House: Great Chinese spot that’s located downtown/Chinatown. I like their special fried rice and salt and pepper pork chop. It’s BYOB.
  • Bar Koko: I really miss Persian/Iranian food so this place is great for kabobs and gourmeh sabzi.
  • Dim Sum:
    • Happy Days: A traditional place in Kaimuki where the wait staff doesn’t speak English, they wear maroon vests. You really just have to waltz in the place and find someone to seat you, and just point at what you want.
    • Jade Dynasty Seafood: It’s located in Ala Moana and caters to tourists but the staff is quick and wears the maroon vests so you’re in good hands.
  • Margaritas: For awhile, Hawaii had no really good Mexican food but this certainly got my attention with their tacos.
  • Leo’s Taverna/Taverna Express: I go here to get gyros! I like the Taverna Express location which is located right outside the Don Quixote. They only accept cash and get the gyro with fries or baklava. Delicious.
  • Limon Rotisserie: This is in Kapolei and has decent Peruvian dishes. It doesn’t top East coast restaurants but it’ll do the trick. The lomo saltado is pretty good.
Adela’s Country Eatery

Recommended Eats

  • The Pig and the Lady: My favorite restaurant in Honolulu – forreal. Order the LFC wings, the pho, and don’t skip on dessert. It’s best to make reservations but if you don’t, you can probably snag a seat at the bar.
    • Piggy Smalls: Daughter restaurant to the Pig and the Lady. My boyfriend loves it but I love P&L more.
  • Sprout Sandwich Shop: A solid sandwich shop. Just remember that it’s extra to put sprouts on the sandwich and sprouts don’t actually come with every sandwich on the menu.
  • JJ Dolan’s: Grab wings and NY style thin crust pizza here. They only serve blue cheese with the wings but it’s good. Lots of craft beer!
  • Purve Donuts: A specialty doughnut shop. They’ve got cool flavors so you’ll like this joint if you are a fan of VooDoo doughnuts and Bluestar doughnuts in Portland.
  • Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha: I love this shave ice treat shop because everything is locally made and there’s nothing artificial in the ice cream or the syrups – it’s all fresh Hawaiian fruits, fruit purees, and natural cane sugar.
  • Nico’s Pier 39: The ahi tuna is yummy here. There’s a casual lower floor and the upper floor is slightly more upscale.
  • Ted’s Bakery: This is at the North Shore. Grab yourself a garlic shrimp plate and a slice of their famous pies – I love the haupia pie and chocolate haupia pie but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
  • Adela’s Country Eatery: This hole in the wall has amazing homemade pasta made from avocados, ulu, ube (purple yams), and delicious homemade desserts – try the haupia and the matcha cheesecake. You need to try this place in Kaneohe – calling for takeout is probably the easiest but there are three small tables where you can park and eat-in as well. Parking is tough but trust me, it is totally worth it. The employees are sweet as pie as well!

Special Occasions

  • 53 by the Sea: A high-end and classy seafood restaurant. The ambiance is romantic and candlelit. They have a grand marble staircase that’s great for photos.
  • Hy’s Steak House: A high-end classy steak house located in Waikiki for over 40 years. This is a great place to celebrate a special occasion and I love the old-school feel of the restaurant.
  • MW Restaurant: A trendy restaurant located in Ala Moana. This is more like a date night restaurant versus a special occasion that calls for candles and the like. You can eat here a lunch for multiple course meal but for a tad less.
  • La Mer: A French restaurant that has a three-course, four-course, or degustation menu option.
  • Duc’s Bistro: A high-end Vietnamese/French restaurant located in Chinatown. I like this place for the bo luc lac (shaky beef) and it’s actually not too pricy.
  • La Cucina Ristorante Italian: Delicious Italian place but be prepared for a long night as it takes some time because it’s a small place. It’s well worth the wait. If you want to make reservations, you need a minimum of four people.

“Famous” Oahu Eats

While this list actually has some delicious finds, they may not be one of the “best restaurants on Oahu” but they are “known.” Even if not the most delicious, some of the places are iconic and worth a visit “because you have to.”

  • Leonard’s Bakery: You need to get yourself a box of fresh piping hot malasadas from Leonard’s and make sure you Instagram that famous pink box.
  • Liliha Bakery: If you sit down at the restaurant, you must get their fresh rolls with the sweet strawberry jam.
  • Rainbow Drive Inn: An iconic counter-serve joint and a throwback to a different era. The original is on Kapahulu!
  • Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: There’s many other shrimp trucks, especially around the North Shore but people tend to make it a point to stop here. The butter garlic is good but be warned, they keep the shell on the shrimp so be prepared to peel!
  • Matsumoto’s Shave Ice: People line up at this place to Shave Ice and while it is famous and has been around for a long time, there are other options as well that use real fruit syrups instead of artificial colors/syrups.
  • Duke’s Waikiki: Locals always like to recommend Duke’s Waikiki as a staple if you’re in the touristy center of Honolulu.
  • Helena’s Hawaiian food: A lot of locals and tourists go to Helena’s for some local homestyle Hawaiian food. They close early, are only open on certain days, and bring cash! I love the salt meat with watercress and a slice of the flavorful haupia.

Finally!

If you have any questions about my personal list of the “best restaurants” on Oahu, just comment or contact me via social media!

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