3 In Hawaiian Islands

A Local’s Ultimate Oahu Foodie Guide

Oahu and Hawaii have become words synonymous with delicious foods sure to ignite your palate’s wandertastelust (I think I just made up a new word); foods like poke, shave ice, malasada and ube. By the way, in Hawaii we drop the “d” in “shaved ice”. Hawaii’s location in the Pacific draws influences from all over the world, primarily Asia and Polynesia, giving food creations a unique fusion flare.

After living on the island of Oahu for 11 years and spending the better part of the last six months tasting what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s been around for 50+ years, I am happy to report back that Oahu’s foodie scene is alive and well and taking over a neighborhood near you. With the local farm-to-table movement sweeping the nation and self-proclaimed foodies Yelping and Instagramming everything, Oahu is finally starting to catch on and care about things like sourcing locally and using fresh, organic and natural ingredients. Some even carry compostable utensils! Now we’re talking my language!

In this post I bring to you the best places to eat on Oahu including happy hours, sweet treats, where to find the best acai bowls and poke, and the newest, hottest cafes & bars, along with insider tips. Speakeasies on Oahu? We’ve got it! 12-hour roasted kalua pork? We’re on it. Ice cream sandwiches with ube ice cream? Yep, all over that. (If you don’t know what ube is, you will after this post and you’ll be headed straight for the nearest café that serves it to try some of your own naturally-colored bright purple goodness.)

I present to you The Ultimate Foodie Guide to Oahu, complete with mouth-watering food photography taken by yours truly. All photography is my own, shot with a Nikon D3300. I’ll be updating this post frequently to include new restaurants and remove any that may go out of business to maintain fresh content for you to reference! Please share this post if you like it!

How to Navigate This Blog Post

All eateries are categorized and listed in alphabetical order within each category.
Click on the category below to jump to that spot on the page.

CATEGORIES:

1) Bakeries, Cafes, Juices, Acai Bowls & Shave Ice
2) Breakfast
3) Farm-To-Table Lunch & Dinner
4) American Fusion
5) Asian
6) African/Middle Eastern/Indian/Mexican/Ethnic
7) Italian
8) Poke
9) Bars & Speakeasies
10) Vegan & Vegetarian

Are you ready? Let’s dive in to the best Oahu eateries!

The Sweet Stuff (by the way, “dessert” is my favorite word)

BAKERIES, CAFES, JUICES, ACAI BOWLS & SHAVE ICE

Ars Café – Monsarrat Ave.
If a European café and a small art gallery had a baby, Ars Café would be it.

Arvo – Salt At Our Kaka’ako

Opened by two sisters, this Australian-inspired cafe has avocado toast and matcha chia seed pudding that will be right up your Instagram alley.

Avocado toast at Arvo Cafe in Kakaako Oahu Hawaii

By the way, Kaka’ako is the newly gentrified “hot spot” for eateries, cafes and street art on Oahu.

Bean About Town – Waialae
This cafe originated in London, but when the French owner, Olivier moved to Oahu, he opened up a new location in Kaimuki.

Bee & Tea – Kailua (boba tea, smoothies & acai bowls)
Bee & Tea, Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii

Blue Tree Café – Kapiolani

BRUG Hokkaido Bakery – Ala Moana Shopping Center & Manoa Marketplace
BRUG Hokkaido Bakery, Ala Moana, Oahu, Hawaii

Bubbie’s – Koko Marina Shopping Center (mochi ice cream) – also sold in Whole Foods

Chad Lou Café – Kailua

This is where you can find the vibrant purple ube ice cream sandwiches. And yes, it’s naturally that purple!

They also do a ham & cheese croissant quite well.

Ham & cheese croissant, Chadlou's Kailua Oahu Hawaii

Coffee Gallery – Haleiwa

READ RELATED: Things To Do On Oahu’s North Shore From A Local’s Perspective

Da Cove Health Bar & Cafe – Monsarrat
In my opinion, they serve the best acai bowl on the island (get it with pitaya, pai’ai or bee pollen)

HI Blend Health Bar & Café – Keeaumoku
HI Blend Health Cafe Acai Bowl, Oahu Hawaii

HI Cravings – Kapolei
Acai bowls with unique toppings

Honolulu Coffee Company – Next to the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki
Chai from Honolulu Coffee Company, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Honolulu Cookie Company – multiple locations
The famous pineapple-shaped shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate.
*INSIDER TIP* – mention the word “pineapple” for a free cookie!

**Like this post? Pin it!**

The Ultimate Oahu Foodie Guide

Island Brew – Hawaii Kai
Beautiful views of Koko Marina on the water

Island Vintage Shave Ice – kiosk at Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki
They use real fruits for their natural syrups.

Kona Coffee Purveyors – International Marketplace, Waikiki
This is where you can find the ever-delicious Kouign-amann, a flaky buttery pastry filled with various sweet and savory fillings. Also, they use Valrhona chocolate for their mochas! Their staff is always really friendly, and, admittedly, many of them now know me by name because I visit so frequently. 🙂 Having this place close to where I work is dangerous!

Kula & Ko Confectionery – Second floor of the International Marketplace, Waikiki
This adorable confectionery makes all-natural pineapple cake bars using shortbread & real Dole Hawaiian pineapples. They caramelize their pineapples for five hours, and each box contains one whole Hawaiian pineapple! They come in a sturdy box, easy for shipping or packing, and they make perfect gifts to bring back home for friends and family!
Fun Fact: Did you know that a pineapple is 87% water?

Leonard’s Bakery – Kapahulu
What is a malasada? It’s a Portuguese donut, often injected with sweet fillings and coated in sugar, served warm. Open since 1952, this long-time local favorite was started by Leonard, the grandson of a couple who arrived on a British sailing ship to Maui from Portugal on a contract to work in the sugar cane fields.
*INSIDER TIP* – sometimes there is a Leonard’s food truck stationed at Koko Marina shopping center on the way to Hanauma Bay.

Leonard's Malasada, Oahu Hawaii

Mama’Nita Scones – Kailua

Moana Surfrider Hotel – high tea at The Veranda at the Beach House – Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki

MoDo Hawaii – Mitsuwa Marketplace inside the International Marketplace (go all the way to the back of the store and you will see the sign.)
Mochi donuts with locally-inspired frosting flavors such as lilikoi, earl grey, matcha and black sesame. Oh, and they’re stackable.

Nana’s Green Tea – inside Yokocho (underground at the Waikiki Shopping Plaza)
They use high-quality matcha powder imported from Japan. This is also where you can get matcha soft serve ice cream!

Olive & Oliver – inside the Surf Jack Hotel on Lewers, Waikiki

Purve Donut Shop – Kakaako

This brightly-colored donut shop feels like you’ve just stepped into a child’s fantasy world. Purve was opened by two ex-bartenders-turned-entrepreneurs. The donut flavors are fun and locally-inspired, however, the batter for the donuts is more of a cake-like consistency that reminded me of a hostess bar.

Sunrise Shack – North Shore & Waikiki locations (inside the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach Hotel)
Finally, a place that’s bringing the chill, laid-back vibes of the North Shore to chaotic Waikiki. This is where you can try the blue algae bowl, naturally blue in color! Everything in this vibrantly orange and positive shop is local, organic, all-natural and compostable! Paper straws? Yes please! No lid, no problem!

Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha – multiple locations
THE best shave ice on the island! They use all natural ingredients and real fruits and organic local cane sugar for their home-made syrups. Also, note the compostable bowls, not styrofoam. Ten points! 🙂
Shave ice at Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha, Oahu, Hawaii

Waialua Bakery – Haleiwa, North Shore
Waialua Bakery, Haleiwa North Shore Oahu, Hawaii
*INSIDER TIP* – they accept cash only. Order a few cookies for takeaway and enjoy it on the beach. They taste great after a dip in the salty ocean.

1979 Cold Brew – Mobile stand, Sandy Beach, Hawaii Kai
This adorable mobile coffee stand can be found all over the island, but most days you will find them at Sandy Beach in Hawaii Kai. This little stop is perfect for your morning pick-me-up after a hike up Koko Head or a swim at Hanauma Bay. This stand is run by a sweet married couple who love to travel like us! We met the husband, Joshua and his kids while hiking Koko Head (he and his kids hike it barefoot! Can you say badass?) They serve cold brew, fresh coconuts and pineapples, smoothies and Uncle’s Ice Cream sandwiches. They also do catering for events and weddings around the island.

BREAKFAST

Bogart’s Cafe – Monsarrat

Goofy Cafe & Dine – Ala Moana Boulevard, Waikiki

Heavenly – Seaside Avenue, Waikik

Koko Head Café – Kaimuki

Kono’s – Haleiwa, Kailua, & Kapahulu locations
They roast their pork for 12 hours!

Kono's North Shore burrito, Haleiwa, Oahu Hawaii

The Chun’s – bacon, kalua pork, scrambled eggs, cheese and potatoes. YUM!

Moena Cafe– Hawaii Kai & Kapolei locations
Eggs Benedict with REAL crab!

Nalu Health Bar – Kailua
Nalu Health Bar, Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii

Over Easy – Kailua

FARM-TO-TABLE LUNCH & DINNER

These restaurants source ingredients locally and partner with farmers to provide organic foods, following sustainable practices and the concept of local first and organic whenever possible.

Bills Sydney – Beach Walk Avenue, Waikiki
Run by an Aussie chef, this adorable spacious yet cozy-feeling space serves up healthy, farm-to-table food.
*INSIDER TIP* – order the Cantaloupe Cooler, made with coconut water. It’s super refreshing on a hot evening!

Diamond Head Luau – Waikiki Aquarium
This intimate luau is located at the Waikiki Aquarium on the ocean. You can sample poi, poke, kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, Okinawan sweet potato, and other local favorites, all whilst watching attractive half-naked men and women dance with fire and gourds before your eyes.
***If you’d like to book this luau or any other activities on the Hawaiian Islands, please reach out to me via the “contact” screen”***

Kahuku Farms – North Shore

Mud Hen Water – Waialae Avenue
Right across the street from Chef Ed Kenny’s original restaurant

Town – Waialae Avenue
Chef Ed Kenney’s original restaurant

American Fusion

Brick Fire Tavern Pizza – Chinatown

Earl Sandwich – Kaimuki
This just in! A brand-new location just opened up in Kaka’ako! Whoohoo, sandwiches for all!

Livestock Tavern – Chinatown
*INSIDER TIP* – this restaurant is very loud, so it may not be the best place to get together with a large party if you want to hear everyone.

Moku Kitchen – Salt at Our Kaka’ako

MW – Kapiolani Avenue

Stage – Kapiolani (second floor of Inspiration Furniture)
Albeit pricey, this classy restaurant is great for celebrations or a nice date night out. Everything is decorated using fixtures from Inspiration, the furniture store it shares a space with.

The Surfing Pig – Waialae

Be sure to try their signature cocktail; bacon-infused bourbon smoked in its own chamber. You’re going to love it every time somebody orders this drink, because for a brief five minutes, the entire restaurant smells like a campfire. Get your camera ready because that smoke dissipates quickly!

The Lanai at Ala Moana Center – If a food court had a cool, classy older sister whom everybody was jealous of, this would be it.
Here you can find several casual grab-and-go food options, made to order, including Japanese, Mediterranean, Boba tea, and sandwiches

Fellow Oahu local foodie Rowena from @ragrinds loves the king salmon at Tommy Bahama Restaurant. (By the way, if you don’t already follow her, you should check her out! She has some seriously amazing food photos and knows all the new hot spots!)

Top of Waikiki – Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki
Don’t have a drone, but want to get those birds eye views of Waikiki? Check out the only revolving restaurant on Oahu! Usually for a place with views this good, the food suffers. This is not the case, however, for Top of Waikiki, which serves up delicious local ingredients in a fine dining atmosphere, all while watching the world spin around you….literally. Within one hour, the restaurant makes a 360-degree turn to see the city of Waikiki and stunning ocean views from up high.
*INSIDER TIP* – make your reservation for Friday around 6:30 PM. Stay for the sunset AND watch the fireworks at 7:45 PM every Friday from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. Can’t beat the best view in Waikiki!

Whole Foods – Ward Village
This is one of the largest Whole Foods in the U.S. and just opened in 2018. The hot bar is extensive and usually has several types of ethnic foods including Texas BBQ, Asian and Indian.
*INSIDER TIP* – This location has a nice seating area at the bar with lots of televisions showing sports games, as well as outdoor lounge seating, so it’s a great place to hang out with friends. Just grab your food for takeaway and eat it at the bar, order a drink and stay as long as you’d like!

ASIAN

Alan Wong’s – King Street
This is one of my top favorite restaurants on the island, but because of the very high prices, we reserve it only for special occasions. Be sure to try their tomato with cucumber and lilikoi sauce as well as their ginger crusted Opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper). Save room for their famous haupia sorbet in a chocolate coconut shell.

*INSIDER TIP* – be sure to make a reservation at least a week in advance if possible, as they are always pretty booked out.

Banzai Sushi – Haleiwa, North Shore
*INSIDER TIP* – for a more affordable meal, go for happy hour between 4 – 5 PM Monday – Thursday for great deals on sake and sushi rolls! Seating is available on the floor with a cushion and low tables, or at a normal seated table with chairs.

Happy Days – Waialae Avenue
*INSIDER TIP* – Go for dim sum, but arrive early as it can get busy especially on weekends.

Izakaya Nonbei – Kapahulu Avenue
*INSIDER TIP* – Go for happy hour from 5 – 6 PM or 9 – 10 PM Sunday – Thursday. The menu is limited but a bit cheaper and not as crowded.

Izakaya Torae Torae – McCully Avenue
This delicious izakaya plays punk rock music and serves sushi and authentic Japanese food. Tucked away on McCully Avenue, it doesn’t look like much on the outside until you step inside. Do expect long wait times during busy periods as the kitchen is quite small. I promise, it’ll be worth the wait.

Lucky Belly – Chinatown

Marukame Udon – Kuhio Avenue, Waikiki
*INSIDER TIP* – Go early (prior to 10 AM), otherwise be prepared to wait in line for up to one hour. They are open from 7 AM – 10 PM every day.

Pig & The Lady – Chinatown (Vietnamese)

Roy’s – several locations

Shirokiya Japan Village Walk – inside the Ala Moana Shopping Center
As soon as you enter this establishment, it feels as though you are walking through an Asian marketplace. There are several different food stalls serving anything from gyoza to Thai food. The hardest part is selecting the best ramen bowl!
Shirokiya Japan Walk Ramen, Oahu, Hawaii

Tim Ho Wan – Dim Sum, second floor of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Waikiki

Waikiki Yokocho – underground at the Waikiki Shopping Plaza in Waikiki
Step into a mini Japan with small restaurants selling everything from ramen to udon to green tea and spam musubi.

AFRICAN / MIDDLE EASTERN / INDIAN / MEXICAN / HAWAIIAN / ETHNIC 

Da Spot – King Street & Ala Moana Locations (Moroccan/Mediterranean)
A casual cafeteria-style joint where you tell the staff what you want and they plate it for you from a fresh hot bar.

Café Maharani – King Street (Indian)

Encore Saloon – Chinatown (Mexican)

Ethiopian Love – Chinatown
The first time I tried Ethiopian food was in Los Angeles and I loved it! There’s something about being able to eat food with my fingers that gives me a great sense of connection with what I’m eating. The rolls are similar to a sourdough crepe, and is the vehicle for scooping up all this goodness! Everything is served up on an enormous plate, family style. (You’d better be quick, otherwise it will be gone!)
Ethiopian Love Chinatown Oahu, Hawaii
*INSIDER TIP* – go on a Sunday when Chinatown is a ghost town and parking is free and easily accessible.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food – North King Street
Open since 1946, this long-running establishment serves authentic Hawaiian food.

Limon Rotisserie – Kapolei (Peruvian)

Silk Road – Chinatown (Uzbek)

V Land Tacos – Haleiwa, North Shore (taco truck)

ITALIAN

Mediterraneo – King Street

Vino – Ala Moana Boulevard
*INSIDER TIP* – I almost don’t want to divulge this little-known secret because we want to keep it to ourselves, but because I like you, here goes: From 5:30 – 6:30 PM, their happy hour is half off the ENTIRE menu!!! You can’t find a better happy hour deal than that on Oahu! However, they only accept the first ten people in line, so if you snooze, you lose! Arrive early (no later than 5:10 PM) because people start to queue up in line. You must sit at the bar. We ordered four dishes, a wine and a dessert, all for $50!

POKE

Foodland – multiple locations
If you’re looking for a quick fix, there are Foodlands and Foodland Farms located all over the island. Great for a snack at the beach!
Foodland Farms Poke, Oahu, Hawaii

Fresh Catch – Waialae Avenue

Nico’s – Pier 35 & Kailua locations

Poke Bar – Lewers Street
Poke Bowl, Oahu, Hawaii - Waikiki

BARS

Bar Leather Apron – Chinatown

Gaslamp Hawaii – Kailua (Speakeasy)

The HI BRAU Room – Queen Street (Speakeasy)

VEGAN & VEGETARIAN

Down To Earth – multiple locations
Though a bit tofu-heavy, the hot bar and salad bar is excellent – always fresh and always delicious. Their vegan brownies are also amazing, and you can buy Bhakti Chai and Rebbl drinks here (our favorites)! However, you’ll need to wait for them to go on sale if you don’t want to go broke.

Juicy Brew – Kaimuki

Leahi Health – multiple locations

Peace Café – King Street

Sprout Sandwich Shop – Koko Head Avenue, Kaimuki

The Beet Box Café – Haleiwa & Kailua locations
This is one of our favorite vegetarian places to eat on the island! Two of their most delicious dishes are the three birds sandwich with “fakein bacon” and the beet burger!

The Loving Hut – King Street

Vegan Hills – Kaimuki

Are you hungry yet? I’m starving just writing this post! Have you visited Oahu and tried any of these places? Are you a local and have a favorite that I missed on this list? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always excited to try new places!

*If you enjoyed this post, please share or pin it!*

The Ultimate Oahu Foodie Guide

You Might Also Like

3 Comments

  • Reply
    Moani Hood
    July 15, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    It’s going to be so hard to choose where to go from this post! For sure I want to check out Beet Box Cafe, Fresh Catch, Leahi Health, ChadLou’s, and Leonards, just to name a few! I will also be on the hunt for the best shave ice too. This post is SOOOO helpful. I feel like I’m planning my O’ahu trip only around food. Lol. Your food photos are so beautiful also. Everything look so appetizing!

    • Reply
      culturalfoodies
      July 15, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      Mahalo, Moani!! This was probably the most fun blog post to put together! It’s been about four months in the making, and still there’s so much more to discover!

  • Reply
    Alexander Romanov
    July 15, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    The ARS cafe has the best and most photogenic avocado toast I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. Plus it’s a great spot to go if you want to find out about the local art and music events; all of the cool and noteworthy events drop a flier here.

  • Leave a Reply

    Top
    %d bloggers like this: