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Writing an article about the best places to eat on Oahu is no easy task, in fact, it’s a bit intimidating.
Everyone’s a food critic.
Fortunately though, I have eaten at almost all of these restaurants at one time or another in my life, and can personally attest to why a particular place makes this list. With that said, I’m sure you could ask another local and get an entirely different list, more good eats for us then right?
Oahu, often referred to as “The Gathering Place,” is home to a vibrant culinary scene. From local favorites to international delicacies, Oahu’s restaurant scene is as diverse as the island itself. Whether you’re a food connoisseur, a casual diner, or simply hungry for a new adventure, this guide will take you through some of my favorite restaurants on Oahu.
Kin Wah Chop Suey Chinese Restaurant
This is my go-to Chinese restaurant on the windward side of Oahu. Family style and family run you just can’t go wrong here. If you like Chinese food from wherever you are on the planet I encourage you to try a local establishment so you can taste the difference.
Known for its authentic Chinese cuisine, Kin Wah offers a vast menu featuring crowd favorites like Gon Lo Mein and Crispy Noodles. This spot is popular among locals and tourists alike.
If you are heading to Maui I have several restaurants I recommend that you can check out as well.
Hau Tree Lanai at Kaimana Beach Hotel
If you’re looking for a dining experience that offers both stunning views and delectable dishes, head to Hau Tree Lanai at Kaimana Beach Hotel. This beachfront restaurant provides a relaxed setting to enjoy Pacific Rim cuisine while watching the sunset. The menu includes fresh seafood, local produce, and mouthwatering desserts.
During a recent visit the beach was blocked off because Kaiwi (a monk seal) had just given birth to a pup and we wanted to give her lots of room The view from the restaurant was perfect for monk seal watching, unfortunately, she wasn’t around for my visit but maybe others will get lucky.
Pho Viet Thien Hong Restaurant
For those craving Vietnamese cuisine, Pho Viet is the place to go. Famous for its Pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup, this restaurant also offers a range of other delicious dishes including spring rolls and grilled pork.
I literally followed this restaurant from the old Aiea location over to Manoa. The family-run operation is super friendly and will remember you from your second visit. Get the basic chicken pho and be prepared to be blown away by the broth, nothing better on the island.
If you crave something a little heavier than soup then try the curry, if you have not had Vietnamese curry you are missing out on something special.
100 Sails Sunday Brunch
Sunday brunch at 100 Sails is an experience to remember. This buffet-style restaurant located in the Prince Waikiki Hotel offers a variety of dishes ranging from traditional Hawaiian cuisine to international favorites. Their seafood selection is particularly impressive, with options like crab legs, sushi, and sashimi.
My go-to Sunday brunch spot when entertaining family and friends. The Prince Waikiki is on the edge of Waikiki and gets me in and out easily while still offering great views of the harbor and magic island. All the local favorites are served here and the temaki sushi station is great.
If you want an in-depth review you can watch my Youtube video that covers all the goodies here.
Michele’s at The Colony Surf
Michele’s offers a fine dining experience with breathtaking views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. The menu focuses on classic Continental cuisine, featuring dishes like Chateaubriand and Lobster Thermidor. The restaurant’s extensive wine list perfectly complements its exquisite dishes.
This is my wife’s favorite restaurant and our go-to spot for anniversary and birthday dinners. I see people asking about restaurants for special occasions all the time on social media, this is always my number one response.
Marukame Udon, located in Waikiki, is a must-visit for noodle lovers. This popular spot serves freshly made udon noodles in a variety of flavors. The restaurant operates in a cafeteria-style setup, where you can customize your bowl with tempura and other toppings.
Don’t be put off by the long line, there is always a long line, because it moves fairly quickly and once inside you will be thankful you stuck with it.
Over Easy is a breakfast hotspot that offers a modern twist on classic breakfast dishes. Famous for its Kailua Eggs Benedict and custard french toast, this restaurant is a local favorite. Their menu is made from scratch daily, using local and organic ingredients.
I have an in-depth review of the restaurant if you want additional photos and tips. The open-air layout paired with the laid back vibe of Kailua makes this a great spot to start any day of the week. Come hungry because the portions are huge.
Diamond Head Market & Grill
Diamond Head Market & Grill combines a gourmet market with a casual grill, perfect for those looking for a quick yet quality meal. Their Blue Zone plate, a health-conscious choice, and the scones from their bakery are highly recommended.
A walk-up window-style restaurant paired with a walk-in grab-and-go selection makes this my favorite spot to grab something before heading to the beach. Lots of healthy options and the baked goods are delicious.
Sushi Sho at The Ritz-Carlton Waikiki
For sushi lovers, Sushi Sho is a must-visit. This high-end sushi bar offers an omakase-style dining experience where the chef creates a personalized menu for each guest. The sushi master, Keiji Nakazawa, has a unique style of serving two pieces at a time, to compare flavors.
During my stay when I reviewed the hotel I didn’t get a chance to eat here but I have spoken to people who have and comments like, “best sushi outside of Tokyo” stick with me. Limited seating, book this way in advance.
Hoku’s at Kahala Hotel & Resort
A fine dining restaurant that is heads and shoulders above just about every other establishment calling themselves fine dining. I had the pleasure of eating here with my family and the experience was unique, intimate, and fun.
Each dish that was brought out came with a story or detailed description that took the dining experience to another level. If you can appreciate the highest level of thought and effort when food is presented then this may be the place for you. I shared several of the dishes I had along with photos in the review I did of the Kahala Hotel & Resort.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Helena’s Hawaiian Food is an iconic spot that offers traditional Hawaiian cuisine. The James Beard Foundation Award-winning restaurant serves up classic dishes such as Kalua Pig, Pipikaula Ribs, and Lomi Salmon that will make you feel the true spirit of Aloha.
Morimoto Waikiki at ‘Alohilani
The acclaimed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto brings his Japanese-fusion expertise to Oahu. Morimoto Waikiki at ‘Alohilani offers a dining experience that blends traditional dishes with Western ingredients and preparation techniques. The innovative menu, coupled with the modern and sophisticated ambiance, promises a memorable dining experience.
I also recommend Momosan which is right next door for a great loco moco breakfast dish. I reviewed this hotel and all the dining establishments so if this sounds interesting check it out for more photos and insights.
Hy’s Steak House
For those looking for a classic steakhouse experience, Hy’s Steak House is the place to be. This establishment, known for its prime cuts and elegant atmosphere, has been a favorite amongst locals and tourists for years. Don’t miss out on their signature steak cooked over Kiawe wood.
I’m always surprised at the number of people who have not heard about Hy’s Steak House. If you like lots of oiled wood and flaming cherries jubilee or banana foster then make your reservation early for this on.
Roy’s Hawaii Kai
Roy’s Hawaii Kai, the original Roy’s, offers a unique fusion of Hawaiian and Japanese flavors. Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s innovative dishes like the Misoyaki “Butterfish” and the Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé have garnered a global following.
I remember when this was the one and only Roy’s on Oahu, still better than the one in Waikiki and Ko Olina. A fun upscale atmosphere with exceptional dishes of art.
Side Street Inn On Da Strip
Famous for its generous portions and vibrant atmosphere, Side Street Inn On Da Strip is a local favorite. Their signature dish, Pan Fried Island Pork Chops, is a must-try. This spot is perfect for those seeking a casual and hearty dining experience.
If you are a Kalbi lover then I recommend you give them a try here, they are think and juicy. I kind of prefer mine thin and a bit crispy and charred on the edges but the marinade they use here is killer. Also, get the fried rice, loaded with stuff and I love stuff in my fried rice!
Orchid’s at Halekulani
This is my number one recommendation for Sunday brunch on Oahu not to mention all the other days of the week for exceptional service. Read my full write-up on this Sunday brunch and see why it’s booked out months in advance.
Dessert lovers be sure to get the famous coconut cake here.
If you’re a fan of Thai food, don’t miss out on Opal Thai. This family-run restaurant, originally a food truck, is renowned for its authentic Thai dishes. The owner, Opal, often personally recommends dishes to diners based on their preferences.
Liliha Bakery in Liliha
There are multiple locations for Liliha Bakery now but I recommend the OG spot in Liliha for the best “hole-in-the-wall” experience. I have dined at the Nimitz and International Marketplace locations with above average results. The old style counter seating at Liliha just can’t be beat.
Do try their famous Coco Puffs pastry and put the jelly on anything it sticks to 🙂
Shiro’s Saimin Haven
Shiro’s Saimin Haven is a must-visit for anyone craving Saimin, a local noodle soup dish. With over 60 variations of Saimin on their menu, this family-owned establishment has been serving the community for decades. The atmosphere is casual and welcoming, making it an excellent spot for family dining.
Recently renovated on the inside in 2023 but the cooking hasn’t changed one bit, a good thing. My personal favorite is the Pork Adobo saimin combo, #35 I think.
Don’t be afraid to put your side dish directly in the saimin bowl, I do and it’s rebelliously delicious.
Palace Saimin, a modest establishment in Kalihi, has been serving up traditional Saimin and BBQ sticks since 1946. The simplicity of their menu and the authenticity of flavors have made it a beloved spot among locals.
I’ve been here only a couple of times and the saimin is consistently what you come for, hot and fresh with no frills. Get some sides and tuck into a bowl of comfort.
The Pig and The Lady
The Pig and the Lady, located in Honolulu’s Chinatown, offers a unique fusion of Vietnamese and Hawaiian flavors. Known for its creative menu and vibrant atmosphere, this restaurant has quickly gained a following. Don’t miss out on their Pho French Dip Banh Mi and tasty curries.
I think I have eaten more dishes from here at farmer’s markets than at the actual restaurant, either way, a gastro-win for me. If you like vegetables and stuff in your meal then you will feel right at home here.
Fete Hawaii, located in downtown Honolulu, is a local favorite for New American cuisine. The chefs at Fete source their ingredients from local farmers and artisans, reflecting their commitment to the community. The menu changes seasonally, but the quality and creativity remain consistent.
Ooooh, I haven’t been here yet but several friends say I need to put this on my short list. If you have dined here leave me a comment below.
Bar Maze, located in the Ala Moana neighborhood, is a cocktail lounge that offers a unique dining experience. The modern Japanese-inspired menu paired with their artisanal cocktails offers a sophisticated night out. The ‘Omakase’ cocktail experience, where the mixologist creates personalized drinks for you, is a must-try.
Bar Maze is another spot I haven’t visited but get “nudged” by others to try soon.
Waiahole Poi Factory
The Waiahole Poi Factory offers a taste of traditional Hawaiian cuisine in a scenic location. Their menu includes classic Hawaiian dishes like Laulau, Poi, and Kalua Pig.
Fun fact – I went to Waiahole Elementary which is up the road from the restaurant, this was just a shack back then and I’m not sure if anything was being made on the inside.
I’ve seen the line snake out to the nearby stream on busy days so come early if you can. Get the kulolo with your ice cream and experience something unique and tasty.
8 Fat Fat 8 Bar & Grille
8 Fat Fat 8 Bar & Grille is a local bar that offers a relaxed atmosphere and delicious food. Known for its Chinese chicken salad and Fat Fat Special Noodles, this spot is perfect for a casual night out.
Shorts, t-shirt, slippers, and a smile are all you need to enjoy this hole-in-the-wall spot that cranks out delicious dishes of fun. Start or end your night here or better yet, spend it all while relaxing at this fun spot.
Mud Hen Water
Mud Hen Water, located in Kaimuki, is a restaurant that focuses on using locally sourced ingredients to create innovative dishes. The name reflects its commitment to local food, as it is the English translation of ‘Waialae,’ the neighborhood in which it’s located. Mud Hen Water’s menu changes daily, offering a unique dining experience each time you visit.
A great spot for date night and if you are visiting and want to experience local food taken up a notch. Local ingredients presented and prepared like you have never seen.
Oahu’s culinary scene is a gastronomic adventure that traverses cultures, cuisines, and experiences. From beachfront diners to high-end establishments, there’s something for everyone. So, the next time you’re on the island, make sure to check out these spots for an unforgettable dining experience.