Hawaii isn’t only famous for its beaches and luaus—it’s also renowned for authentic Hawaiian food, local fare molded by the melting pot of cultures in the islands, and pacific rim cuisines!
We’ve assembled a list of our favorite must-visit restaurants in Hawaii, so you’ll be wowed no matter which island you visit.
15 of the Best Restaurants in Hawaii
From upscale dining to hole-in-the-wall eateries, you’ll find a little bit of everything in the Aloha State. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for fresh poke (pronounced poh-ké, like Pokémon, not poh-key, which is Hawaiian for cat) or a hearty bowl of saimin.
- 799 Poho Place, Paia, HI 96779 | (808) 579-8488 | $$$$
Mama’s Fish House is one of Maui’s most famous restaurants. Family-owned since 1973 and located on Maui’s Northshore in beautiful Paia, Mama’s stands out from the crowd because the fish are caught and served on the same day.
They also share the name of the fisherman and where the fish was caught on their daily menus. We’ve eaten there and yes… it’s more than worth the price. In fact, my wife said it’s the best meal she’s ever eaten.
I’m not exaggerating.
Not a fan of fish? That’s okay! Mama’s also has pork, chicken, beef, and poultry on the menu; however, because their menu changes regularly, it’s difficult to know what to expect during your visit.
Although it’s on the pricey side, Mama’s is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. Locals and visitors to the island alike agree that in spite of the cost and long drive, Mama’s Fish House is worth it.
If you do visit, be sure to try their signature dessert—the Polynesian Black Pearl! One caveat is that if you’re planning to visit Mama’s Fish House during your vacation, you’ll want to call in a reservation well in advance, as Mama’s is known to sell out for up to 6 months!
- 10 Wailea Gateway Place, Wailea, HI 96753 | (808) 891-2322 | $$$
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman has two locations on Maui—one in Wailea and one in Ka`anapali. They also have a spot on Oahu in Ko Olina. The restaurant in Wailea is the original.
Because Monkeypod supports local, organic farming, ranching, and fishing, their menu is seasonal, although some items are mainstays. Furthermore, they also have live music performed by local musicians.
They’re open later than most restaurants in the area and on the island. But no matter when you go, their poke tacos are a must-try!
- 1670 Honoapiilani Highway, Waikapu, HI 96793 | (808) 500-0553 | $$
Cafe O’lei is much-loved by Maui locals. A lovely spot to get together with friends, reunite with family, or have a business lunch, Cafe O’lei is the place to be. Cafe O’lei’s food is so good that they earned a recommendation from Frommer’s for their Kihei location.
Because Cafe O’lei is popular with locals and guests alike, you should make a reservation in advance no matter which location you’re visiting.
- 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, HI 96761 | (808) 667-4909 | $$
Japengo is located at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and is rated exceptionally by Frommer’s with a coveted three-star rating. Japengo is known for its fresh sushi and pacific rim cuisine, all of which taste fresh and are bursting with flavor.
Japengo’s food is so good that it’s award-winning, as voted by the community.
If you have a special event that you’d like to celebrate at Japengo, let them know, and they’ll be sure to do something special to mark the occasion. Their restaurant is in demand, so you should prepare in advance and book a reservation before arriving on the island.
- 50 North Hotel Street, Honolulu, HI 96817 | (808) 531-1888 | $$
Lucky Belly is a hip Asian restaurant located in Honolulu’s Chinatown. They’re famous for their ramen, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying other menu items!
Their pork belly bao are “broke da mouth” (delicious) and their lobster moco—a bougie twist on the famous loco moco—is truly fabulous. The wait time can be at least an hour, and because it’s in Chinatown, you’ll have to opt for paid parking, so plan your mealtime accordingly.
- 1585 Kapiolani Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96814 | (808) 941-3701 | $$
Located near the world-famous Ala Moana Shopping Center, Shokudo Japanese is a mainstay with locals and visitors to the island. Their lunch bento box options are deeply affording, starting at just $11.99.
As for dinner, you can opt for family-style dining or hoard all the entrées for yourself—both are completely acceptable and understandable choices. If you love dessert, you’ll want to stop by Shokudo solely to try their original honey toast.
Their honey toast is a hollowed-out shokupan (fluffy Japanese milk bread) filled with toasted, cubed pieces of shokupan, vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with honey. They also have other flavors on offer, including strawberry, cookies and cream, and even matcha!
- 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96814 | (808) 638-4886 | $$
Conveniently located within the Ala Moana Shopping Center, Shabuya is a hot pot restaurant that sees a lot of foot traffic, with wait times going up to 90 minutes. If you like having lots of choices, Shabuya is the restaurant for you.
First, you choose your broth and your meats.
After that, you head up to the bar to pick your veggies and other fillers, like tofu. Although Shabuya is a chain restaurant and not local to Hawaii, it’s such an experience that it simply can’t be missed.
- 745 Ke`eaumoku Street, Honolulu, HI 96814 | (808) 942-0505 | $$
This two-story Asian bistro is always hopping. The service at YogurStory is excellent, and the food is delicious. As scrumptious as the food looks—it’s twice as tasty in real life over pictures.
Their most popular item is easily their ube pancakes, which will be sure to satiate your appetite if you love sweet potatoes. Curious about how it tastes? Order your own entrée and the ube pancakes to share with the rest of your group—you won’t regret it.
- 98-020 Kamehameha Highway, Aiea, HI 96701 | (808) 488-8824 | $
Compared to the other restaurants on this list, Shiro’s is a real hole-in-the-wall—someplace only locals know about and love. Voted as one of Hawaii’s Best since 2016, they’ve been taking first place ever since, and it’s no wonder!
Shiro’s has been serving up local comfort food since 1969. If you want to eat like a true lifelong local of Hawaii, you’ll want to try Shiro’s saimin.
Saimin is a contemporary food exclusive to Hawaii, something akin to Japan’s ramen but different. It was developed during the state’s plantation era and is a testament to Hawaii’s multicultural roots.
In addition to their famous saimin, Shiro’s also has a plethora of other dishes to choose from, including lau lau (a must-try for visitors to the islands), pork adobo, and even mochiko chicken. Yum!
- 6600 Kalaniana`ole Highway, Suite 110, Honolulu, HI 96825 | (808) 396-7697 | $$$$
Roy Yamaguchi is a world-renowned Japanese American celebrity chef and one of the founders of Hawaii’s regional cuisine movement. With that said, Roy’s Hawaii Kai is the original restaurant that started it all back in 1988.
Come to taste authentic pacific rim cuisine with an emphasis on Asian fusion. It’s no understatement to say that every item on the menu is genuinely mouth-watering and worth the price you’ll pay, which won’t be cheap.
- 335 9th Street, Lanai City, HI 96763 | (808) 565-9413 | $
No Kai Oi Grindz Lanai is a local comfort food restaurant in Lanai City. Their slogan is “bringing the yummies to your tummies.”
They nailed it because their food is so yum! No Kai Oi, which translates to “is the best,” serves up daily specials ranging from cream mushroom pork chops to kalua pork to Hawaii’s famous loco moco.
The saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. But in Lanai, you eat as the locals do!
- 409 7th Street, Lanai City, HI 96763 | (808) 565-6363 | $
The Blue Ginger Café in Lanai is a family-friendly restaurant that is welcoming and unpretentious. Their most popular breakfast item is the “regular breakfast.”
But if you’re popping in for lunch or dinner, you might want to try their sauteed mahimahi or chow fun noodles. They also have a bakery on-site, so feel free to pick up some freshly made turnovers or cookies—you won’t regret it.
- 1 Manele Road, Lanai City, HI 96763 | (808) 565-2832 | $$$$
Internationally renowned restaurant Nobu’s Hawaii location can be found on the secluded island of Lāna’i in the Four Seasons Resort. Because it’s an upscale eatery, they ask patrons to dress in casual chic attire.
The effort to look good is well worth it, not only for the decadent Japanese cuisine you’ll indulge in but for the breathtaking panoramic views of the island. If you’ve always wanted to partake in Nobu’s fine-dining experience, there’s no better place to treat yourself than Hawaii!
- 74-5612 Pawai Place, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 | (808) 334-2739 | $$
Kona Brewing Company is in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. The microbrewery features a pub that serves fantastic food that complements their locally produced drinks. Kona Brewing Company’s pub serves up burgers, pizza, sandwiches, and more!
They also have vegetarian-friendly options. If you book a brewery tour to learn about the company’s history and brewing process, you’ll receive a complimentary gift. If you’re over 21, you’ll also get four 4-oz beer samples.
- 76-6246 Ali`i Drive, Suite 101, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 | (808) 329-7653 | $$
Da Poke Shack offers fresh poke for takeout, although they have limited outdoor seating available. While many places sell frozen or day-old poke, Da Poke Shack guarantees that their poke is fresh from the ocean.
Because they’re so popular, you’ll want to go as early as possible—maybe even just before opening—to ensure that you get the first choice. Although their business hours are until 4:00 pm daily, they close for the day once they sell out… and they sell out fast!
Da Poke Shack is so iconic, world-renowned foodie Andrew Zimmern described it as a “superb option for a cheap, quick, and good meal.” What more could you ask for?
Things to Consider
Hawaii’s laidback Aloha culture is truly one-of-a-kind, and that same laidback culture naturally seeps into the food industry. Of course, that doesn’t mean the service you experience will be lax—Hawaii is word-class when it comes to customer service, thanks to the Aloha spirit.
In the same vein of Hawaii’s laidback culture, some of the best local restaurants are real dives. They look old because they are, and there’s a reason they’ve been in business so long.
If you’re surrounded by locals when you’re out eating, you know you’ve stumbled onto something special. Fine dining in Hawaii is a bit more laid back than in other places worldwide.
While you may expect to dress up to the nines to dine at a luxurious restaurant, fine dining in Hawaii usually calls for casual chic. You can wear a tasteful Aloha shirt, slacks, and shoes to pass the vibe check.
Finally, because Hawaii heavily relies on tourism for its income and the cost of living is so high, many people count on their tips to make a living. Even if you order takeout, a small tip would be appreciated and welcomed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the restaurants in Hawaii.
What food should I try in Hawaii?
Local fare such as poke and lau lau are must-try foods. Although poke is now known worldwide, there’s nothing quite like the authentic poke from Hawaii.
Which island has the best food?
That’s subjective to taste; however, Oahu (being as populated as it is) will offer the most choices, whether you’re seeking food trucks or luxury dining.
Are there any Michelin star restaurants in Hawaii?
No, while there are quite a few restaurants that undoubtedly deserve the distinction, there are no Michelin-rated restaurants in the state of Hawaii.
Do restaurants in Hawaii take credit cards?
Most restaurants in Hawaii accept credit cards; however, smaller family-owned restaurants may accept cash only. Err on the side of caution and keep enough cash on hand to pay for your meal at smaller restaurants, just in case.
Can I order delivery through apps?
Many restaurants in Hawaii offer delivery through popular apps. However, depending on where you stay, there may not be as many options as you might be used to. Additionally, some islands use locally developed food delivery apps, like Hopper Maui.
The Best Restaurants in Hawaii: Final Thoughts
So, what are the best restaurants in Hawaii? Regardless of which island you’re on, you’re spoiled for choice.
There are options for every foodie at every price point, from hole-in-the-wall eateries like Shiro’s Saimin Haven to fine dining at Nobu. But with that said, if you’re looking for the complete Hawaii experience, you can’t go wrong eating where the locals do!