Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Part 1

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On my most recent trip to Hawaii, I was curious to see if there had been any additions or changes to the local coffee scene. After all, it has been a while since I wrote about the best places for coffee in Hawaii. There are no newcomers to the coffee scene worth mentioning, however, it is worth noting that Honolulu Coffee Company, which is my favorite, has expanded. They have taken over two spots at the Sheraton in Waikiki that were previously used by Peet’s Coffee. Strange but true, Peet’s Coffee did not make it in Hawaii.

So instead of writing about coffee in Hawaii, I decided to ask some local friends on Oahu what their favorite restaurants were. I’ve lived in Hawaii, so I have a few of my own to mention, but let’s start with their recommendations first. They did know that I’d be writing about their suggestions, so I asked them to keep in mind that many tourists don’t rent cars if they stay in Waikiki. We took this into account. Let’s start with the restaurants that are easily accessible if you stay in Waikiki.

Diamond Head Grill is for sure a local favorite. There’s not much space to sit and eat there. It’s best to take your food down to the beach or as a picnic in the park. Everyone, including me, loves their plate lunch. And their baked goods are good, too!

Diamond Head Market Grill lunch plate. Image source: https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60982-d1009927-i153755380-Diamond_Head_Market_Grill-Honolulu_Oahu_Hawaii.html

Michael Mina’s The Street opened up not too long ago right in the heart of Waikiki. The whole area that used to be the International Market was gutted and rebuilt as a mall with high end stores. They also added a few restaurants and The Street is one of them. It’s an interesting concept because it’s more of a food hall than a restaurant. Upscale food halls seem to be trendy right now. I didn’t get to try The Street, but if you like this kind of setting and food, The Street comes highly recommended from my friend.

Michael Mina’s The Street. Image source: http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/Biting-Commentary/May-2017/Michael-Minas-The-Street-is-Reinventing-Food-Courts/#.WcKUINVSxhE

Roy’s Waikiki is easy to get to if you stay in Waikiki. I’m a big fan of Roy’s and have been enjoying his restaurant for years. The ribs are delicious and no one beats his Chocolate Souffle dessert! There are many locations of Roy’s that I prefer to this location, though. If you have a car, try the Roy’s in Hawaii Kai. Or if you go out to Ko Olina to see the Disney property, there’s a Roy’s there that overlooks the golf course. Sunsets are beautiful from this location.

The Hau Tree Lanai is a favorite for locals, especially for breakfast. It’s an ocean front outdoor restaurant at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. My friends especially recommended the Hau Tree eggs benedict.

I had forgotten about Plumeria Beach House until one of my friends mentioned it. It’s at the Kahala Hotel. This hotel is a wonderful property to visit. It’s beautiful, and when I lived on Oahu, I always loved showing it to anyone who visited. It’s a quiet spot with ocean views. The food is a bit expensive, but it’s good and the setting can’t be better. I’ve been here for brunch on my birthday, so maybe think of it as a special occasion restaurant.

Cheers! It’s Aloha Friday!

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Before we leave restaurants within walking distance of Waikiki, and talk about other restaurants on other parts of the island, I’ve got two to recommend.

You’ve probably eaten Japanese food, but have you ever had okonomiyaki? It’s hard to describe. Many people say it’s like a pizza pancake. I say forget the descriptions and try it. I have been eating okonomiyaki since my first trip to Japan in the 1980’s and I love it. Chibo, in Waikiki, is my favorite okonomiyaki place in the states. Unfortunately, they recently moved to a much smaller space, but the food is still excellent. For a starter, I always get their seafood salad. Yummy! Their garlic chicken is also worth trying. But the main event is the okonomiyaki. You get to put whatever ingredients you want in your okonomiyaki. My two favorite okonomiyaki choices are mochi and bacon okonomiyaki and a mixed seafood okonomiyaki. If you get a chance, it’s fun to watch them make it. I’m craving Chibo as I write this!

Another fun Japanese restaurant, pretty close to the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, is Tokkuri-Tei. I’ve been eating here for years and keep going back. It’s Izakaya style, which generally means bar food. Some call this style “small plates” but that doesn’t do it justice either. Those descriptions are really misleading. The menu at Tokkuri-Tei is extensive and very creative. It’s hard to offer you suggestions because everything here is good, and it really depends on your sushi tastes. So just go. But go hungry and go with lots of people. The portions are not small plates, and you’ll want to try as many dishes as you can.

So that’s it for places to eat around Waikiki. In part 2, I’ve got 8 more restaurants to recommend that will take you to Chinatown, Kaimuki, and the North Shore. Have I missed any of your favorite dining choices around Waikiki? Let me know in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Part 1

  1. Carl

    Dang, sorry to hear of the loss of Peet’s. We went there every morning when I was a lowly Gold and had only the personal SPG (both of those things were fixed soon after this visit). The service there was always perfect. I highly doubt I’ll ever stay at that crazy busy hotel again, but ordering from Peet’s and enjoying breakfast by the infinity pool was definitely a highlight.

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Not sure if you recall the old Sheraton, Carl. They did an amazing job when they remodeled. It is a crazy wild scene, I agree. No better view of the Waikiki coast, though. It was fun when Peets opened! Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  2. LS

    You missed Marakume Udon! One of my absolute favorites on Waikiki – they make the noodles fresh in house!

    Lines are crazy at night so try this place in the early afternoon for an absolutely delicious Japanese fast casual experience!

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      I’ve been to Makakume Udon and really enjoyed it, so thanks for the reminder, LS. On my recent visit I walked by at 8 AM and it was already filled with people! It’s always a long wait, so you have to be in the mood for that part of the experience, too. Not sure why my friends didn’t mention it, but they didn’t, so maybe they don’t go there.

      Reply
  3. Jim F.

    Would you be willing to share your North Shore recommendations? We’ll be staying there in February to do some whale watching.

    Reply
  4. Marco Wan

    Awesomeness!!! Thanks for the recommendations. Any place worth trying for a family style dinner of 8-10 people? We’ve been to sidestreet inn, homebar, uncle Bo and Helena. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Sidestreet is a great place, Marco. Of the list I gave I’d say Tokkuri-Tei would be a good choice. Give that one a try. Thanks Marco, and have a great trip.

      Reply
  5. Hiro

    Obviously you didn’t have a local take you around. Born and raised no transplants. Really Michael Mina wtf! How bout mitsuken?.. Kim chee?… Bob’s BBQ?

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Your suggestions are all fine, Hiro, but they aren’t in Waikiki, which was the focus of this post. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

      Reply

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