A Local's Guide to The Best Places to Eat on Oahu Hawaii
I've said it before and I'll say it again. As the daughter of someone born and raised in Hawai'i, I am a self-proclaimed expert. I have visited over 50 times, most of my family still lives there today and has for over 60 years, and I even have the geo coordinates of Honolulu and "aloha" tattooed on my arm (the ultimate sign of love, no?).
When it comes to where to eat on Oahu, there are countless options I recommend. Below I've covered my absolute favorites, some of which we've been going to for as long as I can remember (decades) and others that I have more recently discovered.
To help make it easier to digest, I have broken down the list by location - Honolulu, Kailua, Kaneohe, and the North Shore.
Here are the best places to eat on Oahu - from a local!
Where to eat in Honolulu...
675 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96825
ARVO is an Aussie cafe, as I'm sure you can tell by the name. It's my favorite place to grab coffee and breakfast because it is delicious and also beautiful. It shares a space with a cute boutique and plant store, Paiko.
There's a lot of street art and murals in this area plus other shops and things to see so plan a bit of time to explore once you are done!
Hawaiian Crown is the best pineapple in the entire world. If you think you like pineapple, you will be completely mind blown by how much more amazing Hawaiian Crown really is.
My mom's best friend from high school actually owns the company so I've been recommending it to people for years and I cannot tell you how many times I get messages about it after they go. They have a shop in Waikiki and they're also at the popular KCC Farmer's Market every Saturday morning.
Try the fresh pineapple, a smoothie (my favorite is the kale one), an acai bowl, and make sure to buy some dried pineapple to take with you (it's my favorite).
OLIVE & OLIVER
Olive & Oliver is a cute coffee shop and boutique located in Waikiki inside the Surfjack Hotel. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to visit but if you're in the area it's worth a stroll through! The coffee is good and the boutique has a lot of great items.
HIDEOUT AT THE LAYLOW
The Laylow in general is Instagram heaven and the Hideout is no exception! To be honest I've only had drinks here but my local friends have assured me that the food is good too which is why I'm putting it on the list. At minimum, at least stop by for a drink if you find yourself in Waikiki during drinking hours.
WAIOLA SHAVE ICE
Waiola, the best shave ice on Oahu! You've probably heard the most about Matsumoto's on the North Shore, which is fine and a tradition to stop at even for us, but honestly there's nothing better than Waiola. The ice is shaved incredibly fine which is what makes it so amazing.
NOTE: this delicious Hawaiian treat is called SHAVE ice not SHAVED ice. If ever you see a place offering 'shaved ice' (in Hawaii or elsewhere) you can tell based on that it is definitely not authentic. Also do yourself a favor and be sure to call it by it's proper name :) Calling it shaved instead of shave is like called ice cream iced cream!
ARS CAFE GALLERY
Ars is another spot my local friend Nurry recently introduced me to. They serve espresso, coffee, gelato, and some food in a space they've transformed into an art gallery. Definitely go for the coffee and maybe grab breakfast as well.
Leonard's is a place you've likely heard of on any site you've visited about where to eat, and that is because it is an Oahu staple! They serve malasadas which is a Portuguese donut more or less without the hole in the middle. Can't miss this when you are in town!
NOTE: The last time I was in town I was at a party my uncle was throwing for all of his employees. To my very big surprise, they were claiming that Pipeline Bakeshop on Waialae actually has better malasadas. They are made to order so you get them piping hot. I cannot confirm or deny this claim, but if you have a big sweet tooth stop by both to test out the theory (and definitely come back to let me know)!
747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Ono Seafood is very much a hole in the wall but it's got the best poke in Oahu, in my opinion! If you like seafood you've likely had some form of ahi poke before but if you haven't tried more than the plain old soy sauce variety, visit Ono. They have ever option under the sun and it's great to pick up on a night you just want to relax at home.
OPTION B: I haven't tried Ahi Assassins Fish Co. but my friend Nurry recommends it so it's a good alternative if you need one.
Many sites I have visited say to go to Foodland (the Hawaiian version of Safeway) to get ahi and while that's fine, it's certainly not the best option (sorry).
PLUMERIA BEACH HOUSE
Plumeria Beach House is located at the Kahala Resort near where my family lives. It is one of our go-to spots for brunch or lunch when celebrating a birthday or something special. It's ocean-front, the food is good, and it's much nicer than most things you will find in Waikiki yet still very close to Waikiki
B. PATISSERIE AT KONA COFFEE PURVEYORS
B. Patisserie is my neighbor in SF and my favorite place to indulge in pastries outside of Paris! They now serve pastries inside of Kona Coffee Purveyors in International Marketplace and it's a can't miss. Get the kouign amann to eat right away and a fudge cookie to go. You will not regret it!
Dairy-free soft serve made from locally grown bananas. To be honest, we had mixed reviews about this place. I don't generally eat dairy and I do like bananas so I thought it was great! I had the dark fantasy.
My mom and aunt, on the other hand, did not love it. If you are allergic or sensitive to dairy, I think it's worth a try :)
People are going to think I am crazy for putting this on the list but I don't care :) Kozo is a local chain of arguably mediocre sushi but 80% of the time when I need something for takeaway I go here. They wrap the sushi rolls in a way that keeps the seaweed separate so it's crunchy instead of soggy and I just love it. The options are quite basic but get a handroll and try to tell me you don't love it!
Where to eat in Kailua...
KALAPAWAI CAFE & DELI
750 Kailua Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
Another good lunch option (graet sandwiches) before or after the beach. Or grab some on your way there!
Where to eat in Kaneohe...
My favorite place on Oahu. I really cannot stress how much I recommend you go here. Dining here makes you feel like you are eating dinner in Jurassic Park and, to make it even better, the food is also to die for.
Go early, put your name in (make sure you request a table on the edge so you have a clear view) then walk around the gardens below until your table is ready. It is a 15-30 min drive from Honolulu, depending on traffic.
NOTE: there's also a Haleiwa Joe's in Haleiwa, but I specifically recommend the Kaneohe location at Haiku Gardens.
Where to eat on the North Shore...
GIOVANNI’S SHRIMP TRUCK
66-472 Kam Hwy
Extremely famous shrimp plates and garlic hot dogs! There is always a huge line no matter what time you go. To be totally honest I have actually never tried it due to the long queue, but I’ve heard only good things so I felt obligated to include it.