Restaurants in Honolulu
Honolulu restaurants run the gamut from laid-back authentic to innovative Hawaiian to more familiar global chains. Our recommendation is to skip the chains altogether and start with more sophisticated spots such as Alan Wong's, widely considered one of the best restaurants in Honolulu. Here, the service is impeccable, the atmosphere is warm, and the prices are reasonable. Locally sourced fish and other ingredients make it popular among locals and the space itself is fairly small, so be sure to book in advance.
But the city's tinier ethnic eateries are also worth your time. For example, despite its name, the nearby Little Village Noodle Shop is anything but ordinary. This Honolulu restaurant applies modern skill to traditional Chinese-style cooking in Honolulu's Chinatown district. The portions of are perfectly sized and expertly prepared. Because there are so many options for eating out, one good rule of thumb when choosing among restaurants in Honolulu is to opt for those specializing in Asia- and Polynesia-inspired dishes anchored by ahi tuna, Filipino pork adobo, and more.
D.K. Kodama, a third-generation Japanese American, founded this Asian-fusion restaurant, whose name translates in Japanese to “third generation.” Know for its eclectic cuisine and inventive sushi, Sansei opened in Maui in 1996, and has now expanded to four locations throughout Hawaii.
Quirky, family-owned hole-in-the-wall Irifune is one of the best finds (and best values), Japanese or otherwise, in Waikiki.
Blending cuisine and wine, Vino is the brainchild of two of Hawaii’s most influential culinary personalities, restauranteur D.K.
Chef-owner Shingo Chibana makes his house-specialty soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) from scratch six to eight times a day at Matsugen. The master is frequently seen cutting the noodles by hand in the middle of the dining room.
European transplants Donato Loperfido and Philippe Padovani shuttered their eponymous local restaurants before teaming up in 2008 to open ’Elua, whose name means “two” in Hawaiian. The concept: two distinct, seasonal French and Italian menus for mixing and matching.
Located inside the Kahala Hotel & Resort, Hoku’s has earned critical praise for its inventive and upscale Pacific Rim cuisine, crafted by chef Wayne Hirabayashi.
In January 2011, Hanohano was converted into an exclusive lounge for Sheraton Club Level guests.
A unique, alternative to the abundant Hawaiian fare on Oahu, the 12th Avenue Grill serves modern twists on classic American dishes. The small restaurant has only 14 tables filled with diners who come for its inventive menu. Popular selections include grilled Maui Cattle Co.
On an island where space is the prized commodity, strange couplings occur. Like karaoke and fried chicken. Side Street Inn, a chef’s hangout in Honolulu, has come into local fame (which is spreading since Anthony Bourdain stopped by in 2009) for its frying rap sheet.
This unassuming restaurant in Kaimuki is known around the island for its authentic Mexican fare.
A joint venture between chef Hiroshi Fukui and master sommelier Chuck Furuya, Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas was established to showcase Fukui’s skill at preparing Japanese cuisine and Furuya’s talent for pairing wines with Asian fare.
The creation of James Beard Award winner and celebrity chef, Alan Wong, this restaurant is a success with both critics and customers. Wong’s restaurant serves flavorful, upscale Hawaiian fare, enhanced by his use of fresh ingredients.
Claiming to serve “fish so fresh, it’s from tomorrow,” Uncle’s Fish Market on Pier 38 is a casual, family-friendly eatery that specializes in prepared-to-taste seafood. The dining room is dotted with fishing memorabilia, and Hawaiian music plays in the background.