The island of Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and history spanning more than a century. All these differences have been combined and are reflected in the diverse cuisine you will find across the islands.
The history, culture, and location influence the food in Waikiki. The obvious choice of fresh seafood is always at the top of every menu. At the following restaurants, you can enjoy the best sushi, poke, and malasadas and watch the sunset:
- Barefoot Beach Café
- Doraku Sushi
- Duke’s Waikiki
- Basalt Waikiki
Whether you want an idyllic dinner for two or a gathering of family and friends, there is something for everyone on this list. Whatever your dining preferences are, these top restaurants in Waikiki will go above and beyond your expectations. These eateries serve up mouth-watering cuisine worldwide, while others cater to theme and atmosphere.
5 Must-Eat Foods In Waikiki
Traveling to a new place offers you a chance to try out local foods made with the freshest produce. In this way, you experience the tastes of traditional foods and get to know the best of the place you are visiting.
Waikiki has five foods that are native to this stunning stretch of beaches. They are found in many traditional and Asian fusion dishes throughout the island.
1. Loco Moco
In Spanish, “loco moco” literally translates to “crazy burger,” but this contemporary Hawaiian dish is anything but crazy!
It consists of a hamburger patty sitting on a mound of white rice, with a generous drizzle of gravy and a fried egg.
You will find variations of this delicious dish in eateries around the island.
Laulau is a native dish of Hawaii and translates to “wrapped package.” It consists of a salty, mouth-watering blend of pork shoulder and butterfish, wrapped in luau leaves and tied with ti leaves. This delicious package steamed for four hours produces moist, succulent meat.
It’s fascinating to observe chefs prepare these packages of deliciousness. You can watch them at the Highway Inn in Honolulu if you have time available.
With the popularity of sushi growing worldwide, you undoubtedly must have come across this tasty morsel of fish. Pronounced as Po-key, the dish traditionally consists of raw tuna, although other raw fish or octopus are sometimes used.
They are marinated in a soy sauce dressing, seaweed, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and spring onions.
This simple, refreshing, and healthy meal will tempt your tastebuds with the explosion of flavor and texture.
As a native food, you can find poke anywhere on the island. It is not reserved only for restaurants.
Poi, described as a traditional Hawaiian dish, is a staple in many homes. It is made from fermented kalo root (commonly known as taro root), has a slight purplish tinge, contains high amounts of vitamin A, and is low in fat.
Poi is an acquired taste and may not appeal to the tastes of tourists. It is often enjoyed as an accompaniment to laulau or as a starch substitute.
Unlike the other foods mentioned above, malasadas are not native to Hawaii. They are of Portuguese origin and were brought to Hawaii around 1878.
Malasada means undercooked; they are deep-fried dough balls coated in sugar, much like our humble doughnut.
Has all this food talk sparked your interest in finding the best restaurants where you can eat ’til you’re content? If it has, then let us go on a gastronomy journey to beautiful Waikiki.
The Best Breakfast In Waikiki
Start your day of fun, sport, and exploring with a healthy, nutritious breakfast. So, whether you plan on eating on the run or having breakfast with the family, there are several restaurants in Waikiki you may visit.
Here is a selection of the best restaurants where you can have a fulfilling breakfast.
Ars Café, a quaint little coffee shop found on the outskirts of Waikiki, is a perfect place for breakfast.
Why not start your day with their delicious honey mushroom toast oozing with gorgonzola cheese and accompanied by a cup of their artisanal coffee.
If you prefer a sweet treat, give their homemade gelato and affogato a try. And don’t worry about the sugar rush or the calories with this breakfast. You are on holiday!
Outdoor dining space is limited, so you may want to grab your meal and take a walk to the nearby Kapiolani Park to enjoy a breakfast picnic. There’s no better way to enjoy your breakfast than watching surfers out in the distance or lazing on the beach.
Location: 3116 Monsarrat Ave, Honululu
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday between 6:30 am – 4 pm, Sunday 8am – 4pm
Barefoot Beach Café
When relaxing on the beach, head to the Barefoot Beach Café for a scrumptious breakfast. Located at Queen’s Beach on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, this family-owned and run café is an idyllic spot to enjoy your breakfast while taking in the best views around.
You’ll be wrong if you think this is a snack bar. The Barefoot Café offers far more than snacks. Their expansive menu covers breakfast burritos, eggs Benedict, and fluffy buttermilk pancakes.
Or if you wish to try their breakfast plate, priced at $13 and includes two eggs, prepared according to the customers’ wishes, Portuguese sausages, smoked bacon, and grilled ham served with rice. Now that’s a fine way to kick start your day!
There are also vegan options available. The Barefoot Beach Café also serves lunch and dinner.
Location: 2699 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open daily from 8:00 am – 8:30 pm
Basalt Waikiki is found within Dukes Lane Market and Eatery. Chef Keith Steel Kong, the founder of Basalt Waikiki, envisioned a contemporary and refined but casual restaurant that offers its patrons local cuisine. The restaurant also offers its patrons a fine dining experience.
The drawcard of this iconic restaurant is the charcoal buttermilk pancake. So not only do you satisfy your palate, but you give your teeth a cleansing as well!
This signature dish is now available as ready to cook pancake mix. Now you can taste this luxury in the comfort of your armchair!
If you are not into sweets early in the morning, then you should try their avocado toast topped with an over-easy egg for extra texture and flavor.
Location: 2255 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open from Monday to Friday between 11 am – 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday between 8 am – 7 pm. Happy hour is also available daily between 3 pm – 5 pm.
You can try the Cream pot for those in-between times, which serves a delicious brunch feast.
Cream pot, a charming little spot found on the mountainside of Waikiki, has a European ambiance. You will welcome the change with this restaurant, as it is vastly different from others found in the same area.
Try their signature soufflé pancakes, which are light, fluffy, and delicious. They can be enjoyed with a selection of fresh mixed berries or banana and berry compote. These tasty treats are the reason you find lines heading around the block. Accompanied by a hot cup of tea, you’re a happy angel with a tummy of deliciousness.
If you are bereft of a sweet tooth like some, try their maguro eggs Benedict, a poached egg topped with raw ahi and rice. Almost like breakfast sushi!
Location: 444 Niu Street, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open from Thursday to Monday between 8 am – 2 pm. Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Goofy Café And Diner
The Goofy Café and Diner is west of Waikiki and is so named after the left foot forward surf posture. This joint has the right moves when it involves food, with heartwarming, healthy meals for breakfast.
The acai bowl contains a selection of locally produced tropical fruits, while their loco moco contains Big Island beef and fresh farm eggs. You cannot go any healthier than that!
To satisfy the surfing crowd, this Goofy Café serves breakfast all day! So head in when you hunger for a healthy meal or to work off a hangover.
Location: 1831 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open from Wednesday to Monday between 7 am – 2 pm. Closed on Tuesday.
The Best Sushi Restaurants In Waikiki
When visiting any Pacific island, no holiday is complete without enjoying an authentic platter of fresh sushi prepared by experts.
There are several great sushi restaurants around Waikiki, and here I have selected a few which may suit your discerning palate.
Doraku Sushi Waikiki
Doraku Sushi, created by Kevin Aoki, is found at the Royal Hawaiian Center. Kevin Aoki strives to be inventive in his menu by incorporating Pan Asian and Latin American flavors with traditional Japanese ingredients.
There are many reasons for the lines snaking around the block, and these are just a few of them.
You are guaranteed each dish is freshly prepared using only fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Doraku’s menu is well balanced, catering to seasoned sushi lovers and beginners alike.
You can start your night with deliciously prepared sushi and end with sake and music.
Location: Royal Hawaiian Center, 2233 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open daily from 11:30 am – 10 pm. Happy Hour: Daily from 4 pm – 6 pm.
Eating House 1849
Eating House 1849 is another brainchild of famous restauranteur Roy Yamaguchi. His chain of restaurants, aptly named Roy’s Restaurants are hugely successful.
Well known for his Asian fusion dishes, chef Yamaguchi honors traditional Hawaiian foods in Eating House 1849 by incorporating the old with the new. He uses simple, traditional flavors fused with a modern twist. The result is a gastronomical explosion!
Location: 2330 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open daily from 4 – 9 pm. Happy Hour: 4 – 6 pm.
Furusato Sushi can be found at the front and center of Waikiki. This modern, stylish but elegant restaurant serves up a delicious spread of sushi.
The Hawaiian or the Waikiki Bridge is ideal for two people sharing, with a pleasant selection of fresh sushi and sashimi.
Location: 2424 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open daily between 11 am – 10:30 pm.
Nobu Honolulu is famous in the sushi world. And it is not because of its famous co-owners, Robert De Niro, film producer Meir Teher and celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
This restaurant gained popularity from the tantalizing, flavorsome foods prepared and served. The food has received high ratings on several travel websites from discerning customers. Well Done, Nobu!
The prices are nowhere near cheap but worth a try when on vacation as the last supper in Hawaii.
Unfortunately, Nobu Honolulu is currently closed until further notice.
The Best Sunset Restaurants In Waikiki
Watching the sky change color as the sun sets over the sea while enjoying a flavorful, delectable meal is potentially one of the best ways to end a day of sightseeing and exploring.
There is no need for music or candlelight to distract from the meal or the stunning display of the setting evening sun.
Here are a small number of the best restaurants in Waikiki to enjoy the sunset on one of the Pacific islands of Hawaii.
Duke’s, named after famous surfer Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic champion and popularly called the Father of modern-day surfing, is found in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.
This restaurant faces the Pacific Ocean and has spectacular views of the sunset. It has a very accessible and easy vibe to it, which is expected from a restaurant situated on the beach, where patrons can shed their shoes and sink their feet into the soft, warm sands.
Duke’s Waikiki has a diverse menu catering to all tastes and includes everything from appetizers, salads, and tacos to more enormously portioned entrées and cocktails to tantalize your taste buds.
At Duke’s, you will find signature dishes like their Coconut Shrimp with a spicy lilikoi sauce, Huli Huli Chicken, or whatever the day’s catch is served with a rich, creamy macadamia nut sauce.
The next time you want to leave an impression on your significant other, take them to Duke’s to enjoy scrumptious meals while watching Mother Nature show off her colors.
Location: 2335 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu
Opening Times: Open daily between 11 am – 7 pm. Reservations are required.
House Without A Key
House Without A Key is the ideal spot to watch not just the sunset but also stunning views of the ocean and Diamond Head. It’s a great place where you can while away the day!
As the sun sets, you are entertained with live music and a graceful display of hula dance by a former Miss Hawaii.
Their classic mai tai is the perfect beverage to sip while you take a nibble on their signature coconut cake.
Location: 2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu
Opening Times: Thursday to Sunday, open between 7 am – 8:30 pm. Monday to Wednesday, open between 7 am – 10:30 pm.
Cited below are frequently asked questions that may help first-time travelers to Waikiki.
What Are Waikiki’s Pandemic Regulations?
As of March 25th, 2022, Hawaii officially ended its two-year travel restrictions for domestic travelers. Pandemic-related requirements are no longer required.
However, for international travelers coming to Hawaii through the United States, they must follow pandemic protocols laid out by the US federal government.
Airlines are required to screen passengers before departure. Please inquire from your airline what pandemic protocols are needed to travel to Waikiki.
Do Restaurants Have Gluten Free Or Vegan Options?
Yes, many restaurants in Waikiki have meal options for vegans and gluten-free patrons. Here are a few suggestions of restaurants you can find gluten-free and vegan options:
- Duke’s Waikiki
- Furusato Sushi
- Roy’s Waikiki
- Barefoot Bar Waikiki
Is There A Dress Code?
There are no prescribed dress codes at most of the restaurants in Waikiki. However, you must wash the sand off your feet before entering the restaurants.
There is no one right answer to what the best restaurants in Waikiki are. Everyone has different tastes, spending budgets, and time constraints when visiting Waikiki on vacation.
That said, some popular restaurants are well-liked by travelers. Many of them earned their reputations for serving quality food at a reasonable price and providing excellent service.
Mahalo, for reading our post. Until next time, Aloha!