Coming to O’ahu and want to eat like a local? Look no further! This is your local guide to eating your way around the island. We were both born and raised on O’ahu and have a ton of restaurants under our belt; try some of our personal favorites!
Boots and Kimo’s:
A small establishment in Kailua, it’s famous for it’s macadamia nut sauce, and the hype is real! Most people get it drizzled over pancakes, but I prefer mine over waffles. They also have other great breakfast items, and my mouth is watering as I type! Come early; the lines are long but it’s worth the wait.
Koa Pancake House:
This is our favorite local, everyday spot for breakfast. Jarden favors the chocolate chip banana crepes (custom order), and I prefer the pecan waffle with coconut syrup. We also both love the Vina D’ahlos, which is similar to pork adobo; so good!
If you want a taste of real Hawaiian Food, you need to check this place out. Known for it’s authentic local cuisine; it’s all so tasty! Even better for tourists, there is a new location in Kaka’ako. Our favorites are kalua pig, chicken long rice, lau lau, poi, and haupia for dessert.
The Pig and The Lady:
This is the hottest Vietnamese restaurant, located in the art district of chinatown. They always have fun pop up events, are at a lot of art shows/farmers markets, and are really up and coming in the food scene. Stop by if your looking for some tasty, unique Vietnamese cuisine!
This is a really causal/everyday restaurant, but the food is always satisfying and a lot of locations are open 24/7. A favorite after-the-club meeting spot, nothing beats zippy’s chili and fried chicken! (They also have great grilled cheese, saimin and mac salad.) It might not be super unique in terms of variety, but come here if you’re looking for a real local hot spot.
This place gives off a major hipster vibe that we love, and the food is out-of-this-world good. Their menu offers creative dishes that change every season, and they have a world class alcoholic bar that will satisfy any wino in the building. Every single item we ordered was good; try as much as you can!
KURU KURU SUSHI:
This is my absolute favorite place to get a poke bowl (raw fish with spicy mayo aioli over rice). They also have some decent sushi on a rotating conveyor belt; always a fan favorite.
Located on the Northshore in Haleiwa, come here if you’re looking for some fresh catches and locally grown produce. Their local influences can be seen in their dishes such as coconut shrimp and Hawaiian-Style Chicken Sandwich.
This is a little shop located on the westside of the island specializing in selling raw fish. There’s always a line out the door (although it moves quickly!), and they always have a lot of seafood and appetizers on hand. (My favorite is the ahi rolls and fried chicken, but they also serve Hawaiian plates if you’re looking for a already made local lunch.
Right on the edge of the beach, this establishment gives off an island vibe in a beautiful open-air seating dining room. With fresh fish, surf & turf, and strong drinks to complement, this is perfect choice for a romantic dinner out in Waikiki.
Shrimp trucks are a huge thing in Hawaii, and locals flock to visit them just as much as tourists do. Primarily located on the east and north shore of the island, you’ll have plenty of options to get your buttery, garlic shrimp fix on. Our favorite truck on the North Shore in Haleiwa is Hono’s Shrimp Truck, while our favorite on the east side is Aloha Shrimp Truck in Ka’a’awa.
With 3 locations (Di Mare, Beachwalk, and Kahala), this intimate Italian joint serves up famous, melt-in-your-mouth, uni (sea urchin) pasta. It. Is. Life. Changing. They also offer a killer lobster bisque and other fabulous items, try them out!
Our favorite Italian restaurant on the island, this quaint little restaurant packs a big punch. It’s very small and always crowded, and one chef makes everything from scratch and runs the entire show in the kitchen. You do usually wait pretty long for your food, but trust me, it’s totally worth every single second! Our favorite item is the Ravioli Gorgonzola, but the lobster ravioli is great too.
Rolled dough fried and then dusted with sugar, this is one huge local favorite. They also have filled versions; try it with the custard!
With a location in Kailua and Waikiki, this place serves amazing acai bows, fruity smoothies, and healthy vegan options.
In general, you basically NEED to try shave ice while on the island. Luckily there are tons of places that serve it, but our favorites include Shimazu’s, Waiola, and Country Shave Ice.
Mai Tai Bar:
This is a favorite spot for locals, as it has great live local music. It’s at the famous Ala Moana mall, so it’s at a great location where you can also get your shopping on. I mostly go there for lunch for their yummy pupus (appetizers), but you can come here to drink and dance late into the night.
Located in Kailua, this mexican restaurant has an amazing happy hour. The drinks were delicious and potent; the frozen sangria is a must try! They also have yummy appetizers that supplement the drinks well. One of my new faves!
Located at The Halekulani Hotel, this classy bar/lounge has live jazz music to sooth your soul while sipping on your cocktail. It’s also one of the only places on the island that serves absinthe; winner!