Of course, Hawaii is known the sun and Aloha way of life, but one of the best reasons to visit Oahu is the food. The culinary scene has evolved on the Island throughout the years and has really come into its own. Top chefs from around the world combine fresh, local ingredients with classic Hawaiian flavors and innovative cooking technique.
Restaurants can be expensive though, so it’s best to go in with a plan. Here are just a few of the recommended must-try eating experiences for tourists as well as some out-of-the-way local favorites.
Leonard’s Bakery – Home of the famous, sweet malasadas, a Portuguese donut. Leonard’s Bakery opened in 1952 and has made the malasada a Hawaiian staple.
Sunrise Shack – Start your day at the Sunrise Shack. Owned by pro surfer Koa Smith, the Sunrise Shack is a brightly colored stand with a healthy menu of coffee and papaya bowls. The papaya bowls are made with local honey + granola, bananas, nut butter, cacao nibs, goji berries, and blueberries.
Eating House 1849 – This is where Chef Roy Yamaguchi blends the simple flavors of a plantation town with haute cuisine. The name of the restaurant is a nod to the first restaurant in Honolulu popular among Oahu plantation workers. This is true of the food as well. The Plantation-Style Paella is a fusion of classic paella and Roy Yamaguchi’s grandfather’s own tomato-based stew.
The Pig and the Lady – The Pig and the Lady offers modern Vietnamese cooking with communal tables. Enjoy locally sourced food and an often lively atmosphere. They’re best known for their Hanoi Style Fish and Poi.
Merriman’s Honolulu – Peter Merriman has been a culinary pioneer in Hawaii for over 30 years, and was one of the first to advocate the farm-to-table Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement. The tableside poke is a memorable for tourists and locals alike (they sell about 700 orders a month). Also check out their Bag o’ Biscuits!
Helena’s Hawaiian Food – Be sure to check out one of Hawaii’s oldest eateries. This is home-style Hawaiian cooking in a casual, no-frills settings. It’s also very popular with locals. This is how Hawaiian food should taste. If you want to sample a little bit of everything, try ordering “Menu D.”
Rainbow Drive-In – This is one of Oahu’s most iconic places to eat. It serves up local favorites and is best known for their plate lunches: rice, heavy macaroni salad, and your choice of spam and eggs, hamburger steak or shoyu chicken. Rainbow Drive-In always hits the spot.
Check out restaurants throughout Oahu. And if you need a lift, check out IMI’s partner SpeediShuttle for a private shuttle service. If you’re looking to save money, be sure to check out some of Hawaii’s farmer’s markets. But no matter how you do it, enjoy all the food that Oahu has to offer!