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Best Local Food in Waikiki & Oahu

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Although I have a backlog of blog posts to write, I decided to write this first because it’s about fresh and best local food in Waikiki & Oahu!

I don’t know about you but I sometimes wonder if I travel to eat. I am a total foodie and love trying local food and experiencing different cuisines from around the world! On our second visit to Oahu, we mainly focussed on relaxing at the beach, reading a lot and eating local food. Who doesn’t enjoy tropical destinations with an abundance of tropical fruits, seafood and coconuts? I am proud to publish this post as it covers many local spots and all kinds of dietary requirements ranging from vegan to keto to carb-loaded goodness! In the end, you will know where to find the best local food in Waikiki including the best poké in Oahu & Waikiki, the best açai bowl in Oahu, the best malasadas, the best breakfast in Waikiki, my go-to spot for bullet coffee, the best Mai Tai bar at Waikiki beach and many more. I am so excited to share this with you and cannot wait anymore!

I share things that I tried and loved. That is one of my main reasons to not include Hawaii’s favorites like shaved ice (not a fan!) and Kalua pork (didn’t get a chance to try good ones). 

If you are looking for things to do in Oahu, check out my blogpost about my top favorites here.

KOKO HEAD CAFE (Breakfast, Vegetarian, Keto)

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First on the list is Koko Head Café It is about 15-20min drive from Waikiki beach and worth the drive if you are craving for some delicious and filling breakfast! I had their sizzling volcano eggs skillet with vegetables (okra & beans) and it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a while! It was so good and left me wondering why no one thought of okra & beans combo with eggs and tomatoes before. Another must try is the breakfast bibimbap – a twist to the classic Korean dish and oh-so-good!

YOSHITSUNE AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT (Seafood, Authentic Japanese, Breakfast)

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Would you like to experience a truly unique breakfast experience? Try this authentic Japanese restaurant in Park Shore Waikiki hotel. The portions and price is more appropriate for a brunch or lunch and will keep you full until dinner. We were given a platter with salad, pickled vegetables, rice, miso soup, seaweed, broiled fish (either butter fish or salmon), hot tea and a wedge of pineapple to finish off the meal. OMG! This is legit guys!! I had been to Japan and let me tell you this is as authentic as it gets! A must try if you love seafood and authentic Japanese cuisine.

SUNRISE SHACK (Vegan, Keto, Açai bowls, Bullet Coffee, Organic, Breakfast)

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This North Shore’s cute little shack conveniently opened in the heart of Waikiki recently and is only a short walk away from most hotels. Started as a small shack by a group of surfers, it is a healthy (mostly vegan) place to grab açai bowls, smoothies and coffee anytime of the day. They have a variety of bullet coffees for keto lovers (including some vegan ones) and are a treat to try. Their açai bowls and other bowls are a great way to blow off the tropical heat any time of the day. Some consider their açai bowl to be the best in Oahu but I beg to differ (Read on to find out my favorite one)! Their papaya bowl, however, looks like a tropical dream packaged in a fruit bowl! They also offer several other items like juices and smoothies.

TUCKER & BEVVY (Vegan, Sandwiches, Picnic foods, Organic)

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This was our favorite place to get açai bowl! In fact, this was one of the best açai bowls we’ve had in Oahu. The chia pudding on top was a great addition that made this bowl whole! This is a great place to get picnic sandwiches and lunches. While you are there, try their Mango Mac nut bread. It is so delicious with a nice island twist!

MAMI’S EMPAÑADAS (Empañadas, Food truck)

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If you never had empañadas, then you are missing out on so much in life! We first tried them years ago in Argentina and have been hooked since then. You know, people eat empañadas for breakfast and lunch and as a snack in Argentina? Yup, they are that good. And this food truck tucked in a corner near Waikiki beach is one of the best I have tried. Alex, the chef adds his own twists like the vegan version (think samosa) and a dessert version made of guava! All of them are air fried (so less oil) and some are gluten free! Yes, you heard that. They are made Colombian style with corn. His food truck is open in the evenings but gets really busy so go there as soon as he opens. This was our dinner for two nights! 

ONO SEAFOOD (Poké, Poké, Poké, Seafood, Salad)

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Don’t let the appearance fool you. Even though this is a take-out place with just a few tables outside, the poke here is top notch and one of the best we’ve had and the best poké in Waikiki and Oahu. It was so good that we frequented it 3 times during our trip! Try the spicy ahi or spicy salmon and if you are feeling adventurous, try the tako (octopus). I love poké and so glad I found this place. While you there, also buy a seaweed salad and boiled peanut bag to make it a complete meal! You will thank me! 🙂

BYODO-IN JAPANESE TEMPLE (Juice, Snacks)

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Why does a temple feature in places to eat? Because it has a stall that sells freshly squeezed juices and coconut water (with pulp). You can choose amongst various tropical fruits and they are juiced right in front of you. Also try the tasty sugarcane juice if you’ve never had one. Sipping coconut water in one of the most peaceful spots in Oahu was somehow very satisfying if you get what I mean..

GIOVANNI’S SHRIMP TRUCK (Seafood, Food truck)

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This trip to Oahu was all about local eats, tiny shacks and food trucks for us. We had already eaten at Giovanni’s during our last trip and this was our second time. We knew the drill – the long drive to North Shore, even longer wait and crowded parking lot. What makes all this worth it is their garlic shrimp scampi and their hot and spicy shrimp. While I enjoy and admire the complexity of fine dining, sometimes a simple yet deliciously cooked meal is the best! 

LEONARD’S BAKERY (Pastries, Donuts)

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I rarely eat sugar coated, gluten laden desserts but when I heard about this place that’s been operating for decades, I had to see what the fuss is about. Their malasadas are made to order and come out hot and incredibly soft! It feels like eating a delicate cloud. The trick is to eat them hot, ideally in the parking lot! 😀

MAI TAI BAR (Drinks)

If you like a beachfront setting, great music (and sometimes performances) with awesome drinks, the MAI TAI bar at the Royal Hawaiian is the place to be! They have all kinds of Mai Tai’s from super strong ones to fruity, tropical ones. Watch the sunset over the Pacific and head to the best Mai Tai bar in Waikiki to chill out!

There you have it! These are my 10 favorite places to eat in Waikiki and Oahu. Hope you try some of these and enjoy the delicious food I had the pleasure to taste while in Oahu!

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Hi there!

I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.

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32 Comments

  1. Meghan Emcee on November 26, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Yum!!! Everything looks so good! Saved for when I go to Hawaii!

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you Meghan! 🙂

      • Elsa on December 8, 2019 at 6:14 am

        Love the food..love your post!

        • Aswani on December 9, 2019 at 10:56 pm

          Thank you Elsa!

  2. Taylor Deer on November 27, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    All of these spots look so cute and all of that food looks so delicious! I definitely need to plan a trip to Hawaii soon! 🙂

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      The food in Hawaii is the best Taylor! You will love it!

  3. Heather on November 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    I just love finding foodie guides!! I really like that Japanese temple…what a cool place to see!

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      That Japanese temple is a gem in Oahu Heather. I am publishing a post this week about top things to do in Oahu and that is a must visit!

  4. Kathy Walker on November 27, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    All these places looks so good to eat at. I especially love going to food trucks for a quick bite while traveling. They give you the expereince of the local fare.

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      Yes! I love the food trucks too and lately there are a lot of healthy trucks too! 🙂

  5. Brittany Jane on November 27, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    I love poke and Japenese anything! I’m so excited to get myself over to Oahu one day!

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      We are so alike! We lived on Poke while in Oahu! 🙂

  6. CHRIS on November 28, 2019 at 2:21 am

    All of the food looks so delicious! We are huge empanada fans so that would definitely be on my list. In addition, I would love to try the mai tai bar.

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:47 pm

      OMG! Empanadas are the best! I love that this guy makes them sort of healthy! Must try for sure, just check his timings while you are there!

  7. Patti Morrow on November 28, 2019 at 8:50 am

    I love everything about Oahu! The food you post here not only looks delicious, but I was delighted that you included Keto-friendly! Now I have to go back and try, which is absolutely fine with me!

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Hey Patti! Thank you! I was doing low carb (keto-ish) during that time so tried to stick to it for a few days but then I couldn’t not eat acai bowl. 😀

  8. Farrah on November 28, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    I’m in the same boot–there’s a semi-never-ending backlog of posts I need to write too! I need to go back to Hawai’i–I wanna eat everything in this post! *-*

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you Farrah! I am planning to do a 10 posts in 10 days challenge or something to clear by backlogs. 😀 Have you tried that?

  9. Kez on November 28, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    What a great list. I’ve pinned it so I can reference it when I finally start planning my trip to Hawaii!

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you! Glad you liked it! 🙂

  10. Alexandra Booze on December 1, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Hawaii has always been on my bucket list, and list just solidified my decision to go!! I live abroad, but hopefully I’ll get to go next summer. Thank you!

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      That is awesome! Hope you can visit! 🙂

  11. Annemarie on December 4, 2019 at 12:43 am

    This post is exactly what I was looking for my trip to Oahu! I can wait to try them.

    • Aswani on December 7, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you so much Annemarie! Let me know if you try any of them!

  12. Courtney on December 7, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Hawaii has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and omg literally drooling over all these amazing food spots. Saving this for when I start planning my trip out there!

    • Aswani on December 9, 2019 at 10:58 pm

      Thank you so much! You will enjoy it so much!

  13. Emma on December 7, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    I didn’t go to any of these places on my trip so now I definitely have to go back. Some great veggie options too. All look so yummy

    • Aswani on December 9, 2019 at 10:56 pm

      Yes, you definitely should! Food is amazing in Oahu!

  14. Sydney on December 9, 2019 at 12:24 am

    I’m going to Oahu in February and I can’t wait to try all of the delicious local food! I’m saving this post for my trip planning 🙂

    • Aswani on December 9, 2019 at 10:57 pm

      I can’t wait for you to try! Also just published post about best things to do in Oahu!

  15. Andi on December 9, 2019 at 12:48 am

    I’ve seriously never had a bad meal in Hawaii – on any island! I love going and eating all the foods! I have tried most of these, but not all and totally agree that they are awesome sauce!

    • Aswani on December 9, 2019 at 10:57 pm

      Yes! Me too!! Food is amazing in Hawaii!

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