Best Local Food in Waikiki & Oahu
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 EMPANADAS (Empanadas, Food truck)
If you never had empanadas, 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)
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)
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)
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)
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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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.