From squid lū’au at a James Beard America’s Classics winner to biscuits with mapo gravy at a modern Hawai‘i food hangout, here’s where to eat in Honolulu
Outside interests have made money in Hawai‘i for centuries, including in food. Waves of restaurateurs from the continental U.S. and abroad have opened restaurants in Honolulu, with everyone from Japanese conglomerates to Michael Mina setting up shop. But simultaneously, Honolulu’s homegrown businesses have been able to ride the most recent wave of excitement to expand themselves. In the last decade, tiny mom-and-pop restaurants opened second locations, while established local chains expanded their reach. More and more chefs have worked to learn about Hawai‘i’s history and culture to respectfully incorporate aspects into their restaurants. That is to say, diners in Honolulu are a bit spoiled for choice.
Updated, August 2022:
A hot summer has gripped Honolulu, a harbinger of what’s to come in the early fall months that are traditionally the hottest of the year. Locals and visitors can take refuge in impeccable sashimi at the city’s izakayas, and cool down with shave ice and ice cream that preserve the last vestiges of a particularly abundant mango season. While some restaurants continue to offer takeout only due to COVD-19, most eateries have welcomed back diners and new restaurants continue to open.
We update this list quarterly to make sure it reflects the ever-changing nature of Honolulu’s vibrant dining scene. To that end, Diamond Head Market & Grill and Roy’s Hawaii Kai have been removed to make way for freewheeling brunch at Nami Kaze and the revamped, yet still classic, mochi shop Fujiya.
Martha Cheng is the food editor at Honolulu Magazine, the author of The Poke Cookbook, and a writer for national publications.