Best Places to Eat in Oahu, Hawaii (First-Timers Guide)

Visiting Oahu for the very first time? Here are the best places to eat in Oahu, Hawaii that covers famous eats that first-time tourists must try, local favorites, and hidden finds. We went around the whole island so we got you covered on where to eat in Oahu, from the famous Waikiki area to the North Shore, and to the east which is Kailua and have included tips on which Giovanni’s Shrimp Food Truck you should visit to avoid the long lines.


Breakfast in Oahu

1. Eggs N’ Things

339 Saratoga Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

There are four Eggs N’ Things locations in Oahu for good reason – the place is really good! They’ve been serving breakfast and other local favorites since 1974. We arrived at Honolulu Airport (Daniel K. Inouye International Airport) on a Friday night and after quickly checking in into our hotel – Hotel LaCroix, and dropping our luggage into our room, we made a quick walk to Eggs N’ Things to catch a quick dinner before they close at 9.

We ordered a plate of eggs benedict and the muffin was made out of taro. The kids shared a kalbi plate and it was delicious. The stack of pancakes – which they are known for was really good. I believe our pancake portion was just a side order but you can get a full plate. The best part, on your table, you get to drizzle not only the regular pancake syrup but coconut syrup and guava syrup as well.

The Eggs N’ Things Saratoga location has a store that sells their buttermilk pancake mix, syrups, eco-bags, T-shirts, baseball caps and so much more. Its other locations include one in front of Waikiki Beach, another is located near Disney Aulani Resort in Ko Olina Center, and one is near the big shopping center – Ala Moana. I mentioned all 4 locations so you can squeeze in into your Oahu Itinerary at any time of the day. 

We tried to keep our eyes open as we were really tired (but hungry at the same time) after our 5 hr flight from Los Angeles, but it was a good stop for our first meal in Hawaii. We even got to view the free fireworks display that Hilton Hawaiian Village puts up every Friday night while enjoying our meal. The fireworks show usually begins at 7:45 PM. And an added bonus, if you are planning to ride the Waikiki Trolley to tour  Oahu, the Pink Line (yellow double-decker bus) does stop at this location.


Poke in Oahu

2. Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering

94-903 Farrington Hwy, Waipahu, HI 96797

One of the most famous foods to eat in Hawaii is poke, they are known for it. The question is which poke restaurant to try? Tanioka’s was recommended by my sister in law’s sister (Thanks Julie) and they have really good melt-in-your-mouth, truly fresh poke. Nothing like the ones you’ll get from the mainland.

They had a pop-up location at Ala Moana Center and since we have passes for the Waikiki Trolley and it makes a stop at this center, we decided to go. They have now closed that location but the original location (which has more items on the menu) can still be visited. Had we visited the original location – I would have been able to try the crispy ahi rolls which looked really good in pictures.

The original location is quite a drive from the Waikiki area though. You would need to drive to really try this place. It’s an 18-minute drive north of Pearl Harbor on the way to Disney Aulani, squeeze it into that part of your trip should you intend to swim for free at Ka Olina Lagoon in front of Disney Aulani Resort.

Tanioka has so many poke (flavor) choices and you won’t go wrong with any of it. They also sell different types of musubis (we didn’t try them). Their fried chicken was really dry though so do avoid that one and try to come early as well as there is always a line – it’s a famous spot for Oahu locals.


Lunch or Dinner in Hawaii

3. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck or Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp

56-505 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731

If you love shrimp, butter, lots of garlic, uhh, game over. You’re gonna love Giovanni’s in North Shore. Look at that plate! Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is famous in Oahu for both locals and tourists. My tip, instead of visiting the North Shore location which has really long lines and maybe not enough parking, visit Giovanni’s Kahuku location instead. It’s a 30-minute drive from the North Shore Giovanni’s but since we were on our way to Polynesian Cultural Center (8 minutes away), it worked out for us.

When we arrived, I was the first in line but some orders were already put in so I still had to wait but it wasn’t that long. After I put in my order, another group came in. There are other food trucks here so the hubby went ahead and ordered a kalbi plate for the kids at this Korean BBQ food truck and he said it was really good as well. Do note that since this is outdoors, there may be some flies flying around. 

Note: food in Hawaii seems to be light on salt, so though this is fresh, garlicky, and all, you may need that pinch of salt to complete it.


4. Uahi Island Grill

33 Aulike St, Kailua, HI 96734

Our favorite restaurant in Oahu from all the places we ate at is Uahi Island Grill. We were on our way to Kailua Beach and needed a restaurant in the area for lunch. We lucked out as we really enjoyed everything we ordered. Hubby ordered the Pork (slow-roasted pork sauteed with kale) & Poke plate while I had the Garlic Chicken, both dishes were very flavorful.

While there, we found out that it was featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show – Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for the fresh grilled fish in a spicy Thai red curry served with green papaya salad and slow-poached Mandarin duck confit with an anise-orange glaze. Something to try on our next visit to Oahu!


5. Waikiki Yokocho Gourmet Alley (Japanese Food Hall)

2250 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

There are a lot of Japanese tourists in Oahu that a lot of restaurants and signs are in Japanese. We stumbled upon a food hall located on the basement of one of the shopping centers. It’s called Waikiki Yokocho in the heart of Waikiki and not only is the place really nice but we had a quick yet satisfying lunch. If you’re done with local Hawaiian dishes, then come down here to enjoy Japanese food. Yokocho translates to food alley in Japanese.

We ate at Umami Teppan Kingyo and ordered a 2 plate dish set and it was only $24. The 2 main dishes we chose were chicken cutlet and garlic shrimp. It already came with rice and miso soup.

There is also an Omusubi (similar to musubi) stall at this Japanese Food Hall but we were too full to try so hopefully we get to visit Oahu again so we can try the other restaurants here. And as a bonus, there are kid-sized arcade games that the kids can play with – for free.

 


6. The Street Food Hall by Michael Mina

2330 Kalakaua Ave Suite 156, Honolulu, HI 96815 – located at International Market Place

If you’re traveling to Oahu as a group or as a family and everyone is craving for different dishes, you may want to visit The Street Food Hall to settle the differences. Our eldest wanted pizza, the young one wanted a burger, Hubby and I didn’t know what we really wanted until we got there – I had chicken wings and he had ramen.

The Street Food Hall offers 12 globally-inspired hawker stations & a lively environment for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night—all under one roof. Look at the huge fridge of mochis!


Shave Ice and Desserts in Oahu

7. Matsumoto Shave Ice

66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712

The best dessert we had in Oahu? Well, the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice! Whether it’s your first time in Oahu or you’ve been many times, I think you’ll be wanting to come here all the time. We’ve had our fair share of shave ice in the mainland but for some reason, it’s a whole lot creamier here. Really fine ice and maybe the secret is a generous amount of condensed milk with your fruity flavor of choice. I ordered a side of mochi but I didn’t really like it but the red bean was really good. 

Matsumoto is located in the historic Haleiwa Town up in North Shore – an hour drive from Waikiki Beach. I recommend making time not only to try the famous shave ice but to also check out the quaint town and its shops. It is near the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (the busier location).


8. Leonard’s Bakery

933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Another Hawaiin dessert you can enjoy is malasadas. What makes this Oahu donut famous is it is freshly made all the time at Leonard’s Bakery. There was a long line to order, a long line to wait, but once your order comes out, it is still hot. They come plain with sugar or with a filling. You filling options include custard, macadamia nut, dobash, and haupia.

I ordered one with a macadamia filling but while the hubby had the dobash. We preferred what the kids had – no filling. You can also order cupcakes, cookies, and other bakery goods and even T-shirts and other souvenirs at Leonard’s Bakery.

We came here via the Waikiki Trolley Yellow Line – It’s the Honolulu Dining Express that makes various stops to various restaurants and stores including the equally famous Rainbow Drive-In that unfortunately, we didn’t have time to try during our Oahu vacation.


9. Waiola Shave Ice

3113 Mokihana St, Honolulu, HI 96816

If you’re looking for a shave ice spot in Waikiki, you may want to try Waiola Shave Ice – the Cookies N’ Creme one is the best! Our eldest is a fan of Oreo and this one definitely delivered. It’s walking distance to the famous Leonard’s Malasadas. They close at 6 PM every day so we came here after being drop by the Waikiki Trolley – Yellow Line (Honolulu Dining Express) before heading back to Leonard’s Bakery.


10. Polynesian Cultural Center Shave Ice

55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762

Another contender in the shave ice category is the one at Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s as creamy as the one from Matsumoto Shave Ice but what brings this shave ice to another level is the huge serving of fresh fruits under it. Peaches, pineapples, etc. They were perfectly sweet and not to tart and was perfect while waiting for the canoe show to start at Polynesian Cultural Center.

When you get there, don’t look for a stall, instead find your seat to the show and a canoe will deliver you a bowl for $5 before the show starts.


11. Magnolia’s Ice Cream & Treats

2330 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

If you’re in Waikiki and you’ve never had Halo-Halo in your entire life, make sure to visit Magnolia inside the International Market Place near Waikiki Beach. Halo-Halo is a popular Filipino cold dessert which is a concoction of crushed ice, evaporated milk and various ingredients including red beans, coconut, jelly, etc. topped with Ube ice cream.

Why have a Filipino dessert in Hawaii? Well, coz’ it’s good and refreshing when you’re in the tropics whether you’re Filipino or not. Tourists of other nationalities where there trying it out as well and they loved it. The kids did order their favorite ice cream and we did visit Magnolia twice during our trip.


12. Modo Mochi Donut

2330 Kalakaua Ave # 250, Honolulu, HI 96815

I heard about Modo Mochi Donut before arriving in Hawaii. There are long lines in their pop-up store in the mainland US (Torrance) where my sister-in-law Mae fills her cravings in. In Oahu, it is located inside Mitsuwa Supermarket at International Market Place where there is no line – at least when I visited.

Choose from different flavors of mochi donut including original Hawaiin honey glaze, white chocolate, coconut, black sesame, espresso, blueberry, lilikoi, earl grey, strawberry, and cookies N’ cream.


13. Pineapple Shake at Waikiki Beachside Bistro

2425 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

This is a random find while we were walking along Waikiki Beach. We decided to make a quick stop at this beachside food stall called Waikiki Beachside Bistro and they have the most refreshing pineapple smoothie ever. I wasn’t sure if it was because there is a Dole Plantation in Hawaii or what but it’s a must-order.

We also ordered shave ice for the kids to share but the ice was not powdery fine, more like ice pellets. The food, burgers and garlic fries were just alright, but the pineapple shake on an actual pineapple fruit – that’s all you really have to order!


14. Dole Whip at Dole Plantation

64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786

Dole Whip is a soft-serve dairy-free frozen dessert famously served at Disneyland or Disney World. If you’ve never had it or you’re craving for it, visit Dole Plantation while you’re in Oahu to get a taste of it. It is available on a cone, in a cup with topping, and as a float with pineapple juice. 

During our visit to Dole Plantation, we didn’t order one as we have an ice cream store near us that sells them in different flavors (Lappert’s) and we were also on our way to Matsumoto Shave Ice after touring Dole Plantation but if you’ve never had it, I highly recommend it.

 


More Oahu Eats that we didn’t get to try due to time constraints but were recommended by our friends and readers:

Thanks, Amy, Abby, Julie, Chimmy, and everyone else who drop their suggestions on our Instagram page. Looking forward to trying them next time to see what we like.

  • Alicia’s Market
  • Char Hung Sut Restaurant
  • Coco Ichibanya
  • Diamond Head Market & Grill
  • Fook Lam Seafood Restaurant
  • Goma Ichi Ramen
  • Guava Smoked
  • Helena’s Hawaiin Food
  • Honolulu Chocolate Company
  • Jimbo Restaurant
  • Kaka’ako Kitchen
  • Lulu’s Waikiki
  • Maguro-ya
  • Maui Mike’s Fire-Roaster Chicken
  • Mike’s Kiawe Broiled Huli Hili Chicken
  • Nico’s at Pier 38
  • Ono Hawaiin Foods
  • Patisserie La Palme D’or
  • Rainbow Drive-In
  • Sam & Syd’s Cafe
  • Sam’s Kitchen
  • Shiro’s Samin Haven
  • Shokudo
  • Side Street Inn Kapahulu
  • St. Louis Drive In
  • Surf N Turf Tacos
  • The Pig and the Lady
  • Via Gelato
  • Yoshitsune
  • Young’s Fish Market
  • Fort Ruger Market
  • Banan Waikiki Beach Shack
  • Ubea
  • YogurStory
  • Ted’s Bakery
  • Boots & Kimo’s

 


Check more Hawaii Travel Tips!


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