Looking for traditional Hawaiian food on your island getaway? Here are some of the best Hawaiian food places near Honolulu, Waipahu and on the North Shore.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Feature image: Courtesy of Highway Inn/Dawn Sakamoto-Paiva
Hawaiian Food near Honolulu
Offering mini plate and regular plate lunches, Alicia’s offers endless combinations for your plate. Their menu mix has gradually grown and includes their famous poke bar. It has up to 30 varieties of seafood and salads. Open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm. Closed Sunday.
Da Ono Hawaiian Food
A new incarnation of an old-school favorite, Da Ono (“the delicious”) Hawaiian Food lives up to its name with oversized chicken or pork lau lau, tender pipikaula (dried and salted) short ribs, and creamy squid luau. As with all the family-run joints on Kapahulu Ave, parking can be tough; all the better to walk off the calories (or rideshare) when coming from Waikiki. Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 8pm. Closed on Sunday.
Haili’s Hawaiian Foods
Haili’s is one of many popular, long-running restaurants on or just off busy Kapahulu Avenue, a short drive from Waikiki. It serves all the classics, but also spices things up a bit with tortilla-wrapped ahi, pulehu (grilled) steak or kalua pig, served with a side of tortilla chips and mango salsa. Open Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 2pm. Closed on Monday.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
In business since 1946, it’s fair to say Helena’s Hawaiian Food has earned the right to only be open Tuesday through Friday. Founder Helen Chock’s grandson now runs the humble (but James Beard Award-winning eatery) that dishes up classics like kalua pig (cooked in an underground oven), lomi salmon and creamy haupia (thick coconut pudding). Open Tuesday through Friday 10am to 7:30pm. Closed Saturday to Monday.
Highway Inn also has locations in Honolulu’s trendy Kakaako neighborhood, the Bishop Museum, and Waipahu. Start the calorie count at breakfast with Portuguese or Vienna sausage and eggs, and keep going at lunch and dinner with hand-wrapped chicken or pork lau lau, kalua pig and a side of silken poi. Open Monday through Thursday 10:30am to 8pm, Friday 10:30am to 8:30pm. Saturday 9:30am to 8:30pm and Sunday 9:30am to 3:00pm.
Rainbow Drive In
Since 1961 these guys have been a local fav! They have four different locations, so no matter where you are on the island, you can get your plate lunch fix! Serving up different mixed plates, portuguese sausage, loco moco, spam and mahi mahi to name just a few. All plates come with two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad, although you can substitute for french fries and coleslaw if you want to change it up a bit! Rainbow is open Monday through Thursday 10am to 8pm and Friday through Sunday from 7am to 9pm.
Adela’s Country Eatery brings Hawaiian take-out to another level with their locally grown and house-made Ulu, Moringa, Okinawa Sweet Potato, and Avocado noodle dishes. All meals are to-go, but don’t expect fast food. Prep time usually sits between 40-50 minutes, but the wait is well worth the fine, freshly cooked, Hawaiian comfort meal. This family establishment has earned itself recognition as a staple and favorite of Oahu’s East side. Open Monday through Saturday 10:30am to 8pm. Closed Sunday. Adela’s Website.
Hawaiian Food in Waialua
The Smoking Boar & The Coconut
This old gas station has converted into a delicious restaurant serving Hawaiian food plates and there’s lotsa fish on the menu. There’s 8 different styles of poke to choose from and save room for dessert. The Smoking Boar & the Coconut has a selection of sweet treats as well! Open every day for coffee, smoothies, and hot breakfast from 7:30am to 11am, lunch everyday except Wednesday from 11 am to 3pm, and dinner Thursday through Sunday from 3pm to 8pm!