Looking for the best dining experience in Waikiki? Whether you are a first-time visitor, part-time resident, or Island foodie, we’ve done the research for you.
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.
Below are our favorite places to get dinner in Waikiki. If you’re happy with your meal, tag us @HawaiiIslander on Instagram to share the love.
Few restaurants capture the classic Waikiki experience better than Duke’s Waikiki, on the ground floor of Outrigger Waikiki Resort. Located on the original site of the famed Outrigger Canoe Club (hence the name for the hotel), this indoor outdoor eatery is named after the Hawaiian icon Duke Kahanamoku, famous for bringing the sport of surfing to the world and embodying the spirit of Aloha. Expect live music, Hawaiian classics such as crispy coconut shrimp, huli huli chicken and mac nut crusted fresh fish, along with one of the best views of Waikiki’s surf. Make reservations in advance, leave time to browse historic photos to get some perspective, and if the line is too long, walk upstairs to Hula Grill, where the view is even better, and fish tacos will not disappoint. Open Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Mahina and Sun’s
Founded by celebrity Chef Ed Kenney, Mahina and Sun’s highlights the best local Hawaiian comfort foods complimented by the lively atmosphere of the Surfer Jack Hotel and Swim Club. After a long day in the waves and sun, arrive early to enjoy live music and put your feet up in the cabanas overlooking the pool. Pair a signature tiki cocktail with fresh ocean finds like the A’u Crudo (blue marlin), Seared Ahi or Fresh Catch of the day, or for the land lovers, try their classic thin crust Margarita Pizza, Oxtail Risotto or the Pork Chop. We recommend making reservations ahead of time. Open Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Buho Cocina y Cantina
Looking for a taste of Mexico in Waikiki? Buho Cocina y Cantina takes a modern twist on Mexican cuisine with dishes like the popular octopus and shrimp ceviche, beef brisket nachos, chimichanga or build your own taco kit. Located on the rooftop of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza, sip on a margarita while enjoying the view of the Waikiki Skyline. If you’re looking for dinner and a show, stay late on a Friday or Saturday to enjoy latin inspired Djs and salsa dancing or live music on Sundays. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 to 1 am.
Splurge at Mugen, one of Waikiki’s ultimate fine dining experiences (think French Laundry). Located on the ground level of the Espacio, Chef Jason Yamaguchi puts Waikiki on the global gourmet map with Instagram-worthy dishes and color-changing cocktails… ask for the Butterfly Daiquiri. Driving home the notion of food is art, each course has a custom plate wear to best complement the food. Space is limited, so make sure to reserve far in advance. Open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m.
Known for their innovative sushi, craft cocktails, and AWESOME happy hour specials, award-winning, Doraku is located on the the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Created by Kevin Aoki, who grew up watching his dad Hiroaki Aoki, who introduced the hibachi or teppanyaki concept of dining to New York City diners back in 1964 with his restaurant Benihana (currently over 100 around the globe). Today, the Aoki Group led by Kevin and his artist brother Steve is responsible for fine asian fusion dining around the country. Open Monday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Don’t be put off by the location or the popularization of the name, this is really good food. One of the original Hawaii Regional Chefs, Roy Yamaguchi set the standard for an elevated Hawaiian dining experience and is famous for his Hawaii inspired Euro-Asian cuisine that showcased in his restaurants across Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai. At the Waikiki outpost, try the Misoyaki Butterfish, Roy’s Kiawe Smoked Szechuan Spiced Baby Back Ribs, Kanapachi Crudo, and if you can fit any more, finish off your meal with the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Expect to splurge on quality cuisine and experience. There isn’t a view, so make a later reservation and enjoy the sunset across the street at the beach. Open Monday through Sunday, 4:30-9:30 p.m., with the bar opening at 4 p.m.
Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi
Located on the third floor of the international marketplace, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi is a tribute to the lively culinary heritage of Hawaii. The Al Fresco dining experience brings together modern and traditional Hawaiian flavors sourced locally. Try the Ume Glazed Grilled Pork Bao Buns, Eating House Poke, Butterfish Kamameshi, or try one of their “Build Your Own” fresh catch or local steak options. Leave time before your reservation to explore the shops in the international market place. Open Monday through Friday 4pm to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 4-9 p.m.
Sky Waikiki Raw and Bar
The unbeatable views and tasty cocktails make up for the iffy service and small portion sizes of Sky Waikiki. Take an oyster shooter with a view of the ocean and enjoy the popular Poke, Sashimi, Garlic Shrimp Risotto or Wagyu Tomahawk. Make sure to time your reservation around sunset for a unique rooftop dining experience worthy of an Instagram post. Sky doubles as a club so, if you’re looking for some post-dinner entertainment, stay late on the weekends for live DJs and dancing in the back bar. Open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.