Whether you are staying in Waikiki for the first time, or living on Oahu and looking for the best spot for lunch, we’re here to help you make that all too important decision, “what’s for lunch.” We’ve included the hot spots on the south side of the island, including Honolulu “town,” Chinatown, Waikiki, Kakaako and Kaimuki. The foodie scene here is evolving with new places opening regularly, there’s a lot to sift through. Here are our favorite spots for that very important midday meal.
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.
If you’re happy with your meal, tag us @HawaiiIslander on Instagram to share the love.
Feature image: Moku Kitchen
Lunch Near "town" a.k.a. Honolulu
Fête is the delicious creation of a husband and wife duo — think Brooklyn, New York meets downtown Honolulu. This food is arguably some of the best on Oahu, with American-style dishes, fresh fish, housemade pasta and a great cocktail list. Fete is a great place to stop while exploring Honolulu’s Chinatown. Open Monday through Saturday 11am to 9pm. Closed Sunday.
O'Kims Korean Kitchen
Walk through the predictable front of this Chinatown restaurant and you’ll find a charming garden setting offering a bit of respite from hustle and bustle, plus a possible wild meandering chicken. O’Kims offers something for everyone from traditional bibimbap, to an array of delicious noodles and probably the best salmon dish (seaweed salmon) on the island. Open Monday to Thursday 11am to 9pm. Friday through Saturday 11am to 10pm. Closed Sunday.
Lunch Near Kaka'ako / Ala Moana
Hiking Hawaii Cafe
Owner Crystal Evans has combined her love for the great outdoors with nutritious cuisine. The Hiking Hawaii Cafe menu is perfect for your pre or post hiking tour, offering freshly squeezed juices, smoothies and delicious food. Local and organic produce is the name of the game. Their ono sauces and granola are made in house daily. This menu has plenty of gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options. The pizzas are scrumptious, and there’s even a tasty cauliflower pizza crust option for all you non gluten eaters. Open daily from 7am to 2pm. Free parking in the hotel.
Part of the trendy SALT at our Kaka‘ako complex, this casual-chic restaurant is another success story from Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine co-founder Peter Merriman (whose more upscale Merriman’s is another great addition to nearby Ward Village.) The hand-crafted-everything, local-whenever-possible approach makes pizzas , burgers and kale salad seem like the right thing to do. Moku Kitchen is open Sunday through Wednesday 11am to 9pm. Thursday through Saturday 11am to 10pm.
This whimsical Ward Village offshoot of chef Andrew Le’s The Pig & The Lady (a Chinatown favorite) serves up delicious Vietnamese-inspired fare, including a spicy-savory vegan pho and garlic noodles that will make vegetarians rejoice. Carnivores can chow down ginger-scallion chicken pho or hearty sandwiches like the smoked brisket pho French dip sandwich and the pork and shrimp meatball sub on crusty baguette. Piggy Smalls is open Tuesday to Friday 5pm to 9pm. Saturday and Sunday for brunch 10am to 2pm and Saturday for dinner 5pm to 9pm. Closed Monday.
Rangoon Burmese Kitchen
Rangoon is the sister restaurant to Dagon, this downtown location features more amazing Burmese cuisine. Take a culinary journey and try some of these spicy and savory salads, noodles and curries. Definitely bring your friends, you’re going to want to try a bunch of these dishes. Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 10pm. Closed Sunday.
Tango Contemporary Cafe
Finnish chef Göran Streng somehow found his way to Hawaiʻi in the 1990s, where his Scandinavian influences can still be seen in his open-faced sandwiches (house-cured gravlax among them) and hefty salads like roasted beets with labneh (strained yogurt) or greens with grilled pesto salmon. The light-filled cafe is on the ground floor of the Hokua building, where you can park in the garage for free for up to 2.5 hours with restaurant validation. Tango Contemporary Cafe is open Monday to Friday for breakfast 7am to 10am, lunch 11am to 3pm and for dinner 5pm to 8pm. Saturday brunch 8am to 2pm and dinner 5pm to 9pm. Sunday brunch 8am to 2pm.
Lunch Near Kapahulu
Diamond Head Market & Grill
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Diamond Head Market & Grill is awesome. Start off with the mixed plate, teriyaki chicken, char siu pork and hamburger patty… and then keep going. The bakery scones are some of the best on the island. Open daily 7:30am to 9pm, and are grateful for your business.
Lunch in or Near Waikiki
Barefoot Beach Cafe
Barefoot Beach Cafe is located at Queen’s Surf Beach, on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki. Enjoy watching the surfers as you while you grind down on some fresh food at this family owned and operated cafe. It appears to be a snack bar but don’t be fooled, it’s whipping up some delicious and refreshing dishes with some of the best views in all of Waikiki. There’s a great vegan menu in case you aren’t in the mood for the fresh caught Ahi Burger or a Kalua Pig & Cabbage Plate. Open daily 8am to 9pm.
Hula Grill Waikiki
Hula Grill just might be the epitome of Waikiki lunch dining. Fun Fact: it’s the original location of the Outrigger Canoe Club, it’s a very long story, but let’s just say there is lots of good surfing mojo in this space. Don’t expect fine dining, but once you add in the view and location and friendly service, it’s a win-win. Open 7am to 10:30pm daily.
Noi Thai Cuisine
If you can’t decide between the pad thai or the yellow curry, there’s no need to worry, Noi Thai has a selection of lunch combos to soothe all your cravings. This finely decorated and affordable Thai restaurant is a gem to find in the middle of the bustling Waikiki. Open Monday through Friday 11am to 3pm and 4:30pm to 9:30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 9:30pm.
Oahu Mexican Grill
If you’re in the mood for a margarita and a fatty burrito between surf sessions, OMG has got you covered. This Tex-Mex is whipping and flipping freshly made salsas and guacamole. They serve only grass fed, antibiotic free meats. So it’s fresh, it’s delicious, it’s filling and it goes very well with your mango margarita. Open daily 7am to 10pm.
A sprawling gourmet food hall in the heart of Waikiki, STIX ASIA is the only place in Hawai’i where you can taste a diverse selection of Asian cuisines from countries such as Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea, all in one place. Dip your chopsticks into dishes like ramen from Baikohken, Taiwanese soups from Honolulu Noodle Company, freshly made noodles from Udon Yama and remarkably fresh sushi from Sushi Matsuri, reminiscent of Tokyo’s fish auctions in Tsukiji and Toyosu. STIX ASIA is open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.