Where to find Local Favorite Restaurants On Oahu

Hukilau Cafe in Laie

No matter where you travel, one of the best ways to experience authentic local culture is to find the locals’ favorite restaurants. That’s certainly true in Hawaii; so, I encourage you to explore Oahu restaurants beyond the resorts to discover some ‘ono grinds that will broke the mouth.  When you eat where the locals eat, you not only taste the local culture, you usually save money versus eating at the fancy resort restaurants. Bonus!

So, where are Hawaii’s restaurants that locals love? From all my travels to Hawaii along with some excellent help from my Oahu friends, I can recommend that you try these local faves:

Honolulu Near Waikiki

* Rainbow Drive In at the intersection of Kanaina Avenue and Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu. It’s in the Kapahulu area that’s adjacent to Waikiki Beach. Read my review of Rainbow Drive In

* Leonard’s Bakery at 933 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI is near Waikiki. The specialty here is their malasada, a Portuguese doughnut. See my review of Leonard’s Bakery.

* Eggs n’Things at 343 Saratoga Road, Honolulu, Hawaii is great place for breakfast and fairly close to the heart of Waikiki’s hotel area. (Update: a new Waikiki Eggs n’Things has opened up on Kalakaua Avenue at the Aston Circle Hotel.) Here’s their Web site. (Note that it’s close to a post office where you can mail your postcards and your souvenirs.)

* Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice at 525 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI is a great place to try shave ice. See my post on Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice.

Honolulu Away from Waikiki

* Nico’s Pier 38 at 1133 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI. Read my review of Nico’s Pier 38

* Side Street Inn is tucked away at 1225 Hopaka St., Honolulu, HI. I say tucked away because, it seems like it’s down a small alley. If Side Street Inn sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s one of the local spots that Anthony Bourdain visited in Honolulu for his show No Reservations. I’ve not had a chance to write about my experience here yet, but when you go, try the fried rice and fried pork chops. Here’s more local advice on what to try at Side Street Inn. (Thanks to my friend Nathan Kam for this recommendation.)


* Zippy’s restaurants have many locations across Oahu. See my post on trying Zippy’s.

* Liliha Bakery at 515 N. Kuakini St, Honolulu, HI. I’m a huge fan of Liliha Bakery’s coco puffs. My goodness, they are so, so good! Liliha Bakery offers a dine-in, countertop-seating area or you can just pick up pastries to go. Whatever you do, don’t miss the coco puffs! See my article on Liliha Bakery.

* Highway Inn at 94-226 Leoku St., Waipahu, Hawaii (Okay, so this one isn’t technically in Honolulu, but to me it made the most sense to categorize it here.) A restaurant that’s been in business since 1947 has to be good, right? Here’s the Highway Inn website. I’ve heard that either the Food Network or Travel Channel was recently filming here.


* Cinnamon’s Restaurant  at 315 Uluniu Street in the heart of Kailua has one of the best breakfasts on the entire island. See my review of Cinnamon’s Restaurant.

* Boots & Kimos at 131 Hekili St, Kailua, HI. Like pancakes? Like macadamia nuts? You’ll love the famous Boots & Kimos pancakes with macadamia nut sauce. This very small restaurant usually has a long wait, so don’t come here if you are in a hurry. Oh, and another tip, bring cash because credit cards aren’t accepted.

North Shore Oahu

* Hukilau Cafe at 55-662 Wahinepee St, Laie, Hi. Want to go way off the beaten path? The Hukilau Cafe is your place. It’s a tiny little restaurant in Laie near the North Shore of Oahu. I’ve had breakfast here and it was pretty tasty.

Romys Giant Prawns

* North Shore Shrimp Trucks off Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku offer a unique dining experience that attract both locals and visitors. See my post on North Shore Shrimp Trucks.

* Teds Bakery at 59-024 Kamehameha Hwy, Sunset Beach, HI. I’ve never had a bad meal from Ted’s Bakery and I’ve eaten here many times. They are famous for their chocolate and coconut pies. Sadly, I must confess, I’ve not tried them yet. Here is Ted’s Bakery’s Web site


We are fortunate that two local residents, Dave and Alice, prepared a fantastic list of their favorite Oahu restaurants and categorized them in a very convenient format for us. So, please don’t miss their article on the top Oahu restaurants by local residents Dave and Alice.

This list of Oahu’s local restaurants is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but it should give you more than enough choices to plan into your  vacation. Have you dined at any of these Oahu local favorites? What other Oahu restaurants would you recommend?

  1. Thanks for the suggestions! I’m adding them to my list. I’ve become a big fan of locals restaurants for the very reasons you mention—good food, cheaper prices.

  2. This is great info, now you have made me hungry. Not to make anyone jealous or anything, but I live just 5 houses away from Hukilau Cafe (they were recently featured on national TV a couple of months ago). They are closed on Sundays and Mondays and are open from about 8 am to 2 pm. I recommend arriving no later than 1:30 pm if possible, because the waitresses are worn out by then.

    1. Sorry for making you hungry, Chris. 🙂

      Do you know which show the Hukilau Cafe was on? I’d like to check it out, if I can.

      That’s a great tip on when to arrive. When I was there, it was packed!

      What do you think the specialties are for Hukilau Cafe?

  3. Sheila, I can’t believe you have eaten at Ted’s Bakery and NOT eaten the choc haupia pie. Oh my. You do know you can buy it by the slice? :>) We have been so fortunate to be on Oahu for my daughter’s last 2 birthdays and happily went to Ted’s and got their Choc haupia cake ( SO GOOD!) and this year got the Choc haupia cake with chantilly frosting. Those people there know how to bake! Even carrying that big ole cake out I had to get a slice of the choc haupia pie too. Can’t go and not get one. You seriously need to rectify this oversight! :>) ( love your blog Sheila, just kidding you- all in good fun!)

  4. Halekulani Bakery Although I hate to share our newest find… You should add this to your list. It is incredibble!

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