10 Best joints for barbecue on Oahu
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
It must be because Oahu truly is the Gathering Island, as it's nicknamed, that we find such an array of cuisines. Nestled between the swaying palm trees of the country side, and the tall buildings of Waikiki lies plenty of amazing barbecue joints. Whether you're in the mood for a classic barbecue meal, or one with an Asian or Korean fusion element, you won't be lacking in options to please the palate. From the mellow east side, up to Central Oahu, and deep down in the winding roads of the city, Honolulu offers up delicious barbecue to enjoy while visiting the island.
Out on the east side you can get a truly local experience at Keneke's or Uncle Bobo's, who can also cater any event you may have with delicious BBQ. These and a few other local favorites are just that - local favorites - meaning that they're wonderful places to get a peak at the culture of the island. For bigger, more upscale barbecue eateries there is always Buzz's Steakhouse and d.k. Steakhouse in Honolulu.
What's interesting about Oahu is the fusion of Korean and Asian food with barbecue. Most of the BBQ joints on this list are Korean barbecue restaurants, serving up a combo of local, Hawaiian, Korean and other Asian foods mixed with classic barbecue elements. Nearly all of these places can be enjoyed in a very casual fashion, and are perfect for a family dinner, a casual date, or for quick food to take on the go. 10 Best has you covered with the best BBQ places island wide.
10 d.k Steak House
Cozy wooden booths line the dining room at this local favorite � perfect for a romantic dinner. Subdued lighting, elegant table settings, and understated, graceful decor set the scene for a fantastic meal. Portions are large and satisfying, so you might want to forgo the appetizer and head straight for a luscious, dry-aged, prime cut of beef. Filet mignon, New York strip, steak au poivre, and the house specialty � a 22 oz. bone-in rib-eye � are all tender and flavorful. A decent selection of seafood, including Caribbean lobster tail, adds depth to the menu. (808-931-6280)
9 Ono Hawaiian Foods
Authentic Hawaiian food what real island folks eat! There is the amazing draw at this unassuming place. It's always crowded, and it's largely take-out, but it's worth searching out. Kalua (roast) pig is a favorite, as is lomi-lomi salmon (prepared with sweet onions and tomato), laulau (steamed pork and butterfish), and haupia (coconut pudding). You'll get large servings, and you won't pay an-arm-and-a-leg for great food. Plus, you'll learn first-hand the meaning of "ono." (It's delicious!) (808-737-2275)
8 Buzz's Original Steakhouse
Not far from Kailua Beach on Oahu's windward side, this venerable institution captures the spirit of Hawaii as it existed in years past. Rustic and comfortable, Buzz's also boasts walls full of photographs, which add a note of personality. The menu is relatively uncomplicated and more than capably done. At lunch, folks come in for juicy burgers, salads, and other light fare, while dinner is a touch more refined, with steaks, lobster, and fresh fish getting most of the attention. The bar serves refreshing drinks; the ambience just happens. (808-261-4661, 808-261-1738)
7 Me's Bar-B-Que
Me's BBQ is a combo of Hawaiia, Korean, and barbecue dishes. Portions are known to be huge here, with one plate often being enough for two people. Located centrally in Waikiki, Me's is a simple and to the point joint, and the owner takes the orders and is great at suggesting side dishes. Seating is outdoors or you can take your order on the go. Huge plates are available for under $10 (usually), and breakfast plates can be enjoyed for only $4. ((808) 926-9717)
6 Keneke's Plate Lunch & BBQ
Located in Oahu's countryside of Waimanalo on the east side of the island, Keneke's offers what the name says - plate lunch and BBQ. Keneke's is quite an interesting place, as it is very "local style." It's a quaint and simple eatery. You walk up to the window and order and wait for the meal which is served on disposable plates. You can take it to go or enjoy it in the eating area. This is where it gets interesting, it's a cement area with picnic tables surrounded in religious writings from the Bible. The food is always great, both the local and Hawaiian food as well as the barbecue, but portions can be on the smaller side. Give it a shot on the east side. ((808) 259-9811)
5 Uncle Bobo's Smoked BBQ
Uncle Bobo's is a true local style and local favorite barbecue joint on the east side of Oahu. While they have classic barbecue dishes like amazing spare ribs, they also offer Asian and Pacific themed foods such as Thai beef and chicken stir fry with peanut sauce. What's great about Bobo's is that they not only have the road side restaurant, but they also offer catering for just about any event you could be having. They offer the "smokehouse special" with a classic array of BBQ dishes such as barbecued beef brisket, and pork shoulder, served over redneck rice and with a dinner roll. It also includes homemade BBQ sauce, coleslaw, ranch style beans, and local fresh corn, and watermelon and pineapple for a complete meal. ((808) 237-1000)
4 Gina's B-B-Q
Gina's B-B-Q has been around since 1991, serving happy and hungry locals and visitors for about three decades. Owned and run by two sisters (one named Gina, naturally), Gina's offers up that unique local combo of Korean food, and classic and Asian fusion barbecue. The food is very affordable, on average about $8 to $10 a plate. It comes in the classic local style of plate lunch, with options of plenty of meat, noodles, vegetables and soups. ((808) 735-7964)
3 Molly's Smokehouse
Located in the very unassuming Central Oahu town of Wahiawa, Molly's Smokehouse serves up barbecue that is a coveted meal by Oahu locals. From classic macaroni and cheese, to a pulled pork sandwich to sweet bake beans, Molly's is a classic barbecue joint. The eatery is quite simple, with usually just one waitress and a modest and simple atmosphere. Parking here can be tough, there aren't too many spots right at the restaurant. ((808) 621-4858)
2 Pearl's Korean Barbecue
Pearl's Korean Barbecue blends Asian fusion, local food and barbecue in one quaint eatery in the beautiful Manoa Valley outside of Honolulu. With a hot buffet style offering of various dishes, Pearl's serves up what are usually quite large plates of food - often times one plate is enough for a couple to share. You get to choose main/meat portions along with rice, noodles, or veggie side dishes. The restaurant is sort of fast food style, with plastic lit up menus on the wall and everything made in heaps, but it's made daily. Everything is served on disposable dishes, but that's Hawaiian "plate lunch" style. ((808) 988-0188)
1 Moon Hoe Drive In
Tucked away in a modest shopping center in Aiea, this little local eatery is really a hidden gem. They have a unique selection of Asian and local foods, as well as barbecue dishes such as crispy roast chicken, which is one of the local favorites. The family run business is located in central Oahu in the Pearl Ridge Shopping Center, and is run by a very friendly couple. It's very modest, and "local style," no bells and whistles, but boasts a home style feel and great food. ((808) 486-9196)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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