Best Restaurants in Honolulu for an Amazing Lunch Experience
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
Enjoying good food is a part of both traditional and modern Hawaiian culture, so it is only appropriate for visitors to seek out the best lunch spots on the island and enjoy an array of dishes. To help you find the best lunch restaurants Oahu has to offer, 10 Best has compiled a list of the top 10 best lunches on the island. Whether you're in search of Pacific Rim fare or chart house style dishes, casual or formal, 10 Best has you covered for ono (delicious) lunch joints.
If you're spending a day enjoying the surf and sun of the North Shore, drop in to Haleiwa Joe's in historic Haleiwa Town. Chart house style steaks, seafood, burgers, salads and a full bar come together to bring you local food and beer during an ocean view meal.
For a more upscale meal, Alan Wong's in Honolulu for exquisite food and a more formal luncheon atmosphere. The locally sourced food and Pacific Rim cuisine bring the taste of the islands to your palate.
A truly local and casual experience can be had at the Heeia Pier General Store and Deli, where top notch local chefs bring the best of local food to the table. Freshly caught seafood from off the same pier, locally raised beef and unique locally grown vegetables all come together to create high end versions of common local staples.
So get out and on the road and make sure you're stomach is ready for the 10 Best lunches on the island.
So ono (delicious), as the locals would say! At Irifune you'll find perhaps the best Japanese food a person can find in Honolulu, and it's decently priced, low key, a home style. The hole in the wall restaurant hides it great food behind a very modest exterior wall with a very homey feel inside. On any given night there's the chance of a short wait in the small waiting room with a fish tank, but it's very worth it and you can pass the time by enjoying a drink you brought or checking out all of the celebrity photos taken in the eatery. If anyone in your party is celebrating a birthday, you can give the management a heads up (without the birthday person knowing) and they'll surprise everyone with a lights-out birthday song and their signature ice cream crepe. The food is simply great. It's Japanese but not sushi. ((808) 737-1141)
9 Ono Hawaiian Foods
Authentic Hawaiian food - what real island folks eat - is the amazing draw at this unassuming place. So as the saying goes, when in Rome... 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!) This is a laid back and casual place, so be ready to grab and go and if you dine in, you'll be around locals. (808-737-2275)
8 Bogart's Cafe
Bogart's is one of those hole-in-the-wall places that is a tried and true reliable joint for locals in search of that perfect breakfast. Whether taken to eat on the go or eaten at one of their small sidewalk or indoor tables, Bogart's is a not to miss place for anyone vising Honolulu. The tiny cafe has an extensive hand written menu on the wall, and although it's quite varied and long, everything is really good. The coffees are also great and they have every type of espresso you could want. A real hit is the breakfast bagel sandwich, can't go wrong with that. (Honolulu, HI 96815)
7 Hang Ten Bar & Grill
Located right on the edge of both the ocean and pool at Turtle Bay Resort, Hang Ten Bar & Grill is the place you'll want to hang at to get your night started. With amazingly strong mai tais with a special Turtle Bay mix, an array of local beers on tap, and a huge selection of signature tropical drinks, Hang Ten is the best place on the North Shore for a sunset drink. You can hang out of a couple hours after dark enjoying the big screen TV with sports and chatting with the friendly bartenders. Entertainment at dark varies on different nights of the week, including live music, fire knife dancing, hula dancing and other shows. You can watch surfers catch waves right there and go for a stroll along the waters edge. (8082936000)
6 Haleiwa Joe's
Take in the North Shore's relaxed lifestyle at this fantastic eatery. Kick back on the lanai, take in the incredible island scenery, and revel in the moment. While you do, make sure to sample terrific seafood and steak entrees. Prime rib is always popular, and coconut shrimp maintain a faithful following as well. You'll also find grilled fish, fresh soups and salads, and tempting desserts. In the bar, a wonderful selection of appetizers makes for great nibbling. There's another location in Kaneohe called Haleiwa Joe's Haiku, but it's this North Shore location that really draws crowds and loyal local customers. (808-637-8005, 831-479-7564)
5 Lei Lei's Bar and Grill
Lei Lei's Bar and Grill sits right on the golf course at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. Like a bar and grill would be, it's laid back and casual, yet somewhat upscale and classy. There's a putting green out front where the kids can hang out (in full view) if they get restless, and views of the golf course and the mountain range offer gorgeous sights. Unlike the other restaurants at Turtle Bay, this one isn't right in the resort. The full bar can serve up anything you'd like, but their famous for mai tais and Lei Lei's lemonades. The menu has a broad spectrum of great food - burgers, pastas, salads, local fish specials with sides of mashed potatoes, ribs, and the list goes on. ((808) 293-2662)
4 Mocha Java Café
At this fantastic caf�, you can either step in for a smoothie or a full-bodied cup or coffee, or you can stay awhile and have a light meal as well. Cr�pes are a specialty, both savory and sweet, and you can also pick up an omelet, salad, sandwich, or stir-fried dish. Cakes and cookies make an appearance as well, as do some great vegetarian options, including vegan, low-fat, and tofu-based fare. Although it's located in a modest shopping center, it's actually a super cute and great place to eat. Browse the delightful shops in the immediate area before or after dining. (808-591-9023)
3 Heeia Pier General Store and Deli
The Heeia Pier General Store and Deli is a classic Kaneohe eatery enjoyed by dedicated locals for three decades as it served up local classic like plate lunches and loco mocos (beef patty, egg and gravy over rice). But recently top chef Mark Noguchi took over the classic eatery and put a modern sustainable and healthier take on the local comfort food. All of the beef is from the Big Island and grass fed, the fish is caught nearby, and other vegetables are all grown locally - a locovore's dream. Located ocean front on the pier, diners can enjoy casual - but really good breakfast and lunch right on the water. (1 808.235.2192)
2 Banzai Sushi Bar
Sushi, sushi, and more sushi - all made from locally caught fresh fish and seafood can be found at the North Shore's Banzai Sushi Bar. And yes, there's definitely a full bar boasting a varies amount of beers, wine and specialty cocktails. Live music happens throughout the week and it's best to check beforehand what's going on that night. In addition to the delicious menu and casual Hawaiian ambiance, Banzai Sushi is also a hot spot for nightlife. From a mellow bar scene to wild dance parties boasting unique and fun themes, Banzai Sushi is an all around fun place. Cs ((808) 637-4404)
1 Alan Wong's
A beautiful, pale room, accented with gleaming wood and sprinkled with flowers and artwork, welcomes guests to this exceptional place. The exhibition kitchen makes the most of fresh, regional ingredients, crafting such delicacies as kiawe wood-grilled mahimahi, ginger-crusted onaga, and roast duck prepared three ways. You'll also find grilled beef and lamb chops, along with "da bag," a foil packet of seafood, kalua pork, and vegetables that's dramatically deflated tableside. If you make it to dessert, don't miss the sorbets or cr�me br�l�es, infused with tropical fruits. Wong has other locations in Honolulu, such as the Pineapple Room in Ala Moana Shopping Center. (808-949-2526)
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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