Honolulu is a cultural melting pot, an element of the city that is greatly reflected in the array of restaurants and cuisines available. New restaurants pop up around the city all the time. Yet certain tried and true staples have stuck around for decades. With Honolulu's perfect blend of old and new, international and local, elegant and casual, a foodie can get the best Honolulu has to offer.
Gourmet dish at Alan Wong's — Photo courtesy of _e.t
High-end and elegant restaurants such as Morimoto Waikiki are the places to go for extremely romantic dinners and important celebrations. Foodies with a gourmet palate to please will find satisfaction with the island's fine dining restaurants.
With sweeping ocean views in Waikiki, Michel's serves the most traditional French food in all of Honolulu. Located at the Colony Surf Resort (like many fine dining restaurants in Honolulu), Michel's is known for its escargot, frog legs, abalone and steamed fresh fish. Meanwhile, Alan Wong's, named after the famous head chef himself, captures the flavors of Asia and the Pacific in his Hawaiian fusion dishes. With a clean cut, island-style ambiance, Alan Wong's is a place to dress up local style and try the ono ("delicious") food.
Let's change the old cliche "When in Rome . . . " to "When in Hawaii . . . " You probably get the idea. So trying traditional Hawaiian food is a must while on the island, and at Helena's Hawaiian Food, you can sample true Polynesian and Hawaiian food. Some Hawaiian staples to try here include poi (fermented and blended taro), lomi salmon (raw salmon), poke (raw seafood salad) and kalua pig (pork cooked in an earth oven).
Fresh ahi poke — Photo courtesy of Omid Tavallai
Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants can be found throughout Honolulu, often as small eateries nestled between bigger shops and buildings. Streets such as Kapahulu on the southern end of town are up-and-coming hot spots, with a number of unique restaurants such as Egyptian food and home-style Japanese having arrived in the last few years.
Some of the most unique dishes and treats in Honolulu are made by individuals with makeshift kitchen set ups under tents at the farmers markets. In addition to ready-to-eat meals, there's an abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables, many of which are unique and rare.
On Thursdays, check out Haleiwa Farmers Market at Waimea Valley on the North Shore. Also on Thursdays and over on the east side, the Kailua Farmers Market is an outlet for farmers from all over the island to sell their handmade crafts, food and organic produce.
Every Saturday at Ala Moana Shopping Center is the Ala Moana Farmers Market, where approximately 40 vendors sell locally made and grown crafts and produce. With all farmers markets, remember to bring a reusable shopping bag.
Exotic fruits at the market — Photo courtesy of David McKelvey