Locals and tourists flock to the shores of Waikiki by the thousands every day. With white sand beaches, world-class surfing, and the unbelievable backdrop of Diamond Head in the distance, what’s not to love?
Besides all of that fun in the sun and relaxation, there’s another great reason to love Waikiki: its delicious food. Some of the best food, drinks, and desserts on Oahu can be found among the endless places to eat in Waikiki. As one of the best-known vacation destinations in the world, Waikiki attracts some of the best chefs, bakers, mixologists, and other culinary creators from around the islands and the world.
I used to live in Waikiki, and one of my first jobs was as a concierge at a major resort there. Therefore, I feel quite confident in offering my take on the best Waikiki restaurants. I hope you’ll skip the standard breakfast buffet and avoid ordering pizza to your room, even if it’s just for a day, because there is some seriously great food to be had in this neighborhood!
Read on to learn more about some of the best restaurants in Waikiki, whether you’re coming from the island or the other side of the world. Make a reservation ahead if it’s possible, as some of these eateries enjoy extreme popularity. Enjoy Waikiki!
Best Restaurants in Waikiki
1. Duke’s Waikiki
Address: 2335 Kalākaua Ave #116, Honolulu, HI 96815
It only makes sense to start with a place that’s been one of the most popular restaurants in Waikiki for decades: Duke’s Waikiki. This beachfront restaurant is in a prime location in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, staying open from early morning to late night and offering live music every night.
First, a bit of history: the restaurant is named after famous surfer Duke Kahanamoku, a local legend and largely known worldwide. Kahanamoku came from a noble Hawaiian family before the islands became a state, was an Olympic gold medalist, and is known as the father of modern surfing. He left a huge mark on Hawaii, especially in his home neighborhood of Waikiki, and you’ll see tributes to him everywhere.
While the restaurant came well after Duke, it has become almost as loved as the surfer himself. It offers a wide range of menu items, ranging from takes on classic American dishes to local favorites like Huli-Huli chicken and coconut shrimp. Do NOT miss their famous dessert: a slice of Hula Pie, in all its chocolatey-macadamia nut glory.
Duke’s is super popular, so try to make a reservation if possible. Live entertainment is hosted daily in the late afternoon and late night, and Duke’s on Sunday is “a thing,” so plan accordingly. While Duke’s is best enjoyed on-site, especially for happy hour, you can order delivery or takeout if you have an amazing view from your room that you just can’t leave.
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2. The Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian
Address: 2259 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
My personal must-do, whenever I’m back home, is to enjoy an afternoon or evening at The Mai Tai Bar. This casual spot is at the famous Royal Hawaiian hotel, which is the second-oldest in Waikiki and has an impossible-to-miss pink paint job. It also occupies what is arguably the best spot on Waikiki Beach.
The Mai Tai Bar is in the warm, open air but completely covered by parasols, providing a relaxing escape from the Hawaiian sun. It is literally steps from the sand, and you can hear the calm water of Waikiki splashing against the shore. The tables closest to the sand get a panoramic view all the way to Diamond Head.
Most people come here for the famous Mai Tai, of which there are several varieties. You probably won’t find a better example of this island drink; some were invented by bartenders behind the counter who have worked here for decades. They come at a steep price, but they are worth it.
Besides the delicious cocktails, a lunch and dinner menu is available for those who want a full meal. I usually order the ahi poke and truffle fries starters to share with my wife, or there’s also an excellent Korean fried chicken sandwich. Whatever you’re eating or drinking, the ambiance of postcard-worthy views, tropical sunsets, tiki torches, and live music are what bring guests back again and again.
3. Kona Coffee Purveyors
Address: International Marketplace, 2330 Kalākaua Ave #160, Honolulu, HI 96815
Now, let’s shift to something a bit different – Hawaiian coffee. While most of the good restaurants in Waikiki serve some form of the famous Kona coffee Hawaii’s Big Island is known for, few have a 100% Kona blend. Kona Coffee Purveyors does.
This specialty coffee shop is serious about its beans. Pure Kona coffee beans are sourced from a few different farms around the Big Island, and while it may be expensive, the difference in quality is obvious. Hawaii benefits from a tropical climate, and the Big Island has rich, unique soil thanks to the active volcanos you may have heard about lately.
You can try it in their upscale cafe in the International Marketplace, a large shopping center in the heart of Waikiki with a long history. Besides the amazing espresso beverages, visitors love their handmade pastries and other desserts. Both their coffee and their snacks have won local awards.
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4. Hula Grill Waikiki
Address: 2335 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Just upstairs from Duke’s, on the second floor of the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, you’ll find Hula Grill Waikiki. Both restaurants have the same great views of Waikiki Beach, the same owners, and the same great quality.
Many visitors find the flavors at Hula Grill similar to those at Duke’s, but Hula Grill makes local flavors and ingredients more of a priority and has its own specialties. It also has an atmosphere that feels a bit less casual, but it’s certainly not a fine dining experience – just not the “bar & grill” casual you’ll find downstairs. It’s packed every evening, and you’ll want to reserve a table in advance for the best experience.
I always recommend Hula Grill as a great spot to spend happy hour, as I love their Early Eats menu. The poke tacos and smoked ahi dip are unbelievable for fans of fish. If seafood isn’t for you, there’s even a prime rib poke that should definitely do the trick.
Again, with a view like Hula Grill’s, I’d recommend dining in if possible. If you missed your chance for a reservation or have an even better spot on your balcony, you can always order for pickup or takeout.
5. Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar, & Store
Address: 298 Beach Walk, Honolulu, HI 96815
You might have some Tommy Bahamas in your suitcase on a trip to Hawaii. This classic vacation-wear brand also has an awesome restaurant in their Waikiki store, and it’s a great place to find island-fresh seafood, meats, and cocktails, too.
The Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Waikiki is on the Beachwalk – a street in the center of all the action that’s a great place to find food and shop in general. The restaurant is spread out over three floors. The lower two have a tropical living space environment with a live herb wall, while the top floor is a rooftop lounge complete with sand, a firepit, live entertainment, and an amazing view of the city.
The menu is all about farm-to-table, with options to please all taste buds, including vegetarians and gluten-free eaters. While reservations aren’t required, they are highly recommended, as this is a popular place that fills up quickly.
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6. Roy’s Waikiki
Address: 226 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815
One of the best-known local celebrity chefs in Hawaii is Roy Yamaguchi, founder and owner of the various Roy’s restaurants around the islands. This Japanese-Hawaiian chef’s establishments have been a staple for tourists and locals alike, and the Waikiki location on the Beachwalk is often packed full.
Roy’s is another great example of that unique Hawaiian ability to combine upscale with casual atmosphere. The menu is Pacific Rim and Hawaii-regional based, and the food on it has won many awards. I, personally, can’t not get the Misoyaki Butterfish at Roy’s – no matter how amazing the steaks are.
Overall, this is a great restaurant to visit if you are curious about the unique flavors found in Hawaii cuisine. Reservations are highly recommended at this popular Oahu eatery. Roy Yamaguchi also has a Pan-Asian concept restaurant in Waikiki called Eating House 1849 if you end up becoming a big fan.
7. Musubi Cafe IYASUME
Address: 2427 Kūhiō Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
So, where do locals eat in Waikiki? Mostly, the same place as the tourists, because good food is good food! However, one local favorite can be particularly tough to find in Waikiki restaurants, except for at places like Musubi Cafe IYASUME.
That local favorite is the beloved spam musubi, and it’s one of a dwindling number of cheap eats in the islands. In its simplest form, it’s simply a slice of fried spam on a thick bed of white rice, wrapped and held together with a sheet of nori, the Japanese seaweed used in sushi. You eat it like you’d eat a sandwich, and while a musubi may not be a full meal, it’s the perfect simple lunch on a Hawaiian beach day.
Musubu Cafe IYASUME is a simple Japanese-Hawaiian shop specializing in the musubi in three different Waikiki locations, along with three others in the greater Honolulu area. Along with their many variations of musubis, they also offer other local dishes like raw ahi poke bowls and Japanese delicacies like miso soup. Locals can’t get enough of this kind of stuff, nor can tourists who know where to look.
You can try these handheld delights for yourself on the Waikiki Beachwalk, Kuhio Avenue, or in the Waikiki Monarch Hotel. Consider ordering ahead on GrubHub or DoorDash if your plan is to take lunch to a spot on the North Shore or a local hike.
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8. Dukes Lane Market & Eatery
Address: 2255 Kūhiō Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Duke is back baby!
Dukes Lane is a narrow side street that’s best known for being lined with street stalls selling souvenirs and other things for tourists. But more recently, it’s also become known for Dukes Lane Market & Eatery. Located in the Hyatt Centric hotel, this food hall is rather new but has already made itself a huge reputation.
This large space is filled with several places to get food at any hour of the day. Besides the market, which is like an extra-large ABC Store (you’ll find these convenience stores everywhere in Waikiki), there’s the Basalt restaurant, Soleil Hawaii Bakery, Il Gelato Hawaii ice cream, Spitfire Rotisserie, and Flatbread restaurant, and two coffee shops.
For mornings, the market is a great place to grab a breakfast sandwich before hitting the beach. Basalt’s brunch is a great place to try a breakfast staple in Hawaii – the loco moco, consisting of fried rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy.
For afternoons and evenings, dine in for interesting entrées such as duck empanadas or macadamia nut-crusted fish. If you’d rather something more simple, Spitfire has rotisserie chickens and paninis that are delicious and easily brought back to the room. Thanks to all of this variety, this food hall is home to some of the best restaurants in Waikiki for families, where everyone can find something great.
9. Sushi Sho
Address: 383 Kalaimoku St, Honolulu, HI 96815
There is no shortage of sushi in Hawaii, and you’ll certainly find the quality to be impressive, to say the least. However, if you have a large budget and truly want the top of the top, Sushi Sho is probably the best restaurant in the entire state for sushi.
Sushi Sho is more of a dining experience than a sushi dinner. It’s a small, elegant space located in the back room of the La Vie restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach. In fact, it’s just the 10-seat sushi counter where all of the night’s guests sit and where renowned chef Keiji Nakazawa crafts his masterpieces.
Nakazawa is a sushi legend, having established one of the top restaurants in Tokyo. After 25 years of success, he decided to close and start from new in Hawaii, and Sushi Sho opened its doors in 2017. His thirty-course omakase sushi menu focuses on fish from the waters of Hawaii and other local ingredients, with an obsessive eye for freshness and the tradition of Japan.
Despite costing more than $300 per person, you’ll find it hard to get a reservation at this prestigious and exclusive sushi counter, so be sure to plan in advance. There are two seatings per evening, and the restaurant is closed on Mondays.
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10. Michel’s at the Colony Surf
Address: 2895 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Sticking with the fine dining and fresh fish theme, I’d highly recommend Michel’s at the Colony Surf to anyone who wants an upscale and elegant dinner on their trip to Waikiki. Michel’s is on the eastern end of Waikiki Beach at the foot of Diamond Head.
This is one of the few classic haute-cuisine French restaurants in Waikiki, with the others being La Mer at Halekulani and La Vie in the Ritz-Carlton. I’ve always preferred Michel’s, however, because besides offering great service and fresh ingredients, the unique view of Waikiki from its other end offers spectacular sunset and sparkling city lights views.
Do not miss their famous lobster bisque. Maine lobsters are flown in, and every part of them is used to create the most velvety appetizer you’ve ever had, complete with a tableside flambé of the meat.
After that, you can’t really go wrong with any of the main courses. There’s also a wine-paired tasting menu that takes away the tough decisions and won’t disappoint.
Be sure to make a reservation at Michel’s and request a table with a view. Recently, they’ve also started doing Sunday Brunch on the first Sunday of each month. While I’ve yet to try it, I can’t imagine anything at Michel’s to be less-than-stellar, so consider having a luxurious breakfast if you’re in Waikiki at the right time.
11. Double Fat Ice Cream
Address: 2490 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll find ice cream all over Waikiki. But none do it quite like Double Fat Ice Cream in the ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki, a definition hole-in-the-wall ice cream stand that appears to be a metal shack in a quiet corner.
Chef Brandon Lee creates small-batch recipes that range from simple vanilla or chocolate to curious combinations like honey-furikake and yuzu creamsicle. There are also Hawaiian sorbets like pineapple and lilikoi (passionfruit). The stand is only open in the evening, and supplies have been known to sell out because of such high demand.
The name is Double Fat, so let’s not create any illusions – your sugar rush comes with some calories, and the serving sizes are either “double” or “half-double.” Add some of the local-favorite toppings like li thing mui powder or mochi crunch to get the full Hawaii-dessert experience.
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12. Marugame Udon
Address: 2310 Kūhiō Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815
If you’re walking down Kuhio Avenue in the central part of Waikiki and see a massive line of people waiting on the sidewalk, it means you are walking by Marugame Udon. Also spelled Marukame Udon, this casual Japanese restaurant makes the best udon noodle soup in the islands.
Udon noodles are thick, medium-soft, and made from wheat. They are usually served in a broth and with other toppings like meats and vegetables. This is a very popular dish in Japan and Hawaii as well due to the cultural links between the two.
Marugame works like a casual cafeteria, where you’ll grab a tray and point out what you want before reaching the cashier. Besides their famous udon dishes (I like the beef version), you can take simple but delicious sides like shrimp tempura or fried zucchini.
Don’t be intimidated by the giant line you are bound to see on the sidewalk, as it moves quickly. If the seating area is packed full, you can always take your food to go – it’s one of my favorite things to do in Waikiki.
13. Cream Pot
Address: 444 Niu St, Honolulu, HI 96815
In terms of breakfast, Cream Pot is one of the go-to Waikiki restaurants for locals, and it’s a true hidden gem for the tourists who find out about it. This country-style kitchen is tucked away in the back of Waikiki, in the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel along the Ala Wai Canal, and open in the mornings and afternoons.
The breakfast and brunch served here are familiar favorites that are taken to another level. Take the Maguro Eggs Benedict, for example, with its fresh ahi tuna and orange miso shoyu sauce. There’s also the souffle pancakes, topped with vanilla custard, whipped cream, and your choice of fruit. These two are the top hits at Cream Pot.
There’s a great morning beverage list to go along with these treats, too, including local coffee and specials like house-made mint lemonade. You can also bring your own wine or champagne for a small corkage fee.
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Address: 383 Kalaimoku St, Honolulu, HI 96815
You really can’t go wrong with Italian – I mean, what’s not to love? If you agree, then one of the best restaurants in Waikiki for dinner is the Ritz-Carlton’s Quiora.
This open-air dining room on the hotel’s eighth floor is elegant but laid-back, offering panoramic views of the Waikiki skyline and further to the ocean. Its menu combines the beautiful simplicity of Italian specialties with the robust flavors of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim. The result is heavenly for any pasta fanatic, with entrées like Lobster & Kauai Prawn Ravioli and Lamb Chops Gnocchi.
The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, and lunch is a little bit friendlier to your budget if that is a concern, while the food is just as tasty. Don’t skip cocktails at Quiora, either, as the creativity of these drinks will blow your mind.
15. Island Vintage Shave Ice & Island Vintage Coffee
Address: 2201 Kalākaua Ave Kiosk B-1, Honolulu, HI 96815
These are technically two different restaurants, but the Island Vintage brand offers two different concepts. Both can be found in the Royal Hawaiian Center, a large shopping center in the heart of Waikiki.
Their shave ice stand is on the street level in a small stand outside of the main shopping center. Here, you can try this Hawaiian specialty, perfect for cooling off from the heat. Ice shavings are packed into a snow-like pile that is flavored with sweet island treats like pineapple and mango.
On the upper level of the Royal Hawaiian Center, the larger Island Vintage Coffee shop is where you can find delicious coffee and tea refreshments, along with small bites like pastries and sandwiches. Most visitors go with icy drinks like cold brew and blended beverages to sip on while under the hot sun.
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16. Maui Brewing Co. Waikiki
Address: 2300 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Maui Brewing Co. is a place in Waikiki for all beer lovers, as well as people who like good food in general. This Maui-based brewery has several restaurants on both Oahu and Maui, and you can find them in Waikiki in the Beachcomber hotel.
This spacious open-air dining room is located on an upper floor of the hotel, with some seating on an outdoor terrace and some inside, under cover. The bar has no less than 36 craft and specialty brews on tap, including both year-round and seasonal beers from Maui Brewing Co., as well as others from comrade craft breweries in the islands.
There’s a fantastic food menu to go along with all that beer, including locally-inspired pizzas, sandwiches, fish tacos, and more. Visit during happy hour for discounts on both drinks and pizzas.
17. Banàn Waikiki Beach Shack
Address: 2301 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
If you can’t get enough of the hole-in-the-wall secrets that locals love, Banan should be on your list. This little restaurant is behind a window in a hidden location along the Waikiki “Surf Alley,” a tiny side street between the Royal Hawaiian Center and Outrigger Hotel lined with surfboards.
A few years ago, it would have been hard for me to describe what they serve at Banan, but now the concept of açai and smoothie bowls is growing in popularity around the world. Everyone wants to claim this title, but Banan was truly one of the first in Hawaii and probably the rest of America, too.
In fact, Banan does it differently. The menu was born from their famous ice cream-like soft serve made from bananas, along with açai and other fruit blends.
They serve these topped with local granola, exotic macadamia nut butter, and other fruits and sweets. To make it even more amazing-looking, you can get it served in a half-pineapple or papaya instead of a cup.
This awesome treat is the perfect midday snack on the beach – especially because it’s just a few steps away after grabbing your order. The original Banan is a food truck in the Kapahulu neighborhood just down the road, which is an equally awesome stop if you’re on the road to east Oahu!