Whether you prefer traditional Hawaiian food, delicious vegetarian dishes, steaks and seafood, or other styles of cuisine, Hawaii – sometimes overlooked as a foodie destination – offers restaurants that fit the bill. Here, we explore 10 restaurants in America’s 50th state that will thrill your taste buds and leave you truly satisfied.
Before driving along the famously curvy Road to Hana along Maui’s eastern coastline, the Paia Fish Market is an ideal place for a quick, fresh-made meal. At the wooden communal tables, dig into appetizers like deep-fried shrimp or blackened sashimi before downing the exquisitely flaky grilled mahi mahi. This Hawaiian specialty is served with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and Cajun rice. The Paia Fish Market celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019, and it’s a highlight of this former sugar plantation town.
Hawaii is a joyful melting pot of diverse cultures, and Rangoon Burmese Kitchen provides a mouthwatering example of Asian influence. Beneath colorful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, devour coconut curry lamb, pineapple fried rice with vegetables, or Rangoon tea leaf salad with fresh garlic, cabbage, and fish sauce. This Big Island eatery was recently named Best New Restaurant in Honolulu Magazine’s annual Hale ‘Aine Awards.
If you enjoy taking in Hawaiian culture as well as tasty food, Luau Kalamaku delivers the goods of Kauai. Traditional fire knife dancing highlights a theatrical presentation of the ancient Polynesians’ ocean journey from Tahiti to Hawaii. Meanwhile, the luau buffet includes mashed purple sweet potatoes, taro rolls, and Kalua pork, which features a whole pig roasted underground, wrapped in banana leaves. For dessert, feast on rice pudding with dark rum sauce or banana cream tarts.
For more than 50 years, this elegant waterfront restaurant at Lahaina’s Napili Kai Beach Resort has delighted patrons with its approachable take on classic dishes. From poke nachos with sustainable Hawaiian ahi tuna to macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi, there is something for every palate. Sea House Restaurant’s extensive wine list leans heavily on vintages from California and France, including a great selection of rosé wines.
Craft beer lovers flock to Square Barrels, which has more than 20 beers on tap. Maui Brewing Company’s Bikini Blonde Lager, Kohola Brewing Company’s Pineapple Lokahi Pilz, and Waikiki Brewing Company’s Skinny Jeans IPA are just some of the locally created highlights. This laidback Honolulu restaurant also makes decadent burgers and sandwiches, like its chipotle chorizo burger and blue Brie chicken sandwich.
Diced raw fish is a cornerstone of the traditional Hawaiian diet. It’s worth getting to Da Poke Shack early to explore the menu, as this casual Big Island take-out shop often sells out of its dishes featuring freshly caught ahi tuna. Try Pele’s Kiss, which has spicy Hawaiian chili pepper aioli, or the Shack Special, which blends sweet miso and honey with roasted seaweed. The poke bowls come with rice and sides such as broccoli crab salad or kimchi mussels.
Maui restaurants don’t get any more magical than Warren and Annabelle’s, which combines scrumptious food with world-class magic tricks. The appetizer platter ranges from coconut-battered shrimp to Polynesian chicken satay. Over-the-top cocktails include Haleakala Heaven (spiced rum, banana liqueur, strawberries) to Annabelle’s Apparition (Carolan’s Irish Cream, butterscotch schnapps, ice cream). Entertainment during dinner features an invisible “ghost” piano player who takes requests.
This award-winning 80-seat restaurant specializes in modern versions of recipes that multicultural Hawaiian families have enjoyed for generations. Maui-born chef Sheldon Simeon recommends the pork guisantes, a down-home dish with pork and peas, beloved by his Filipino parents. Katsu curry with fried cauliflower and cold ginger chicken with green onion pesto are other winners. There are plenty of beverages for booze lovers, while non-drinkers can savor non-alcoholic cocktails like Moon on the Sea (pineapple, coconut water, cinnamon, clover).
Local, seasonal ingredients bring the tapas menu at Bar Acuda to life. While enjoying the palm tree-laden view on Kauai’s north shore, you can nosh on small plates like bison and pork meatballs (including meat from Hanalei Bison Ranch), garlic-roasted Moloa’a eggplant with Kunana Farms goat cheese, and Kailani Farms baby greens with dates and Manchego cheese. Lonely Planet described Bar Acuda as “the most chef-driven spot in Hanalei and its best kitchen.”
Vegetarian restaurants are increasingly popular in Hawaii, and this cozy Big Island cafe, located at The Shops at Mauna Lani, is a standard-bearer for fresh, plant-based food. The signature avocado toast includes raw hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds, and the “Mango Madness” pita wrap with shaved carrots and massaged kale is a lunch go-to. Wash it all down with a glass of organic ginger beer. Yes, life is good when you’re Under the Bodhi Tree.
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