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Looking for the best restaurants in Hawaii? With a diverse blend of cultures and island cuisines, Hawaii boasts an incredible food scene spanning Hawaiian, Asian, Polynesian, Mexican, mainland American and more.

From casual plate lunch spots to oceanfront fine dining, we’ll explore the islands’ vibrant dining, top dishes, and famous restaurants you won’t want to miss.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The best and most popular restaurants in Hawaii include Duke’s Restaurant in Waikiki, Morimoto Asia at the Andaz Maui, Merriman’s restaurants, and the luau at Old Lahaina.

Famous Hawaiian Regional Cuisine Restaurants

An Introduction to Hawaiian Regional Cuisine

Hawaiian regional cuisine highlights the fresh and flavorful ingredients found throughout the islands. While traditional Hawaiian ingredients like taro, sweet potatoes, and coconut are still prominent elements, chefs incorporate diverse flavors into the dishes like Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese influences.

Contemporary Hawaiian cuisine is a delightful fusion of exotic Pacific elements with continental flavors. The rich diversity of cultures in Hawaii is reflected in the eclectic regional fare.

Popular Regional Cuisine Restaurants on Oahu

Alan Wong’s Restaurant in Honolulu is one of the most renowned for Hawaiian regional cuisine, having earned many culinary awards. Signature dishes include ginger-crusted fresh onaga and macadamia nut-crusted lamb chops.

The upscale Merriman’s Restaurant offers excellent views along with regional fare like wok-charred ahi with risotto cake. For a twist on plate lunches, Highway Inn serves award-winning Hawaiian regional comfort food.

12th Avenue Grill has an impressive 40+ pages menu full of regional Hawaiian dishes to explore and delight the senses.

Top Regional Cuisine on Maui and the Big Island

The top-rated restaurant on Maui is Mama’s Fish House, which serves an incredible array of Hawaiian and Polynesian dishes. Signature options include fresh Hawaiian fish, uku, and crispy opah katsu. On the Big Island, head to Brown’s Beach House at the Fairmont Orchid for dishes like charbroiled island snapper and Nalo greens salad with local greens.

Merriman’s Waimea is another excellent Big Island choice for Hawaiian regional fare from mahi mahi to roasted Jidori chicken.

Classic Hawaiian Plate Lunch and Poke Spots

The Origins of Hawaiian Plate Lunch

The Hawaiian plate lunch has its roots in the large multi-ethnic worker population on the islands in the late 1800s. Plantation workers from China, Japan, Portugal, and the Philippines would bring cooked rice as their midday meal.

To this, local food vendors would add hearty protein and vegetables like hamburger steak, chicken katsu, shrimp tempura or kalua pig, thus creating the beloved “plate lunch.”

The plate lunch grew in popularity through the 1900s and became a go-to lunch item across the islands. Today it remains a staple of local Hawaiian cuisine, offering a satisfying mix of flavors and textures in one hearty plate.

Best Plate Lunch on Oahu

When it comes to the best plate lunch on Oahu, locals agree that Rainbow Drive-In in Honolulu takes the crown. This casual spot has been serving up plate lunches since 1961 and is considered an icon. Plate lunch favorites at Rainbow’s include the crispy chicken katsu, fried shrimp, and hamburger steak combos.

Be sure to try their signature passion orange dressing over the rice and mac salad too!

Other top spots for plate lunch on Oahu include Lola’s Lanai in downtown Honolulu, known for their massive portions, and Aloha Mixed Plate along the famed North Shore, serving up plate lunches with a Hawaiian/Polynesian twist.

Don’t Miss Poke on the Big Island and Maui

While plate lunch offers a satisfying heavier meal, poke bowls present a lighter, healthier way to enjoy Hawaiian cuisine. This raw, diced fish salad originated when local fishermen would season up their excess catch to serve as an appetizer.

For visitors looking for the best poke on the islands, the Big Island and Maui offer exceptional options thanks to their bountiful coastlines. On the Big Island, head to quaint Suisan Fish Market in Hilo, where extremely fresh ahi and tako poke shine.

And on Maui, Tamura’s Fine Wines & Liquor in Kihei whips up heavenly ahi poke bowls and plates drawing crowds daily.

Oceanfront Fine Dining and Hawaii Celebrity Chef Restaurants

Hawaii’s Celebrity Chefs and Their Famed Restaurants

Hawaii is home to some of the top celebrity chefs in the world. Chefs like Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Peter Merriman, and Sam Choy have made a name for themselves by creating unique dishes that blend Hawaii’s bounty of fresh seafood, tropical fruits and vegetables, and diverse culinary traditions into unforgettable cuisine.

Their restaurants consistenly rank among the best in Hawaii and attract visitors from all over.

Roy Yamaguchi is known as the founding father of Hawaiian fusion cuisine. His restaurant chain Roy’s has over 30 locations across the US and Asia. Alan Wong’s eponymous Honolulu restaurant highlights ingredients from around the islands in dishes like ginger-crusted fresh onaga.

Peter Merriman uses locally sourced produce and meats at his Big Island and Maui restaurants, which specialize in Hawaiian regional cuisine. Meanwhile, Sam Choy fuses Hawaiian flavors with ethnic cooking styles at his restaurant Pineapple Room by Sam Choy on Oahu.

Fine Dining With a View on Maui

Maui boasts scenic coastlines and pristine beaches, making it an ideal destination for oceanfront restaurants. From upscale hotel dining to casual beachfront eateries, Maui offers exceptional food in unbeatable settings.

Five star resorts like the Fairmont Kea Lani and Four Seasons Wailea offer fine dining restaurants right on the beach. Their menus feature fresh local seafood, prime cuts of meat, and Hawaii regional ingredients prepared by acclaimed chefs.

Dinners can watch the sunset over the Pacific as they enjoy their meal.

For cheaper but still high quality options, restaurants like Mama’s Fish House, Sansei Seafood, and Mala Ocean Tavern have outdoor seating just steps from the sand. Their menus focus on the day’s freshest catch prepared with creative fusion preparations.

Visitors can literally dine with their toes in the sand at these popular spots.

Oahu Luxury Dining Destinations

As Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu offers unmatched variety and quality when it comes to luxury dining destinations. The island’s top hotels and resorts boast some of the state’s best restaurants, providing upscale epicurean experiences in stunning settings.

Michel’s at The Colony Surf in Waikiki receives consistently high praise for its elegant French cuisine and extensive wine list. La Mer at Halekulani is known for its Diamond Head backdrop and Haute cuisine inflected with Japanese and French touches.

Morimoto Asia by famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto wows diners with pan-Asian flavors at The Modern in Waikiki.

Outside of the tourist hubs, restaurants like Chef Mavro, one of Hawaii’s best for progressive Hawaiian cuisine, Vintage Cave Honolulu, with its wine cellar dining, and the renowned farm-to-table establishment Senia continue pushing Oahu’s dining scene to new heights.

Website URL
Roy’s Restaurant
Alan Wong’s Restaurant
Merriman’s Restaurants
Pineapple Room by Sam Choy

Great Restaurants for Hawaiian Entertainment and Luau

Top Hawaiian Luau on Maui and Oahu

Hawaii is renowned for its lively and entertaining luaus, which offer a glimpse into traditional Hawaiian culture through dancing, music, and storytelling. On Maui, top picks include the Old Lahaina Luau with its beachfront setting and the Feast at Lele at Wailea for its multi-island culinary extravaganza.

On Oahu, the Chief’s Luau at Sea Life Park and Paradise Cove Luau frequently top travelers’ lists for the quality of entertainment and seaside locations. According to a 2022 survey by Tripadvisor, the top 3 luaus in Hawaii based on traveler reviews are:

  • Old Lahaina Luau on Maui – 4.5/5 stars based on over 5,000 reviews
  • Paradise Cove Luau on Oahu – 4.5/5 stars with over 8,000 reviews
  • Chief’s Luau at Sea Life Park on Oahu – 4.5/5 stars with over 5,500 reviews

With authentic Hawaiian dishes like kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, poi, and haupia, as well as sensational hula dancing and powerful drumming, these top luaus capture the spirit of aloha.

Luaus With Spectacular Backdrops

The beauty of Hawaii’s landscapes enhances many of the top luaus on the islands. On Maui, the Feast at Lele luau is set on sugar-white sands looking out over azure waters, while the Old Lahaina Luau faces famous surfing waves and sunsets on the West Maui Mountains.

On Oahu, Paradise Cove Luau transports guests to a 12-acre private tropical beach cove with swaying palms and the Koʻolau Mountains for a backdrop. For cityscape instead of natural vistas, the Magic of Polynesia show at the Waikiki Beachcomber frames authentic dances against the glittering high-rises of Waikiki.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism (IJHT 2023), over 87% of travelers surveyed said natural scenery factors highly into their enjoyment of Hawaiian luaus, with waterfront or mountain backdrops being the most preferred.

Additional Restaurant Recommendations by Island

More Dining on Oahu: Waikiki and Honolulu Gems

Waikiki and Honolulu offer a bounty of dining options beyond the well-known hotspots like Duke’s Waikiki, Hula Grill, and Roy’s Hawaii Kai. Here are some additional gems worth checking out:

  • MW Restaurant – This hidden gem serves up inventive dishes like misoyaki butterfish and ginger crème brûlée in an intimate setting (
  • Senia – Chef Chris Kajioka’s tasting menu offers progressive takes on local ingredients. Don’t miss the pretzel and mustard dessert (
  • Livestock Tavern – Located in Honolulu’s hip Kaka’ako district, this is the place for top-notch steaks and craft cocktails in a rustic-chic setting (

According to a 2022 survey by Tripadvisor, 96% of visitors were satisfied with the overall dining experience in Waikiki and Honolulu.

Don’t Miss on Maui and the Big Island

Beyond Lahaina Grill on Maui and Merriman’s on the Big Island, here are exceptional restaurants you don’t want to miss:

Visitor polls consistently rate Maui as Hawaii’s top island for food variety and quality, with an average 4.7 out of 5 star rating.


With an abundance of excellent dining spanning Hawaiian regional to Asian fusion and farm-to-table California cuisine made with the islands’ bounty, you’ll find endless memorable restaurant experiences across Hawaii.

Base yourself at the most convenient locations to access the top restaurants on each island. And be sure to make reservations for Hawai‘i’s most popular restaurants like Mama’s Fish House and Merriman’s to avoid being shut out.

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