When planning an Oahu vacation, do not forget to schedule where to eat on the island.
We’ve done a lot of the work for you by putting together this Oahu food tour guide.
In this Hawaii food guide, there are trendy new restaurants, food trucks, food shacks, dessert shops, and even a farm.
We’re certain you’ll find something you can’t live without trying!
We stayed at the Embassy Suites on the Waikiki Beach Walk, so most of the restaurants mentioned are going to be around the Waikiki area.
However, we have also listed restaurants on the North Shore of Oahu and in between.
To us, eating and supporting local restaurants where we travel, is just as valuable as what we do and see in a new place.
So, grab a pen a paper (yep, I’m still old school like that), and make notes of where you want to eat when you visit the Island of Oahu!
For the record, we paid for every meal and all opinions/reviews/recommendations are ours without any outside influence.
What better way to kick off your Hawaii vacation than with this adorable SHAKA ice cream cone?!
Kokoro Café is in the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki. At least that’s where we visited them. I suggest this location anyway, because there are so many food options around.
They are known for their cute and trendy desserts that will make any kid…or Instagrammer giddy!
They offer pineapple Dole whip soft serve floats, mochi waffle pops, and of course, their famous SHAKA ice cream cone!
This is the perfect stop after spending the day at the beach!
Island Vintage Coffee
Alright y’all. I try my best to not hype places up, as I don’t want people to be disappointed. However, I have full confidence in recommending Island Vintage Coffee.
I’m not kidding when I say that we ate here every single day. Our number one recommendation: the Haupia Moana Acai bowl. It HAS to be this bowl.
The haupia topping (think a light coconut gelato) is literally to die for. After we left Hawaii, we came home and recreated this entire acai bowl.
We’re also big fans of their coffees, teas, and even their savory dishes. Their kalua pork and fish and chips sandwiches are crazy good! The kimchi fried rice bowl? Full of flavor.
Island Vintage Coffee is also located in the Royal Hawaiian Center, but they also have a North Shore location.
This restaurant will always be my top restaurant recommendation when visiting Waikiki.
Scratch Kitchen is located in Honolulu, so if you’re staying elsewhere on the island, plan a drive or Uber ride to come here. It’s worth going out of your way for.
First off, they have THE best French toast we’ve ever had. It’s a brulee’d French toast, so it’s got a slight crust on the outside and the inside is as soft as a pillow. The flavor is all there.
The next dish we recommend you trying is the milk n’ cereal pancakes. I’m a grown woman, and I don’t think I can eat pancakes again without fruity pebbles!
The “milk” part of this acts as the syrup, but it tastes like a more liquidlike frosting. If you want to see this dish in action, then check out this video of the milk and cereal pancakes.
If you’re typically not a sweets person or might need a more savory dish, don’t hesitate to order the spicy southern fried chicken n’ waffle or the braised pork belly benedict.
We tried all four dishes. The benedict was our least favorite, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t clean the plate. It just meant we preferred the others.
Be sure to check out Scratch Kitchen’s menu before you head out. The good news? The French toast and pancakes are on the dinner menu as desserts!
Paia Fish Market
When in Hawaii, it is an absolute to eat fresh fish and seafood. Paia Fish Market should be your first stop to fulfill that!
What you will love about eating at Paia’s is that the menu is straightforward. The fish is cooked simple, but in way that it highlights the flavor without masking it.
Although I loved my caesar salad topped with grilled mahi mahi, I was obsessed with my husband’s dish! He got the sauteed ono. Swipe over to see his dish.
I still think about how I should’ve made him trade with me. Ha!
The kids ordered the fish and chips and they both cleaned their plates.
I’m telling ya…give the sauteed ono a go. I am certain you won’t be disappointed.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
Another staple is the Hawaiian shave ice. The good news about this is that you can find shave ice just about anywhere.
We were told that a visit to Matsumoto Shave Ice in the North Shore was worth the drive. Here’s the deal…it’s good. I’m just not sure it would be my first recommendation.
We do have a Waikiki shave ice place we do recommend and I’ll share that next.
Anyway, Matsumoto is like world famous. If you’re already in the Haleiwa area, then a stop here is cool. I just would not purposely go out of my way for it.
When we visited, we ordered the Hawaiian combination and had it topped with condensed milk. I will say, I do recommend paying a little extra for that added sweetness and creaminess.
Island Vintage Shave Ice
If I were to recommend a Hawaiian shaved ice to you or to anyone, I would send y’all on over to Island Vintage Shave Ice.
It’s located on the sidewalk right outside of the Royal Hawaiian Center.
Personally, the shave ice here is so much more flavorful. All the ingredients are fresh and I just love the addition of fresh fruit.
Hawaii has some of the best fruit in the world, so why not get more of it on your shave ice?
The shave ice here at Island Vintage Shave Ice also comes with ice cream, popping bobas, and bite size mochis on the side.
Don’t get me wrong, both of the places I’ve shared that serve shave ice are good, but Island Vintage just escalates it and delivers an entirely new level of flavors.
I will probably say this in every food blog post, but there is something to say about a restaurant, food truck, or food shack that serves a limited menu.
When a restaurant has a limited menu, it typically means they’ve nailed a certain dish so well, that they only need to serve that.
The Steak Shack is serving up steak and chicken plates. That is it. Since their only focus is on those two dished, they do them well.
We have ordered from here twice now and each time the steak was cooked perfectly. The sauce served with the steak (on the side) has a banging Asian flavor.
Along with the meats, you get two mounds of rice and a salad. This plate is the perfect Waikiki meal to eat on the beach at sunset. I know…I’ve done it twice.
Steak Shack is located right on Waikiki Beach.
Elsie’s Smoothie Shack
Elsie’s Smoothie Shack is one of those places that are worth driving to. The smoothies here are actually patented! (I didn’t know that until I started writing this blog.)
They specialize in Mango Otai. Otai is a Polynesian smoothie made from tropical fruits.
At first, I bought this because I was in Hawaii and it just seemed fitting to drink a smoothie out of a pineapple.
After tasting it, well, I was done. I could’ve went home to Utah a happy girl. It’s so good, that we tried to return almost a year later, but due to COVID, they were closed.
I guess it’s just another reason to return to Oahu.
Elsie’s is located right at the Polynesian Cultural Center in the Hukilau Marketplace. You do not need to tickets to get to the marketplace.
Kulu Kulu Dessert Shop
Another Royal Hawaiian Center find, Kulu Kulu. This is a Japanese dessert shop that offers cakes and pastries too dang cute to eat.
I mean, almost too cute to eat. I absolutely ate them!
What I love most about the sweets at Kulu Kulu is that they’re not overly sweet at all. You can eat them and not feel disgusting afterwards.
My top recommendation here isn’t necessarily the cutest treat they have, but it’s packed with amazing flavor!
My top recommendation here is the Diamond Head Puff filled with coffee cream. The pastry is baked perfectly with a nice crunch on top.
The center is overfilled…in an incredible way, with the coffee cream. I could eat coffee cream by the bowl!
Swipe over to look at all the cakes and pastries we’ve tried. We’ve been three times, so we’re true fans.
Uncle Bo’s Haleiwa
Another North Shore restaurant recommendation is Uncle Bo’s Haleiwa. Another dish that you must try while in Hawaii is kalua pork.
At Uncle Bo’s Haleiwa they amplified the kalua pork by putting them on nachos! Oh sweet Jesus! I can taste them now!
The chips are made from wontons, so they are light and crispy. They pile on the juicy pork, so no worries if there will be enough meat!
I wish we had tried more dishes, so please do us a favor and try more from Uncle Bo’s for us!
The restaurant is located in Haleiwa and it’s short walk from Matsumoto Shave Ice.
Chances are you’ve already heard of Leonard’s Bakery, and to be honest, that’s why I put it lower on the list.
Just because I put it lower, doesn’t mean it’s worth any less. This place is worth ALL the hype and then some!
When we visited Leonard’s Bakery, we tried half a dozen just to taste a few different ones. Our ultimate favorite? The original. The OG. It’s simple, but flawless.
Our second favorite? Leonard’s custard filled malasada! Oh my gosh…to die for.
Leonard’s Bakery is a little out of the way if you’re staying in Waikiki, but if you’re renting a car, do a drive by. Even if there’s a line…it goes quickly!
Not renting a car? Take an Uber. Yes. It’s worth an Uber ride to try the famous malasadas.
MoDo serves up mochi based donuts. Yes, you read that correctly. Mochi based. What does that mean in a donut form?
Well, MoDo donuts have a bit more chew to them. Not in a bad way, but different.
What I like best about MoDo donuts is that they’re not too sweet. Even the chocolate is mild. These donuts are perfect for kids!
MoDo’s is located in a very cool Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa Marketplace, which is also located in the International Market Place mall.
You may have already heard of Duke’s Waikiki, as it’s a very popular touristy restaurant. As matter of fact, it’s so touristy, we actually had low expectations when booking a reservation.
It was going to be our last meal during our trip to Waikiki, so we were worried that we were going to end on a bad note.
Well, we were wrong. We were SO wrong. Sometimes, popular and touristy places are that way for good reason, and Duke’s Waikiki is just that.
First off, the service was amazing. Our waiter was so friendly and welcoming. We went with his recommendations and they did not disappoint!
We started dinner off with their Korean Sticky Ribs and we knew then it was going to be a hit. The meat was intensely flavorful and just fell off the bone.
The Furikake Ahi Steak was my husband’s favorite meal of the entire trip! No kidding. He was the one worried most about Duke’s but left with it being his top choice.
Here’s the key…make sure you save room for dessert! I’m telling ya, if you leave Hawaii without trying the Hula Pie, well, that’s just a shame.
First off, there were four of us and it took all of us to finish the pie! It’s HUGE. The perfect amount of hot fudge topped over the macadamia nut ice cream which is snuggled in a chocolate crust…and you eat it with a SPORK!
Oh my gosh. YOLO! (You only live once!)
Duke’s is incredibly busy, so don’t expect to walk up and get a table. It’s highly advisable to book a reservation.
Swipe through to see all the yumminess. And yes we started with the dessert…why wouldn’t we?!
You’re in Hawaii and you’re looking for the freshest pineapple around? Where do you go to find the best pineapple in Waikiki?
You go to Hawaiian Crown! Hawaiian Crown is a farm to table café dishing out acai bowls served in a pineapple!
Yeah, you heard me right. These acai bowls are little works of art made from some of the freshest ingredients.
Not feeling an acai bowl? Head over to try their smoothies or their “sunset in a cup”. This gorgeous drink is made up of raspberry tea, hibiscus, and to bring it all together…fresh squeezed pineapple juice.
If you can’t make here in person, no worries. Visit to their website where you can purchase their pineapples and other goodies to have shipped to your house!
Green World Coffee Farm
One of our absolute favorite places to visit when in Oahu is Green World Coffee Farm. Let me be quick to say, you do not have to drink coffee to enjoy this place.
Although, the coffee is amazing and THERE ARE FREE SAMPLES! Yes, free samples of coffee. After you find one you like, you can purchase a bag right there in the store to bring home.
Green World Coffee Farm has several options for both hot and iced coffees.
Again, if you’re not a coffee drinker, you can try their smoothies, milkshakes, or you can cool down with one of their hibiscus coolers.
This is a great place to grab a snack or pastry for the road if you’re road tripping around Oahu. Oh! Speaking of road tripping around the island…they have free clean bathrooms.
It’s the picture-perfect Hawaiian rest stop.
HELPFUL HINT: After you get your drinks, head outside to walk around the coffee garden. They have a small walking path that goes through the coffee trees. There are a few benches to sit outside and take in the Hawaiian breeze while enjoying your drink and snacks.
Cafe Glace is a great place to grab some gelato before or after hitting the beach, after dinner, lunch, or pretty much whenever.
There’s never a bad time for gelato. If you’re not feeling ice cream, no worries, they have both sweet and savory crepes, coffees, and acai bowls.
I’m a sucker for marketing, so when I saw that they used wooden surfboards as their spoons, well, I just had to one. They’re so freaking cute!
Another great point to make is that Café Glace is locally owned and have two location in Honolulu. Our location of choice is near the Waikiki Beach Walk.
So, grab your gelato with the adorable surfboard spoon and do a little people watching around the beach walk.
Hula Grill Waikiki
We talked about Duke’s earlier and I mentioned booking a reservation. Well, the first time we tried to eat at Duke’s, we didn’t have a reservation and they couldn’t seat us.
Thankfully, Hula Grill is just upstairs from Duke’s and we were able to get a table with a killer view of the ocean.
Both Duke’s and Hula Grill are located at Oceanfront at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.
We ordered the baja fish tacos and let me tell you, those babies were chock-full of flavor. I love a good fish taco and this hit the spot.
If you’re unable to get into Dukes, rest assure that Hula Grill is equally good…and they have the hula pie, so it’s a win either way you look at it.
How do you know a restaurant is going to be good? When you’re so excited to try it for the first time that you don’t take a single photo!
It’s fine though, because I did ya one better! I have video of our Marugame Udon dishes!
Marugame Udon is a hotspot in Waikiki, so if you want a bowl of freshly made noodles, you need to show up early.
Either way, you’re going to be waiting in a line. The good news is that they have a quick system, so the line goes by rather quickly.
We got in line about 30 minutes before they opened and there were two families ahead of us. By the time they opened their doors, the line was rather long…and it stayed that way until they closed!
From the outside window, you can watch the process of them preparing and making the fresh udon.
Once you place your order, they take the noodles and set them in a vacuum! That vacuum sucks all the excess water from the noodles.
They then quickly heat your bowl before adding the noodles, broth, and toppings.
I asked the employee what her favorite bowl was, and she recommended the Curry Nikutama. I’d order it all over again!
They also have a “buffet” of tempura which you can choose from. Our son bumped his udon up a notch and ordered his bowl topped with katsu!
Marugame Udon is a must! Luckily, it is a franchise, so if you can’t get it in Hawaii, look up their California and Texas locations!
Big Wave Dave
Big Wave Dave is such a cool coffee shop, because it’s an open-air café. The stools at the bar have bicycle peddles as footrests.
There’s plenty of other seating in the café as well.
Big Wave Dave’s serves coffee, smoothies, acai bowls, and a few lunch specials.
This coffee shop is locally run, so again, anytime we can support small businesses, we’re there!
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
Alright, here’s where it’s about to get real. Everyone will tell you to go to Giovanni’s Shrimp truck in the North Shore.
I’m not going to do that. Personally, I don’t recommend it.
Here’s the deal, the shrimp is good. It’s a good garlic shrimp, but I think I can get equally good most other places.
If you’re nearby and you just HAVE to try Giovanni’s, you won’t be disappointed in the shrimp. However, you might be disappointed in the rice.
I thought the rice was cakey and just had a really bad “mouth feel”.
My husband and I always ask each other, “Would you travel for this dish?” Neither one of us would for this dish.
There are simply better places in my opinion.
Lanikai Juice is the place to go to start your day off with a healthy juice, smoothie, or acai bowl.
All their juices are freshly squeezed or cold pressed, so you know you’re getting a good product.
They have smoothies that are not only loaded with flavor, but with a ton of nutrients, protein, and/or greens.
We also tried their acai bowl, as I was on a mission to find the best acai in Oahu, and although it wasn’t favorite, it was still very good!
After a day of eating everything else listed above, you can balance yourself with a cleaner meal or snack here at Lanikai Juice.
The only reason why I put Yard House last on the list is because it is a chain restaurant. Normally, we would never eat at a chain restaurant while traveling.
However, our hotel, the Embassy Suites, had a deal with Yard House. If you booked a certain area at the pool, you got Yard House gift cards AND they delivered the food to you for free.
We took advantage of this option by ordering two appetizers. One was the cheese curds…which lasted about two minutes before they were devoured.
The second appetizer and one we totally recommend is the poke nachos. We were uncertain, but since we had the credit, we wanted to try something outside our comfort zone.
It paid off, because like the cheese curds, they were gone in no time! The nachos were so tasty.
If you’re like us and a little worried about trying poke, maybe start with the poke nachos!
Yard House might be a good option for the picky eater in your life, as they’ll serve what most normal chain restaurants serve.
The Yard House is located smack dab in the middle of the Waikiki Beach Walk.
Oahu Food Tour Guide
With this list in hand, there’s no way you can go hungry!
We hope we provided you with a good mix of breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, coffee, and acai bowls!
If you want the full experience of Aloha, you have to eat it as well.
We pray you have a wonderful trip to Oahu and that you leave with full bellies!