10 Can’t Miss Restaurants on Oahu

Growing up, our family used to frequently go to Honolulu for major work trips. While we loved Waikiki, we often got tired of the overpriced and over touristy restaurants. We found it so easy to get caught in the tourist trap that we missed the whole experience of being in Hawaii. While some of these touristy restaurants were worth it to us, such as Duke’s or Hula Grill, we wanted to explore other options as well!

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Since those early visits, we have made it our mission to find alternative restaurants that truly bring the feeling of Hawaii to you! Most of the breakfast and dinner favorites are in Waikiki, since we recommend staying there, but they are off the beaten path. However, our lunch suggestions are mostly outside of Honolulu since we truly believe in exploring the island in order to make the most of your vacation. Read on to find out more!

Our Favorite Breakfast Restaurants on Oahu:

1. House Without a Key

Area: Waikiki Beach

Address: 2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Website: https://www.halekulani.com/dining/house-without-a-key/

Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Located in the Halekulani Resort on Waikiki, House Without a Key offers breathtaking ocean-front views and a wonderful breakfast buffet. The restaurant’s walls are fully made of doors, which slide away to reveal grand views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. Breakfast options include an omelette bar, fresh pastries, pancakes, bacon, sausage, miso soup, rice, yogurts, and much more.

House Without a Key also offers dinner, and there is often live music in the evening. While we love the dinner here, the breakfast takes the cake for us, and is a can’t miss stop for us when we visit Waikiki!

2. Barefoot Beach Café

Area: Waikiki Beach

Address: 2699 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Website: https://barefootbeachcafe.com/

Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

While much more relaxed than House Without a Key, Barefoot Beach Café offers ocean-front dining in a fun environment. Diners can choose between steak and eggs, fish dishes, kalua pork quesadillas, and several other fun items. Smoothies (including one that is served in a Pineapple) are also popular menu items. 

Barefoot Beach Café acts like a snack bar, since you go up to order and pick up your food. However, the restaurant offers bistro tables under the covered patio and bistro lights. While the Café offers live music at dinner, we prefer to eat breakfast or lunch there instead, since it is much more quiet and relaxed throughout the morning/early afternoon.

3. Liliha Bakery

Area: Honolulu (three locations, including one in the Ala Moana Shopping Center)

Address: (Ala Moana location): 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

Website: https://www.lilihabakery.com/

Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

For those hoping to eat breakfast at a locals favorite, check out Liliha’s Bakery. This restaurant chain has three locations, all located in downtown Honolulu. The restaurant is a unique combination between a high end French bakery and a Denny’s, only adding to its charm. While that may sound odd, we really loved it! We enjoyed the menu’s variety, and the popularity of the restaurant among locals. Make sure to get a pastry with your meal (or just go there to pick up pastries and coffee)!

Our Favorite Lunch Restaurants:

4. Beach House

Area: Haleiwa (North Shore)

Address: 62-540 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Website: https://www.haleiwabeachhouse.com/

Serves: Lunch, Dinner

Beach House offers North Shore beach vibes in a relaxing sit down restaurant. Located on the edge of Haleiwa (the main town on the North Shore), Beach House is directly across the street from the beach. To maximize this location, the glass garage doors that line the main wall of the restaurant are usually lifted to give patrons beach breezes and ideal views. Its our favorite place for lunch when we are visiting the North Shore for the day.

Beach House offers a variety of Hawaiian inspired menu options, including Kalua Pork Sandwiches and Teriyaki Beef lunch plates. Additionally, several fresh fish dishes are always available. Kids will love the milkshakes too! Beach House does not take reservations, but wait times never seem to be that long (only about 20 minutes when we go). Beach House is easily our favorite place for lunch on Oahu because of the great food and dream-like setting.

5. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Area: Haleiwa (North Shore)

Address: 66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Website: http://giovannisshrimptruck.com/

Serves: Lunch

If you are looking for an awesome food truck experience while in Oahu, check out Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. This company has three locations, but the Haleiwa one is our favorite. We like that the Haleiwa location is parked alongside several other food trucks (including a shaved ice truck and a crêpe truck as of January 2020), making it easy for everyone in the family to find something they will enjoy for lunch. 

Giovanni’s offers awesome Garlic Shrimp lunch plates! After ordering, grab your food from the truck and enjoy eating it at picnic tables next to the food trucks. It is truly a unique experience, and a fun spot for lunch if you are up on the North Shore.

6. Buzz’s Original Steak House

Area: Kailua

Address: 413 Kawailoa Rd, Kailua, HI 96734

Website: https://www.buzzsoriginalsteakhouse.com/

Serves: Lunch, Dinner

Located along a river, Buzz’s feels like you are stepping back in time. Many of the tables are located on a huge porch that circles the front of the restaurant. Inside, the restaurant’s walls are lined with photos of past guests, and famous Hawaiian events. In addition to great ambience, Buzz’s offers awesome food! The Teriyaki Steak lunch plate, cooked to order and served with a side salad, was by far our favorite thing on the menu.

While this restaurant may seem understated and non-touristy, it has definitely had its fair share of esteemed guests: both President Clinton and President Obama visited the restaurant while in office (a plaque on the wall next to the last table on the porch explains when they visited). While we only found Buzz’s during our last trip to Oahu, we will definitely be back!

7. Nico’s Pier 38

Area: Honolulu

Address: 1129 N Nimitz Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817

Website: https://nicospier38.com/

Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Located on the edge of one of Honolulu’s shipping piers is this awesome fish restaurant. It’s a local favorite, and offers a variety of extremely fresh fish dishes, burgers, and plenty of cake options for dessert! It’s the type of restaurant where even the Fish and Chips boasts a fresh catch.

Nico’s is a quick service restaurant, and offers a mix of indoor and outdoor dining. Our favorite part of the restaurant is the massive windows that offer cool breezes and fun views of the pier and harbor. To further enhance your experience, Nico’s often has live musicians playing throughout the day! Check their music schedule online if you want to go during a performance.

Our Favorite Restaurants for Dinner on Oahu

8. Duke’s Waikiki

Area: Waikiki

Address: 2335 Kalakaua Ave #116, Honolulu, HI 96815

Website: https://www.dukeswaikiki.com/

Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

While Duke’s is considered touristy, its also a must-visit restaurant to complete your Hawaiian vacation. Located on Waikiki Beach, this Hawaiian-inspired restaurant offers amazing views, and fun tropical dishes. A couple of Duke’s classics are the mac nut crusted fish dishes (generally a light fish, but always served with the fresh catch of the day and then crusted in crushed macadamia nuts) and Hula Pie (macadamia nut mud pie). I personally love their steaks though!

If you are hoping to visit Duke’s during your time in Waikiki, make sure to make a reservation early! The restaurant can fill their reservations up to two months in advance!

9. Hula Grill

Area: Waikiki

Address: 2335 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Website: https://www.hulagrillwaikiki.com/

Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

If you can’t get into Duke’s, or would rather avoid the press of Duke’s popularity, Hula Grill is a great alternative. In fact, these are sister restaurants, so they are pretty similar! Located directly above Duke’s in the same hotel, Hula Grill offers the same view, many of the same classic dishes such as mac nut crusted fish and Hula Pie, and a similar Hawaiian-inspired setting. That being said, we actually prefer the service and food at Hula Grill, since many of the other dishes are more unique and better prepared.

10. Arancino di Mare


Address: 2552 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Website: https://www.arancino.com/arancino-di-mare

Serves: Dinner

While most restaurants around Waikiki offer sub-par food or sub-par service, Arancino di Mare is definitely the exception. This awesome restaurant is located right off Waikiki’s main street, Kalākaua, yet feels like you are transported to Italy! 

Dishes include burrata caprese salad, fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza, and plenty of unique pasta dishes. When we visited, we ordered family style, meaning we split two pizzas and two pastas between four of us so we could try everything (definitely a must do)!