Our Local Arrangements Chair Scott recommends the following restaurants including hotel restaurants and others that you might not find on your own. Outside of uber-fancy restaurants, Hawaii is very, very casual. A lot of the places on the low end look like dumps, so just relax and take his word for it. If you like the food, you say that it "bust da mouth".
Multiply each $-sign by 10 for price guides.
Arancino Di Mare Café (Lunch, Dinner) $$-$$$
In Waikiki. Right in the conference hotel! Beautiful outdoor tables. Italian fare. Nifty crepe breakfasts ~$10. Reservations for dinner only. There are two other Arancinos, but the one at the conference hotel is best.
Barefoot Beach Café (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) $
2699 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI
808-924-2233 for take out
In Waikiki. Location-location-location. On the beach just beyond the mainstream of Waikiki. Outside. Looks like a beachside, hot-dog stand – you order and pickup at the window, take whatever table is open, and bus your own stuff – but the food choices are unexpected. I like it for breakfast. Big BBQ and music on Fri. and Sat. nights. Good spot to watch the Friday night fireworks. No alcohol.
Chuck’s Cellar (Dinner) $$-$$$
In Waikiki. Steak and seafood. Live jazz or live piano. Downstairs, "loungy" atmosphere from another time. Definitely try to go if local band Black Sand is playing.
Haili’s Hawaiian Foods (Lunch, Dinner)
Short walk to Kapahulu. I’m not a fan of most Hawaiian food (poke excepted, see Ono Seafood below), but many people recommend this place and the menu is extensive. Basic atmosphere. BYO.
Hau Tree Lanai (Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner) $$$-$$$$
2863 Kalakaua Ave.
In Waikiki. Best beachfront view of the ocean and sunset. All outdoors. Best eggs benedict. Good seafood.
House Without a Key (Lunch, Dinner, Cocktails) $$-$$$
2199 Kalia Rd., Honolulu, HI 96815
In Waikiki. This is a hotel restaurant, but exceptional. One of my favorite places. Best view of the ocean with Diamond Head in the picture. Inside and outside seating. Good salads, classy Hawaiian music & hula. No reservations. If you can’t get seated, there are two other excellent restaurants on the property – but they are even more expensive and no live music.
Jinroku (Lunch, Dinner) $$$
2427 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
In Waikiki. Japanese teppanyaki & okonomiyaki. Actually hidden on a side street behind the hotel at the Kuhio address. Small place with a nice atmosphere.
Miyako (Dinner) $$-$$$$
2863 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
In Waikiki. Most Japanese food in Hawaii is good. Any izakaya or sushi place will have fresh fish. This is a recommendation for a fancy Japanese dinner with an unbeatable view.
Ono Hawaiian Foods $$
726 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Short walk to Kapahulu. I’m not a fan of most Hawaiian food (poke excepted, see Ono Seafood below), but one of the recommended restaurants for this cuisine is a medium-distance walk from the conference hotel. This place tends to have a line and it is very no-frills. If you can’t get in, a block farther along is Haili’s Hawaiian Foods. BYO
Ono Seafood (note: not Ono Hawaiian Foods across the street) $
747 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816
Short walk to Kapahulu. This is where you want to pick up some poke (pronounced like "smoke eh"), a raw seafood preparation in Hawaiian cuisine. This is a tiny storefront with a couple of picnic tables in the parking lot for seating, basically no parking, and "all Styrofoam all the time". But it is the best poke. Get take out and go to the beach.
Sunrise Restaurant (Lunch sometimes, Dinner) $-$$
525 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815
Short walk to Kapahulu. To look at it from the outside you probably wouldn’t go in, and the inside is just as funky, but the food! It’s a variety of Asian fare, mostly Okinawan, Ramen, oxtail soup. Skip the sushi. Like many places here, it’s downscale. BYO.
Chinatown is very interesting and authentic. During the day there is a pretty extensive open-air market. It is an easy bus ride from Waikiki. If you drive you can park on the streets or in public garages, the shops and restaurants don’t have their own parking. Chinatown is something of a rough scene at night. It has both trendy new clubs and long-established lower-than-dive bars, so the street scene varies accordingly.
Little Village (Lunch, Dinner) $-$$
1113 Smith St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Most locals’ favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Even though the full name of the restaurant is Little Village Noodle House, it’s not just noodles by any means. Huge menu. Favorite dishes are Chicken with Leeks and Spicy Steamed Fish. BYO.
Brasserie Du Vin (Lunch, Dinner) $$
1115 Bethel St, Honolulu, HI 96813
French cuisine and wine bar in Chinatown! Nice garden. Good happy hour and late night.
Murphy’s Bar and Grill (Lunch, Dinner) $$
2 Merchant St
Honolulu, HI 96813
Irish pub in Chinatown! Guinness, Shepard’s Pie, darts.
All but one of these places are in Honolulu and very easy to get to by bus or car. By the way, the bus system is great. The fare is $2.50 (no change) each way ($1.25 for kids) with a free transfer that is good for a couple of hours. You can get a 4-day bus pass for $35 at ABC stores. There is a real-time bus tracking system at http://hea.thebus.org/.
12th Avenue Grill (Dinner) $$
1120 12th Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816
Nice nearby neighborhood restaurant on the high end.
Buzz’s Lanikai (Lunch, Dinner) $$-$$$
413 Kawailoa Road, Kailua, HI 96734
Steak and seafood. This place is not in Honolulu, but on the windward side in Kailua. Drive over the mountain on the Pali Highway or around the east end of the island – either way the views are amazing. Right by the beach. No tank tops after 4:30.
Café Julia (Lunch, Dinner) $$-$$$
1040 Richards St., Honolulu, HI 96813
Off the beaten path and unexpected (it’s at the YWCA – really!), but excellent food and charming atmosphere. Across the street from Iolani Palace. Bananas Foster prepared at the table.
Hank’s Haute Dogs (Lunch, but open pretty late)
324 Coral St., Honolulu, HI
A restauranteur who earned a Mobile Guide 5-star rating decided to return to his family roots in Hawaii and start a hot dog place in the up-and-coming area of Kaka`ako. Are they good? "Bust da mouth".
Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas (Dinner) $$-$$$
500 Ala Moana Blvd, Restaurant Row, Honolulu, HI 96813
Asian fusion fine dining. Innovative tapas with local ingredients and a great happy hour. Actually has easy parking!
Town (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) $$
3435 Waialae AvenueHonolulu, HI 96816
Locally sourced food, mostly organic, innovative and exciting preparations. A "foodie" place in nearby Kaimuki. Limited parking behind the restaurant, otherwise street parking at meters.
3605 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, HI, 96816
Trendy. Unusual drinks. Novel cuisine. Tapas and regular menu. Can be loud and crowded.
Wai`oli Tea Room (Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch Buffet, High Tea) $-$$
2950 Manoa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822
Tucked into the trees of nearby Manoa Valley. Very unique and charming environment. No alcohol.
La Mariana Sailing Club (Lunch, Dinner) $$
50 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96816
Been around 50 years and you can tell. Seedy, hard-to-find industrial waterfront location, glass globes and fishing nets, tropical cocktails in tiki glasses, old guys playing electric keyboard hits. Locals go because it’s a kick. It’s an experience.
Zippy’s (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) $
Zippy’s restaurants are Hawaii’s ubi-eats: they’re everywhere (except Waikiki). Zippy’s is where locals go for a regular "plate" that isn’t too expensive. A plate is rice, macaroni salad, and an entrée. This is fast food that you order at a window. You bus your own table. You can find many local dishes here like loco moco, garlic ahi, chicken katsu, eggs with portuguese sausage and/or Spam, quava cake, and things like that. Famous for their chile. You won’t find fresh vegetables or salads. Everything here is basically a "fat bomb". Zippy’s would be the authentic Hawaii experience. No alcohol.
These are some of the top-flight restaurants in Honolulu that will empty your wallet but are worth it if you like that sort of thing. Still casual, though. Don’t wear a tank top and "slippahs", but a comfortable short-sleeved shirt/blouse is fine. We don’t know what jackets and ties are here.
Sushi Sasabune (Dinner) $$$$+
1417 S. King St Honolulu, HI 96814
Japane$e. Can’t seem to earn fewer than 5 stars from anyone on any rating site.
Chef Mavro (Dinner) $$$$+
1969 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826
Where the President and First Lady dine out.
Michelle’s (Dinner) $$$$+ 2895 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815 808-923-6552 Beachfront honeymoon/anniversary kind of place. I saw Dog the Bounty Hunter with his posse here once if that means anything.
"Pupus" is the local term for appetizers and small plates. Here are two places at either end of the spectrum that specialize in pupus and have live music.
Upscale with a capital "Up". Men even have to wear shoes, real shoes. Jazz. Very classy.
The Dragon Upstairs
Late night pupus. Locals’ hang out. Live music, usually jazz and Motown. Comfortable and reasonable.