Best Restaurants in Waikiki
Waikiki is the essence of carefree. Visitors here tend to feel safe, warm and happy. There are tons of restaurants, and out of those, it’s a difficult task to rank the best restaurants in Waikiki.
By their very nature, restaurant reviews are the most subjective part of any guidebook. Nothing strains the credibility of a guidebook more. No matter what we say, if you eat at enough restaurants here, you will eventually have a dining experience directly in conflict with what this book leads you to believe. All it takes is one person to wreck what is usually a good meal.
We truly hope that our reviews match your experience. Restaurants that stand out from the others in some way are highlighted with an ono symbol. The restaurants listed below all earn an ono in our books, so if you’re looking for the best restaurants in Waikiki, this is a great place to start.
Dinner is a real treat here. Not part of the national Chart House chain, they have a classic steakhouse style (gas lamps on each table, polite service and high prices) with great seafood and a killer pupu menu. Their prime rib borders on perfection and sells out nightly. Some worthy alternatives are the stuffed ‘ahi or the famous garlic steak. For more intimate seating, try to get one of their booths. We like to sit on the lounge side with the soft live Hawaiian music nightly. Seating is first-come first-served and has the same elevated view of the harbor. They have an enormous pupu menu, plus they offer some of the expensive entrées in a smaller portion size and price.
As legendary as its namesake here in the islands, Duke’s has the sort of dreamy atmosphere that’s synonymous with Waikiki, and it’s one of our favorite places to eat breakfast. Some of the tables overlook a pool, while others overlook the famous surf spot. (Duke Kahanamoku was the sport’s first ambassador, the guy who introduced surfing to the American mainland.) Most, however, overlook other tables. Get there close to their 7 a.m. opening time to get a coveted railing table. Koa wood is everywhere, and the ambiance, though it can get a bit loud and crowded, is pleasing. One of the best restaurants in Waikiki.
They’ve been around since 1974, and there’s probably been a line outside from day one. Expect a wait no matter which of their three locations you choose. That’s because they are one of the best restaurants in Waikiki with a good breakfast selection. Huge portions for relatively cheap prices. (The pancakes, though, are surprisingly flavorless. Same with the French toast. Best to stick to the eggs instead of the things.) Open at 6 a.m. for breakfast, there’s usually no wait for the first hour. They’re also open for dinner, but their breakfast fingerprints are all over items like steak and eggs or chicken fried steak.
So let’s get something straight at the start: You’re going to spend a lot tonight. This top shelf dining experience is plopped right on a cozy chunk of beach with exceptional views looking down the whole of Waikiki. You’re going to get delicious food at one of the best restaurants in Waikiki served by an attentive staff. They label themselves as French food, but we’re… how do we say this? We’re happier than we would be in a classic French restaurant. The food is a bit more substantial, the service more accommodating and empathetic, and the portions on many items more generous. (Not desserts, though, which are off the scale in terms of quality—especially the creme brûlée and the warm chocolate soufflé—but portions are mercifully small.) Many of the entrées are prepared tableside—even the lobster bisque—and we’ve found these selections to be their best offerings.
One of the most expensive meals you’ll find in Waikiki. But it also has a dreamy, romantic atmosphere, excellent service and well-crafted French food with local ingredients. A great place to propose to that someone special. Reservations recommended as are long sleeves or jackets for men. The menu is a seven-course sampler that takes about 3 hours and costs $205 per person. There are also three- or four-course options available for $125 or $155 respectively. In the Halekulani resort.
A cool, trendy upscale bar atmosphere (lots of rum, lots of fire) with tons of well-conceived drinks and a killer rum selection. Check out their “rum bible” with 101 selections from around the world. (We’re plowing our way through that list—just for you—still loving the Ron Zacapa and the Zaya.) Also a good beer and wine by-the-glass selection. Oh, yeah, and food. The selection is modest, and there’s no real theme. Think of it as high-end bar food with a definite local flair. Portions aren’t huge, and the appetizer list is pretty meager. But the food’s tasty.
The only place in Waikiki with a view of Kapiolani Park, the Kapahulu Groin and the beach all in one panoramic corner. Small breakfast menu ($10–$15) includes omelets, eggs, pancakes, stuffed French toast (they’ll let you get a half order if you want to sample a dish) and loco moco (not quite as heavy as other places). Reliably good wings, coconut shrimp, burgers and quesadillas at lunch ($12–$18). Refined dinner menu ($15–$32) adds mostly steak and seafood. The food is good and reasonably priced for Waikiki, but the ONO is mostly for the view. Ask for a railing seat if there are only two of you (the seats face out instead of each other). Live music in the evening.
On the second floor of the Outrigger Waikiki hotel, the restaurant has seating that mostly overlooks the beach. The atmosphere is breezy and relaxed, with bamboo and koa wood everywhere. A great spot to get breakfast if the buffet line at Duke’s downstairs is too long. (And it probably is….) All the classic meat, eggs and pancakes with a local twist. They don’t churn you through the way so many other Waikiki restaurants do, and they serve breakfast late, which is great if you want to start your day by going to the beach first. Breakfast and lunch prices are reasonable for what you get and where you’re getting it. Dinner (steak, seafood, salad) is far pricier. Good vegetarian options. Excellent service.
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