The Best Food and Drink in Hawaii for 2018 Gallery from The Best Food and Drink in Hawaii for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Hawaii for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Hawaii for 2018 Gallery
You already know that Hawaii is wonderful. It is considered to be one of the dream vacation destinations for people all over the world. Films have been made dedicated to its lush flora, fauna, and oceanic landscapes. It’s the birthplace of countless national treasures ranging from Hawaii 5-0 to Hawaiian sovereignty activist Israel Kamakawiwoʻole to former President Barack Obama. But for those readers who have not had the pleasure of taking time away from the mainland to visit Hawaii, or who are planning a trip and don’t know where to go, The Daily Meal has compiled a helpful list — part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Hawaii undoubtedly has some of the best seafood in the U.S. It can be found in amazing Hawaiian dishes like the Ono Burger at Paia Fish Market, the fish tacos at Coconut’s, and the shrimp at Giovanni’s food truck. Hawaiian fish even takes center stage when prepared Japanese-style at Sushi Sasabune, the best sushi restaurant in Hawaii. However, the same fish can be found cooked with Italian and Mexican flavors in Hawaii’s best Italian and Mexican restaurants Arancino di Mare and Alejandro’s, making you wonder whether you’re still in Hawaii at all or possibly transported to the Amalfi Coast or even a beach town in Baja California.
How do we know we’ve found the best of Hawaii? After comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs about restaurants and food from all 50 states, we’ve compiled a series of epic individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state, and this is where you can find our slideshow on Hawaii.
Yelp/ Mai Tai Bar
Best Bar: Mai Tai Bar, Honolulu
Mai Tai Bar is the quintessential Hawaiian experience, complete with open-air bar, palm trees, koa wood couches, and one of the best pau hanas (happy hours) on the island. Of course, the Mai Tai (Bacardi Gold Rum, Myers’s Dark Rum, Kraken Black Spiced Rum, and freshly squeezed orange and pineapple juices) is a staple of the drinks menu, but the bar’s signature drink is the Icy Mai Tai, made with shaved ice and tropical fruit juices. Live music is also offered at the Mai Tai Bar, along with a range of sharable appetizers. Diners can enjoy fried calamari rings served with pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, and chile ancho and cocktail sauce for dipping; seared rare ahi tuna (caught fresh daily) with a Cajun crust, served with wasabi and pickled ginger, and soy sauce; and Baja-style fish tacos served blackened with tomatillo sauce on soft corn tortillas.
Courtesy of Maui Brewing Company
Best Beer: Imperial Coconut Porter
Maui Brewing Company’s Imperial Coconut Porter won the gold medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival for Field Beer thanks to its malted toasted coconut flavor and creamy, silky mouthfeel. We wouldn’t expect any less from this tropical state!
Best Chinese Restaurant: Fook Lam, Honolulu
Hawaii has more great Japanese restaurants than Chinese ones, but in Honolulu you can satisfy your craving for solid Chinese fare (and great dim sum) at Fook Lam. Steamed egg cream buns, pork buns, dumplings, siu mai, look fun rolls, Shanghai soup dumplings… they’re all here, and they’re the best around. Find more details on Fook Lam here.
Best Cupcakes: Hokulani Bake Shop, Honolulu
Getting a cupcake at Hokulani Bake Shop is like getting a slice of heaven in paradise. You’ll feel totally spoiled! Inspired by the island it inhabits, this bakeshop makes fresh, natural, and delicious cupcakes for everyone to enjoy. If you really want to get into the Hawaiian spirit, try a toasted coconut cupcake: It’s filled with toasted coconut flakes and topped with the signature buttercream frosting.
Dive Bar S./Yelp
Best Dive Bar: Smith’s Union Bar
Smith’s Union Bar is the oldest bar in Honolulu and the diviest. Patrons will be singing their sloppiest karaoke (it’s just $1 a song) while sipping on their $3 Bloody Marys during happy hour. This bar also has plenty of history. It was the watering hole of soldiers stationed on the USS Arizona, which was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Best Doughnuts: Leonard’s Bakery, Honolulu
Leonard, the son of two Portuguese immigrants, opened his Hawaiian bakery in the 1950s, and, under the encouragement of his mother, he started to bake and sell Portuguese malasadas. These European treats are doughnuts without a hole, coated in sugar. Everyone was soon obsessed with these treats, and they have now become a Hawaiian staple. For more information on Leonard’s Bakery, click here.
Best Farmers Market: Hilo Farmers Market, Hilo
Noted for its fresh fruit and diverse plant selection, the Hilo Farmers Market offers native fruits for every season. Found back in 1988, this market has collected a number of awards throughout the years including Best Farmers Market from Hawaii Magazine. It was also the first market to be federally approved to accept food stamps by way of a unique electronic system and EBT cards. The Hilo market is open seven days a week, with the largest number of vendors attending the Wednesday and Saturday markets. Some items from the market are even available for purchase online.
Best Food Truck: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Oahu
Despite the fact that Hawaii boasts a whole sea of various shrimp trucks (Famous Kahuku, Fumi’s, Big Wave, Geste), somehow Giovanni’s emerges victorious from the pack. Maybe it’s the Hawaiian company’s experience in the business (G’s was founded in 1993), maybe it’s the countless signatures of satisfied customers that cover the exterior of the truck, or maybe it’s the insanely tasty plates like shrimp scampi, lemon butter shrimp, and the “No Refunds” hot and spicy shrimp — but it’s pretty clear that the folks at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck are firing on all cylinders. Here’s to another 24 years, or at least another plate of succulent shrimp. P.S. Giovanni’s is cash only!
Best Grocery Store: Foodland
Foodland has a significant presence of each of the five islands and is known for its great customer loyalty program. The race for this title was close; runners up in Hawaii included Tom’s Supermarket and Safeway.
Best Hot Dog: Puka Dog, Multiple Locations
Puka Dog, a Hawaii institution with locations throughout the state, sells hot dogs unlike any others you’ll encounter. Tucked into a toasted whole loaf of bread, a puka dog is a grilled Polish sausage that’s accompanied by a wide selection of tropical toppings that includes pineapple sauce, guava mustard, starfruit relish, and garlic lemon sauce. Don’t be shy; you’ll be amazed at how well some of these unexpected toppings pair with the dog.
Arancino di Mare/Yelp
Best Italian Restaurant: Arancino di Mare, Honolulu
Located in the Waikiki Beach Marriott, Hawaii’s best Italian restaurant is renowned for its impressive pasta dishes and super-fresh local seafood. Standouts include elegantly plated scallop carpaccio topped with sea asparagus, tobiko caviar, and red onions; insalata frutti di mare with shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels, and local greens and tomatoes; spaghetti with fresh uni in a garlic wine cream sauce; spaghetti tossed with a simple sauce of garlic, white wine, and olive oil and topped with a bounty of calamari, clams, mussels, and shrimp scampi; and a 32-ounce bistecca alla fiorentina.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Alejandro’s, Honolulu
California-born Alejandro Alvarado grew up eating the cuisine of his Salvadoran and Mexican parents, and his family recipes serve as the foundation of the menu at his Kalihi Valley destination. Specialties include carnitas, beef, or carne asada tacos topped with onions, cilantro, and salsa verde; quesadillas; burritos; and bowls. It’s a simple menu, but it’s the best in the state.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Vintage Cave, Honolulu
This incredibly luxurious and upscale restaurant recently played host to Barack and Michelle Obama, and if you want to dine like a president you’ll have to pay for it. The French-Japanese fusion menu from chef Misao Masuda, which includes 14 courses of dishes like whole kasugodai with white sturgeon caviar, A5 Saga wagyu filet mignon, and Japanese risotto with truffles, costs $300 per person.
Arancino di Mare
Best Pasta Dish: Spaghetti Alla Pescatora at Arancino di Mare, Honolulu
It’s no wonder that the best Italian restaurant in Hawaii serves the best pasta. We highly recommend the Spaghetti Alla Pescatora, listed on the menu as a “guest favorite.” The pasta comes with shrimp, calamari, live clams, mussels, shrimp scampi in a garlic wine and olive oil sauce. Yum!
Best Pizza: J.J. Dolan’s, Honolulu
An Irish pub, serving New York-style pizza, in Hawaii? You better believe it. And not only that — the pizza at J.J. Dolan’s is really good, the state’s best, in fact, with legions of devoted fans. You can buy cheese or pepperoni pizzas by the slice; choose from more than 20 toppings (including Spam, because Hawaii); choose from five “Classics” including Margherita, white pie, and spinach and garlic; or “Signature” pies including Boardwalk (Italian sausage, roasted peppers, onion, and garlic), Scampi (shrimp or chicken, mushrooms, and house-made scampi sauce), and Molto Formaggio, with six cheeses. But no matter what you order, you really can’t go wrong.
Best Sandwich: Ono Burger at Paia Fish Market Restaurant, Multiple Locations
Established in 1989 in Maui’s North Shore, today there are two additional Maui locations of Paia Fish Market in Lahaina and Kihei. As the name might imply, it’s where you’ll find some of the freshest fish in Hawaii, prepared simply and with care. The best way to try the fish there, as a “burger,” might be a little counterintuitive, though: a fillet of fish on a bun, topped with coleslaw, tomato, cold shredded cheese, and house-made tartar sauce. It may seem weird, but try it with fresh-caught, simply grilled ono and tell us it isn’t the best fish sandwich you’ve ever had.
Best Seafood Shack: Haleiwa Beach House, Haleiwa
Formerly, Jameson’s By The Sea, The Haleiwa Beach House is Jameson’s owner Andy Anderson’s latest endeavor in the original 5,000-square-foot beach house. Although the menu will stay very much the same (Hawaiian fish like mahi mahi and opakapaka cooked to perfection remain on the new menu), Anderson has brought executive chef Chris Blanc all the way from the mainland to join the team and spice up restaurant dishes with “inventive locally-inspired flavors.”
Best Soup: Oxtail Soup at Hawaiian Style Café, Hilo
Hawaiian Style Café is one of the best places in Hawaii for classic Hawaiian comfort food, served in huge portions and prepared with a true chef’s eye. They also serve Hawaii’s best bowl of soup, but only on Thursdays. It’s simple and delicious: oxtail that’s been braised so long that it’s falling off the bone, and a beef broth that’s insanely rich and beefy.
Manda Bear B./Yelp
Best Steakhouse: Hy’s Steak House, Honolulu
The steaks at this elegant and mature 35-year-old Waikiki legend are all USDA Prime, and are grilled over native kiawe (mesquite) wood, giving them a deep, smoky char. Offerings include boneless or bone-in New York strip, boneless or bone-in rib-eye, filet mignon, T-bone, and a standout 34-ounce porterhouse. Slow-roasted prime rib, rack of lamb, escargot, duck foie gras, caviar, and a chef’s selection seafood platter help to make Hy’s one of Hawaii’s premier fine dining experiences. Find more details on Hy’s Steak House here.
Best Sushi: Sushi Sasabune, Honolulu
A no-frills restaurant that some might even call “divey” also happens to serve the best sushi in Hawaii. Take a seat at the counter and let chef Seiji Kumagawa be your guide through your choice of two omakase menus, one “Japanese” and one “Western.” Opt for the Western menu and you’ll be treated to items like bluefin tuna in ponzu or salmon with kelp and sesame; the Japanese menu will bring you a more exotic assortment like snapper with fermented squid and clam that’s been slapped to “wake up” the muscle. Either way, you’re in for a 13-course treat.
Best Taco: Fish Tacos at Coconut’s Fish Café, Maui
Coconut’s has locations in Arizona, Plano, and Sacramento, but the original Maui location is still the best, and it’s serving the best taco you’ll find in Hawaii. Open since 2009, the fish taco is a work of art: Fresh grilled mahi mahi and ono top a grilled tortilla, and the fish is topped with wasabi-coconut milk coleslaw, fresh tomatoes, mango salsa, and a little melted cheese. It’s a masterpiece. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.