Happy New Year!!! A bit late but I started this post in January haha! I am officially all moved into my new apartment here in Honolulu!! I actually moved in back in October 2021, and the furniture I decided to bring with me, arrived a month later, in November 🙂 I am absolutely loving living here and finally feel like I can get back into my routine so I am happy to say I started working out again and eating healthy as of about one month ago. It was fun to eat whatever I wanted for a while there but combined with the nonexistent workouts and the stress of moving, I just physically didn’t feel as good as I should on a daily basis. I am grateful for muscle memory and being able to snap back into it so fast, which may only be happening because I have been fairly consistent with the some form of exercise for most of my life. I’ve begun drinking apple cider vinegar water in the mornings, though I can’t say I know if it’s doing anything but surely there can only be benefits. I’m also back to starting my days with a good balanced breakfast, drinking more water throughout the day and incorporating more vegetables, fiber and healthy fats but less sugar in my diet as well.
I have had many requests to do an updated Honolulu recommendations post so here we are! If you missed the first one, you can view it here. Below you can find descriptions of 29 new favorites of mine (mostly food reccs) for you to check out the next time you visit Oahu, please enjoy 🙂
1. Paia Fish Market *Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner* – Waikiki
This spot is pretty much always busy around dinner time and the wait time is no joke. However, as almost everyone willing to stand in that longggg line knows, it’s worth it. My favorite dish is a dinner size sautéed salmon with Cajun rice and a garden salad. Their famous tartar sauce that comes with all dishes was delicious too but I ended up having to steal fries from my boyfriend to eat it because the salmon dish had the perfect amount of flavor on its own. (He got the chicken quesadilla which is his personal favorite there.) I also asked for the Papaya dressing on the salad, and I liked the light sweetness of that. Drinks are self serve and there are always plenty of open, clean tables. Keep in mind you are not supposed to grab a table before your food is ready!
2. The Signature Prime Steak and Seafood *Dinner* – Waikiki
Located at the top of the Ala Moana Hotel, and validated parking or valet. Now, I am not exaggerating when I say this is where I had the best steak of my life!!! I normally don’t go for the steak (I try not to eat meat every meal and when I do, I normally go for chicken or fish) but wow, their filet mignon simply blew me away. My boyfriend and I were treated to the most lovely experience here in their ocean room, which has a stunning view of the sunset. We had a reservation at 4:30 when they open and the restaurant seemed close to full capacity by 5:30. Our dinner consisted of the beef carpaccio, ahi poke, avocado strawberry onion salad, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, asparagus, island sorbet and lilikoi creme brulee. Everything was absolutely delicious and I can not wait to go back!
3. Lux Nails Salon *Nails* – Kaka’ako
I have come here to have my nails done probably 5 or 6 times! I always get dip powder + almond shape. I have yet to get a pedi but soon! The owner, John, is great. It’s a family run business so he runs it with his wife and mom. I have had my nails done by all of them and I am super happy with my nails every time. John is really the best though. He is fun to talk to and very fast!
4. Holey Grail Donuts *Donuts, Coffee* – Waikiki and Kaka’ako
I was absolutely starving and happened to be standing by a big yellow truck in Waikiki. When I realized it was actually a food truck and they sold vegan donuts, I had to try! This is unusual for me because I never ever go anywhere without checking online reviews first! I only got one, but it sealed the deal. The first bite simply wowed me. They may be tiny (I know the photo makes it look huge) but these donuts are out of this world. I have gone back already at least 5 times since then! I try not to eat too much sugar otherwise I would have gone more 🙂 They also have coffee!
5. Cafe Morey’s *Breakfast, Lunch* – Kapahulu (SE of Waikiki)
I’ve only been here once on Wednesday around 11 am and there was a 5 min wait. They had only one server working and he was very nice but the service was very slow. I ordered the kimchee fried rice with bbq chicken and fried egg. It was SO DELICIOUS but wayyyy too much food for me so I recommend sharing it. I also tried the banana macadamia nut French toast which was amazing. I also ordered one fruit cup, all the fruit was perfect, fresh and ripe.
6. Mailes Thai *Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner* – Kaka’ako and Hawaii Kai (near Koko Head)
One of my followers, Maile, actually owns this restaurant! While there are 2 locations, I haven’t had a chance to stop by, but we did order Mailes Thai through Uber Eats. It isn’t the first time I’ve tried Thai food here on the islands but I daresay it has been my favorite so far! Growing up in the Bay Area I have definitely had a lot of Thai food in my life and I do love and know good Thai 🙂
7. Yummy’s Korean BBQ – Ala Moana Center, Kalihi, Aiea, Salt Lake
This Korean plate lunch restaurant is quick, and you get a huge amount of super tasty and fresh food for $12. I am actually surprised I didn’t add this spot to my previous Oahu recommendations post! I have been going to Yummy’s with my family since we first started visiting over 12 years ago and I must say to me, this restaurant is nostalgic and makes me feel like I’m really in Hawaii. Seriously though, if you like Korean and you’re looking to not only save money but grab food on the go, this is the spot! Yum!!
8. Bogart’s Cafe *Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch* – Kapahulu (right next to Diamond Head)
I had breakfast here once and it was very good, though I did feel like the restaurant is in a random location and there were a lot of birds around the outdoor seating area. So I recommend eating inside! I ordered the shrimp fried rice and very much enjoyed it.
9. Shorefyre *Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Drinks* – Waikiki
This restaurant is always fairly full but there never seems to be a wait. I don’t often eat pork or beef but I have tried their 50/50 burger which is 50% bacon and 50% beef and it is AMAZING!! Highly recommend!! Also their garlic fries are pretty good. At the International Marketplace location you can pay an additional $10 per person to sit on their beautiful balcony where they have really great live music in the evenings. Happy hour is 4-6 pm.
10. Nordstrom Gelato Bar *Dessert* – Ala Moana Center
What a nice little gem in the Ala Moana Center! Right outside of Nordstrom, if you are looking to satisfy a sweet fix, you must stop here! I have tried the lemon sorbet and one more dairy free one but I forgot which. Both were soooo delicious and the fresh baked cone in a cup was A+!! There is also a cute sitting area to enjoy your treat.
11. 53 By The Sea *Dinner* – Ala Moana
This spot is perfect for special occasions and is reservation only! The restaurant is in such a gorgeous building and while hidden away, not far from Waikiki. My boyfriend surprised me back taking me here for my birthday and it was lovely. It was also the perfect place to take photos!
12. Makapu’u Beach Park
I actually can’t believe I never visited this beach park before! What a lovely spot! There is a small parking lot, bathrooms and showers. I saw a lot of people boogie boarding but I didn’t get in the water 🙁 I would have but we got there 30 minutes before the sun went behind the mountain and it felt so cold after that!
13. Earl *Lunch, Dinner* – Kaka’ako and Kaimuki (near Diamond Head)
I never call myself a sandwich person until I have a good sandwich and then I become a little obsessed. Earl did that to me! I probably went here 10 times in the first month I lived here because it is just that good! I haven’t even tried more than 3 sandwiches but I would love to try more… soon. I would recommend the Italian 12″! It’s a good size for sharing in my opinion as I can usually only eat half. Earl is in 2 locations, the one I’ve been to is in Kaka’ako.
14. Kaka’ako Farmers Market *Grocery, Unique Goods* – Kaka’ako
I’ve only been once but I would love to go back! The Kaka’ako farmers market is pretty big, and they have all kinds of vendors. When I visited, I saw a bunch of food vendors with authentic Hawaiian dishes, Korean dishes and Vietnamese dishes. There were very unique vendors selling items such as ready to hatch monarchs, sustainable sourced wood + resin art, handmade jewelry and more! There is also sometimes live music.
15. Moani Waikiki *Dinner* – Waikiki
This is a new restaurant in the International Marketplace. You can find it on the 3rd floor. Friday and Saturday nights are super busy which make for a fun atmosphere but you should have no problem getting a reservation or just walking in because there is a huge inside and outside seating area. Food is a little overpriced but thanks to really high quality ingredients, beautiful presentation and live music I daresay it’s worth it! My dad is a huge fan of live music so I am always on the search for places he might enjoy 🙂 (Also please don’t order the Da Greens salad, as it’s simply the most boring salad on Earth!)
16. Alohilani Swell Bar *Classy, Drinks* – Waikiki
If you are looking for a classy spot to get drinks and meet up with friends, definitely check out this hot spot. They are open all day and they have live music or a DJ in the evenings on Friday and Saturday. They also serve food pretty late and I’ve tried a good deal of their dishes including but not limited to: Crispy Coconut Shrimp, Matt’s Margherita Flatbread, Ahi Tartar and Black Bean Glazed Salmon. I recommend all those dishes 🙂
17. Down to Earth *Grocery, Made to Order*
This is a vegetarian grocery store at which you can also order food to be made at the deli. I have both ordered food and grocery shopped here many times and I would definitely say while they have high quality, fresh and unique products/brands, the prices are higher than most. I love their Gardein burger which has a vegan patty burger. I also discovered a new brand of natural facial care here (Andalou) and am absolutely obsessed with the rose facewash!
18. Merriman’s *Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner* – Ala Moana (at the Ward Center)
I came here for dinner and highly recommend making a reservation since without one you will very likely wind up waiting quite a while! First off, service here is top notch! For an appetizer we tried the Octopus Escargot. It is absolutely scrumptious and yes I watched My Octopus Teacher! I don’t normally eat Octopus however, so I decided to make an exception for such a creative dish. For my main entree I ordered the Macadamia Nut Crusted Fresh Fish and that was very good, though it was missing something in my opinion.
19. Lins Hawaiian Snacks *Candy, Snacks* – Ala Moana
Hawaiian candy and snacks! Definitely don’t stop by here if you want to be healthy or if you are watching your diet! They really have soooo many amazing choices, it is almost TOO many! One of my favorite snacks I found here was the Shiso Ume Arare, and I can’t find it anywhere else. So nom!
20. Leonards Bakery *Bakery, Desserts* – Multiple locations
Malasadas are the famous dessert of Hawaii. They are actually Portuguese doughnuts and the doughnut was introduced to the island in the 19th century when Hawaii brought over skilled Portuguese workers to develop the sugarcane fields. Malasadas are basically like doughnuts but most of them are creme filled. My favorite is the original however, which has no creme filling.
21. Diamond Head Market and Grill *Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner*
Locals love this place, and for good reason! The food here is good and fresh! I recommend the chinese chicken salad, carrot cake, lemon crunch cake, lilikoi cheesecake and blueberry scones. Probably more but I haven’t tried it all yet! The miso salmon salad was very good but really needed more dressing to be delicious. My boyfriend loves their loco moco and bbq chicken plate.
22. Hideout at the Laylow *Drinks, Small Bites*
I have been here twice and Hideout at the Laylow is another classy spot to grab drinks and small bites! I do recommend making a reservation, as it’s a fairly hot new place! It’s in downtown Waikiki, at the Laylow, across from Marakume. Just take the escalator from the street and it’s to your right.
23. Spa at Ui’lani *Massage, Facials*
As you can guess, they offer massages and facials! I have gotten their Ui’lani massage which is definitely relaxing, and will be back to try their Lomi Lomi or Deep Tissue massage!
24. Sky Waikiki *Drinks, Dinner* – Waikiki
Sky Waikiki has a pretty awful Yelp rating but I rather enjoyed my visit here! Combine a stunning view of Waikiki with delicious food and fab service, and you get Sky Waikiki! This sky high restaurant is great for both couples and large groups. I was actually quite cold the evening I visited so I would recommend bringing a layer just in case. It is also a lovely place to dress up and take photos (especially around sunset) 🙂
25. Tucker and Bevvy *Breakfast/Brunch, Juice Bar/Smoothies* – 2 locations in Waikiki
I bought a few juices here and loved them all. I also tried their avocado toast and really did not enjoy that but this is a great grab and go breakfast spot and they have a 2 locations. So if you are looking for something healthy and quick this is a nice option!
26. Salt by Kaka’ako *Shopping Center, Restaurants* – Kaka’ako
I actually never heard about Kaka’ako until I moved here and it’s very easy to see why Kaka’ako is so popular. First off, you must stop by at least to admire the beautiful art you can find all over the neighborhood. Salt by Kaka’ako itself is a very modern and beautiful shopping center, chock full of trendy new spots such as Moku, Redfish Poke, Arvo, Lanikai Juice, Taco’ako, Lonohana Chocolate Tasting Bar, Lash Love, The Stoke House and Starbucks, just to name the few that I’ve personally been to. It is a great area to visit and hang out with friends.
27. Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha * Dessert* – Aina Haina
I also never heard of this cool little spot and wouldn’t normally seek out a shave ice place like this either. But I’m happy that my sister Irene’s friend had this place bookmarked and absolutely insisted on stopping by because it was quite incredibly delicious! Love all the toppings, especially the azuki beans, fresh fruit and mochi!
28. Sweet E’s *Breakfast* – Kapahulu (just outside of Waikiki)
Yet another great breakfast spot, and again we ordered pretty much the same things we always order haha!
29. Niu Baguette BBQ and Noodle Soup *Vietnamese* – Kaka’ako
I was driving by this place one time and looked it up on yelp. I do that a lot haha! It is kind of a hole in wall but it had great reviews so I gave it a try! I first tried the lemon grass vermicelli which is pretty good (though did not make for good leftovers), the spring roll was the best part. Then I tried the grilled chicken vermicelli and it was A+++++! A vermicelli box with added spring rolls is close to $20. I would recommend sharing with someone if you are not a big eater as I couldn’t finish my box either time. The people that work here are so sweet and helpful. I read that the pho here is really good but I have yet to crave it. You guys must try this place! Every time I went here I was starving so I didn’t take a photo, sorry 🙁
Well that is all for now, I may soon have to do an updated post since I am always trying new places and finding gems everywhere! Enjoy xoxo