Where To Eat In Honolulu Right Now
From vibrant donuts and layer cakes to Taiwanese fried chicken sandwiches.
As tourism lags and stay-at-home orders remain in effect until the end of September, indoor dining is at a complete standstill. Watching the back-and-forth volley of restaurant openings and closings is enough to make you want to skip a meal altogether. Luckily, local restaurants have been resilient and quickly pivoted to takeout and delivery, so we've updated our list of favorites from the past five years and included a few rookies who bravely entered the dining scene in 2020. Due to COVID-19, dine-in restrictions are in place for now. Restaurants are updating their websites daily, so please check for menu updates.
Holey Grail Truck
The gist: Kauai's famous taro donut pop up serves fresh, hot fluffiness straight from a bright yellow food truck.
The food: This brother-sister duo brings their hand-crafted, deep-fried donut-making craft to Kaka’ako. Cult-like followers swear by the “L&L” Meyer lemon-lime donut with Tahitian lime curd, and the Chocolate haupia is also at the top of the list of must-haves. Coffee and tea donut pairings are also available.
The cost: A tasting box is $15 and contains four of their seasonal flavors. Single donuts are $4, but not part of the tasting box.
How to order: Look for their food truck parked behind Ward Centre parking lot from 8am-2pm, Friday through Sunday.
The gist: Serial restaurateur Kevin Aoki’s latest addition to the restaurant scene brings South East Asian street food flavors to Honolulu.
The food: Indochine’s spicy lemongrass fries and Vietnamese pork chops with an Asian barbecue dressing highlight its exotic flavors. Each dish is well plated and intriguingly adventurous. Craving frog legs? Then add the Ooh LaLa Rice Field Chicken to your order.
The cost: Shareable dishes are $9.95-15.95, while takeout, prix-fixe menus start at $56-62.
How to order: Call 808-545-7777 for pickup. Delivery via GrubHub and Uber Eats.
The gist: Turkish and Ottoman cuisine brings Middle Eastern delights to Kaka’ako.
The food: Highlights are the traditional Turkish mezze platter -- an assortment of small dips and spreads eaten as appetizers -- which include hummus, muhammara, water borek, baba ganoush, peynir, karpuz, and pita. The Pirzola Turkish-style Ni’ihau grass-fed lamb chops deserve a high five mention.
The cost: Mezze platter is $19, while entrees range from $18-29
How to order: Call 808-772-4440 for takeout or curbside pickup, or order online.
Nana Ai Katsu
The gist: Premium Kurobuta tonkatsu shop pleases at Ohana Marketplace
The food: Tagged as one of the best new katsu restaurants in Honolulu, this tonkatsu specialty shop serves up a super succulent, deep-fried, 100% kurobuta pork cutlet. The simple menu includes only two choices: Regular Tonkatsu Bento and the Gyukatsu Regular Bento, all served with Koshihikari rice, potato salad, and side dishes.
The cost: Katsu bentos come in two sizes: 150 grams ($14) or 300 grams ($24).
How to order: Call 808-772-0146 to order takeout.
The gist: Classic Taiwanese food-fare turns heads in the active Aiea neighborhood.
The food: Large portions of noodles, soups, and tasty baos are their best sellers. The customize-your-spice-level Cow Wow Braised Beef Noodle and Boom Boom Fried Chicken with basil and Taiwanese spices are also fan favorites. Don’t forget to add Fooki’s boba milk tea to your order for a refreshing dessert equivalent.
The cost: Appetizers start at $6, while plates and entrees range from $9.50-18.95.
How to order: Call 808-484-9188 or online through Toast.
The gist: New York’s beloved Lady M cakes make their island debut
Locals love the food: Lady M cakes are known for their light, creamy, and flavorful texture. Each mille cake consists of 20 layers of crepes, with a layer of cream dividing each. Flavors include a signature cream green tea and lilikoi. Waikiki Tea House also offers several hot and cold tea brews, including a few Instagram-worthy options like the rose tea latte.
The cost: The Lady M Mille Crepe cake is $55-58 for a six-inch and $90-95 for a nine-inch.
How to order: Call 808-886-6000 or order online for pickup.
Moke's Bread & Breakfast
The gist: Kailua’s favorite breakfast fare opens up in Kaimuki.
The food: For a savory start to your day, the loco moké is a good option -- it’s a twist on the island classic the loco moco (served over white rice with two eggs over-easy and drenched in homemade brown gravy), and uses a house-cut ribeye instead of a traditional hamburger patty. Not feeling savory? Then lilikoi pancakes made from light and fluffy batter and smothered on top with a creamy lilikoi sauce should satisfy that sweet tooth.
The cost: Breakfast items range from $10.95-18.95, and sandwiches are $13.95.
How to order: Call 808-367-0571 for takeout, or order delivery through BiteSquad.
Tane Vegan Izakaya
The gist: This creative Izakaya serves up 100% plant-based and vegan sushi.
The food: Start with the yuba salad with spicy miso dressing and tempura-battered shiitake mushrooms with faux-crab. Then continue with spicy tofuna rolls, with minced tofu and cucumber topped with creamy avocado and chili “tobiko.” Shizen shiitake Hearty dish: tofu stuffed shiitake dipped in batter and fried. Topped with a sweet (maybe yakitori) sauce drizzled over and matcha salt.
The cost: Tempura and fried small plates start at $10-12, grilled small plates $8-10, and classic and specialty rolls $6-16.
How to order: Call 808-888-7678 or order online for takeout or delivery (available within a five-mile radius).
The gist: Ala Moana Center adds Southeast Asian cuisine to their food court
The food: A mainstay in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, Laksa is a spicy, fragrant noodle soup with an amazingly creamy curry and coconut milk soup base, is a must if you've never had one before. Not a noodle fan? Then try the curry pineapple shrimp or lemongrass chicken with blue coconut rice. Top it off with a signature butterfly pea lemonade.
The cost: Plates run between $12.95-14.95
How to order: Call 808-940-6228 for takeout or order delivery through DoorDash.
The gist: Mexican street food brought to life in Waikiki by James Beard Award-winning chefs.
The food: For the best gourmet street tacos in Waikiki, Mi Almita Cantina is a definite go-to. Chefs Hugo Ortega and Michael Mina’s bring fresh, locally sourced Mexican food to Oahu, making this the destination for excellent street tacos, enchiladas, and more. Try the Baja Fish Taco plate filled with three crispy mahi and pico de gallo or the Shrimp Taco Plate with chile de árbol and spicy mayo, which both come with a side of refried beans and rice.
The cost: Taco plates range from $16-18
How to order: Go for outdoor seating, call 808-896-2545 for takeout, or order online.
Joy Cup Noodles Mean
The gist: Great little gem for homemade Szechuan noodles and authentic Chongqing dishes debuts in Mō’ili’ili.
The food: The tender beef noodle broth has rich flavors and reveals its slow-cooked belly-warming spices. Start with the daily homemade jiazu potstickers, steamed or pan-fried to perfection. Okinawan taco rice made from scratch uses jalapeño peppers, chipotle spices, and local Angus ground beef served over a bed of mixed sweet and white rice, topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese. Best eaten piping hot!
The cost: Noodle and entree dishes range from $10.99-15.99.
How to order: Call 808-725-2898 for takeout, or order delivery through Grubhub and Uber Eats.
The gist: Nostalgic teishoku set lunches served in a minimalist Japanese setting.
The food: A wide selection of classic teishoku -- a set meal that offers a main entree, rice, pickles, miso soup, and chawanmushi and a savory egg custard -- is the star at Rinka. Trust the Black Pork Loin Cutlet and the Beef Sukiyaki to always deliver in flavor. Pair with the many selections of shochu and sake.
The cost: Teishoku set lunches range from $12.95-32.95.
How to order: Call 808-773-8235 for a limited takeout menu.
The gist: Enjoy Japanese-French fine dining at the uber-chic Espacio hotel.
The food: Prix-fixe menu changes with the season and often includes indulgent offerings like Sasanian osetra caviar, Parisienne Gnocchi, and Poule au pot pie, all enhanced with unique characteristics. Paired with an extensive wine list, a luxuriously intimate lockdown dinner date is almost guaranteed.
The cost: Mugen offers weekly bento specials for $25 and lunch entrees range from $7-42.
How to order: Call 808-377-2247 to place your order and allow 45 minutes for meal preparation.
The gist: Central Texas-style BBQ spot serves up a hearty takeout meal.
The food: This popular food truck often sells out of its succulent CreekStone Farms high-grade beef brisket, beef ribs, pork spare ribs, and pulled pork. Pair it with freshly made sides ranging from a creamy or tangy coleslaw, potato salad, creamed corn, or hot pinto beans. For a relatively lighter meal, opt for the City Limits sandwich, made from chopped lean and fatty brisket. Wash it all down with an order of Texas sweet tea.
The cost: Meat priced by the pound, starting $15 for a half-pound.
How to order: Call 808-476-1405 to preorder two pounds or more.
Keiki and the Pineapple
The gist: Kid-friendly café provides weekly crafts kits, coffee, and acai bowls to families.
The food: Build-your-own Ohana Boxes (creative boxes for families to spend some time doing things) is currently on the menu until dine-in resumes. Order an Acai Bowl Kit, which makes two to four bowls and is perfect for this stay-at-home lockdown brunch. Menu favorites such as the Avocado Smash (avocado, feta, cilantro, and lime with tajin) and Brulee Brie, a crunchy torched brie and guava jelly toast, are available for all available for takeout.
The cost: Toasts range from $9-11, and Ohana Boxes average $75-108. Free coffee at pick up.
How to order: Order online and pick up daily between 8-3pm.
The gist: Local family dishes up authentic Hawaiian food in Kaimuki.
The food: Family recipes passed down from one generation to the next reign supreme on Oahu Grill’s menu. Expect original Hawaiian staples like freshly pounded poi, Lomi salmon, garlic shrimp, kalua pig, and squid lu’au. You can be sure that meats are smoked with aromatic wood chips and not that fake liquid smoke. Don't forget to check out weekly specials that have recently included pork squash soup, chicken hekka, and beef stew.
The cost: Weekly specials range from $12-15 and regular entrees between $12-16.
How to order: Call 808-762-0130 or place your order online.