Food & Drink

You’d Be Crazy to Miss Oahu’s 11 Best Loco Mocos

Published On 10/12/2015 Published On 10/12/2015
Courtesy of Liliha Bakery

Liliha Bakery

For the classic dish done right, this 65-year-old favorite serves it with a grilled hamburger patty piled over white rice and smothered with warm gravy and fried, runny eggs. It comes in two different sizes for the hungry and extra hungry. Added bonus: a side of their infamous butter roll is included with your meal -- perfect for sopping up stray gravy that somehow didn’t already make its way to your mouth.

Courtesy of Brandon Suyeoka and Chef Mike Kealoha of Highway Inn, Kakaako

Highway Inn

In addition to satisfying your pipikaula and lau lau needs, this 68-year-old local institution’s Kaka'ako location offers a mélange of loco moco creations on a secret menu. That said, the on-menu Smokin' Moco, a smoky meat option, is a crowd favorite, omitting the traditional beef patty for slightly sweet kiawe-smoked meat covered with sautéed onions and peppers, a special aioli sauce, and two runny eggs over rice. Order with a side of squid luau, and you can have your traditional Hawaiian and local food... and eat it, too.  

Verde Kaimuki

Verde Kaimuki

The local classic gets a south-of-the-border makeover in the form of the Mexican loco moco, served with marinated al pastor, Spanish rice, served with pinto beans and two eggs over easy. The extra kick? Melted, golden queso drizzled liberally over the top.

Koko Head Cafe

LeeAnn Wong’s take on the dish comes on a hot cast-iron skillet, which means patient diners can enjoy their garlic rice crispy, with a medium rare Maui Cattle Company beef patty. The Koko Moco is then topped with mushroom gravy, a sunny side-up egg, and tempura kimchi, the meal is a tasty variation of the customary loco moco.

Yogur Story


For a dressed-up take on the standard dish, make your meal extra fancy with the prime rib loco moco, which features 8oz of soft and juicy beef, coated with extra-dark mushroom and onion gravy.

Hukilau Cafe

Although Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler frequented a restaurant of the same name in 50 First Dates, the movie’s incarnation was, sadly, just a movie set. But this real life, seemingly innocuous restaurant on the island’s northeastern shore has received acclaim for its tasty take on the island staple. The massive meal comes on a plastic plate and is filled to the brim, with their two hamburger patties and mushroom gravy stealing the show.

Courtesy of Moena Cafe

Moena Cafe

Tender, braised short ribs play substitute in Eric and Nicole Chang’s take on the island classic. The sizable stack of ribs and eggs crown a bed of fluffy rice drenched in thick, rich gravy. With ribs so well seasoned, you’ll barely miss the customary beef patty. Pro tip: order the fried rice upgrade for optimal enjoyment.

Nico’s Pier 38

Next door to the nation’s only daily tuna fish auction, this waterside eatery is understandably known for their fresh catch. But... just once, forgo the furikake ahi and seafood specials for their fall-off-the-plastic-fork charred patty, topped with a generous scoop of mushroom and onion demi-glace gravy, served with a side of macaroni salad and chow mein. Ignore your friends’ jeers for not ordering the fresh fish, and maybe, if they’re lucky, you’ll let them have a bite before you clean the plate.

The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong

The Pineapple Room

As one of the creators of Hawaiian regional cuisine, Alan Wong turns the classic comfort food into a gourmet dish. Made with Kuahiwi Ranch beef, the plate comes with two island eggs topped with a small scoop of lomi salmon, and served with kalua pig fried rice in a shallow pool of veal jus. Ringing in at $21, their version is one the most expensive offerings on this list, but we think it’s worth every penny.

Papa Ole’s

Served all day long, this windward-side diner’s regular size Moco, the Loco Aina Special, comes with thick beef patties, three fried eggs, gravy and a mountain of rice, with portions that nearly overflow the plate. Less hearty eaters can opt for the “mini” portion, which is still big enough to stuff you silly.

Cafe 100

Okay, so this restaurant isn’t in Oahu, but it’s hard to talk loco mocos without including one of the godfathers of the local comfort food. Many claim to have invented the dish, but local lore says either Lincoln Grill or Cafe 100 created the starchy meal in 1949. While the former has since gone to diner heaven, the latter still serves its trademarked loco moco, with chicken, fish, vegetables, or sausages, in addition to the classic hamburger patty. In addition to all that, C100 also offers a Super Loco that includes Portuguese sausage, Spam, and beef, topped with the requisite brown gravy and your choice style of eggs. With a side of mac salad! For less than $8!

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1. Liliha Bakery 515 N Kuakini St, Honolulu, HI 96817

Established in 1950, this Honolulu diner-meets-bakery has been an island favorite longer than Hawaii has been a state. Open 24 hours, you can sit at retro bar stools and watch longtime waitresses sizzle Portuguese sausage, scrambled eggs, and butter rolls on the flat-top grill around the clock. Then, on your way out, you can pick up treats that have entranced locals for decades, including Liliha's famous Cocoa Puffs, which are essentially profiteroles with chocolate pudding. Good luck saving them for later.

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2. Highway Inn 680 Ala Moana Blvd #105, Honolulu, HI 96813

Hawaiian food is king at this relaxed eatery, which serves platters, pipikaula (salted/dried beef), squid luau, and fresh kulolo.

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3. Verde Kaimuki 3607 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

This relaxed BYOB serves Mexican basics, such as tacos, nachos, tacos, and quesadillas. The "Kitchen Sink" burrito—loaded with every fixing—is a customer favorite.

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4. Koko Head Cafe 1145 12th Ave Ste C, Honolulu, HI 96816

Led by Top Chef finalist chef Lee Anne Wong, this brunchery offers up fluffy pancakes, as well as island-takes on classic breakfasts, like eggs Benedict with poi biscuits, luau leaves and poi hollandaise. Plenty of pan-Asian eats are on the menu, and all offerings are so unique that you may have to order several extra entrees for the table.

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5. YogurStory 815 Keeaumoku St, Honolulu, HI 96814

This elegant, two-story Asian bistro doles out creative entrees like ube pancakes (made with purple yams, sweet potatoes, and coconut sauce) and Oxtail and qual egg-stuffed ravioli.

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6. Hukilau Cafe 55-662 Wahinepee St., Laie, HI 96762

No, this isn't the same place as in 50 First Dates. But it should be.

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7. Moena Cafe 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy Ste D101, Honolulu, HI 96825

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Eric and Nicole Chang, this bright and chic cafe in Hawaii Kai specializes in brunch favorites reinvented with the couple's personal touches. You'll find plenty of Hawaiian influence in their locally sourced creations, such as the Kalua Pig Benedict and pineapple sausage hash, plus a touch of sweetness in fan-favorites like cinnamon roll pancakes topped with a large swirl of light cream cheese syrup. Espresso drinks, specialty iced teas, and milkshakes are up for grabs as well (you can never go wrong with a chocolate shake topped with peanut butter and banana).

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8. Nico's Pier 38 1131 N Nimitz Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817

Fresh fish is hand-picked daily by the expert team at Nico's, and that’s the way locals like it. In addition to showcasing fish caught by local fleet, this oceanside eatery features locally-sourced ingredients and a killer cocktail menu. Overlooking docked fishing boats and the Honolulu fish auction, Nico's dockside seating offers diners frontline seats to the action, and their attached fish market lets them take some home. Casual counter service during the day transitions to table service at night when this popular joint gets busy, and they don't take reservations.

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9. The Pineapple Room 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814

Alan Wong is the king of Hawaiian cuisine, and his newest restaurant is a total must see.

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10. Papa Ole's 54-316 Kamehameha Hwy, Hauula, HI 96717

Here you'll enjoy loco mocos all. day. long.

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11. Cafe 100 969 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720

Head here for some of the best loco mocos you will ever eat!