White sand beach, crystal clear turquoise water, rugged coral reefs, sun-basking turtles…As exotic as your imagination goes for tropical beaches in Hawaii, its food scene is also quite dynamic and intriguing. 

Hawaii has a rich culinary culture influenced by generations of immigrants. Besides the “local food,” Hawaiians have developed unique “Hawaiian food” using local ingredients with a blend of Asian, Polynesian and American influences. 

This article covers 10 things to eat in Oahu. (Keep in mind, I did not distinguish local vs. Hawaiian food.) Also, I made a list of the best places to eat in Oahu.

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Hawaii Food Guide: 10 Must-Eat Oahu Food & Where to Eat in Oahu | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

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What to Eat in Oahu

#1.​ Loco Moco

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #1. Loco Moco | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Loco Moco is a contemporary Hawaiian dish. A classic Loco Moco usually consists of a bowl of rice, topped with a hamburger patty and a sunny-side-up egg smothered in gravy. But there are many variations, such as chicken, Portuguese sausage, spam, bacon, shrimp and vegetarian (tofu). 

This hearty meal is very popular in Hawaii. You can easily find many different versions in many casual eateries in Oahu.  

Where to Eat: L&L Hawaiian BBQ, Fatboy’s Hawaii, Rainbow Drive-in

#2.​ Lau Lau

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #2. LauLau | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Lau Lau is not a dish but rather a traditional Hawaiian way of cooking. Typically, fatty pork and fish are wrapped in luau leaf and steamed in an underground pit. Some healthier versions substitute fatty pork with chicken, turkey, or even squid. 

Where to Eat: Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Highway Inn Kaka’ako

#3. Poke

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #3. Poke | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

A poke bowl is one of the most popular Hawaiian dishes that have gained popularity outside of Hawaii. A poke means “cut into chunks” in Hawaiian. Traditionally using ahi tuna or octopus, the raw fish chunks are seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, peppers and salt, then mixed with chopped onions and green onions. This poke is placed on white rice to make a Hawaiian poke bowl. 

It resembles Japanese Chirashi Don (raw fish on top of sushi rice). The main difference is that Chirashi Don uses a wider variety of fish, such as tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, etc., without any sauce. 

Where to Eat: Foodland, Ono Seafood, Redfish

#4.​ Garlic Shrimp

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #4. Garlic Shrimp | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Garlic shrimp is typically served in parked trucks in the North Shore. I am curious to know how it became the must-eat Hawaiian food in Oahu. But it is undoubtedly the most popular dish every visitor chase after on the island. 

The most famous one is Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, which has three locations. The original North Shore location has a long line at any time of the day. The shrimp scampi plate comes with rice and a lemon wedge. Shrimps are fresh, crispy and garlicky. 

While Big O was waiting in line at Giovanni, I walked over to Jenny’s Shrimp Truck across the bridge. I got the spicy garlic shrimp plate, which has mildly spicy and tangy flavors. If you travel with a group, split up and sample garlic shrimp from different trucks.

Where to Eat: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Jenny’s Shrimp Truck

>> Did you know shark cage diving is one of the most popular activities on the North Shore?

#5. Musubi

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #5. Musubi | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Musubi is a Japanese rice ball wrapped in seaweed. The most common and popular kind in Hawaii is spam musubi. It is a snack food you can easily find at 7-Eleven or a supermarket. 

I am not a big fan of Musubi because I’m not too fond of spam or processed meat like sausage. But I can’t deny spam musubi is one of the most iconic Hawaiian foods. You should definitely try it! 

Where to Eat: 7-Eleven, Woodland

#6. Acai Bowl

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #6. Acai Bowl | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Acai Bowls are a breakfast bowl of acai berries smoothie topped with fruits, granola, nuts, banana and coconut flakes. You can add other toppings, such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, cacao nibs, peanut butter, etc. 

It makes a healthy breakfast or snack as acai berries are considered super food full of nutrients. And it is so tasty! 

Where to Eat: Hale’iwa Bowls, Heavenly Island Lifestyle

#7. Malasada

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #7. Malasada | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

A malasada is a Portuguese fried donut famous in Hawaii. It is believed that Portuguese laborers who worked in the plantations in the late 19th century brought this sweet pasty to the island. 

It is fluffy and light. Some are covered in sugar; others are filled with creamy custard. I prefer one with custard filling; the creamy filling oozes out when I bite into this fluffy pastry. Yum! 

Where to Eat: Leonard’s Bakery, Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery

#8. Shave Ice

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #8. Shave Ice | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

With an Asian background, I am familiar with all sorts of shaved ice, from Korean bingsu to Japanese kakigori to Taiwanese Tsuabing. These refreshing summer desserts are perfect for cooling off the summer heat. 

Hawaiian shave ice is the same concept, as it was brought to the islands by Japanese immigrants. A large block of ice is shaved off into flakes on a bowl, and then flavored syrups are added.  

To be honest, this was a let-down experience for me. Asian shaved ice typically adds solid toppings such as red beans, mochi balls, fruits, etc. Whereas, the Hawaiian version was all about artificially flavored syrup. But do take my criticism with a grain of salt. If you grew up eating syrupy ice from ice cream trucks, you might actually love it. 

Where to Eat: Matsumoto Shave Ice, Waiola Shave Ice

#9. Chocolate Haupia Pie

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #9. Chocolate Haupia Pie | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut pudding. I am not too crazy about this classic Hawaiian dessert. But chocolate haupia pie is an entirely different story. 

My local friends highly recommended and brought a chocolate haupia pie from Ted’s Bakery. This decadent chocolate pie layered with coconut haupia and whipped cream was so fluffy and heavenly! It was a game-changer. I ate it as a dessert and breakfast. 

The chocolate haupia cream pie used to be available in Honolulu supermarkets. However, I heard you now must go to their bakery on the North Shore to get it. So make sure you swing by Ted’s Bakery on the day you are there. 

Where to Eat: Ted’s Bakery

#10. Macadamia Nuts

10 Must-Eat Oahu Food: #10. Macadamia Nuts | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Macadamia Nuts are not necessarily food. But when in Hawaii, you gotta get some. 

These creamy, crunchy nuts are a healthy snack locally grown in Hawaii. You can find seasoned macadamia nuts and chocolates all over Oahu. Eat some there and bring more home this edible souvenir.

Also, I recommend you try any macadamia nuts desserts. You can find banana macadamia nut pancakes, macadamia cinnamon rolls and other desserts at local restaurants. Like me, if you like nutty flavors, try macadamia nut milk lattes at local coffee shops as well.

Where to Eat: Restaurants, cafes and supermarkets

Best Food Tours on Oahu

  • Hawaiian Food and Photography Tour: Join on the fun food tour to sample authentic Hawaiian cuisine. Stop for vista points along the way to off-the-beaten-track restaurants.
  • Oahu Food & Sights Bus Tour: Kick off your day from Waikiki. Explore the island of Oahu through its history, landscapes, and food.
  • Oahu Sights and Bites Island Tour: Appreciate the scenic spots and local specialty snacks around the island. Taste Poi donuts, locally grown nuts and chocolates.
  • Catch one of the Luau Dinner Shows: Queens Waikiki Luau Show or Ka Moana Luau. Enjoy an evening of Hawaiian feast with a hula performance and an authentic Polynesian event.
  • Private Foodie Tour: Embark on a circle-around-the-island tour via a scenic route and unveil little secret spots on Oahu. Make 5-6 food stops to discover the local flavors along the way.

Where to Eat in Oahu

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Rainbow Drive-In | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Rainbow Drive-In

Want to get some Hawaiian comfort food? Visit Rainbow Drive-In. This fast-food chain store serves lunch plates such as Loco Moco, BBQ, mahi mahi, etc. It is a casual spot to swing by straight from the beach. 

Hours: 7 am – 9 pm

Location: Many locations in Oahu


Foodland is a grocery chain store with multiple locations in Hawaii. Think of Whole Foods Market, and you will get the idea. The supermarket offers diverse local specialties you can eat there or bring home; macadamia nuts, Hawaiian honey, chocolates, Kona coffee, haupia powder, banana macadamia nut pancake mix…you name it! 

It is also an excellent place to sample different pokes and musubi at the food court. You can buy it and bring it to the tables on the side to eat there. 

Hours: 9:30 am – 7 pm

Location: Many locations in Oahu

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: L&L Hawaiian BBQ | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is another fast-food chain serving local comfort food. I wouldn’t say it is the most delicious place. But it is a casual spot for simple yet fulfilling plate lunch menus. The plates consist of rice, vegetables, and proteins (chicken, beef, seafood, pork) cooked in various ways.

Hours: Different hours by location

Location: Many locations in Oahu

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is Oahu’s most famous garlic shrimp establishment. Try the Shrimp scampi, the most popular choice here. The buttery jumbo shrimp plate comes with two scoops of rice and a lemon wedge. Expect a long line (like 30 minutes or so), but it moves. Cash only.

Hours: Different hours by location

Location: Original location [Open Google Map]

Helena’s Hawaiian Food 

Helena’s Hawaiian Food is a low-key diner serving Hawaiian cuisine, such as Kale pig, pipikaula short ribs, Luau Squid, Poi, Lomi Salmon, Lau Lau and Haupia. Since it won the James Beard Award, it has become one of the most celebrated restaurants in Oahu. 

The restaurant does not take reservations. Expect a long line. It is only open from Tuesday to Friday. Cash only.

Hours: Tuesday – Friday 10 am – 7:30 pm 

Location: [Open Google Map]

Cinnamon’s Restaurant Kailua

Cinnamon’s Restaurant is a homey brunch restaurant in Kailua. It is a great place to go after the morning kayak adventure to the Mokes (that’s what we did!) or before you hit the Kailua beach. The menu features breakfast favorites with a creative twist, such as guava chiffon pancakes, kalua pork eggs benedict, and “local style” omelets paying homage to diverse Asian cuisine. The restaurant also serves local food like Loco Moco. Macadamia nut cinnamon rolls are to die for.

Hours: 8 am – 2 pm (Sat & Sun opens at 7 am)

Location: [Open Google Map]

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Hawaii Food Guide: 10 Must-Eat Oahu Food & Where to Eat in Oahu | #WhattoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #TravelHawaii

Arvo Cafe

Arvo Cafe is a cute little spot in the SALT at Our Kaka’ako, one of Oahu’s trendiest outdoor shopping centers. The cafe doesn’t have indoor space. But feel free to grab a table under a sun umbrella. It is a lovely site to soak up the sun and chill in the afternoon over a quick bite and coffee.

Hours: 8 am – 2 pm

Location: [Open Google Map]

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Haleiwa Bowls | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Hale’iwa Bowls

Perhaps Hale’iwa Bowls is the most famous acai bowl shop on Oahu. I tried many acai bowls around the island and fell in love. It was all tasty, and I can’t say Hale’iwa Bowls was the best. However, it stands out for its diverse menu options beyond a blend of acai puree. You can also add extra toppings and botanical supplements to customize it.

Hours: 7:30 am – 6:30 pm

Location: [Open Google Map]

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Hideout at the Laylow | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Hideout at the Laylow

Hideout is a stylish restaurant/bar at the Laylow, Autograph Collection. The rooftop terrace on the second floor serves amazing coffee and breakfast, then turns into a trendy lounge with fire pits at night. The lively bar serves fantastic craft cocktails, but also try their modern Hawaiian dishes.

We had a memorable evening here. Everything was so delicious. The server was super friendly. Someone got proposed on the corner. The atmosphere was upbeat, festive and friendly.

Hours: 6-11 am, 5-9:30 pm 

Location: [Open Google Map]

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Buho Cocina y Cantina | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Buho Cocina y Cantina 

There are so many restaurant options in Waikiki, but it can be challenging to spontaneously grab a table at the popular ones. Buho Cocina y Cantina is a hidden gem you can chill at without stressing about making reservations months in advance. It is an open-air Mexican restaurant/bar serving delicious Tex-Mex classics, such as burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, etc. Don’t forget to get some tropical cocktails to have you feel vacation vibes. 

Hours: 4 pm – 1:30 am (Mon & Wed closed at midnight)

Location: [Open Google Map]

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Haleiwa Joe’s at the Haiku Gardens | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Haleiwa Joe’s at Haiku Gardens

Haleiwa Joe’s at Haiku Gardens is one of Oahu’s most famous and popular restaurants. Out of two locations, make sure you go to Haiku Gardens for the beautiful botanical garden surrounding it. 

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Haleiwa Joe’s at the Haiku Gardens | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Besides the ambiance, the food and drinks are all tasty. But you gotta try prime rib here. You will be surprised by its huge portion (it looks like Tor’s Hammer!) then wowed by its flavors. 

This restaurant does not take reservations, so arrive there right when it opens. Put your name down first and walk around the gardens. If you must wait too long, grab a bar table to eat appetizers and drink first. But note that you cannot order prime rib from the bar.

Hours: 4-9 pm

Location: [Open Google Map]

Michel’s at the Colony Surf

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Michel’s at the Colony Surf | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Michel’s at the Colony Surf is an excellent choice if you are looking for a classic fine-dining restaurant to celebrate special occasions. (We had our anniversary dinner here.) Arrive fashionably at the elegant white-table French restaurant right by the beach! Tableside service for caesar salad is an experience in itself. From amazing food to five-star services to a stunning view, this restaurant will complete a perfect dine-out experience.  

Book well in advance to get the first line of the table by the beach. To enjoy the ocean view or sunset, book the earlier time. Dress up. 

Hours: 5-9 pm (Fri & Sat closed at 9:30 pm)

Location: [Open Google Map]

Elks Lodge

13 Best Places to Eat in Oahu: Elks Lodge | #WheretoEatinOahu #HawaiiFood #OahuFood #FoodTravel

Elks Lodge is a private club next to Michel’s at the Colony Surf. The club offers member-exclusive access to the outdoor pool and beach. Thanks to our local friends with membership, we could enjoy the stunning sunset view and delicious dinner at the clubhouse. While it is not public, I recommend stopping by if you have access to it. 

Hours: Mon-Tues 10 am – 7 pm  Wed- Sun 1 am – 8 pm

Location: [Open Google Map]

For a full packing list, see my thorough article: 22 Essential Things to Pack for Hawaii >>

Where to Go Next in Hawaii

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>> Oahu Food Guide: What to Eat in Oahu & Where to Find the Best

>> Oahu 5-Day ItinerarySee how to spend fabulous 5 days on your vacation  

Bon Voyage!