Outside interests have made money in Hawai‘i for centuries, including in food. Waves of restaurateurs from the continental U.S. and abroad have opened restaurants in Honolulu, with everyone from Japanese conglomerates to Michael Mina setting up shop. But simultaneously, Honolulu’s homegrown businesses have been able to ride the most recent wave of excitement to expand themselves. In the last decade, tiny mom-and-pop restaurants opened second locations, while established local chains expanded their reach. More and more chefs have worked to learn about Hawai‘i’s history and culture to respectfully incorporate aspects into their restaurants. That is to say, diners in Honolulu are a bit spoiled for choice.
As Hawai‘i heads into warmer and longer days, now’s the time to enjoy dining alfresco, a surprising rarity outside of Waikīkī; some favorite spots for outdoor dining include Fete’s Parisian bistro-style sidewalk tables and Hau Tree’s beachside setting under 100-year-old trees. And going from spring into the summer months, you’ll start to see some of Hawai‘i’s favorite fruits coming into season, like lychee, mangoes, and liliko‘i. Find them folded into sweets at MW Restaurant — still one of the best choices for elegant, seasonal desserts — and in pastries from Wallflour Bake Shop, a pop-up that’s one of Honolulu’s best new bakeries.
Like elsewhere, labor shortages continue to plague the restaurant industry, shuttering some of Honolulu’s favorite restaurants in recent months. It helps to be patient with those that remain open.
We update this list quarterly to make sure it reflects the ever-changing Honolulu dining scene.
Martha Cheng is the food editor at Honolulu Magazine, the author of The Poke Cookbook, and a writer for national publications.Read More