Where to find the best food in Oahu and Waikiki

For the Aussie traveler, dining in the USA can be a glorious adventure for the tastebuds, and Waikiki on the island of Oahu, Hawaii is no exception with so many amazing foods and places to try.

I’ve put together a list of the must-try Waikiki eats for Aussies abroad in Hawaii.

 

Best Coffee in Waikiki

As it was knowingly observed in my Guatemalan travels, we Australians are coffee snobs. We like our coffee and we are particular about it too. It is also one of the most commonly asked questions from Australians I see on the Hawaii travel forums.

Unfortunately, the coffee culture in the USA is somewhat lacking, and while the Americans seem to like their brewed liquid well enough, no one claims it is up to our standards.

But if you know where to go, you can still find great coffee in Waikiki. Be aware it will set you back a minimum of USD $5.

 

Bill’s Hawaii

Bill’s is a great Waikiki cafe which is strangely situated above a clothing store which you walk through to get go up the staircase at the back of the store. Don’t do what I did and just assume you can go on up though, the store attendants like to find out what you are after before you go up.

At the top of the stairs is a delightful open space with high ceilings filled with natural light and funky, upbeat tunes playing. Bills has a great breakfast menu, and the coffee was the best I had in Waikiki. It was just a shame I didn’t find it until my last day! They are an international franchise from Britain that is also found in Australia, which might be why their coffee is good. They serve Kaú coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Inside Bills Hawaii, Waikiki

A glimpse inside the spacious Bills – it is much bigger than this!

Breakfast was delicious also, but probably not the place to go for breakfast every morning. A big breakfast and two coffees set me back USD $40.

Big breakfast at Bills Hawaii, Waikiki

A tasty big breakfast from Bills Hawaii will set you back USD $24

Where to find Bills Hawaii: 280 Beachwalk Avenue, Honolulu

How to get there: From Waikiki it is a short walk from the main drag

 

Kai Coffee

Until I found Kai I had been supplementing my morning need for caffeine with the chilled Starbucks coffee drinks from the ABC store near my hotel. Not bad if you don’t mind the sugary sweetness.

Kai is rated as the top coffee on Trip Advisor by Australians, and you’ll find a long line in the mornings. They boast artisan roasted Hawaiian coffee.

Where to find Kai Coffee: Kalakaua Avenue, at the base of the Hyatt Regency.

How to get there: It is on the main road through Waikiki

 

Island Brew Coffeehouse

If you happen to spend a day at the Ala Moana shopping center, Island Brew Coffeehouse is the place to go for a good coffee. They also serve their takeaways in compostable cups made from corn, so you can feel good about the environment while you enjoy your caffeine fix.

Where to find Island Brew Coffeehouse: Level 3 of the Ewa Wing, Ala Moana Center. Near the Bloomingdales entrance.

How to get there:  Bus routes 8, 19, 20, 23, 42 and E from Waikiki

 

Sweet Treats in Waikiki

Cinnabon

An American chain which will hopefully soon make it to Australia, the cinnamon buns are just to die for! Pastry scrolls filled with cinnamon and drizzled in a sweet glaze, these will delight any sweet tooth.

Cinnamon scrolls from Cinnabon

Where to find Cinnabon: Food court in the Ala Moana Center

How to get there: Bus routes 8, 19, 20, 23, 42 and E from Waikiki

 

Purve Donut Stop

Colourful donuts on offer at Purve Donut Stop

Colourful selections on display

Snapshot of menu at Purve Donut StopThis one I discovered because it was virtually beside the Ukelele factory I toured, and my new friend Lloyd urged me to try one as they were the best donuts in Honolulu. Their menu is colourful and creative, even down to the names! And they are oh so good!

Where to find Purve Donut Stop: 1234 Kona Street Honolulu (2nd floor of Iolani Center)

How to get there: Purve Donut Stop is an easy 5 minute walk from the Ala Moana Center.

 

Lloyd insisted on filming me trying the ‘You’re killing me smores’ donut, while making fun of my accent! You can check out the video below for a giggle.

 

Waiola Shave Ice

Waiola Shave Ice HonoluluNot something that we come across in Australia, nor did I see on my LA visit, but shaved ice is immensely popular in Hawaii. It is literally as it sounds, a giant block of ice is shaved down into small crystals, then various flavoured syrups are added to create what is effectively a delicious, soft iceblock in a cup. Now most Hawaii articles will tell you to go to a place called Matsumoto for the best shaved ice. I didn’t get there, but Waiola Shave Ice was another of Lloyd’s recommendations with the assurance that it was where all the locals go for the best shaved ice in Honolulu.

Waiola Shaved Ice is a small family business run out of a grocery store. On Lloyd’s recommendation I tried the Hawaii 5-0 drizzled with condensed milk, though I forgot to order the ice-cream base. It’s a must try in Waikiki!

Where to find Waiola Shave Ice: 2135 Waiola Street Honolulu

How to get there: A pleasant 20 minute stroll from Waikiki

 

Hawaii 5-0 flavour Shaved Ice

Hawaii 5-0 flavour Shaved Ice, as featured in Hawaii 5-0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lewers Lounge

This was a great tip from the Uber driver who picked me up from Pearl Harbor. Lewers Lounge is a funky little Jazz bar offering live music, cocktails and some fancy desserts! They’ll also keep putting plates of chocolate treats in front of you to nibble on while you sip on your cocktail.

Profiteroles at Lewers Lounge, Waikiki

Fancy profiteroles!

Where to find Lewers Lounge: I walked around the block a few times looking for this one, as you need to walk through the foyer of the Halekulani hotel to find it! It’s at 2199 Kalia Road Honolulu, at the top of Lewers street.

How to get there: A little over 5 minutes walk from Waikiki

 

The best food in Waikiki

 

Pro-tip: Restaurants in Waikiki tend to be pretty full so expect to wait potentially some time for a table if you haven’t made a reservation. However, most also offer full service at the bar so if you’re on your own skip the wait by taking a seat at the bar if there’s one free! Expect huge meal sizes and often a basket of bread before your meal arrives. They’ll also offer you a box if you are unable to finish.

I have a personal rule that when I’m by the water I’ll indulge on seafood, so all of these recommendations have a number of seafood options to choose from.

 

The Cheesecake Factory

Another American Icon not to be found in Australia, don’t be fooled by the name as The Cheesecake Factory offers an extensive menu as well as their amazing desserts.

The lighting in The Cheesecake Factory is dim and it’s winding expanse is far bigger than it looks from the outside. At one end water spills down a textured wall. Though I had already ordered a considerable amount of food a basket of warm bread is placed in front of me within minutes and literally 10 minutes after taking my order my piping hot and delicious shrimp platter follows. There is a lot of food on this plate!

Shrimp Platter from The Cheesecake Factory, Waikiki

Chocolate Fudge Tower cake from The Cheesecake Factory, WaikikiThough I am pretty full after not being able to finish the meal, I feel like I absolutely need to try a dessert! There are two full menu pages of choices that take a while for me to ponder. It all sounds divine but I eventually settle on the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake, layers of fudge cake with chocolate truffle cream and chocolate mousse. I manage about six bites of the large, rich dessert before the waiter spots me put my spoon down and is at my shoulder asking if I would like him to box it for me. It lasted me another two nights!

Where to find The Cheesecake Factory: You can’t miss it on the main drag of Waikiki

How to get there: A short walk from your Waikiki accommodation

 

 

 

Red Lobster

Another American iconic restaurant chain viewers of The Big Bang Theory will have heard mentioned, Red Lobster has an extensive seafood menu to choose from largely featuring a great variety of one of my favourites; Lobster!

This is another restaurant that will put down a basket of bread pre-meal, as well as a salad. I had the lobster in paradise, crumbed lobster meat which also featured a skewer of prawns and a lobster and shrimp Caribbean pineapple beurre blanc. The beurre blanc was delicious!

Crumbed Lobster at Red Lobster Waikiki

Where to find Red Lobster: 1765 Ala Moana Boulevard

How to get there: An easy 15 minute walk from Waikiki or the bus route to the Ala Moana Center will go past the door

 

PF Changs

An another American restaurant chain, offering Asian and Chinese food. The serving sizes, while still large, are closer to what we expect in an Australian restaurant and the food was exceptionally good.

Surf and Turf meal at PF Changs, Waikiki

Surf and Turf at PF Changs

Where to find PF Changs: On the main drag of Waikiki, not far from The Cheesecake Factory

How to get there: A short walk from your Waikiki accommodation

 

Tony Roma’s Steakhouse

Prawn pasta at Tony Roma's Steakhouse WaikikiI was craving some good pasta, so went in search of some good Italian and stumbled upon Tony Roma’s Steakhouse. Tony Roma’s is well known for their ribs but the pasta meal I had was absolutely top-notch. As were the cocktails!

Where to find Tony Roma’s: 1972 Kalakua Avenue Honolulu

How to get there: 5 minute walk from Waikiki

 

 

 

 

 

Dukes

For oceanside views you can’t beat Dukes!

Oceanfront views from Dukes Waikiki

Dukes is a frontrunner for the best breakfast in Waikiki, offering a buffet breakfast for USD $18 with a great selection of food and omelettes made to order.

They also have a great dinner menu, and if its your birthday you can have a free slice of Hula Pie -a whopping great chunk of ice-cream cake that was big enough for four adults to share for dessert!

Where to find Dukes: The Outrigger Waikiki Resort, on the main drag of Waikiki

How to get there: A short walk from your Waikiki Accommodation

 

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

This one is on the North Shore of Oahu but I’m still giving it an honorable mention. The Scampi is messy but incredibly tasty!

Scampi from Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

Where to find Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: 66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa

How to get there: You can probably expect this to be a pit-stop on most tours incorporating the North Shore of Oahu.

 

You can also check out my Aussie Girls Guide to Hawaii Packing.

 

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The best Waikiki eats you have to tryThe best Waikiki eats you have to try