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Food & Dining in Honolulu


Honolulu is a city that is rich in dining and cuisine from all cultures can be found here in abundance. Good restaurants are plentiful in Waikiki, but you'll also find some of the city's best near downtown at aptly named Restaurant Row (a megacomplex of offices, shops and restaurants), which is on the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Punchbowl Street.

You'll find scrumptious cross-cultural dishes based on fresh local ingredients – especially seafood, vegetables, herbs and fruit – as well as pure Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, French, German, Swiss and Italian favourites. However, only a few Honolulu restaurants offer foods that were prepared by the early Hawaiians.

Standard fare for most Hawaiians these days is the inexpensive plate lunch available in many cafes and from outdoor snack wagons, where they are served in a paper box that is just perfect for a casual outdoor meal. A plate lunch typically consists of a fried meat, chicken or seafood entree, macaroni salad, two scoops of white rice and sometimes a third starch. There are a number of these operations serving shrimp along Kamehameha Highway. Look for the sandwich-board signs and tented picnic tables. Dining there is a no-frills atmosphere and messy experience, but locals and tourists alike keep going back for more.

For a tasty and less-filling local treat, try saimin (Japanese noodle soup), shave ice (snow cones), malasadas (hot Portuguese donuts sprinkled with sugar) or manapua (Chinese steamed buns filled with red pork).

Breakfast is generally served 7-9:30 am, lunch 11 am-2 pm and dinner 6-10 pm.

Places to Dine


Hawaii's premier vacation destination, Waikiki, boasts every imaginable kind of dining establishment. Every large hotel has at least one restaurant and some boast five or six; most are very worthwhile. For great steak, the choices are many. Seafood places are also just about everywhere in Waikiki. At the Lobster & Crab House in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, a large tank of live Maine lobsters is positioned at the entrance so that you may pick your clawed choice for dinner. La Mer, in the Halekulani Hotel, is a nouveau French seafood restaurant that is one of the top-rated establishments in Hawai'i.

Many residents and visitors consider Matteo's in the Marine Surf Hotel to be one of the finest Italian restaurants in Waikiki and Honolulu. The superb menu is served in an intimate setting. The wine list here is also one of the best in town. Duke's Restaurant & Barefoot Bar is also in a class all by itself, offering great food, live Hawaiian music and a fantastic beachfront location. This is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon after a refreshing dip in the blue Pacific. A Honolulu institution and an absolute "must" for any foodie is the original Chart House Restaurant overlooking the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. The food, service and sunset are simply wonderful. For Japanese Teppan-yaki, try Tanaka of Tokyo, with three locations in Waikiki. A Japanese fast food favourite, the Ezogiku Noodle Café, also has several locations throughout the city.

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