A friend asked me for a list of places to eat for her boss's niece who is visiting Honolulu from New York City. Gee...they have a lot of good choices for foodies in NYC. I felt under quite a bit of pressure to come up with a list for some young 20-something year old hipsters!
What should I include on my best of list?? Here's what I came up with...let me know what you would add / take off!
1) Fancy local bar food
Side Street Inn - the original
Home Bar - the new comer
I can't choose between the two...I guess Side Street since it's more convenient for visitors staying in Waikiki.
2) Hipster diners
Downbeat Diner: For Sunday brunch or 2 am snacks after going out in Chinatown
3) Authentic Hawaiian Food (not what you get at a luau)
Helena's Hawaiian Food - in Kalihi
Ono's Hawaiian Food - on Kapahulu, closer to Waikiki
Both of these are LEGIT - hole in the wall, been there forever. Get a combo plate at either so you can try kalua pig, poi, laulau, lomi salmon and haupia.
4) Japanese food
So many choices here - I went with Sasabune...currently on my bucket list of restaurants to try. This would be more high end Japanese. There are two different omakase options, and you put your meal in the hands of the chef to make all decisions for you.
5) Locavore farm to table dining
Town.The first one in town. Located in Kaimuki, a more residential neighborhood, but still close to Waikiki. Others to consider are He'eia Pier, Sweet Home Waimanalo, and coming (in April 2012) The Whole Ox.
6) Misc. and snacks
Tanioka's musubi and poke: I can't get enough of the ahi poke, the mochiko chicken musubi, or the shiso musubi there. And if you've never had a spam musubi, gotta get one of those as well.
Shimazu Shave Ice: Because you can't visit Hawaii without have shave ice (once...or 5 times!) This one has the most unique flavors to choose from.
My current favorite spot on the island for drinks is the pool bar at the Modern (formerly the Edition) on the Ala Moana end of Waikiki. Feels very South Beach with the white chaise lounges.
Side Street Inn: Yelp
Home Bar: Yelp
Downbeat Diner: Yelp
Ono Hawaiian Food: Yelp
He'eia Pier: Yelp
Sweet Home Waimanalo: Yelp
Shimazu Shave Ice: Yelp
The Modern: Yelp