Best Restaurants in HonoluluOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
If you can visit only one memorable restaurant in Honolulu, then make La Mer the one. In the beautiful Halekulani Hotel, the second-floor spot offers stunning ocean views, including glorious Hawaiian sunsets when the place opens. Men must wear a jacket; loaner jackets are provided for those underdressed. Island flavor infuses fabulous French dishes, such as abalone meunière, with exotic, rich sauces. For something more traditional, choose the flavorful filet of beef. Finish your meal with an outstanding dessert presented on an elegant cart.
Chef Mavro —an independently owned restaurant that has held AAA's Five Diamond Award since 2008—flourishes under the hand of Frenchman George Mavrothalassitis, who worked in many top spots in France and Hawai‘i before opening his own easily accessible restaurant just outside of the Waikīkī area. For a memorable experience during your trip, try the three-, four- or six-course dinners with optional wine pairings. Succumb to the temptation of a signature dish: award-winning onaga (red snapper) baked in Hawaiian-sea salt crust, Hudson Valley foie gras and Hawaiian lobster in vanilla-coconut sauce. Such exotic flavors as lemongrass, rosemary and Madras curries enhance each dish, and extraordinary desserts are made fresh daily.
When the flagship Roy's opened in 1988, chef Roy Yamaguchi was hailed as the first chef to mix European cooking practices with fresh Asian and Pacific Rim ingredients. Some called it “Eurasian,” but Yamaguchi preferred “Hawaiian fusion.” The chef's restaurant conglomerate now includes 20 eateries in the continental United States, six in Hawai‘i, one in Japan and one in Guam, but everything started at this destination. The specialty is seafood, but excellent choices also entice die-hard meat lovers. You can't go wrong with a signature dish or the big-time value in the three-course prix-fixe menu. The casually upscale dining room features a glass-enclosed exhibition kitchen as well as exquisite views of Diamond Head and Maunalua Bay.
Inside the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort , Duke's arguably ranks as the state's busiest restaurant and bar, drawing capacity crowds no matter the time of day (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or the occasion. Named in honor of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, this popular watering hole on Waikīkī Beach overlooks the spot where Duke caught his biggest wave. Highly recommended seafood preparations, including flavorful fresh fish, set you up for hula pie, billed as “the dessert that the sailors swam ashore for.” The shareable treat piles macadamia nut ice cream, chocolate fudge, whipped cream and more nuts on a chocolate cookie crust.
For the ultimate carb fix during your vacation, head to Leonard’s Bakery , a small, family-run establishment that has been sustaining sweet-toothed patrons since the 1950s. It’s famous for its delectable malasadas (traditional Portuguese hot treats consisting of deep-fried, sugar-coated sweet yeast dough), and you should definitely order one—or 10—when it’s your turn (yes, there will be a line). The cookies, pastries, pies, coffee cakes, pão doce (sweet bread) and other menu offerings also are to die for.
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AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Hawai‘i has an excise tax of 4 percent (4.712 percent in Honolulu) on most goods and services. Honolulu has a lodging tax of 10.25 percent; rental cars are subject to state tax and a road tax of approximately $5 per day.
Kaiser Permanente-Moanalua Medical Center & Clinic, (808) 432-0000; The Queen's Medical Center, (808) 691-1000; Straub Medical Center, (808) 522-4000.
2270 Kalākaua Ave. Suite 801 Honolulu, HI 96815. Phone:(808)923-1811 or (800)464-2924
Hertz, (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members and has several area locations: the airport, (808) 837-7100; Kahala Hotel & Resort, (808) 735-8983; Hyatt Regency Waikīkī Beach Resort & Spa, (808) 971-3535; Imperial Hotel, (808) 922-3331; and Pagoda Hotel, (808) 942-5626.
The largest companies serving the island are TheCAB, (808) 422-2222; and Charley's Taxi & Tours, (808) 233-3333.