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.
Just outside the Waikīkī area is one of Hawai‘i's longtime favorite nearby restaurants, Alan Wong's Restaurant. Long showered with raves and awards from locals and media alike, this place gives you a great taste of Hawaiian regional cuisine from a daily changing menu. Innovative dishes employ the freshest locally grown produce and Pacific Ocean ingredients. Menu listings marked with a pineapple designation are signature dishes. Diners can order a la carte, but for the most memorable experience, opt for a menu tasting with or without wine pairings. The dining room can get loud in the popular spot; call ahead to request a quieter table.
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 more than 30 years, knowledgeable diners have supported the Chart House Waikiki, where fresh island fish and seafood serve as the basis for such dishes as bouillabaisse, pan-seared herb-crusted ahi, prawns sautéed in Szechuan chili oil and spiny lobster tail. Carnivores salivate over juicy roasted prime rib of beef and filet mignon. Oenophiles will find Italian Pinot Grigio to Californian Cabernets among the more than 100 selections. End your meal on a sweet note with bananas Foster, New York-style cheesecake or the signature mud pie: three layers of chocolate, coffee and vanilla ice cream with decadent fudge in an Oreo crust.
Talented chef Russell Siu, who also owns the wonderful 3660 On the Rise, pleases the on-the-go crowd with healthy, budget-priced breakfasts, lunches and dinners at Kaka'ako Kitchen. Don't expect anything fancy at warehouse-like Kaka'ako, which serves good home-style cooking on polystyrene plates. For less than $15, you can nosh on a tempura mahi mahi sandwich or fried pork chops with sausage stuffing. Other good choices are beef stew and five-spice shoyu chicken. Tasters shower raves on the amazing bread pudding, but you can't go wrong with a brownie or guava bar either.
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.