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Whether it’s your first or 50th visit to O’ahu, sooner or later you’ll be ISO the best Waikīkī beach restaurants.
This beachfront stretch of Honolulu is legendary, but it’s also pretty touristy and not frequented by locals. Even so, some of Honolulu’s best restaurant are on Waikīkī Beach from casual options to award-winning fine dining.
If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Hawai’i, you might ask: “Where are the best places to eat in Honolulu?” We have a vetted list for Honolulu for our travel planning clients, but here we’re narrowing the focus and sharing the top Waikīkī beach restaurants.
All of these restaurants have been visited in person by Team Salt & Wind Travel and have been among the favorites of our Hawai’i travelers. But keep in mind that, like the hospitality industry at large, Hawai’i is experiencing labor shortages, so it’s best to go into experiences with patience and understanding.
From casual dives to some of the most high-end restaurants in Hawai’i, here is a list of the top ten restaurants for food lovers traveling to Waikīkī.
Where is Waikīkī Beach in Hawai’i?
Waikīkī Beach is situated on the south shore of the island of O’ahu within the city of Honolulu. There is a boardwalk that follows the white sand beaches that stretches just about 2 miles making it a very walkable part of the city.
Is Waikīkī Beach Worth Visiting?
Dating back to the midcentury when Hawai’i first became a travel destination, Waikīkī beach has been the epicenter of tourism on O’ahu’s. The area is knowns for its friendly waves, sandy beaches lined with numerous hotels, lively nightlife, and restaurants.
These days there is premium shopping along Kalākaua Avenue, foods from shave ice to Japanese pastries at the various cafes, and some of the top bars. The area is high on convenience, but it also has a fair amount of chain restaurants and souvenir shops catering to tourists so it isn’t a place many residents visit regularly.
As such, we encourage you to visit other neighborhoods like Chinatown, Downtown, Kaka’ako, and Kaimuki, and to day trip to the other parts of the island, like the North Shore.
Top 10 Waikīkī Beach Restaurants
But let’s dive into the top Waikīkī beach restaurants for food lovers!
Mind you; these are all sit-down restaurants with full service and almost all are located in hotels. This list doesn’t include bars that don’t serve food, grab-and-go spots, bakeries, or beloved street food spots. So, while we adore b.patisserie, Iyasume Musubi Cafe, and Double Fat Ice Cream, they aren’t on this list.
Best for Live Music: House Without a Key
Kicking off our list of Waikīkī beach restaurants is House Without a Key, which is known its quality cocktails like its signature Mai Tai.
This waterfront restaurant at the luxury Halekulani hotel is popular for live performances, which often include traditional Hawaiian music and dancing from former Miss Hawai’i winners.
This newly renovated alfresco bar and restaurant is busiest at sunset, but we also like going later to enjoy music and bites under the stars. Opt for locally-inspired small bites like Pipikaula salad bundles (crusted black pepper marinated flank steak), Char Siu coconut baby back ribs, poke, and ahi.
House Without A Key, Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kālia Rd, Honolulu
Best for Casual Happy Hour: Duke’s Waikīkī
Situated at Duke’s Waikīkī restaurant is named after legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku who surfed the beaches of Waikīkī. In other words, you can sip and snack while you look out at the very waves he rode.
This is the most laidback spot on or list and it too is busiest at sunset. The food is basic because it’s a beachfront bar that’s more about the setting than anything else. As such, we recommend going for cocktails and simple pūpū, or bite-sized appetizers, like ahi poke tacos or Korean sticky ribs.
Duke’s Waikiki, Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
Best for Creative Cocktails: Heyday
Here you’ll be transported you back to the 1960s with traditional Hawaiian music, a retro aesthetic, and open-air dining. This Waikīkī beach restaurant is attention-grabbing thanks to its bamboo bar where visitors can ride swings while sipping on innovative cocktails.
Go for the many takes on the Mai Tai, but stay for the casual and well-executed takes on classic bites like a curry chicken Club sandwich, Steak Diane, and Ginger scallion fried rice.
Heyday, White Sands Hotel, 431 Nohonani St, Honolulu
Best for Fast Casual: Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
If you’re searching for a fast casual meal, head to Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, the second most informal restaurant on our list after Duke’s Waikīkī. This is the only U.S. location of the Japanese restaurant and, as the name indicates, it’s all about fried pork.
The choices are limited to regular or premium kurobuta, thick or thin cut, and all are served with cabbage salad. But that minimal menu means they’re highly focused on consistency and quality. When in doubt, order the tonkatsu sandwich as it never disappoints.
Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, Regency on Beachwalk Waikiki by Outrigger, 255 Beach Walk, Honolulu
Best for Local Food: Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi
For local flavors and some traditional Hawaiian dishes, look no further than Eating House 1849. Helmed by legendary local chef Roy Yamaguchi, this Waikīkī beach restaurant pays homage to the bounty available from local farmers, fishermen, and foragers.
Eating House 1849, International Marketplace, 2330 Kalākaua Ave #322, Honolulu
Best for Modern Local Food: Mahina & Suns
This restaurant at the Surfjack was a project of our friend, chef Ed Kenney, and is run by chef Erik Leong. The cocktails and seafood are excellent, but also try the sides that are often made with native ingredients like ‘ulu (breadfruit) and pohole (fiddlehead fern).
Mahina & Suns, Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, 412 Lewers St, Honolulu
Best for Views of Diamond Head: The DECK
Travelers hoping to see Hawai’i’s iconic Diamond Head crater while they dine, should book a table at The DECK. Located on the rooftop of the historic Queen Kapi’olani Hotel, its location on Kapahulu Avenue between Kūhiō Avenue and Kalākaua Avenue means it has stunning views.
The rooftop terrace of this restaurant is a 10,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor area which is covered so it’s a great option if it rains. Go for the cocktails or the breathtaking view but stay for the live music and great vibes.
The DECK, Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel, 150 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu
Best for Creative Beachside Dining: Hau Tree
This beachside stylish restaurant is set among twinkling lights and trees. Mind you, it isn’t located right on Waikīkī Beach, but is just down the shore on Honolulu’s “Gold Coast” with frontage on the quieter Sans Souci Beach. The team behind Hau Tree includes the talented Chris Kajioka and chef de cuisine Alan Takasaki and it’s a lovely spot for dinner or an indulgent brunch.
Hau Tree is in the bottom floor of the Kaimana Beach Hotel and has a gazebo-style bar where guests can relax with a cocktail, but don’t miss out on the local-meets-Mediterranean food. A few plates we liked on a recent visit include the crispy Spanish octopus with miso bearnaise, the New York strip steak with smashed potatoes, and the burrata toast with truffled honey.
Hau Tree, Kaimana Beach Hotel, 2863 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu
Best for High-End Sushi: Sushi Sho
Set back from the water in the chic Ritz Carlton Residences, sushi lovers visiting Hawai’i can find one of the best dining experiences at Sushi Sho.
Chef Keiji Nakazawa moved from Tokyo to open this fine dining sushi experience in 2016 and it’s been a favorite ever since. Chef crafts beautiful, unique plates with an expert technique and a deft hand, perfect for sushi lovers everywhere.
FYI, the restaurant also offers a takeaway menu so you can enjoy some of the best sushi in Hawai’i while sitting beachside — just be sure to order it in advance.
Best for French Fine Dining: La Vie
A list of top Waikīkī beach restaurants wouldn’t be complete without one fine dining option and it just so happens our pick serves as the entrance to the aforementioned Sushi Sho. Also located in the Ritz Carlton Residences and also on the 8th floor, but where La Vie differs from Sushi Sho is that it skews modern French. The restaurants view and drinks are worth a visit alone, but you’d be remiss not to enjoy the elegant tasting menu that raises the bar on Waikīkī dining.
La Vie, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, 383 Kalaimoku St. 8th floor, Honolulu
More Hawai’i Travel Tips
Heading to the Aloha State soon? Make sure to check out these travel tips:
- Essential Travel Tips For Traveling To Hawai’i
- Where To Eat On Kaua’i Island
- Top Beaches To Visit On Big Island
Have Us Plan Your Hawai’i Trip
Did you know we’re also a boutique travel agency specializing in Hawai’i vacation planning? If you’re looking to plan a trip to Hawai’i, our Hawai’i trip planner services are here to help you plan your perfect itinerary.
Hawaiian Diacritical Marks: In an effort to be accurate and respectful of the Hawaiian language, we use diacritical marks in our articles on the region. For more about which marks are used in the language and how to find proper spelling, refer to this Hawai’i Magazine article.