When most people think of Hawaii they think of beautiful beaches, stunning coral reefs, and great surfing. However, Hawaii’s foodie scene should not be overlooked! You’re going to need to cheat on your beach bod a little bit while visiting this state to truly experience delicious Hawaiian culture.
From fresh fruits and seafood to decadent desserts, Hawaii has something for everyone! Due to the fact Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, a lot of the restaurants tend to be overpriced, so my number one tip to finding affordable and authentic food in Hawaii is to steer clear of the typical sit-down restaurants and instead look for food trucks and food stands around the island. Do your research before your trip and talk to locals when you arrive to find out where the true best spots on the island are.
Here are a few of my favourite places to grab a bite on the island of Oahu!
Located in Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, Ted’s Bakery is a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. They’re famous for their deliciously sweet and fluffy pies. The last time I visited Oahu I stayed right on Sunset Beach and made regular trips to Ted’s Bakery to indulge in their amazing macadamia nut cream pie. Along with pies, Ted’s Bakery is home to an assortment of other cakes and pastries. I even made a pit stop here on the way to the airport to grab some cookies for my return flight home!
Our friends over at Wanderlustyle introduced us to this cozy brunch spot last summer and I am still dreaming of their incredible red velvet pancakes today. Located in the quiet neighborhood of Kailua, Cinnamons is another local favourite for breakfast and lunch. Their red velvet pancakes are rated some of the best in America and for a good reason! I ordered these and felt like I was eating cake for breakfast – hands down THE BEST pancakes I’ve ever had.
Haleiwa Joe’s is more of a tourist spot on the North Shore, it’s slightly pricier than other local restaurants and is usually busy, but I think the fun, tropical atmosphere is worth spending an evening here during your stay! The appetizer platters are a good way to sample the island’s seafood options; pair it with one of their signature Mai Tai’s and you’re in for a delicious, tropical evening!
This is my go-to spot on the North Shore – I’m pretty sure the employees start to think I’m a local after a couple weeks of seeing me at their stand every day! This stand might look small, but it is mighty and home to the best acai bowls in Oahu. They come in two different sizes and you can pick a variety of different toppings to add to your bowl from fresh fruit, to nuts and granola. The absolute best thing about Haleiwa Bowls is the fresh mango you can add to your bowls; fresh mango during Hawaii’s mango season is the best thing I’ve ever tasted! The stand also has cold brew coffee available to enjoy with your bowl.
This is quite literally a hidden gem in Kapolei, the acai bowl shop is actually hidden inside of another shop, so you’d never actually know it’s there! This is another great option for acai bowls in Hawaii; they have a larger variety of bowl options and you can get different fruits blended right into the base of your bowl. They’re most well known for their cookie dough balls that you can top your acai bowl with – maybe not the healthiest topping, but definitely the yummiest!
Any Oahu local will tell you that the best place to get shrimp on the island isn’t from a restaurant, but rather it’s from one of the food trucks. Macky’s shrimp truck is by far the most popular among locals and is home to what some argue is the best coconut shrimp in all of Hawaii. Logan and I tried the coconut shrimp and the butter garlic shrimp and loved them both! Not only does Macky’s have the best shrimp on the island, but the price point is a lot more affordable than the restaurants and you can enjoy your shrimp outdoors with stunning 360-degree views of the island. Just be sure to get there early in the day, it’s not uncommon for the shrimp trucks to sell out of a particular shrimp by dinner time!
This is by far the best place to go in Oahu for truly, authentic Hawaiian cuisine. From the outside, this small family run establishment doesn’t look like much, but inside they recreate deliciously, traditional dishes such as Haupia and Poi. They sell filling combo platters that are incredibly affordable and cost much less than what you’d pay at a restaurant anywhere else. While this spot may not be for everyone, I recommend checking it out at least once to get a taste for true Hawaiian cuisine. If you visit, you have to at least try the Haupia – it’s one of the best places on the island to try it!