Eat Like a Local on Oahu
Hawaii locals love to eat. And Oahu offers a variety of comfort foods and farm to table restaurants in a variety of off-the-beaten path locations, from Honolulu to Haleiwa on the North Shore. The neighborhood of Kapahulu, for example, is a perfect place to eat where the locals eat and it’s just five minutes from the east end of Waikiki. Wherever you go, you’ll discover the ethnic diversity of Hawaii in these distinct local dishes:
Consisting of two scoops of rice, macaroni salad and everything from kalua pork, Korean barbecue, chicken katsu, beef teriyaki or mahimahi, the plate lunch is a staple of local food. In Kapahulu, the Rainbow Drive-In, Ono Hawaiian Foods and Zippy’s (Oahu’s 24-hour mainstay) offer local favorite plates. But throughout Oahu, from mom and pop shops to local chains, you won’t have to look far to find the perfect plate lunch.
“Pupu” is the Hawaiian term for appetizer, and every local restaurant from Waikiki to the North Shore offers a wide range of creative pupu platters to dine on, from poke dishes (seasoned cubes of raw fish) to sushi.
For big appetites, try a “loco moco,” which is a hamburger steak and egg over rice, covered in gravy. This hearty, blue-collar bowl can be found at plate lunch places and restaurants throughout Oahu. Some Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs like Alan Wong have even created fine dining twists on this favorite.
No matter what island you’re on, grab a shave ice to cool off. These finely shaved snow cones are served with colorful flavors on the top with a choice of ice cream or azuki beans on the bottom. You’ll find fine shave ice shops throughout Oahu but the most famous include Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore, Waiola’s Shave Ice in Kapahulu and Island Snow in Kailua Town near Kailua Beach.
Treat your sweet tooth to a hot malasada (a Portuguese doughnut). Although Leonard's Bakery in Kapahulu is popular, ask any local and they can tell you their favorite bakeries on Oahu to find these fresh and tasty treats.