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Food Culture in Hawaiʻi

With our bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, abundant upland cattle farms and Pacific Ocean waters teeming with sashimi-grade fish, Hawaiian cuisine is a beautiful tapestry of flavors and traditions. Here, ancient customs meet global influences brought to Hawaiʻi over many generations, giving our local food culture more layers than a Maui onion. From farm-to-table Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine to traditional feasts fit for ke aliʻi (royalty), you’ll find delicious culinary treasures on every Hawaiian island.
 
Oʻahu, known as The Gathering Place, is nothing short of a foodie paradise, and in the past few years Honolulu has emerged as one of the major culinary meccas in the U.S. Stroll through foodie ’hoods like Kakaʻako, Kaimukī and Chinatown to discover a melting pot of trendy eateries and mom-and-pop diners dishing up local specialties like plate lunch and loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy). From downtown Honolulu to Waikīkī, book a table at one of the iconic fine-dine restaurants that put Hawaiian cuisine on the map, including Roy’s and Chef Mavro.
 
If your travels take you to Kauaʻi, assemble an epic Hawaiian-style picnic at the island’s famed sunshine markets, and treat yourself to a memorable meal at hotspots like Merriman’s or Eating House 1849. Maui’s mix of roadside food stands and gourmet restaurants is enhanced by the abundant produce grown in the island’s Kula region. The island of Hawaiʻi offers dining choices as diverse as its landscapes; just remember to finish your meal with a cup of homegrown Kona coffee. And don’t let the smaller populations of Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi fool you: these deeply rooted islands serve up tons of local flavor – from pillowy doughnuts and fresh bread at Kanemitsu’s Bakery in Kaunakakai to high-end sushi from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Lānaʻi.

Food festivals throughout the Hawaiian Islands showcase our local food scenes. Prestigious events like the Hawaiʻi Food & Wine Festival and Kapalua Wine & Food Festival gather top-notch chefs, sommeliers and winemakers from around Hawaiʻi (and the world). From poi to pancakes, learn all about the “staff of life” at the East Maui Taro Festival, and sample a real Hawaiian delicacy in all its forms at the Waikīkī Spam Jam. The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is good to the last drop, while beloved events like the Maui Onion Festival, Lānaʻi Pineapple Festival and Kauaʻi Coconut Festival pay homage to our local crops. 
 
Speaking of celebrated chefs, you can even dine at restaurants run by two former Top Chef contestants: Lee Anne Wong’s Koko Head Café in Honolulu and fan-favorite Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof in Kahului, Maui. And of course, a trip to Hawaiʻi isn’t complete without experiencing the sensory delights of an authentic lūʻau – nightly celebrations of our islands’ rich culture and cuisine that are nothing short of ‘ono (delicious).

Farm-to-Table Hawaiʻi

Farms and Agriculture

Each Hawaiian Island has its own agricultural region, from Upcountry Maui to the rich volcanic soil on the island of Hawaiʻi. Pay a visit to our many farms and ranches to see our farm-to-table traditions in action.

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Farmers Markets

Sweet lililoʻi (passion fruit). Succulent pineapples. Even fresh-baked banana bread and local macadamia nuts. Held just about every day of the week, Hawaiʻi's farmers markets give new meaning to the word "fresh."

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Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine

The farm-to-table philosophy is central to Hawaiʻi’s defining cuisine. Founded by 12 pioneering chefs, Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine uses fresh island ingredients – including locally caught fish and more fruits and vegetables than you can name – to create an exciting fusion of flavors.

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Hawaiian Lūʻau

No trip to Hawaiʻi is complete without attending one of these traditional celebrations of food and culture. Feast on kālua pork cooked in an imu (underground oven), laulau (beef, pork, chicken or fish wrapped in taro leaves) and poi (taro starch) while hula dancers tell stories through their graceful movements. 

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