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With our bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fertile upland cattle farms and Pacific Ocean waters teeming with sashimi-grade fish, Hawaiian cuisine is a colorful tapestry of traditions and flavors. Here, ancient customs meet international influences brought to Hawaii over hundreds of years, giving local food culture more layers than a Maui onion. From dawn until well past dusk, Hawaii offers visitors a dizzying menu of culinary wonders, including the islands’ own Hawaii Regional Cuisine, which blends the islands’ diverse flavors with the fruits of Hawaii’s farms and plantations.
In Hawaii, our palates have been influenced by generations of immigrants from around the globe, so it’s no surprise that our melting pot is filled with countless ethnic specialties. Local tastes are as varied as you’ll find anywhere in the world, but there are local delicacies that are more or less exclusive to Hawaii. Street food in the islands reaches its zenith in the plate lunch, served on a paper plate and featuring everything from teriyaki beef with two scoops rice to the Japanese hybrid, spam musubi. Locals are also drawn to loco moco breakfasts (white rice topped with a hamburger, fried egg and brown gravy), exotically flavored shave ice and custardy coconut haupia.
One more thing you need to know: the Hawaiian word for "delicious" is ono!
Eat Like a Local
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.
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.
“Pupu” is the Hawaiian term for appetizer, and every local restaurant in Hawaii offers a wide range of creative pupu platters to dine on, from poke dishes to sushi.
Treat your sweet tooth to a hot malasada (a Portuguese doughnut). Although Leonard's Bakery in Kapahulu is popular on Oahu, ask any local and they can tell you their favorite bakeries on each island to find these fresh and tasty treats.
For big appetites, try a “loco moco,” which is a hamburger steak and egg over rice, covered in gravy. You can find loco moco served throughout the islands, but Café 100 in Hilo on the island of Hawaii is said to have originated the name.
No trip to Hawaii is complete without attending one of these traditional celebrations of food and culture. Feast on kalua 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.More
Explore Restaurants by Island
From four-star Hawaii Regional Cuisine to famous North Shore garlic shrimp, Oahu is a foodie wonderland.More
With a monicker like "the Garden Isle," it's no wonder the restaurants and Sunshine Markets of Kauai are bursting with ultra-fresh fruits and vegetables.More
Lanai may be tiny, but the fine dining offered at the island's restaurants and resorts is more than enough to please any palate.More
Roadside farm stands, mom-and-pop shops serving fresh-baked banana bread and outstanding resort restaurants are among the amazing dining choices on Maui.More
On the Big Island, you can sip fresh Kona coffee, taste honey from a local farm, cool off with rainbow-flavored shave ice and much, much more.More
Greenwell Farms offers farm tours continuously from 8:30am through 4:30pm Monday through Sunday. Take an interesting personal walking tour of coffee fields and the processing facilities, enjoy free samples of various coffee products, and see a working Kona coffee farm.
Huggo's is nestled in the heart of Kailua Kona and specializes in award-winning entrees like fresh island fish and beautiful sunsets. Reservations required. "Huggo's on the rocks" is the perfect setting for lunch or pupus & cocktails at the ocean's edge.
The Plantation House Restaurant is an award winning restaurant recognized for it's food, views, and wine list. Named on e of the top restaurants in the US for Sunset Dining, and one of Maui's most romantic places to dine. Open all day.
Ko offers cuisine reflective of the many cultures of Hawaii's sugarcane plantation era. The menu is inspired by the rich history and culinary traditions of Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese cultures.