How to Eat like an Oahu Local

You land at Honolulu International Airport, and you’re starving. What do you do first?

You land at Honolulu International Airport, and you’re starving. What do you do first?

Well, you can start off by not taking an unmarked taxi. Find local transportation in clearly marked, designated areas. Well-versed travelers and police will tell you stories of how unknowing visitors get lured away and mugged — or worse.

Poke — Raw Salad Usually Made Of Sliced Tuna

For your poke cravings, there are two routes you can take. Either hit up Foodland (even Sam’s Club) for a variety of fresh seafood for cheap, or find the best in town. Those are located at Ono Seafood (not to be confused with Ono Hawaiian).


O-yes! Photo: photoskate

The Shoyu/#1 and Spicy/#7 are their most popular. Afterwards, head a few blocks up and to the right for Wailoa Shave Ice.

Food trucks

The food truck scene is alive and well in Waikiki over at Pau Hana Market. Offering a consistent fleet of restaurants, you’ll find a variety of reasonably priced menus from shrimp (some of the tastiest on the North Shore) to loco moco. You’ll discover both ample parking and seating, and they’re also open every day.


Photo: GeorgeFrowny


Get your Japanese fix at Matsugen by ordering soba noodles. Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin makes some of the most delicious, flavorful and tender pork tonkatsu you’ll ever have. Marukame Udon has two locations serving house made, cafeteria-style udon at a great value.


Photo: Richard Masoner

The Waikiki spot is open for breakfast until 9 a.m., and then they close and reopen from 11am-10pm. Izakaya Torae Torae is open late and has a wallet-friendly happy hour.


Hit up Helena’s Hawaiian Food for local fare at a James Beard award winner. If you want to go where the chefs dine, check out Side Street Inn near Ala Moana Shopping Center. Their spicy fried chicken dipped in garlic sauce is where it’s at, and you’re guaranteed leftovers.

Farmers’ Market

Worth a visit: the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market at Kapiolani Community College (KCC). It’s an expansive collection of prepared-to-order foods and produce vendors. Expect tasty samples while you souvenir shop.


Photo: _e.t /

One successful market vendor that’s expanded to a brick-and-mortar is The Pig & The Lady, serving both classic and modern Vietnamese dishes.