The choices of what to eat and where to eat are as diverse as the people in Hawaii. You can sample the fries and burgers from the beach side snack shop during the day and then be dining luxuriously on the 30th floor overlooking Waikiki beach at night. You could “dine out” at one of the many road-side shrimp trucks while driving around the island or sample a typical plate lunch of fish or pork and a couple of scoops of rice while lazing on the beach. A sunset dinner cruise could be a wonderful thing, but in my experience I’ve found them to be overpriced and a bit cheesy, but of course you can pay for the premium dinner package and get a better meal, but I’d say go for fine dining on land and watch the sunset from there.
Dukes (my favorite), is one of the most popular locations to have any meal, with its live local music and great beach-side setting and whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a few drinks at the barefoot bar. A reservation is a good idea if you want to be there for dining on the beach at sunset and you should really experience that at least once, if not as much as you can! The breakfast & lunch buffets are some of the best deals anywhere in Waikiki, as well as the terrific salad bar.
If you like to people watch, then the Cheesecake Factory is the place to be to watch a variety of life going by on Kalakaua Ave right in the heart of Waikiki. Request a sidewalk table for the best views, but get there before 5:30 or you may wait awhile as it’s extremely popular. Bring you’re appetite when you go here because they have large portions unless you’re wanting to share, but either way just hangout for a while and enjoy.
When in Hawaii, attending a Luau is a must to experience the culture, history, and tastes of Hawaii and there are a few different types to choose from, such as Germaine’s or Paradise Cove that are right on the beach. There is the Hilton Hawaiian Village luau which is in Waikiki but not located on the beach but at a fourth floor outdoor deck location which has great food, but the atmosphere could be better if they held it around their lagoon on the beach. The Royal Hawaiian hotel in Waikiki has a luau right on the beach every Monday. The Polynesian Cultural Center’s “Horizons” show is a well done Polynesian show with a great buffet, but not that real luau feel to it. There are also many Asian cuisine choices, smorgasbords, sports bars, rib joints, sandwich huts, and many more…of course Hawaii is still part of the United States and all of the standard American food places are available like Denny’s, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.
When mentioning culinary satisfaction in Hawaii, I must talk about almost everyone’s favorite thirst quencher…Shave-Ice. It’s not that coarse, grainy stuff delivered by some robotic machine in your local corner store, but a silky smooth snowy delight that’s shaved right off a real block of ice and then smothered in syrupy flavors of every kind you can imagine. It’s available pretty much everywhere, but if you want what is considered the world’s best, you’ll have to visit Matsomoto’s in the town of Haleiwa on the North Shore.
Il Lupino is a wonderful high-end old school Italian restaurant located beside the gardens of the Royal Hawaiian hotel and is a great choice to bring someone for a romantic outdoor dinner with it’s perfect ambiance. All the food is excellent whether you’re having breakfast, lunch or dinner and while you can dine indoors, outdoors on the patio within the gardens is what makes this a special place.
P.F Chang’s is a trendy Chinese bistro located along the newly redeveloped Beachwalk area offering great happy hour deals and excellent asian cuisine. Some of my favorites are the Wonton soup and their spring rolls with dipping sauces you create yourself. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere excellent.