Are you planning a trip to the islands of Hawaii & searching for where to eat? This past Spring I visited my parents in Oahu, and as a self-proclaimed foodie, I was stoked! Oahu offers an impressive food scene for all taste preferences. Here’s my recommendation list of the 19 best food on Oahu which is everything from seafood poke to mochi donuts. This list isn’t comprehensive of all the possible places you could ever eat in Hawaii though. So if you have a favorite place I missed, let me know in the comments! Let’s dive in!
Marukai Wholesale Mart
As soon as I got off the airplane, my parents drove me to Marukai Wholesale mart, a local grocery market that sells bento boxes and quick bites. From spam musubi to curry chicken bao, it’s a great place to stop and load up on snacks or lunch. And located just a 7 minute drive from the Honolulu airport, it’s a great place to swing by after your voyage to the island.
Farm to Barn
Out in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore is where you’ll find some of the best food on Oahu. If you’re looking for fresh, vegan and vegetarian fare in a picturesque setting, Farm to Barn is your spot. They have a farm behind an adorable red barn where they grow a lot of the ingredients used in their delicious food. From monstrous burritos to a beet poke bowl, the menu is exciting and vibrantly healthy. Plus sometimes they have live music to enjoy while you eat your meal on the grassy lawn at picnic tables.
Pastries, Sweets & Desserts
Ted’s Bakery in Haleiwa is just a minute or two down the road from the picturesque Sunset Beach. Some folks visit Ted’s for their breakfast sandwiches or garlic shrimp. But my family loves stopping by Ted’s for their pastries. Specifically their gigantic pecan roll and a slice of decadent chocolate haupia (coconut) cream pie. Grab a few treats and head over to enjoy them on Sunset Beach as the waves crash along the sandy shore.
Paalaa Kai Bakery
Paalaa Kai Bakery in Waialua is famous for their snow puffies, which are flaky dough layers filled with cream and covered in powdered sugar. Eat these outside with a TON of napkins because snow puffies are super messy! The powdered sugar goes everywhere. But they’re so tasty and totally worth the mess!
Plus there’s an adorable coffee shop next door in a pink building.
Liliha Bakery might be my favorite bakery on the island, so of course I had to include them on my list of the best food on Oahu. Their poi mochi donuts look like a normal glazed donut on the outside, with an interesting bubble shape. But once you take a bite, bright purple greets you! I was so obsessed with these donuts after I first tried them that I came home and attempted a baked version of matcha mochi donuts. Liliha Bakery has several locations on the island, making it easier to get to when you need a little sugar rush.
We’re not done with donuts yet. If you’re into crazy-flavored donuts with even crazier names, you have to make a stop at Purvé Donuts in Honolulu. Have you always wondered what a unicorn butt sneeze tastes like? The fine folks at Purvé have got you covered. This donut shop has a fun and unique vibe, and their donuts are small enough that you can totally not share them. Plus each donut is fried to order and dipped fresh in your desired glaze and toppings.
Since we have dove down the donut rabbit hole, let’s just keep going. Leonard’s Bakery is a staple in Hawaii for hot and fresh malasadas. These Portuguese donuts are made of fried dough covered in sugar. And they’re life-changing. Beyond their main bakery location, Leonard’s has malasada trucks throughout Oahu, so you can grab some wherever you are on the island.
Sconees is one of my dad’s favorite bakeries. They bake fresh, buttery scones every morning in an assortment of flavors. These are great to take to the beach or out on a hike since they still taste great when they’re not warm. Scones may not be everyone’s favorite, but if you’re in the Kaimuki area in Honolulu, Sconees is definitely worth stopping by.
Kokoro Café Dole Whip
Sometimes the best things in life are the simple things, like Dole whip, which is a creamy dairy-free soft serve. It’s usually made from pineapple grown on Oahu’s Dole plantation. You can find Dole whip all over Oahu. But if you’re looking for an adorable and unique vessel in which to enjoy Dole whip, head over to Kokoro Café in Waikiki. They serve Dole whip in a hollow crispy biscuit in the shape of a shaka!
Giant, thick, fully-loaded smoothie bowls are a great way to start a day in paradise or to cool off with a fruity treat any time the rest of the day. When we stopped by Hale’iwa Bowls in the quaint town of Hale’iwa, there was a mama chicken showing her baby chick how to eat a blueberry and it was adorable. The line can get pretty long here, but the fresh flavor combinations they offer are totally worth the wait.
Le Crepe Café
In Mānoa Marketplace shopping center across the street from the infamous Off Da Hook Poke there is a cute little creperie. They serve all kinds of sweet and savory crepes, so of course my mom and I split one of each kind. 😉 Crepes might be the last thing you thought you’d have seen on a list of the best food on Oahu, but I’m telling you, Le Crepe Café is an awesome breakfast spot to hit up on your trip.
Ready to hate and then love me? Plan a morning to hike Koko Crater Railway, and then drive a few minutes to Moena Cafe. The hike is absolutely brutal but you’ll be able to bask in your accomplishment with a view of the railway while refueling on pancakes. And not just any pancakes. Pancakes bigger than your whole face! Now that’s what I call a post-workout meal. 🥞
Green World Coffee Farm
I highly recommend stopping by Green World Coffee Farm in Wahiawa. It is a 7 acre coffee farm where you can walk through their arabica trees while sipping on coffee made from beans they roast in house. You can try some coffee and tea samples before stopping at their bar counter to pick up an exquisite drink to caffeinate your day. My mom and I love stopping here to take a relaxing walk through the coffee trees, drinks in hand.
Old Sugar Mill – Chocolate and Waialua Coffee
If you’re looking for a place to learn about food production on the island, check out the Old Sugar Mill in Waialua. They offer a short guided tour that shows you the process of making chocolate, from cacao pods to cocoa beans. And the best part is the samples of chocolate with varying percentages of cacao along with their Waialua coffee.
Morning Glass Coffee
This popular coffee shop has two locations. If you’re in downtown Honolulu, I recommend visiting the one in Chinatown since their other location out in Manoa has often been closed when my family tries to go. Morning Glass Coffee is a vibe – it’s super cute and they serve amazing coffee and baked treats. I got a London smog, steeped, frothed and sweetened to perfection.
Poke and Seafood
Some of the best food you’ll find on Oahu is the seafood. It’s so fresh and folks on the island know how to season and serve their seafood and poke to perfection. Check out these places along with Aiea Bowl (the best food & cakes you’ll ever find at a bowling alley) and Killer Tacos out on North Shore.
H Mart Kaka’ako Food Court
You might be thinking, wait, this is weird, why am I being sent to a Korean grocery store? Yes, H Mart has amazing food. But if you go upstairs at the H Mart in the Kaka’ako neighborhood, you’ll find a bustling food court with the best seafood.
Don’t want to wait in line at Giovanni’s shrimp truck? Grab a plate of garlic shrimp at their outpost in this food court. Want to try the ever-changing ice cream flavors at Black Sheep Cream Co? You’ll find them there too. We ate at K-Town Korean Foods and it did not disappoint. The spiciness alone told me the meal was legit.
Off Da Hook Poke
Alright, let’s talk poke. Some of the best food on Oahu that you can find comes in the form of raw fish. Poke (poh-kay) to be exact. Hawaii slays the poke game left and right, and Off Da Hook Poke is a place you can’t miss. Yes, it looks like a hole in the wall, with the refrigerated chest of poke pushed up to the doorway where you order. But make no mistake, this poke is fresh, flavorful and their toppings are on another level. Plan to stand in line, especially if you visit during peak meal times, since this place is wildly popular. And for good reason!
Shrimp Shack – Yellow Shrimp Truck
Listen, one of my all-time favorite spots to eat on Oahu is the Shrimp Shack. This local yellow food truck parked along Kamehameha Hwy in Hauula serves the best garlic shrimp on the island. I know, these are fighting words. But I stand by them. Try their spicy garlic shrimp with a side of melted butter and trust me, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to shrimpy heaven. The shrimp is served whole, so as their sign says, you can suck all the seasonings and butter off, peel the shrimp, then eat it dipped in butter with some rice.
I highly recommend you to also order a Kona iceberg, which is hot Kona coffee served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s creamy, coffee-y, sweet but not too sweet, and positively divine.
Looking for a centralized area bustling with restaurants? SALT in the Kakaako neighborhood is bursting with fun shops and restaurants to try. One of which is the incredible poke bar called Redfish. This is a quick service style poke bar where you can grab your loaded poke bowls and hit the beach. Best of all, they offer unlimited toppings! Why not try them all?
All right, that’s my list of the best food on Oahu from coffee and sweets to poke and burritos. Have you been to Oahu? What are some of your favorite food spots? Want to read about my previous trip to Hawaii in 2020? Start here with Part 1!