Authentic Hawaiian Eateries
Taste the Local Flavor
One of the best experiences on a vacation is indulging in the local cuisine, especially when that entails new foods and flavors for the palate to explore. Authentic Hawaiian food consists of traditional comfort foods created with Japanese and Polynesian influences, resulting in some phenomenal flavor combinations. Honolulu has numerous mom and pop joints that have been around forever, serving up authentic Hawaiian cuisine from their humble kitchens. It is hard to go wrong with anyone of these eateries, but here are a few recommendations that consistently get rave reviews and are known to have standing room only dining rooms with lines out the door on a regular basis, because the food is just that good.
For nearly 60-years, this family-owned drive-in diner has been a fixture in Waikiki. Originally opened to serve the working class on Oahu, the diner’s philosophy is to serve plates with generous portions at an affordable price and do so quickly, knowing that the average customer has a limited amount of time for a lunch break. Today, Rainbow Drive-In serves an average of over 1000 plates a day (an average of just over 1 plate a minute) as they fulfill their mission to serve the working class. Plates to choose from include Loco Moco, Spam and Eggs and Corned Beef Hash and Gravy. All plates are also served with 2 generous scoops of rice and 1 scoop of macaroni salad. No one walks away hungry from Rainbow Drive-In.
Located at 3308 Kanaina Ave., Honolulu HI 96815 (808)737-0177 7am-9pm Daily
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Known as the no-frills-go-to eatery for Hawaiian classics, Helena’s is located in an unassuming strip mall that is easily missed if one is not paying attention. Around for nearly 75-years, the family-owned and operated restaurants’ longevity is a testament to its food and service. Helena’s even received a coveted James Beard Award in 2000 for being a Regional Classic. Here diners will find Kalua Pig, Short Ribs and Haupia (coconut gelatin) among the plethora of other offerings available. All the menu items are available ala carte and served in small portions to allow diners to try multiple items. Set menu combination plates are also available for those who have their and true favorites.
Located at 1240 N. School St, Honolulu HI 96817 (808) 845-8044 10am-7:30pm Tuesday-Friday
Hailed as the best "hole-in-the-wall" in Honolulu, Ethel's is not your typical eatery. It exists on the first floor of a 3-story walk-up apartment building in an older part of town. Despite limited seating space and longer wait times, locals and tourists alike continue to visit year-round to try one of their delicious dishes. Order favorites like Ethel's Mochiko Chicken, Ahi Sashimi, Hamburger Steak, and a hands-down crowd favorite – Ahi Tataki. All very affordably priced, so that no one should miss out on tasting authentic Hawaiian cuisine on their vacation.
Located at 232 Kaliki St., Honolulu HI 96819 (808) 847-6467 8am-2pm Tuesday-Saturday