Oahu is a melting pot of regional and ethnic cuisine with flavors so bold, rich, and refined you’ll want to eat your way through the entire island. Oahu restaurants are unique because a) Hawaiian food is unique and b) extra Asian influences make for dishes you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
All the great restaurants are off the beach, so fire up that Uber app. Sure, you can hit up the best beachfront spots like Morimoto and Nobu, but you can also dine at these famous places back on the mainland. Trust us when we say these are the five best restaurants to book for unforgettable dining in Oahu.
The Pig and the LadyThe Pig and The Lady, North King Street, Honolulu, HI, United States
The Pig and the Lady is always bustling with foodies. Executive chef Andrew Le nabbed a semifinalist spot for James Beard Foundation Rising Chef, so you know you’re in good hands. His Vietnamese-inspired restaurant (originally located in Chinatown but now also open at Ward Village) features elevated, family recipe dishes, including the must-order Dry Aged Makaweli Beef Pho or the Porchetta with potato puree, charred cabbage, pickled mushroom, and mustard greens. This place is popular, so reservations are a must.
Mud Hen WaterMud Hen Water, Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, HI, United States
Local chefs are increasingly merging market-fresh sensibilities with Hawaii’s Asian heritage for a mouth-watering dining experience. This is exemplified by Mud Hen Water from local mover and shaker Ed Kenney, who also helms the super-fancy Town restaurant. Mud Hen Water is casual, though, and you don’t feel like you’re in Oahu at all. If you want a great, Forbes- and Zagat-approved meal, Mud Hen Water is essential. It’s the type of place you book to impress your wife and convince her that you really did go out of your way to research the best of the best, honey. Expect fresh fish caught by local fishermen and produce grown on the island, but made with innovative twists like the opah that’s buried in coal and steamed in a banana leaf with veggies and coconut cream. Yeah, you’ll want to order two of those. They recently started serving brunch, so you can wash it all down with mimosa after mimosa. Again, reservations here are mandatory.
Chef MavroChef Mavro restaurant, South King Street, Honolulu, HI, United States
To name your restaurant after yourself, Wolfgang Puck style, means you’re not messing around. It also means you probably have the chops to actually pull it off. Chef Mavro does not disappoint. In fact, he’s considered an expert on regional cuisine and he’s influenced plenty of younger chefs, all the while serving up one of the best meals you’ll ever have. Anyway, it’s OK to have this kind of ego when your restaurant is AAA Five Diamond, and serving some of the highest-rated food on Gayot. Chef Mavro is triple F: Fancy, French and Fine dining. It’s a candlelit, white-tablecloth, dapper waiter, rich diners type of spot, so expect all the romantic flair that comes with expensive dining. It’s all about the tasting menu here and a six-course chef’s menu will run about $152 with $60 wine pairing if you go that route. The menu constantly changes depending on the season and what’s fresh that day, but you can expect delicate and complicated dishes you will never be able to pronounce, like domaine de terrebrune. Reservations only here.
Vintage CaveVintage Cave Café, Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI, United States
Guys, welcome to the best meal on the island. Vintage Cave is not only visionary, it’s unforgettable. Executive chef Jonathan Mizukami doesn’t need to be vouched for: he spent ten years at what some consider the world’s greatest restaurant, The French Laundry. Vintage Cave is sleek, posh, and somewhat whimsical in design, while the French-meets-Hawaiian fare is as imaginative as you could expect. Like Chef Mavro, the menu changes based on the quality of farm- and ocean-fresh ingredients, but expect to dish out $600 per couple for plates that generally include lobster, crab, wagyu beef and soufflés. While you’re here, you’ll want to check out the impressive art collection, which includes Baccarat crystal ware and original Picassos.
Alan Wong’sAlan Wong's, South King Street, Honolulu, HI, United States
Alan Wong is old school Hawaii, a chef with the chops (and the ego) to name his restaurant after himself. He’s been serving gourmet fare for over 20 years and he was one of the pioneers of Oahu’s farm-to-table movement. In a simple, quiet neighborhood outside Waikiki, housed in a weird-looking office building, Alan Wong’s is the perfect place to try Hawaiian fine dining with exceptional service. The innovative, high-end dishes hit all the right spots, like the short-tail pink snapper with miso sesame vinaigrette and Hamakua mushrooms, and even the shrimp and clams linguine with chili garlic lemongrass black bean sauce is perfection. If you want to try the fanciest surf and turf ever, the Maui cattle company beef tenderloin and keahole lobster is served with foie gras nage. Bon appetite.