My favourite restaurants and bars in Waikiki

Those who follow this travel blog will know that my recent trip to Waikiki wasn’t exactly the most “intrepid” trip I’ve ever been on.

Far from it, my week-long Hawaiian holiday was exactly that – a holiday. And you know what that means: beaches, shopping, a little bit of sightseeing, and, of course, eating and drinking whatever the hell you feel like.

Sure enough, I had more than my fair share of cocktails, pizzas, pancakes, burgers, tacos, Hawaiian plate lunches, bottles of craft beer, and, well, you get the picture.

This is a list of some of the best restaurants and bars in Waikiki, if you’re a greedy guy like me. You’ll be able to find most of these places along the main tourist strip.

My favourite places to eat and drink in Waikiki

Best for food

Cheeseburger in Paradise, 2500 Kalakaua Avenue

Even if my sister-in-law hadn’t recommended this place (thanks Jo!), I’m sure it’s super appropriate name and the long queue going out the door would have clued us onto the fact that this is a great place for a meal. Unsurprisingly, Cheeseburger in Paradise serves burgers – big ones – and seasoned fries. It has a decent craft beer selection, too.

Buho Cocina, 2250 Kalakaua Avenue

“Hola meets aloha” at this sleek and stylish Mexican kitchen and bar. To be honest, the service was probably the worst we experienced in Hawaii – the waitress behind the bar was either blind or she seriously did not want to serve us – but the food was excellent. My wife and I shared some tacos and quesadillas here on our final evening in Honolulu.

My favourite places to eat and drink in Waikiki

Surf N Turf Tacos, 2310 Kuhio Avenue

We arrived in Hawaii at around 10.30pm, after an eight-hour flight from New Zealand. After checking in at our hotel, we immediately made a beeline for Surf N Turf Tacos, where we had some awesome fish tacos.

They were even so kind as to write ‘welcome’ in mayonnaise on our tray (see the picture above).

IHOP, 2211 Kuhio Avenue

It would probably kill the people behind the too-cool-for-school restaurant Buho if they knew they were on the same list of great places to eat and drink as an IHOP. I realise IHOP probably isn’t the coolest restaurant in the world, but we don’t have them in New Zealand and I really friggin’ love their pancakes.

My favourite places to eat and drink in Waikiki

California Pizza Kitchen, 2284 Kalakaua Avenue

I’d had more than a few Hawaiian craft beers before my meal at California Pizza Kitchen, so I was in a terrific mood that night. Fortunately, California Pizza Kitchen did not let me down. The hand-tossed pizza we ordered (California Club) with smoked bacon and chicken, topped with avocado, arugula and romaine lettuce with lemon-pepper mayo was amazing.

The Cheesecake Factory, Royal Hawaiian Center, 2301 Kalakaua Avenue

The Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki is super touristy and boasts a line out the door most of the time, but we did have afternoon tea here one day. The cheesecake was sensational – although one piece between two people was more than enough.

Maui Tacos, Royal Hawaiian Center, 2233 Kalakaua Avenue

Okay, so we love Mexican food; sue us! The food court at the Hawaiian Center has a good range of fast food, but there’s only one place worth mentioning here: Maui Tacos. It’s cheap and very cheerful. Check out its massive salads.

My favourite places to eat and drink in Waikiki

Best for drinks

Duke’s Waikiki, Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, 2335 Kalakaua Avenue

With its stunning location on Waikiki Beach, it’ll surprise exactly no-one that Duke’s is a great place for a cocktail or two or three.

Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber, 2300 Kalakaua Avenue

I liked this place more than my wife did. I guess that’s because she didn’t appreciate the giant TV screens featuring the NBA playoffs, or the cheap craft beer during happy hour (every day from 2-6pm and 9pm-close). In her defence, the service was a little bit naff (see 5 more things I struggle with in the US).

My favourite places to eat and drink in Waikiki

RumFire, Sheraton Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Avenue

One place we did definitely agree on was RumFire, on the corner of the Sheraton Boardwalk. Here we sat outside one afternoon and enjoyed a cheese platter and a couple of cocktails. Awesome.

The tiki bar at the corner of Royal Hawaiian Ave and Lauula Street

I probably spent more time here than at any other restaurant or bar in Waikiki, and yet I just can’t seem to remember its name. It was near our hotel, it had some wicked live music, and, best of all, $4 Mai Tais.

My favourite places to eat and drink in Waikiki

Da Big Kahuna Restaurant & Tiki Lounge, 2299 Kuhio Avenue

I had a couple of cheap Pacifico beers here while Mrs Man vs World was shopping up a storm in Waikiki. If you’re drinking on a budget, this place is for you.

Mai Tai Bar, Upper Level 4, Ala Moana Center

If you’re anything like me, then it doesn’t take much shopping to leave you feeling exhausted. My wife left me behind at the Mai Tai Bar while she carried on shopping at the Ala Moana Center.

Every shopping mall should have a bar like this one, where wives can leave their husbands while they shop.

About Simon Petersen 504 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.

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