Photo By Hy's Steak House

Where locals eat in Waikiki

Fave spots where even kamaaina will brave the traffic and parking
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Cavina Quach is a kinesiology and rehabilitation science major who has a passion for health, food and traveling. Follow all her fitness and foodie adventures on Instagram at @liftingchopsticks. 

 

Waikiki is home to some of the best eateries on Oahu, but frequent parades and festivals, crazy traffic and parking fees are enough to discourage even the hungriest of us. However, there are exceptions — places where food, service or ambience draw hungry locals again and again. Read on for info on kamaaina deals and more about local Waikiki faves. 

And since we know you're going to ask, here's a guide to the best validated parking deals in Waikiki.

bills Hawaii 

Scrambled Waimanalo eggs with sourdough toast, and Kahuku sweet corn fritters with cumin roasted tomato, spinach, bacon and avocado salsa - Photo credit Mikkel Vang

280 Beachwalk Avenue. • 922-1500 • https://www.billshawaii.com/en/waikiki

Part of a Sydney-based restaurant group owned by Bill Granger, bills brings together the hip, fresh flavors of Australia's bars and the serene vibe and tropical produce of the islands. Although food is served all day, they are always busiest during breakfast and brunch. The high ceilings and warm, woody walls make this spot feel spacious yet cozy and inviting. 
Parking: $7 validated parking is available at the Bank of Hawaii via Beachwalk Avenue for four hours. Kamaaina can get two hours of free parking with valid ID.
Tip: The restaurant offers kamaaina and military a 20% discount with valid ID. 

Basalt

Sunset Special prime rib entree - Photo credit Mari Taketa

2255 Kuhio Ave. • 923-5689 • https://www.basaltwaikiki.com

Basalt is one of those fabulous places where prices are reduced during happy hour but portion sizes stay the same. It's 3-6 p.m. daily with pupus under $10 (get the juicy $5 burger and thank us later), and drinks that are $6 or less. There's also a three-course, $43 Sunset Special from 5 to 6 p.m. that includes a choice of 12-ounce prime rib or a medley of grilled seafood. Basalt also has a killer wine selection and a sommelier on-site. 
Parking: Free validation for two hours when you self-park in the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach Hotel garage, which is the last driveway on the Diamond Head side of Seaside Avenue just before it meets Kuhio.

Goofy Cafe & Dine

1831 Ala Moana Blvd. • 943-0077 • http://www.goofy-honolulu.com

Goofy Cafe & Dine, named after the right-footed surfing stance, is a health-conscious cafe with beach house vibes. With an eat local theme, Goofy is famous for its all-day breakfast, but also has lunch, dinner and a full bar. Popular dishes include the signature eggs benedicts, acai bowl and Big Island honey French toast.
Parking: No parking available. The closest options are Hilton Hawaiian Village or Ilikai Hotel, but those can be pricey. Parking near the marina pier behind the Ilikai Hotel is a cheaper option, but you'll walk a bit further. 
Tip: Go early if you want to avoid a long wait, as it can get very crowded. 

Herringbone Waikiki

Buffalo octopus and $2 oysters at Oyster Hour - Photo credit Kelli Shiroma

2330 Kalakaua Ave. • 797-2435 • https://herringboneeats.com/locations/waikiki/

At Herringbone Waikiki, happy hour is Oyster Hour — the fresh molluscs on the half-shell are half-price at $2 each from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close daily in the bar and lounge. Locals in the know order them by the dozen. The happy hour menu is worth checking out, with dishes such as the buffalo octopus ($11 instead of $21), $6 fish tacos and mac nut brussels sprouts and $8 cocktails; wines and beers are cheaper.
Parking: Any shop or restaurant at International Market Place will validate your self-park ticket for one hour with a minimum $10 purchase, then it's $2 an hour for the next three hours. Valet parking is $5 in addition to applicable parking rates. Enter from Kuhio Avenue at Walina Street.

Hy's Steak House

Prime filet mignon and pan-seared foie gras - Photo courtesy of Hy's Steak House

2440 Kuhio Ave. • 922-5555 • https://hyswaikiki.com

Known for its elegant ambiance and great customer service, Hy's Steak House is a local classic. It's been a fixture on Honolulu's fine-dining scene for more than 40 years, its fusion of American, European, Hawaiian and Pacific fare a hit with locals celebrating special occasions. Hy's aged USDA prime beef steaks are cooked over kiawe wood, non-carnivores have good options and the flaming tableside desserts are perennial crowd-pleasers.
Parking: Free valet parking at the Waikiki Park Heights Hotel
Tip: While Hy's is more formal and romantic, the downstairs Library Lounge is perfect for friends. Both have a dress code policy. 

Ice Monster

The best-seller: Fresh Mango Sensation - Photo credit Thomas Obungen 

2255 Kuhio Ave. • 762-3192 • https://www.ice-monster-hi.com

Taiwan's Ice Monster is famous for fluffy shave ice desserts like the best-selling Fresh Mango Sensation, Bubble Milk Tea Sensation and the Hawaii-exclusive Papaya Milk Sensation. All come with their own variety of toppings, but you can always add on more. For those with smaller appetites there are sorbets, popsicles and drinks as well. 
Parking: Ice Monster doesn't validate parking, but you can park at Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach (it's the same building) and buy something at Nordstrom Rack to get validation. Another option is to park and shop at International Market place to get validation there.
Tip: Show your kamaaina I.D. for a discount. A current promotion gets you a free side of boba topping if you opt for the outdoor seating area. 

Kai Market

2255 Kalakaua Ave. • 921-4600 • http://www.waikikimenus.com/kai-market

Kai Market buffet inside Sheraton Waikiki is known for locally sourced ingredients and dishes like salt-crusted prime rib, Hawaiian-style seafood paella, fresh ahi sashimi and “shrimp truck style” garlic Kauai prawns. Friday through Sunday nights there's even more seafood, including southern king crab legs with garlic butter and Manila clams seasoned with black bean, garlic and ginger. A 25% kamaaina discount makes this poolside spot popular for family dinners and celebrations.
Parking: Free validated parking for up to four hours 
Tip: Don't forget your Hawaii ID. 

Kaneko Hannosuke 

Premium Tempura Bowl with assorted tempura over hot rice - Photo courtesy of Kaneko Hannosuke 

2250 Kalakaua Ave. • 777-3551 • http://kaneko-hannosuke.com/english/

Kaneko Hannosuke in Waikiki Yokocho is a Tokyo-based chain famous for high quality tempura and ten-don rice bowls. This place is a must if you love tempura — many locals claim it's the best on the island. The most popular item by far is the Premium Tempura Bowl with anago (saltwater eel), two shrimp, kakiage, shishito pepper, seaweed and an over-easy egg over a bed of hot rice. 
Parking: Hannosuke doesn't validate parking in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. Either pay the rate or park at nearby Ross or Nordstrom Rack, where you can get two hours' parking validation with a purchase.
Tip: Bring your Hawaii ID for the kamaaina discount. 

Kona Coffee Purveyors / b. patisserie 

Black sesame kouign amann - Photo credit Melissa Chang 

2330 Kalakaua Ave. • 450-2364 • https://www.shopinternationalmarketplace.com/stores/kona_coffee_purveyors_b_patisserie

Locals who used to line up at San Francisco's b. patisserie rejoiced when a branch opened inside Kona Coffee Purveyors on the Kuhio Avenue side of International Market Place. Although the coffee is fantastic, it's the kouign amann (pronounced queen ah-mahn) that gets the most buzz. They're everything you could want in a pastry — buttery and sweet, pillowy and chewy on the inside with a golden crust. b. patisserie's semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies are also popular.
Parking: Validated parking available in International Market Place with a minimum $10 purchase
Tip: Call in your order ahead of time to ensure they won't sell out before you get there.

La Costa Italiano 

Desserts and pastries at La Costa Italiano - Photo credit Kelli Shiroma

120 Kaiulani Ave. • 921-4600 • http://temoananui.com/Buffet-Menu.pdf

This new Italian-themed buffet at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani has beef prime rib, fresh Manila clams in a white wine sauce, seafood cioppino, mushroom risotto and more. Desserts by pastry chef Cyrus Goo (formerly of Cafe Laufer) include tiramisu and fresh berry panna cotta. The Saturday dinner buffet includes crab legs so you can indulge in unlimited surf and turf.
Parking: Free validated parking up to four hours
Tip: Your Hawaii ID gets you a 25% kamaaina discount, which works out to about $26. For a Waikiki buffet.

Lewers Lounge 

2199 Kalia Rd. • 873-9424 • https://www.halekulani.com/dining/lewers-lounge-bar

Lewers Lounge is where locals go for live jazz music in a setting that transports you to a swanky lounge in New York. Off the courtyard of the Halekulani, it's a perfect place to end up for a romantic evening, an elegant after-dinner drink or a slice of the hotel's famous coconut cake. There's a rotating schedule of performances that you can check online. 
Parking: Free valet or self-parking available at Halekulani
Tip: Be sure to follow the casual elegant attire dress code — no casual t-shirts, tank tops, beachwear, exercise attire or rubber slippers.

M.A.C. 24/7

M.A.C. 24/7 grilled cheese
Grilled cheese with seven-cheese mac and cheese and grilled tomatoes and served with a tomato dipping sauce. - Photo credit Kelli Shiroma

Hilton Waikiki Beach • 2500 Kuhio Ave. • 921-5564 • https://mac247waikiki.com/

M.A.C. 24/7 is famous for being open around the clock, making it the go-to spot when you get a pancake craving at 2 a.m. Speaking of pancakes, the restaurant is known for its M.A.C. Daddy Pancake Challenge, in which ambitious diners attempt to eat three 14-inch pancakes in 90 minutes. Dishes like lobster mac and cheese benedicts, fried chicken and waffles, double decker grilled mac and cheese sammies are equally indulgent.
Parking: $3 valet parking with restaurant validation with purchase of $10 or more
Tip: The restaurant has two happy hours: from 2 to 5 p.m. and midnight to 3 a.m. 

Mahina and Suns

The Naked Pig pizza with fromage blanc, uncured bacon and sweet onion - Photo credit Kelli Shiroma 

412 Lewers St. • 924-5810 • http://mahinaandsuns.com

Ed Kenney's Mahina and Suns is the state's leader in ocean-friendly sourcing practices — which is why you wont see bluefin ahi or Kualoa Ranch oysters served year-round. This is Kenney's most seafood-forward restaurant — he also owns Town, Mud Hen Water and Kaimuki Superette — with a killer kahala crudo with preserved lemon and brown butter, octopus beignets, smoked opah rillettes and pork luau stew; even the pan-roasted chicken gets raves.
Parking: Valet parking is available for $35 a day. So you might want to Uber or park at Ross or Nordstrom Rack and purchase something to get two hours' validated parking in those structures. 
Tip: Mahina and Suns' live music lineup is on their website. On weeknights, a $20 pau hana special includes a Naked Pig thin-crust pizza and two Maui Brewing beers.

Marukame Udon

Zaru udon with toppings and dipping sauce - Photo courtesy of Marukame Udon 

2310 Kuhio Ave. • 931-6000 • https://www.facebook.com/marukameudon/

Marukame Udon is a popular Japanese budget chain. This is a rare place in Waikiki with meals under $10. There's one downtown, too, but let's face it, parking's not easy there either. Locals join the long lines on the sidewalk to file in, watch fresh noodles being made on-site, order a bowl and select add-ons like assorted tempura and musubi. The dining area is always packed, but tables open up quickly. 
Parking: No parking available. Street parking is an option but may be difficult. Nearby options for validation with purchase are International Market Place, Nordstrom Rack and Ross. 
Tip: Your best best to avoid the lines is to go early in the morning or during off-hours. 

Matcha Cafe Maiko

Maiko Special with house-made soft serve, matcha chiffon, chestnuts and shiratama mochi - Photo credit Thomas Obungen 

2310 Kuhio Ave. • 369-8031 • http://www.matchacafe-maiko.com/eng/menu/

This is one of the delicious places that feeds Hawaii's matcha craze. Matcha Cafe Maiko uses high-quality matcha from Kyoto and makes its ice cream, waffle cones, sponge cake and azuki toppings in-house. Matcha can be had in everything from soft serves and parfaits to lattes and shave ice
Parking: No parking available. Street parking is an option but may be difficult. Nearby options for validation with purchase are International Market Place, Nordstrom Rack and Ross. 
Tip: If you aren't sure what to get, try the Maiko Special with house-made soft serve, matcha chiffon, chestnuts and shiratama mochi. 

MoDo Hawaii

Assorted mochi donuts at MoDo. - Photo courtesy of Modo Hawaii

2330 Kalakaua Ave. • 376-5362 • http://modohawaii.com

MoDo, which stands for mochi donut, sells chewy donuts in rotating seasonal and signature flavors like earl gray, black sesame, lilikoi and original Hawaiian honey glaze. The small counter is at the back of Mitsuwa grocery store in International Market Place and also serves breakfast (think freshly griddled mochi donut waffles with cheese and egg) and Illy blend coffee drinks. All their donuts are peanut- and tree-nut-free.
Parking: Validated parking available at International Market Place.
Tip: There's a "buy 12, get one free" special.

Nana's Green Tea 

Mango puree shave ice - Photo credit Thomas Obungen 

2250 Kalakaua Ave. • 777-3550 • http://www.nanasgreentea.com/en/

Nana's Green Tea is popular among dessert fiends for its matcha desserts and drinks, but matcha is not all they serve. There are hojicha, black sesame and azuki desserts as well as traditional Japanese sweets, pastries and shave ice.
Parking: They do not validate parking. An option is to park and shop at nearby Nordstrom Rack or Ross to get two hours' validation.
Tip: Bring your kamaaina ID for a 10% discount or go during the 4-6 p.m. daily happy hour, when soft serve ice cream is 10% off.

Paris.Hawaii

counter at paris.hawaii

413 Seaside Ave. • 212-9282 • https://www.paris-hawaii.us

Paris.Hawaii is elegant and innovative, a special-occasion destination for locals. The focus is contemporary French cuisine showcasing locally sourced ingredients at their peak of seasonal freshness on revolving prix fixe menus. Dinner seatings are twice a night at 5:30 and 8 p.m. An adjacent bar area has specialty cocktails and an a la carte menu of pupus. 
Parking: Validated parking is available at Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach Hotel.
Tip: Sit at the chef's counter for a close-up view of chef Yuya Yamanaka and his crew at work. If you have dietary restrictions, call 48 hours ahead so they can tweak the menu.

Pau Hana Base

407 Seaside Ave. • 492-1280 • https://www.facebook.com/izakayapauhanabase/?rf=1705499469749156

Pau Hana Base is a quaint, no-frills izakaya hidden down a narrow, lantern-lined alley. The menu is decently priced with many dishes under $10, which makes it easy to indulge in garlic butter rice and menchi katsu without breaking the bank. A small cup of sugar crystals comes with your bill so you can spin your own cotton candy on your way out.
Parking: No parking available. Either street park or park and shop at International Market Place or Ross and get validation there.
Tip: The basic happy hour menu, when simple dishes are as little as $3 from 5 to 7 p.m., may be the cheapest in Waikiki. 

Ramen Bario

Special Ramen topped with slabs of char siu, bean sprouts and a seasoned egg. - Photo credit Eric Baranda

2250 Kalakaua Ave. • 777-3548 • https://www.waikiki-yokocho.com/restaurant/bario/

Ramen Bario's bowls come with thick chewy noodles, flavorful slabs of meat, well-seasoned egg and rich broth. Prices are not the cheapest, but portions are large enough to share. Condiments include chopped garlic that you can add in to kick your ramen up a notch. 
Parking: They do not validate parking. An option is to park and shop at nearby Nordstrom Rack or Ross to get two hours' validation.
Tip: Cash only. Bring your Hawaii ID to get a 15% kamaaina discount. 

Sansei Waikiki

2552 Kalakaua Ave., 3rd floor • 931-6286 • sanseihawaii.com/waikiki

Happy hours at this OG fusion sushi spot have been legendary for a generation: Sushi and select food items are discounted 25% some days, 50% other days, and there's karaoke, live music and deejays on weekends. What this boils down to is that you can score Sansei's iconic crab truffle ramen for half-price, and deals on the generous sushi rolls, miso butterfish and rock shrimp dynamite aren't too shabby either.
Parking: Three hours' free validated self-parking or valet parking at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Enter from Ohua Street.
Tip: Happy hours like this draw lines, so you need to go early. Seating is limited and your order needs to be in by a certain time. Check our post for details.

Shichimusubi

Variety of musubis made daily. - Photo credit Cavina Quach 

2250 Kalakaua Ave. • 777-3557 • https://www.waikiki-yokocho.com/restaurant/shichimusubi/

Inside Waikiki Yokocho, Shichimusubi specializes in handmade musubis with organic white, brown and red rice. Noteworthy choices include the simmered beef, unagi and pickled mustard cabbage. They also have a tasty tonjiru pork miso soup that pairs well with any musubi. 
Parking: They do not validate parking. An option is to park and shop at nearby Nordstrom Rack or Ross to get two hours' validation.
Tip: If you want nori around your musubi, you'll have to buy it for an additional 60 cents a sheet.

The Buffet at Hyatt 

Assorted nigiri and maki sushi at The Buffet at Hyatt. - Photo credit Kelli Shiroma

2424 Kalakaua Ave. • 923-1234 • https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/hawaii/hyatt-regency-waikiki-beach-resort-and-spa/hnlrw/dining

The Buffet at Hyatt has different dinner buffet menus throughout the week, with the Friday-through-Sunday menu featuring kiawe-smoked prime rib with cabernet-rosemary jus, steamed king crab legs, sushi and made-to-order handrolls. There's a wide selection of decadent house-made desserts and an interactive soft-serve ice cream station with eight different flavors and assorted toppings. 
Parking: Free validated parking for up to four hours
Tip: Bring your Hawaii ID for a 20% kamaaina discount. 

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin

255 Beach Walk • 926-8082 • http://www.pj-partners.com/bairin/

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin's tonkatsu dishes feature pork loin coated in seasoned breadcrumbs, deep-fried and served with Bairin's signature sauce. Other katsu dishes include deep-fried shrimp and tonkatsu sandwiches. The OG spot in Hawaii for crispy, steaming, top-quality tonkatsu.
Parking: Validated parking is available in the Bank of Hawaii parking garage. 
Tip: You'll need to grind your own sesame seeds to add to the sauce. Just be prepared. 

TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie 

Uni udon with shredded shiso and nori, sesame and dashi soy sauce. - Photo credit Thomas Obungen 

2233 Kalakaua Ave. • 888-8559 • https://www.tsurutontan.com

TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie is an Osaka-based chain known for humongous bowls and an equally large menu. This place has a bowl to suit anyone's preference; hot or cold broth, thick or thin noodles, simple or extravagant. While the twice-daily happy hour menu doesn't include any udon, the dish and drink selections are worth checking out. A $9.95 kamaaina udon lunch special comes with a choice of a mini chicken soboro rice bowl, takikomi rice or the weekly special donburi, and udon.
Parking: Free validated parking available at Royal Hawaiian Center for up to two hours.
Tip: Bring your Hawaii ID for a kamaaina discount. And you can upgrade to a large portion of noodles for free. 

Zigu

Applewood-smoked Waimana egg potato salad topped with crispy potato sticks - Photo credit Thomas Obungen 

413 Seaside Ave. • 212-9252 • https://www.zigu.us

Zigu is chic farm-to-table izakaya where Japanese-style dishes feature locally sourced ingredients. Think local kale udon with mac nut pesto, or deconstructed lau lau with kakuni pork belly and mac nut mochi. Drinks include everything from beer and wine to sake and shochu. The crowd is a mix of tourists and locals; on Fridays it's a see-and-be-seen-spot.
Parking: Validated parking available at Hyatt Centric with a purchase of $30 or more. You get two hours' validation during lunch hours and four hours at night.
Tip: Get a seat at the bar to see the kitchen crew at work, and ask about set-price menus that feature a range of the restaurant's specialties.