Travel

Hawaii Restaurants

Establishment neighborhood
Star Noodle
286 Kapuohi St., Lahaina
Chef Seldon Simeon won a season of Top Chef, and (in addition to being an excellent chef) is a bit of a local celebrity, which helps to explain why there are such long lines at his restaurant. That said, if you can make a reservation in advance, Seldon's take on Hawaiian Asian fusion, which includes well-executed ramen, udon, Singapore noodles, pad thai, and more, is widely considered to be one of the best meals on the island. There's also a healthy selection of share plates, like tempura shrimp, Vietnamese crepes, and yakitori, plus a full-service sake bar.
Merriman’s Fish House
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Poipu
Peter Merriman was one of the pioneers of the local food scene in Hawaii—he was at the forefront of efforts to grow vegetables in the local volcanic soils, so they could be eaten fresh (rather than after a lengthy journey on a boat). Today, he partners with local farmers to serve his three restaurants, and there’s one each on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. The dining room and menu are dressed up without being overly stuffy, so it’s ideal for a nicer family or group outing. Try the upcountry salad (made with kale and butter lettuce from local farms), the fresh-caught mahi mahi, and vegetarian taro cake.
Merriman’s
65-1227 Opelo Rd., Waimea
Peter Merriman was one of the pioneers of the local food scene in Hawaii—he was at the forefront of efforts to grow vegetables in the local volcanic soils, so they could be eaten fresh (rather than after a lengthy journey on a boat). Today, he partners with local farmers to serve his three restaurants, and there’s one each on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. The dining room and menu are dressed up without being overly stuffy, so it’s ideal for a nicer family or group outing. Try the upcountry salad (made with kale and butter lettuce from local farms), the fresh-caught mahi mahi, and vegetarian taro cake.
Paia Fish Market
100 Baldwin Ave., Paia
Another Paia town gem, this laid-back, seafood-centric dive with lots of light and communal tables serves what many agree are the best fish sandwiches on the island. Everything on the menu, from the Mahi in the fish tacos to the Ahi in the sashimi, is caught locally and prepped fresh the second it’s delivered every morning by local fishermen. And if seafood isn’t your thing, the burgers and chicken dishes are all sourced from neighboring Maui farms. There's a second location in Kihei.
MW Restaurant
1538 Kapi‘olani Blvd., Honolulu
MW is run by a husband-wife team with a serious pedigree: between the two of them, they’ve built up a roster of experience at Alan Wong’s, Per Se, and the French Laundry (though husband Wade credits Zippy’s, where he got his first job as a fry cook, for much of his inspiration). The dishes here are inventive, contemporary interpretations of traditional Hawaiian specialties, like Ahi nachos, Kona lobster carbonara, and a mochi-crusted opakapaka-short-tail pink snapper. Don’t miss the cocktails, either.
The Pig & the Lady
83 N. King St., Honolulu
This cool Vietnamese spot is in the heart of Chinatown, which is a big upgrade from where Chef Andrew Le first got started: in his parents' garage. Today, the Pig & the Lady is on the forefront of Hawaii’s culinary scene, showcasing Pacific influences from Asia and the United States. The fusion results in dishes like the pho French dip with Manila clams, a spicy, Asian-inflected take on cacio e pepe, and an appetizer that blends burrata cheese with a kimchi puttanesca. The Pig & the Lady is still a family affair; Le’s brother Alex is the General Manager, and his mother (who inspired the entire operation) works with him in the kitchen; meanwhile, his other siblings can be seen in and out of the restaurant at all hours. Their amazing takeout can be a god-send after long days on the beach, but we like to visit in person, taking the time to explore Chinatown’s quirky shops and lei stores along the way.
Paia Fish Market
1913 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei
This laid-back, seafood-centric dive with lots of light and communal tables serves what many agree are the best fish sandwiches on the island. Everything on the menu, from the Mahi in the fish tacos to the Ahi in the sashimi, is caught locally and prepped fresh the second it’s delivered every morning by local fishermen. And if seafood isn’t your thing, the burgers and chicken dishes are all sourced from neighboring Maui farms. There's another location in Paia.
Merriman’s
1 Bay Club Pl., Lahaina
Peter Merriman was one of the pioneers of the local food scene in Hawaii—he was at the forefront of efforts to grow vegetables in the local volcanic soils, so they could be eaten fresh (rather than after a lengthy journey on a boat). Today, he partners with local farmers to serve his three restaurants, and there’s one each on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. The dining room and menu are dressed up without being overly stuffy, so it’s ideal for a nicer family or group outing. Try the upcountry salad (made with kale and butter lettuce from local farms), the fresh-caught mahi mahi, and vegetarian taro cake.
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