1039 Kekaulike St., Honolulu
Chinatown’s Kekaulike market can be a bit grimy, but don’t let that deter you from seeking out Maguro Brothers, a sparkling clean stall in the back row that serves some of the city’s freshest fish. Brothers Junichiro and Ryojiro Tsuchiya were fishmongers in Japan, and here on Oahu, they’re at the market every morning picking out the best catches. Their stall serves poké, sashimi, and surprisingly great ramen, plus lots of fresh fish for home-cooked dishes. The must-orders are the spicy ahi tuna bowl and the maguro donburi, auction fish laid over nori, ginger, and rice.
66-250 Kamehameha Hwy., Hale'iwa
Surfing burns an awful lot of energy, so it’s not surprising that the North Shore is equipped with a few hearty breakfast spots. After a long morning in the ocean, locals go to Kono’s for breakfast burritos, pulled pork, and seriously good milkshakes. Not surprisingly, the pulled pork breakfast burrito, which combines all of their best dishes, is the must-order menu item (though brave souls should also try their Spam breakfast burrito—it's the equivalent of trying Vegemite in Australia).
933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu
Hawaii native Leonard Rego is the son of Portuguese immigrants that first came to Oahu to work in the sugar cane fields. His namesake bakery is famous for malasadas, a Portuguese donut that’s a bit like a sugar donut without the hole. Look out for their food truck, which travels around the city.
66-082 Kamehameha Hwy., Hale'iwa
For a healthier option than Matsumoto, head across the street to the tiny little grass shack Hale’iwa Bowls. The North shore is home to a lot of farmers, and the locals who run the stand source their apple bananas and other fruits and vegetables locally. Big bonus: They also serve kombucha on tap.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-111 Kamehameha Hwy., Hale'iwa
Matsumoto is a North Shore staple. They’ve been in business for going on 70 years now, and the place is still family-run, still making their home-made flavoring syrup. The kids won’t forgive you if you skip it.
Maui Brewing Co. Brewpub
4405 Honoapiilani Hwy., Lahaina
Indulging in a cold one after hitting the waves is a pretty significant part of Hawaii’s surf culture. Maui Brewing Co.’s pub offshoot has a dozen or so locally brewed varieties on draft (some from its own brewery in Kihei, where you can also get your hands on Maui Cookie Lady cookies) supplemented by international brews, and a gastropub-style menu of shareable dishes like flatbreads, salads, sliders, and truffle oil-spiked "adult" mac and cheese. Keep in mind that you’re going for the booze, not the ambiance, which here skews a little sports-bar with multiple flat screens and lots of noise.
Maui Coffee Roasters
44 Hana Hwy., Kahului
While the strip mall storefront doesn’t look like much, this local favorite is in the business of serving the best of Hawaii’s locally grown coffee. Unlike the rest of the U.S., Hawaii is uniquely hospitable to coffee farming, with each island producing countless delicious varieties. The café, in addition to brewing the perfect lattes, cappuccinos, and Americanos, has a small but mighty menu of breakfast and lunch basics with a local twist (ask for a toasted bagel slathered in guava butter). We like stopping by on our way to the airport to pick up fresh-roasted souvenirs for friends back home.
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr., Koloa
So much better than your typical (open-faced) ballgame dog, Puka Dog serves their variation in their own Hawaiian sweet bread, which they toast on custom skewers. Rather than slicing the bread open, Puka serves their Polish sausages and veggie dogs—along with your choice of garlic lemon secret sauce, Hawaiian fruit relish, and mustard sauce—fully enclosed in the roll, which makes them surprisingly easier to eat. All that said, this meal is best followed by an afternoon nap at the beach, as opposed to say, a hike.
Wishing Well Shave Ice
5-5080 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei
Open since 1983, Wishing Well Shave Ice, which operates out of a white food truck on Kuhio Highway, has long been a staple in Hanalei. More recently, though, it’s taken a fresh, organic turn under new owners—Kauai natives, Jesse Merle Jones and Aamion Goodwin—who have done away with artificially flavored syrups and powders, while still making really tasty, refreshing shave ice. This is also an easy spot to pick up a breakfast acai bowl and cup of coffee.
4-1384 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa
The exterior of this eclectic Kapaa cafe is painted a bright turquoise blue with a red, French-door entrance. The coffee here is serious business: Java Kai hand-roasts all their brews—you can usually catch a glimpse of the process through the back windows on Monday and Friday morning. In addition to the famed Kona coffee from the Big Island, Java Kai also makes coffee using beans from Maui, Kauai, and Molokai. They serve breakfast and lunch, too, until 3pm but the shop can get really busy, especially in the mornings, so ordering online or over the phone can save time. Or if you’re just getting coffee, try their smaller barista spot, The Kai Bar, which is in the back of the building, next to Kauai Juice Co., and typically open until 11am.
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