Travel

Honolulu Restaurants

Establishment neighborhood
Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave., Honolulu
The first thing you should know about the Kapahulu drive-in is that it’s an Oahu institution. And the second is that it’s a complete hole-in-the-wall. One that’s been going strong since the early ’60s. But what this mom-and-pop shop lacks in good looks and ritzy ambiance, it makes up for with its local-style lunch plates, piled high with island favorites, like shoya chicken with generous scoops of rice and mounds of mac salad. In fact, everything about it—from the walk-up window to the shared picnic tables, even the iconic rainbow-lit sign—reminds you this is a place with character. Local tip: Order the gravy-smothered loco moco (don’t knock it till you try it) after a day in the waves.
Orchids
2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu
Ask anyone on the island where the best brunch in all of Oahu is and you’ll likely get this answer: Orchids. That’s because this beachfront eatery at Waikiki’s iconic Halekulani hotel is that good—and popular with the locals, considering they’re the ones snagging up all the reservations during the holidays. There is something so romantic and magical about sipping a mimosa and gazing at the ocean while a harpist plays in the background. Carving stations, the freshest fruits, incredible baked goods, sashimi, sushi, omelet bar, sundae bar, all the bars!—this place is the full package.
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.
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