That’s what you’re likely to hear about good food in Hawaii. Local for delicious, ono is a local term for darn good food. As the busiest island in Hawaii, Oahu is home to a large number of restaurants, and many of them are very, very good. I’m going to discuss a few casual, lower priced local spots are are likely to satisfy any appetite.
Honolulu, locally known as “Town,” is home to a lot of good food. From breakfast, to late night snacks, you can find just about anything you need to fill your belly. While in Town, stop by Bogarts for breakfast. Here you will find great coffee, absolutely wonderful breakfast bagel sandwiches, and a huge menu of other meals. Walk into the small eatery and order at the counter and then wait for your food. They only take cash, and most mornings the place is pretty crowded. The wait can be up to 10 minutes, but the crowd is a sign of a great place.
Near here is Irifune where you will enjoy really good Japanese food. It may not look like much from the outside, but inside is fun, homey, and decorated with a Japanese theme and signed photos of celebrities who have visited. The regular is loaded with awesome meals, most notably the breaded tofu, and pretty much everything else on there. Specials include and ahi tartar, and you must not bypass it if it’s available. Birthdays are celebrated at this place with the staff turning off the lights, and getting the whole restaurant to sing happy birthday while serving a banana crepe and ice cream with a candle. If you can surprise a friend with this, it’s really fun. And the crepe is always a good desert.
Also in Town is the Yard House. Beer galore, along with a pretty good selection of great bar food, nachos, pizza, etc. But let’s get back to the beer. Ales, lagers, stouts, pale ales, porters, local, imported, domestic- all the beer you could want can be found here. The restaurant is large, with a long ovular bar with a huge array of beer on tap, loud but not too loud music, and sports on TV, the Yard House is located in a popular tourist area surrounded by many hip shops. It’s fun, it’s good, and for stout lovers, Smith’s Chocolate Stout shouldn’t be missed.
Thai Kitchen in Waipahu may very well be the best Thai food on the island. Making a home in a very simple shopping center, the Thai Kitchen serves up authentic Thai food cooked by a very friendly woman from Laos who moved to Thailand as a young girl. Her and her husband run the place, her daughter hangs out at night, and her mother cooks. It’s very family style, BYOB, and they serve awesome food. Some favorites are the beef broccoli dish, spicy crispy chicken, yellow curry. The decor is simple but the food is great.
Out on the North Shore, Cafe Haleiwa really floats my breakfast boat. They have a good, yet somewhat simple array of breakfasts including Mexican breakfasts like quesadillas, burritos, eggs, pancakes, and other stuff like that. An espresso machine satisfies the morning coffee craving. I recommend the cappuccino or the iced latte with whip.
Another Haleiwa favorite is Spaghettini. The pizza is the closest I’ve found to New York pizza in Hawaii (and I was born in New York). The crust is thin and crispy, and the toppings are great. My favorite is the tomato basil, but they have about 12 options along with other Italian food on the menu.