Hawaii is an awesome foodie destination!
“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people eat together.”
- Guy Fieri
Don’t you just love food? I do! Food is one of my all-time favorite things. And of course, food and travel go hand-in-hand: they’re like two perfect best-friend experiences.
One of my favorite local eateries is a Hawaiian place called Mo’Bettas. They serve a traditional plate lunch dish of two scoops of rice, a scoop of macaroni or tossed salad, and the meat of your choice: teriyaki steak; teriyaki, katsu, or pulehu chicken; kahlua pig; or shrimp. It’s sooo good!
Although I can get MoBettas food right by my house anytime I want, it doesn’t even compare to having traditional Hawaiian food in Hawaii! Let’s talk about eating your way through Hawaii. Read on for some great food suggestions in these beautiful islands.
Before your foodie trip:
- Make a list of foods you want to try.
- Plan a few excursions to restaurants or tours of local eateries.
- Research which produce is in season when you visit, so you’re making the most of your culinary experience.
- Try the local famous recipes and restaurants. You may need to do online research, buy a guidebook, or ask the locals once you arrive. Make sure you don’t miss out on the amazing food experiences while you’re there.
- Just in case: bring backup medicines, in case new foods don’t agree with you. Medicines could include an anti-acid, antihistamine, anti-diarrhea pills, and a probiotic.
Hawaiian travel is easier than ever now, with recently updated policies. To travel to Hawaii, all you need is either proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test result administered by a trusted source, within 72 hours of traveling. You log into the website, upload your documentation and answer a health questionnaire, and you’re good to travel!
Island by island, here are some local foods you won’t want to miss in the beautiful Hawaiian islands!
What a foodie paradise! Honolulu has some amazing foodie neighborhoods which include Kakaako, Kaimuki, and Chinatown, with everything from mom-and-pop diners to trendy eateries. Definitely try the local specialties of loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy) and a plate lunch (see my description of Mo’Bettas above). Fine dining suggestions could be Roy’s, Anne Wong’s Koko Head Café, and Chef Mavro.
Maui has a great mix of roadside food stands and gourmet restaurants, and a bounty of fresh tropical ingredients, which contribute to this amazing culinary paradise. You may want to try the white chocolate macadamia nut pancakes at the Gazebo Restaurant Maui in the Napili Shores Hotel; coconut shrimp from Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina; shrimp scampi or spicy pineapple shrimp at the Geste Shrimp Truck just down the road from the airport; or the gourmet ambiance and exquisite cuisine at Mama’s Fish House. Maui celebrates an annual La’Ulu – Breadfruit Day in September.
The Garden Isle has famous sunshine markets (the locals’ name for farmers markets) and a variety of delicious food. Shave Ice can be found at stands all around the island, or visit Lappert’s Hawaii for some ice cream. You’ll be able to enjoy fine dining, plate lunches, or freshly picked fruit from a roadside stand anytime. Some restaurants to try: Merriman’s Fish House, Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill, or Red Salt. Kauai celebrates Koloa Plantation Days every July, marking the first sugar mill in Hawaii.
The Island of Hawaii:
One experience I’d definitely not miss on this island is Forged to Table Hawaii, a restaurant owned by a Brazilian chef Flora Kamimura and her husband Neil Kamimura, a Hawaii island blacksmith. Flora dices and slices with custom kitchen tools forged by Neil. The restaurant creates a 4-hour feast cooked over an open fire, with a Hawaiian-Brazilian fusion of deliciousness. The Island of Hawaii marks its 50th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival this year Nov. 4-7.
And, of course, I have to include a Hawaiian luau! There are so many great ones throughout the islands. My faves are Germaine’s or the Polynesian Cultural Center (Oahu); the Feast at Lele (Maui), the Luau Kalamaku (Kauai); and the Voyagers of the Pacific at the Royal Kona Resort (Hawaii). There are some great luaus all over Hawaii; make sure you experience one! The best advice I can give you when considering a luau is to book early, because they sell out quickly!
Traveling for the food is an amazing way to connect with the local culture of the people. As you experience the variety of tastes in Hawaii, you’ll be immersed not just in their food, but also in their story.
“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s the nourishment of the soul and body: it’s truly love.”
- Giada de Laurentiis