As the warm summer air is slowly but surely making its way to Canada, I’ve been reflecting on the sites, sounds, and tastes from my trip to Honolulu, Hawaii earlier this year. I had some truly marvelous food-based experiences, learned more about the culture, sampled local ingredients, and made so many special memories during this trip.
Known as “the gathering place,” Oahu is home to an endless list of restaurants and cafes that offer cuisine from all of the world while creating unique experiences that can only be found in paradise. Check out some of the greatest places that I ate on this trip:
Breakfast & Brunch
Eggs ‘n Things
“Best Breakfast” awards from media all over Hawaii? Check. Breakfast available until 10pm? Check! There may be a line out the door when you arrive, but I assure you that Eggs ‘n Things is anything but the latest social media craze. Established in 1974, this local chain has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the island’s most famous eateries. You can enjoy hearty omelettes made for sharing, local favorites like Fresh Ahi & Eggs, comfort food (think, 15+ pancake options!) and specialty crepes, and a selection of healthy options like the Hawaiian Acai Bowl. Eggs ‘n Things has several locations throughout Hawaii, each boasting a few unique menu items, so be sure to check out their website before heading over.
Lunch & Light Bites
Banan boasts the mission, “Make the Earth happy. Make people happy. Serve righteous food.” By turning fresh, locally-sourced ingredients into the tastiest dairy-free frozen treats, it’s safe to say this company is knocking all 3 of those goals out of the park. Their soft serve ice creams are predominantly banana-based but feature other fan favorite ingredients like shaved coconut, pineapple, strawberries, papaya, guava, and the list goes on.
During my visit to Banan I ordered the Papaya Bowl—an Insta-worthy ice cream sitting atop fresh fruit and, you guessed it, a half papaya as your bowl. It felt good to “indulge” in such a healthy and delicious dessert, but what felt even better was learning that Banan takes the leftover papaya from these orders and either feeds it to local pigs or uses it to generate compost for gardens and farms around Honolulu.
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe
One of my top priorities on every trip is to scope out the best coffee with a fun atmosphere where I can relax and recharge during my stay, while still immersing myself in culture. During my time on the island, Hawaiian Aroma Caffe acted as this safe haven. Whether you’re drawn in by the latte art, the poolside bar, or the fact that the cafe serves locally sourced eco-friendly coffee, you’ll surely stay for the decadent menu featuring waffles, paninis, acai bowls, and frozen cocktails.
There are 4 locations throughout Honolulu, 2 of which offer gluten-free menu items (Beachcomber and Ohana East). I visited the XX location, where the barista Barbara created a personalized latte featuring a picture of yours truly! If you’ve been following Hawaiian Aroma Caffe on social media and are hoping to get a picture-perfect latte, I can promise you that the attention to detail and excellent customer service that each barista offers will not disappoint.
Dean & Deluca
During my stay at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Waikiki Beach, I got to enjoy a true Pau Hana, aka Happy Hour! Dean & Deluca’s wonderful selection of wines and light bites created the perfect oasis in between my mornings at the beach and all of the nightlife Honolulu had to offer. From macarons and eclairs to endless charcuterie combinations, you can enjoy all of Dean & Deluca’s sweet and salty selections right on site (indoor seating is available), from the comfort of your room at the Ritz, or take it to go!
The restaurant is open for all meals, but you’re specifically heading over for Pau Hana, here is all the info you need to know!
- Occurs every day (including Saturday & Sunday), from 3-6pm
- Specials include Bruschetta & Wine pairings for $10, or Cheese & Charcuterie pairings for $15
If you’re anything like me, a pizza craving can strike at any time, no matter where you are in the world! Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar provides a classy but casual atmosphere that allows visitors to enjoy everyone’s favorite Italian cuisine alongside your choice of over 100 fine wines, craft beers, homemade limoncello (my personal favorite part of this stop!), and handcrafted cocktails. Appetito offers a great location for parties (even weddings), but if you’re traveling with a smaller group or just with your significant other, I highly recommend checking out this spot for happy hour or a romantic date night—ask for a table in their outdoor beachview seating, if you can!
Located inside the newly-renovated Kapiolani Hotel, this beautiful location provides quintessential views of Diamond Head and an island themed atmosphere that serves as a constant reminder you’re in paradise. Deck is open from breakfast to dinner and offers everything in between (including brunch specials and bar food). While I personally enjoyed eating my breakfast while taking in these epic surroundings, I would highly recommend this as a dinner date location on your trip due to its romantic backdrop.
If you’re a lover of music and dancing or are looking for a dinner-and-a-show experience you’ll never forget, head on over to Rock-a-Hula, Waikiki’s largest dinner production. From fireknife dancers to Elvis impersonators, this “Hawaiian Journey” will immerse you in the culture of the island starting in the 1920s and ending with today’s modern styles.
The great part is, participating in this amazing activity doesn’t have to be as expensive as it sounds. With 5 different packages ranging from just $59 (show entrance and meet & greet only) all the way up to a $185 “celebrity experience,” every party can find the option that works best for their budget. The lowest dinner package is $109 and grants you entry a massive buffet of delicious island faire in addition to your ticket to the show. I was lucky enough to experience the Green Room package featuring a private table at the show and exquisite 4-course surf and turf dinner, in addition to premium beverages and other perks that made this well worth the extra expense.
Honolulu even introduced me to a few new friends under the sea. The Dolphin Star tour was without a doubt one of my favorite stops on this unforgettable trip. These intelligent, playful, and beautiful animals are at the center of this awesome experience. I had the opportunity to enjoy a few hours of cruising, snorkeling, and sightseeing while swimming with my new best friends. The afternoon packages offer a BBQ lunch that tied together the summer feelings that a Hawaiian vacation offers year round.
Have you been to Honolulu or are you planning an upcoming trip? Comment below with your favorite spots around the island or with any questions you have about my time there!