I am in Hawaii right now. It's pretty hard to pull a vacation here without eating 4x/day. Will update this list as I think of more things. ⭐️indicates personal favorite.
  1. β€’
    🍳 Mac 24/7
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    Fun, trendy, 24-hour diner famous for its ridiculously huge and ridiculously flavored pancakes. Vibe is something like what you'd find at a Standard Hotel diner.
  2. β€’
    🍳 Liliha Bakery
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    Bakery/greasy spoon diner known for its cocoa puffs (chocolate cream puffs). Also surprisingly fluffy pancakes and the neon-est jelly you ever did see.
  3. β€’
    🍳 Koa Pancake House
    Small chain of pancake diners. Color palette is all brown and orange. There is nothing special about this place and that's what makes it great. (I mean, they have good pancakes).
  4. β€’
    🍳 Cinnamon's
    Cinnamon's, Cafe Kaila, and Boots and Kimo's are three of the go-to breakfast places in Honolulu. They aren't necessarily a destination, but more super solid breakfast places to go to if you plan on doing any fun stuff nearby.
  5. β€’
    🍳 Cafe Kaila
    See above
  6. β€’
    🍳 Boots and Kimo's
    See above
  7. β€’
    🍳 The Coffee Gallery ⭐️
    I think I put this here because it's the earliest cafe to open in Haleiwa, which is highly necessary for anyone coming from the east. They roast their coffee upstairs and bake all the pastries in house. Good combo of fancy pants artisanal coffee but totally down to earth staff and space.
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    🍴 Shokudo
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    Japanese restaurant. Mostly known for their honey toast: thick pieces of white toast that are hollowed out, the bread is chopped up and mixed with honey, and filled back in its crust with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
  9. β€’
    🍴 Side Street Inn ⭐️
    Some of the best food I've ever had. Foodie heaven. The menu and space don't look special but I promise the food is mind-blowingly delicious. Go with a group so you can order more food. My faves are the garlic edamamde, fried chicken (has a spicy sweet garlic sauce), and the farmer salad. Soooo goooood. Two locations, both great.
  10. β€’
    🍜 Goma Tei ⭐️
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    My favorite ramen ever. They make a tan tan ramen, which is a pork and sesame broth with a touch of dashi. It's savory, nutty, and sweet, and soooooo goooood. I know hot noodle soup will sound counterintuitive when you're on a hot humid island, but just trust me and GO. Two locations, both great.
  11. β€’
    🍴 Town
    Town is where you go for a nice hip new American/Hawaiian dinner.
  12. β€’
    🍴 Prima
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    I haven't actually been here yet but I've been meaning to go because of the strawberry foie gras french toast.
  13. β€’
    🍴 Vintage Cave
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    Another place that's on my list because it's a super fancy restaurant in this weird dungeon section of an otherwise normal looking department store. Imagine if there were a portal to Hogwarts inside of a Sears, that led you to a gallery + molecular gastronomy restaurant.
  14. β€’
    🍴 Opal Thai ⭐️
    Run by a guy named Opal who comes out and asks you what you usually order at Thai restaurants, and what kinds of flavors you like. Then rather than letting you order he just starts sending out dish after delicious dish, occasionally checking in on you to watch your mind being blown and give you a fist bump. So amazing.
  15. β€’
    🍴 Zippy's
    Hawaii's chain diner where you can get anything from an omelette to a bowl of saimin. Think of it like a hyper regional Denny's, and go at least once when you just need to stop for something to eat and don't need anything fancy.
  16. β€’
    🍀 Macky's
    Shrimp truck in the north shore (these are a thing). Just get the garlic butter shrimp with rice, sink into a picnic bench, and eat it all. It's so buttery and so unhealthy and so good.
  17. β€’
    🍀 Giovanni's
    See above.
  18. β€’
    🍜 Shige's Saimin
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    Some of the better saimin on the island (like a lighter, slightly fishy ramen with softer noodles). Convenient since it's in the middle of the island, so go when your driving between the north shore and Honolulu.
  19. β€’
    🍴 Shirokiya
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    Cool, weird Japanese department store in Ala Moana with an amazing upstairs food court.
  20. β€’
    🍧 Shimazu Store ⭐️
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    While tourists are arguing over Waiola vs. Matsumoto, go Shimazu for next-level shave ice. They specialize in fun flavors like red velvet, bananas foster, and creme brΓ»lΓ©e so this is the place to try something weird. Portions are HUGE.
  21. β€’
    🍧 Waiola ⭐️
    Super old school shave ice place in Honolulu. Just looks like a crummy old corner store. Shave ice is super fine, almost like a slushie. Go for something classic here. I always get the strawberry with ice cream, just like my grandpa always got. Tiny, manageable portions.
  22. β€’
    🍧 Matsumoto
    This is the big famous one in the north shore, and they recently renovated to accommodate their huge lines. Don't be scared off by the lines, their queue management is fantastic. Check out the great selection of tshirts in the store. Probably the only good selection of graphic design you can get for hawaii tourist shirts.
  23. β€’
    🍧 Aoki
    If you're a grump or a naysayer and Matsumoto is too mainstream, you go just down the road to Aoki. Their shave ice is good but often gets overshadowed by their more popular neighbor.
  24. β€’
    🍧 Haleiwa Bowls ⭐️
    Super delicious acai bowls and a cute little side patio to read the paper and enjoy your treat.
  25. β€’
    🍩 Leonard's Bakery
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    Famous for their malasadas (basically a donut without a hole) and pretty pink boxes. They always have a bunch of goofy fillings but the plain ones are delicious as well.
  26. β€’
    🍩 Champion Malasadas
    Local choice for malasadas. They're lighter and eggier than Leonard's but I like that they're more of a departure from donuts (and you can stuff more in your face).
  27. β€’
    🍜 Lucky Belly
    Hip restaurant in the middle of Chinatown. Amazing cocktails (they make fun infusions and drinking vinegars), great beer&wine list. Really yummy ramen, salads, and sandwiches. Perfect for an afternoon drink and snack, or for a hearty dinner.
  28. β€’
    🍲🍸The Pig & The Lady ⭐️
    Ultra hip spot for Vietnamese food. The space itself reminds me of something you'd find in LA/SF/Brooklyn but with all the awesomeness of Hawaii cooking. Really friendly staff, and great for groups. Plus they have amazing cocktails.