Last updated on September 25th, 2023 at 02:32 am
5 Favorite Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in Honolulu
These five favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu are a treasure trove of hidden culinary gems, and these five favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants offer a tantalizing glimpse into the diverse and flavorful dining scene of the city. From the iconic plate lunches of Rainbow Drive-In to the authentic Hawaiian fare at Helena’s Hawaiian Food, the mouthwatering shrimp dishes at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, the delicious poké bowls at Ono Seafood, and the delightful snacks at Musubi Cafe Iyasume, each of these establishments brings its own unique charm and culinary delights to the table.
However, it’s important to note that these five restaurants are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hole-in-the-wall dining in Honolulu. The city is teeming with countless other hidden culinary treasures waiting to be discovered. Exploring the local neighborhoods and venturing off the beaten path will lead you to even more remarkable hole-in-the-wall eateries, each with its own distinctive flavors and stories to tell. This is why these are some of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu that are waiting for you to discover them. This list is in no particular order.
A lot of great options are in these posts!
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1) Rainbow Drive-In
Rainbow Drive-In is a beloved family-owned and operated restaurant in Honolulu, known as one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall establishments in the city. Situated in the Kaimuki neighborhood, this iconic eatery has been delighting locals and visitors alike since its establishment many years ago.
One of the standout features of Rainbow Drive-In is its incredible plate lunches. These hearty and flavorful meals are a true representation of the local cuisine in Hawaii. The signature food at Rainbow Drive-In is their famous “Mixed Plate.” This mouthwatering dish combines tender and juicy teriyaki beef, succulent grilled chicken, and a generous portion of flavorful mahi-mahi, served with two scoops of rice and a side of creamy macaroni salad. The flavors blend harmoniously, creating a plate that captures the essence of Hawaiian comfort food.
Main Menu Items:
1. “Loco Moco” – This classic Hawaiian dish consists of a bed of steamed rice topped with a juicy hamburger patty, a sunny-side-up egg, and smothered in rich brown gravy. The Loco Moco at Rainbow Drive-In is a favorite among locals who crave a fulfilling and satisfying meal.
2. “Shoyu Chicken” – A true island favorite, Rainbow Drive-In’s Shoyu Chicken is a delightful combination of tender chicken thighs marinated in a savory soy sauce-based glaze and then grilled to perfection. The result is a flavorful and juicy chicken dish that pairs perfectly with the accompanying rice and macaroni salad.
3. “Mahi Plate” – For seafood lovers, the Mahi Plate is a must-try. Rainbow Drive-In serves up a succulent grilled mahi-mahi fillet that is seasoned to perfection. Served with rice and macaroni salad, this dish offers a taste of the ocean with every satisfying bite.
“Rainbow Drive-In is an absolute gem! The Mixed Plate is a generous portion of deliciousness, with each component cooked to perfection. The flavors take me back to the true essence of Hawaiian cuisine. A must-visit for anyone seeking an authentic dining experience in Honolulu.”
“I stumbled upon Rainbow Drive-In during my visit to Honolulu, and I’m so glad I did. The Loco Moco blew me away with its bold flavors and generous portions. The staff was friendly, and the atmosphere had a wonderful local charm. A hidden culinary treasure!”
“Rainbow Drive-In never disappoints! Their Shoyu Chicken is always tender and bursting with flavor. It’s comfort food at its finest. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a taste of the local cuisine in Honolulu.”
Rainbow Drive-In, located in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu, is unquestionably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the city. This family-owned and operated establishment has become a culinary landmark, offering a genuine taste of Hawaiian comfort food. They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
From their signature Mixed Plate to their delectable Loco Moco and flavorful Shoyu Chicken, Rainbow Drive-In delivers dishes that showcase the diverse and delicious flavors of the islands. With its welcoming atmosphere and commitment to quality, this beloved restaurant has rightfully earned its reputation as a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists seeking an authentic taste of Honolulu’s culinary scene. They rank high among the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu for good reasons.
2) Ono Seafood
Ono Seafood is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment is located in the heart of Kapahulu, a vibrant neighborhood known for its diverse culinary offerings. Ono Seafood has gained a loyal following for its delectable seafood dishes and its commitment to providing an authentic dining experience.
When it comes to Ono Seafood, their signature food is their mouthwatering “Poké Bowl.” This Hawaiian delicacy features a bed of steamed white rice topped with fresh and flavorful cubes of marinated raw fish, typically tuna or salmon. The poké is expertly seasoned with a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, and other traditional ingredients, offering a burst of umami with each bite. Ono Seafood takes great pride in sourcing the highest quality fish, ensuring that their poké bowls are a true delight for seafood enthusiasts.
Main Menu Items:
1. “Spicy Ahi Poké Bowl” – This popular menu item at Ono Seafood combines the freshness of their premium ahi tuna with a spicy kick. The tender chunks of tuna are marinated in a zesty blend of spices and chili peppers, adding a flavorful heat to the dish. Served over a bed of rice and accompanied by traditional garnishes such as seaweed salad and green onions, this bowl is a spicy seafood lover’s dream.
2. “Miso Butterfish Plate” – Ono Seafood offers a delightful twist on a classic Hawaiian dish with their Miso Butterfish Plate. The succulent butterfish fillet is marinated in a rich miso glaze, giving it a depth of flavor that perfectly complements the natural sweetness of the fish. Served with a side of steamed rice and a refreshing cucumber salad, this plate delivers a harmonious blend of savory and delicate flavors.
3. “Shrimp Tempura Sushi Roll” – For those craving a fusion of Japanese and Hawaiian cuisine, the Shrimp Tempura Sushi Roll is a must-try at Ono Seafood. This roll features perfectly crispy shrimp tempura, creamy avocado, and refreshing cucumber, all rolled up in a sheet of nori and sushi rice. Each bite offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors, making it a satisfying choice for sushi lovers.
“Ono Seafood never fails to impress me with their amazing poké bowls. The fish is always incredibly fresh, and the flavors are on point. It’s a small, unassuming spot, but the taste speaks volumes. Highly recommend for a quick and delicious seafood fix in Honolulu!”
“I stumbled upon Ono Seafood while exploring Kapahulu, and I couldn’t have been happier. The Spicy Ahi Poké Bowl had the perfect balance of heat and freshness. The staff was friendly, and the prices were reasonable. A true hidden gem!”
“I’m a big fan of their Miso Butterfish Plate. The fish is always perfectly cooked, with a wonderful glaze that brings out its natural flavors. Ono Seafood is my go-to spot for a satisfying and flavorful meal in Honolulu.”
Ono Seafood, located in the vibrant Kapahulu neighborhood, is truly one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment has garnered a loyal following for its exceptional poké bowls, featuring the freshest fish and delightful flavor combinations. Whether you opt for the Spicy Ahi Poké Bowl, the Miso Butterfish Plate, or even their Shrimp Tempura Sushi Roll, Ono Seafood delivers a culinary experience that showcases the best of Hawaiian and Japanese cuisine. They are one of the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
Despite its unassuming exterior, the restaurant’s focus on quality ingredients and friendly service sets it apart. For those seeking a memorable seafood feast in Honolulu, Ono Seafood is a must-visit destination that lives up to its reputation as a beloved hole-in-the-wall gem. They stand out among the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
3) Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Helena’s Hawaiian Food is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment has been a beloved culinary destination since its inception in 1946. Located in the Kalihi neighborhood, Helena’s Hawaiian Food is renowned for its authentic Hawaiian cuisine and warm, inviting atmosphere.
When it comes to Helena’s Hawaiian Food, their signature dish is the legendary “Kalua Pig.” This traditional Hawaiian delicacy is a labor of love, prepared by slow-cooking a whole pig in an underground imu oven. The result is tender, smoky, and succulent shredded pork that is bursting with flavor. The Kalua Pig at Helena’s is often served with steamed white rice and a side of creamy macaroni salad, allowing diners to savor the true essence of Hawaiian cuisine.
Main Menu Items:
1. “Pipikaula Short Ribs” – Helena’s Hawaiian Food offers delectable Pipikaula Short Ribs that are marinated and dried to perfection. This dish showcases the rich flavors of the tender beef, seasoned with a blend of Hawaiian spices. Served with rice and poi, it provides a satisfying and authentic taste of traditional Hawaiian fare.
2. “Laulau Plate” – A must-try item at Helena’s is their Laulau Plate. This classic Hawaiian dish features pork or fish wrapped in taro leaves, which are then steamed to create a flavorful and tender filling. The combination of the moist and tender meat with the earthy flavor of the taro leaves is simply delightful. Served with traditional sides such as poi, lomi salmon, and rice, the Laulau Plate offers a complete and satisfying meal.
3. “Squid Luau” – Another standout item on Helena’s menu is the Squid Luau. This traditional Hawaiian dish combines tender pieces of squid with taro leaves and a rich coconut milk broth. The result is a comforting and savory dish that showcases the unique flavors of the islands. Served with rice, the Squid Luau is a true Hawaiian culinary experience.
“Helena’s Hawaiian Food is an absolute gem! The Kalua Pig is the stuff of legends, with its tender and flavorful meat. The Pipikaula Short Ribs were equally delicious. The family atmosphere and friendly service made our dining experience truly memorable.”
“Visiting Helena’s was like stepping into a Hawaiian grandma’s kitchen. The Laulau Plate was outstanding, with its perfectly cooked pork and flavorful taro leaves. The Squid Luau was a delightful surprise. This place is a true hidden treasure!”
“I cannot recommend Helena’s enough! The flavors of their authentic Hawaiian dishes are unparalleled. The Kalua Pig was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the Squid Luau was a unique and tasty treat. It’s no wonder this place is a local favorite.”
Helena’s Hawaiian Food, nestled in the Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu, is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants on the island. This family-owned and operated establishment has been serving up authentic Hawaiian cuisine since 1946, earning a well-deserved reputation for its legendary Kalua Pig. They are another of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
From the Pipikaula Short Ribs to the Laulau Plate and the Squid Luau, Helena’s offers a wide range of dishes that showcase the rich flavors and cultural heritage of Hawaii. With its warm and inviting atmosphere, Helena’s Hawaiian Food provides a genuine taste of the islands, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable culinary experience in Honolulu. They deserve to be ranked high among the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
4) Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment has become an iconic culinary destination for locals and tourists alike. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is a must-visit for seafood enthusiasts in search of bold flavors and a casual dining experience.
When it comes to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, their signature dish is the mouthwatering “Garlic Shrimp.” This delectable creation features succulent shrimp cooked to perfection in a flavorful blend of garlic, butter, and spices. The shrimp are served with their heads and shells intact, allowing diners to fully enjoy the rich flavors that come from cooking them in their natural juices. Served with a generous portion of steamed white rice, this dish is a true delight for shrimp lovers.
Main Menu Items:
1. “Lemon Butter Shrimp” – Giovanni’s Lemon Butter Shrimp is a citrusy twist on their classic garlic shrimp. The plump and juicy shrimp are bathed in a tangy lemon-infused butter sauce that adds a refreshing zing to every bite. Served over a bed of rice, this dish offers a tantalizing combination of flavors that will leave you craving more.
2. “Spicy Shrimp” – For those who enjoy a kick of heat, Giovanni’s Spicy Shrimp is a must-try. The shrimp are prepared with a fiery blend of spices, creating a bold and flavorful dish that packs a punch. Each shrimp is cooked to perfection and coated in a spicy sauce that will awaken your taste buds. Served with rice, this dish is perfect for those who love a little extra spice in their seafood.
3. “Shrimp Scampi” – Giovanni’s Shrimp Scampi is a classic dish that showcases the natural sweetness of the shrimp. The succulent shrimp are sautéed in a garlic and butter sauce, creating a rich and indulgent flavor profile. Served with a side of rice, this dish is a comforting choice that will satisfy any seafood lover’s cravings.
“Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is a hidden gem on the North Shore. The Garlic Shrimp is out of this world! The flavors are incredible, and the shrimp are always fresh and juicy. A must-visit for anyone craving delicious shrimp dishes in Honolulu.”
“I can’t get enough of Giovanni’s Spicy Shrimp! The heat level is just right, and the flavors are exceptional. The casual and laid-back atmosphere of the food truck adds to the overall experience. Don’t miss out on this local favorite!”
“Giovanni’s is a staple every time I visit the North Shore. The Lemon Butter Shrimp is my go-to order. The tangy and buttery sauce complements the shrimp perfectly. The staff is friendly, and the portions are generous. Highly recommended!”
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, located on the North Shore of Oahu, is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment has gained a loyal following for its mouthwatering garlic shrimp, which is a true testament to the flavors of the islands. They are one of the leading hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
Whether you opt for the classic Garlic Shrimp, the tangy Lemon Butter Shrimp, or the fiery Spicy Shrimp, Giovanni’s delivers seafood dishes that are bursting with flavor. With its casual and laid-back atmosphere, this food truck embodies the true spirit of a local favorite, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking a memorable shrimp dining experience in Honolulu. They have earned the rank of being one of the leading hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
5) Musubi Cafe Iyasume
Musubi Cafe Iyasume is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment is nestled in the heart of Waikiki, a bustling area known for its vibrant culinary scene. Musubi Cafe Iyasume has become a go-to spot for locals and tourists seeking a quick and delicious bite to eat.
When it comes to Musubi Cafe Iyasume, their signature food is the mouthwatering “Spam Musubi.” This beloved Hawaiian snack features a slice of grilled spam placed on a block of rice, all wrapped together with a strip of nori (seaweed). The combination of the savory spam, sticky rice, and the slight saltiness of the nori creates a delightful flavor profile that captures the essence of local Hawaiian cuisine. The Spam Musubi at Musubi Cafe Iyasume is a must-try for anyone looking to indulge in a quintessential island snack.
Main Menu Items:
1. “Chicken Katsu Curry Plate” – Musubi Cafe Iyasume offers a delicious Chicken Katsu Curry Plate that combines the crispy and tender chicken katsu with a rich and flavorful Japanese curry sauce. Served with a generous portion of rice and a side of pickled vegetables, this dish offers a satisfying blend of textures and tastes.
2. “Loco Moco” – A classic Hawaiian comfort food, the Loco Moco at Musubi Cafe Iyasume is a delightful combination of a juicy hamburger patty, a sunny-side-up egg, and rich brown gravy, all served over a bed of rice. This hearty and satisfying dish is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
3. “Pork Lau Lau” – Musubi Cafe Iyasume’s Pork Lau Lau is a traditional Hawaiian dish that features tender pieces of pork wrapped in luau leaves, which are then steamed to perfection. The result is a flavorful and moist filling encased in the earthy taste of the leaves. Served with rice, this dish offers a taste of authentic Hawaiian cuisine.
“Musubi Cafe Iyasume is a hidden gem! Their Spam Musubi is the best I’ve had on the island. The flavors are perfectly balanced, and the quality is outstanding. It’s a must-visit for anyone craving a quick and delicious snack in Honolulu.”
“I was blown away by the Chicken Katsu Curry Plate at Musubi Cafe Iyasume. The chicken was crispy and flavorful, and the curry sauce was rich and aromatic. The portion size was generous, and the service was friendly. A definite must-try in Waikiki!”
“The Loco Moco at Musubi Cafe Iyasume exceeded my expectations. The hamburger patty was juicy and flavorful, and the gravy was rich and savory. It’s the ultimate comfort food. This hole-in-the-wall spot is a true gem!”
Musubi Cafe Iyasume, located in the bustling area of Waikiki, is undeniably one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu. This family-owned and operated establishment has gained a loyal following for its delicious Spam Musubi, which perfectly captures the flavors of Hawaii. They are one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
Whether you choose the Chicken Katsu Curry Plate, the iconic Loco Moco, or the traditional Pork Lau Lau, Musubi Cafe Iyasume offers a diverse range of dishes that showcase the rich culinary heritage of the islands. With its quick service and delectable offerings, this cafe has rightfully earned its reputation as a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a taste of local Hawaiian flavors in Honolulu. They can definitely be counted among the favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu.
Now you know why these are some of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu just waiting for you to discover them. However, it’s important to let you know that this is not an exhaustive list of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Honolulu and that this list is in no particular order.
So, whether you’re a local seeking a new dining adventure or a visitor looking to immerse yourself in the flavors of Honolulu, be sure to venture beyond the familiar and discover the countless other hole-in-the-wall restaurants that await your exploration. With each new culinary find, you’ll uncover a part of Honolulu’s rich food culture, leaving you with a deeper appreciation for the vibrant and diverse dining scene that makes this city a haven for food lovers.
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