Last updated on September 24th, 2023 at 11:58 pm
5 Top Hole-in-the-Wall Honolulu Restaurants
In the bustling city of Honolulu, hidden among the vibrant streets and popular attractions, lie five of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants. In this article, we’ve had the pleasure of exploring the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants that offer a diverse array of flavors and dining experiences.
From the authentic taste of Hawaii at Highway Inn, where the Kalua Pig steals the show, to the refreshing shave ice creations at Waiola Shave Ice, each restaurant has left a lasting impression on both locals and visitors. Marugame Udon offered a true taste of Japan with its signature udon noodles, while Sweet Home Café provided the comforting embrace of home-cooked meals with its Hawaiian Plate. Lastly, Side Street Inn treated us to the unforgettable pan-fried pork chops, amongst other delectable dishes.
However, these five hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants are just a small taste of what this city has to offer. The city is brimming with hidden gems and tucked-away eateries waiting to be discovered by adventurous food enthusiasts. Whether it’s local favorites, international cuisine, or fusion delights, Honolulu’s culinary scene continues to surprise and delight those willing to venture beyond the beaten path. This is why these are some of the great hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants that are waiting for you to discover them. This list is in no particular order.
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1) Highway Inn
Highway Inn is one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, located on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. This charming eatery holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike, as it represents a true taste of authentic Hawaiian cuisine. As a family-owned and operated establishment, Highway Inn has been serving delicious traditional dishes since its inception, providing a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes diners feel right at home.
One of Highway Inn’s most celebrated signature dishes is their mouthwatering Kalua Pig. Prepared in the traditional Hawaiian way, the pork is seasoned with sea salt, wrapped in ti leaves, and slow-cooked in an underground oven known as an imu. The result is tender, flavorful, and truly unforgettable, showcasing the rich culinary heritage of the islands.
Main Menu Items:
1. Laulau – “A Hawaiian Delicacy”: The Laulau at Highway Inn is a delightful combination of flavors. Tender pieces of pork, butterfish, and sometimes chicken, are carefully wrapped in taro leaves and cooked until the ingredients meld together in a heavenly taste. This dish pays homage to ancient Hawaiian cooking techniques, providing a delightful and authentic dining experience.
2. Pipikaula Short Ribs – “A Meat Lover’s Dream”: The Pipikaula Short Ribs are a carnivore’s delight. Marinated in a savory blend of Hawaiian spices and then air-dried, the result is a tender, flavorful beef dish that showcases the art of preserving meat, a tradition that traces back to the days of the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys).
3. Haupia Pie – “A Taste of Paradise”: For dessert, the Haupia Pie is a must-try. This delectable treat features a velvety coconut pudding, known as haupia, layered generously over a buttery, flaky crust, and topped with whipped cream. It’s a perfect way to end a traditional Hawaiian meal.
“Highway Inn offers an incredible dining experience tucked away in Honolulu. The Kalua Pig is to die for! The flavors took me back to old Hawaii, and the service made me feel like part of the family.”
“What a gem! This place embodies the spirit of the islands. The Laulau was tender and delicious, and the Pipikaula Short Ribs were packed with flavor. Highly recommended!”
“Had the most delightful Haupia Pie here! The restaurant’s ambiance is cozy and inviting, and the staff is friendly and attentive. A true Hawaiian culinary experience.”
Highway Inn is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering a genuine taste of Hawaii with its traditional and family-operated approach. From their iconic Kalua Pig, prepared with time-honored methods, to the delightful Laulau and Pipikaula Short Ribs, Highway Inn presents a journey through the rich culinary heritage of the islands. They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
The charming and warm atmosphere, coupled with impeccable service, ensures a memorable dining experience. For anyone seeking an authentic taste of paradise, Highway Inn is an absolute must-visit. They rank high among the best hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants for good reasons.
2) Waiola Shave Ice
Waiola Shave Ice is one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering a delightful treat to beat the tropical heat. This quaint eatery specializes in serving refreshing shave ice, a Hawaiian delicacy, and is located in the heart of the city. As a family-owned and operated establishment, Waiola Shave Ice has been enchanting locals and tourists alike with its icy creations for generations.
Waiola Shave Ice is renowned for its mouthwatering and colorful shave ice cones. Unlike traditional snow cones, the shave ice here is finely shaved, creating a light and fluffy texture that allows the syrup to infuse every icy bite. The result is a refreshing explosion of flavors, making it the perfect treat to cool down under the Hawaiian sun.
Main Menu Items:
1. Rainbow Delight – “A Tropical Symphony”: The Rainbow Delight is a crowd favorite, boasting a dazzling display of colors and flavors. A mountain of fluffy shave ice is generously drizzled with an assortment of fruity syrups, including strawberry, pineapple, and blue raspberry, creating a tropical symphony of taste that will transport you to paradise with every spoonful.
2. Mochi Madness – “A Chewy Sensation”: For those seeking a unique twist, the Mochi Madness is a must-try. This shave ice creation is adorned with delectable mochi balls, adding a delightful chewy texture to the icy delight. With a variety of syrup options to choose from, including coconut and mango, it’s a playful and satisfying treat for your taste buds.
3. Sweet Cream Dream – “A Creamy Indulgence”: The Sweet Cream Dream is a luxurious delight for anyone with a sweet tooth. The fluffy shave ice is drizzled with velvety sweet cream, creating a luscious and indulgent experience. It’s a perfect choice for those who prefer a creamier, less tangy taste profile.
“Waiola Shave Ice is a hidden gem in Honolulu! The Rainbow Delight is an absolute work of art, and the flavors are unbelievably refreshing. I can’t imagine a trip to Hawaii without stopping by here.”
“Mochi Madness was a revelation! I loved the chewy texture of the mochi combined with the icy goodness. This place is a must-visit, and the family vibe adds an extra touch of warmth to the experience.”
“The Sweet Cream Dream lived up to its name—a true dreamy indulgence. It’s the perfect treat for a hot day, and Waiola Shave Ice is the go-to spot for authentic Hawaiian shave ice!”
Waiola Shave Ice is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, enchanting locals and visitors alike with its delightful icy creations. As a family-owned and operated establishment, the warm and welcoming atmosphere adds an extra layer of charm to the experience. They are one of the popular hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
From the iconic Rainbow Delight, reminiscent of the vibrant Hawaiian spirit, to the inventive Mochi Madness and indulgent Sweet Cream Dream, Waiola Shave Ice offers a paradise of flavors to tantalize your taste buds. If you’re looking for the ultimate treat to beat the heat in Honolulu, this hidden gem is a must-visit destination. They stand out among the popular hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
3) Marugame Udon
Marugame Udon is one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering a delightful taste of authentic Japanese cuisine. This charming eatery is nestled in the heart of the city, and as a family-owned and operated establishment, it exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes diners feel like part of the family.
Marugame Udon’s signature food is, of course, their delectable and freshly made udon noodles. These thick, chewy wheat noodles are prepared in the traditional Japanese style, ensuring an authentic and satisfying dining experience. Each bowl of udon is served in a savory and aromatic broth, making it a true comfort food that captures the essence of Japan.
Main Menu Items:
1. Niku Udon – “A Carnivore’s Delight”: The Niku Udon is a must-try for meat lovers. This hearty bowl of udon is topped with thinly sliced, tender beef simmered in a flavorful broth. The rich umami of the broth beautifully complements the succulent beef, creating a delicious and fulfilling dish that will leave you craving more.
2. Tempura Udon – “A Crispy Twist”: For a delightful blend of textures, the Tempura Udon is an excellent choice. Crispy and golden-brown tempura, including prawns and vegetables, are served on top of the udon noodles and broth. The contrast of the crispy tempura and the chewy udon adds a delightful twist to the dish, making it a favorite among diners.
3. Kake Udon – “Simple Elegance”: The Kake Udon is a classic and straightforward option, showcasing the pure and simple flavors of the udon noodles and the delicate broth. Topped with green onions and tempura flakes, this dish exemplifies the beauty of simplicity and allows the quality of the ingredients to shine through.
“Marugame Udon is a hidden gem in Honolulu! Their udon noodles are freshly made and absolutely divine. I tried the Niku Udon, and the beef was so tender. A perfect spot for a comforting and authentic Japanese meal.”
“The Tempura Udon here is fantastic! The tempura was crispy and not greasy at all. The udon noodles were cooked to perfection, and the broth had a wonderful depth of flavor. Definitely coming back for more.”
“I love how Marugame Udon captures the essence of traditional Japanese dining. The Kake Udon was simple yet elegant, and the atmosphere of the restaurant felt so welcoming. A true culinary gem in Honolulu.”
Marugame Udon is undoubtedly one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering an authentic taste of Japan in the heart of the city. As a family-owned and operated establishment, the warmth and hospitality are palpable, making every diner feel at home. With their signature freshly made udon noodles taking center stage, accompanied by a variety of delicious toppings and broths, Marugame Udon provides a delightful and fulfilling dining experience. They are another of the great hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
Whether you opt for the Niku Udon, Tempura Udon, or the simple yet elegant Kake Udon, you’re in for a culinary journey that captures the essence of Japanese comfort food. For a taste of Japan in Honolulu, Marugame Udon is the place to be. They deserve to be ranked high among the great hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
4) Sweet Home Café
Sweet Home Café is one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering a delightful taste of home-cooked comfort food. This charming eatery is located in a cozy corner of the city and takes pride in being family-owned and operated, creating an ambiance that feels welcoming and familiar.
Sweet Home Café’s signature food is their mouthwatering Hawaiian Plate. This dish represents the true essence of local Hawaiian cuisine, featuring a combination of flavorful elements that reflect the diverse cultural influences found in the islands. The Hawaiian Plate typically includes kalua pork, lomi salmon (a tomato and salmon salad), poi (a traditional Hawaiian staple made from taro root), and macaroni salad. It’s a feast that pays homage to the rich culinary heritage of Hawaii.
Main Menu Items:
1. Loco Moco -“A Classic Island Dish”: The Loco Moco is a beloved classic in Hawaiian cuisine. This hearty dish features a bed of white rice topped with a succulent hamburger patty, a sunny-side-up egg, and smothered in rich brown gravy. It’s a delightful fusion of flavors that will leave you satisfied and craving more.
2. Garlic Shrimp Plate – “A Seafood Delight”: For seafood enthusiasts, the Garlic Shrimp Plate is a must-try. Sweet, plump shrimp are marinated in a delectable garlic sauce and grilled to perfection. Served with rice and a side salad, it’s a flavorful and satisfying option that showcases the bounty of the ocean.
3. Chicken Katsu Curry – “A Fusion of Flavors”: The Chicken Katsu Curry is a delightful fusion dish that brings together Japanese and Hawaiian influences. Tender breaded chicken cutlets are served with a rich and aromatic Japanese curry sauce, creating a comforting and harmonious blend of flavors.
“Sweet Home Café feels like stepping into Grandma’s kitchen! The Hawaiian Plate was exceptional, and the kalua pork was incredibly tender. A true taste of Hawaii in every bite.”
“The Loco Moco here is one of the best I’ve had on the island! The gravy was rich and flavorful, and the combination of the egg with the hamburger patty was simply divine. Can’t wait to come back!”
“I’m a huge seafood lover, and the Garlic Shrimp Plate did not disappoint! The shrimp were perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor. This café has a cozy and friendly vibe that makes the dining experience even better.”
Sweet Home Café is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, where you can savor the comforts of home-cooked meals. As a family-owned and operated establishment, the warmth and hospitality are evident in every aspect of the dining experience. They are one of the leading hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
Their signature Hawaiian Plate offers a delightful journey through the diverse flavors of the islands, while their Loco Moco, Garlic Shrimp Plate, and Chicken Katsu Curry showcase the culinary fusion that defines Hawaiian cuisine. With its cozy ambiance and delectable offerings, Sweet Home Café truly lives up to its name, providing diners with a taste of home in the heart of Honolulu. They have earned the rank of being one of the leading hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
5) Side Street Inn
Side Street Inn is one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering a delightful taste of local favorites. Situated in a cozy corner of the city, this family-owned and operated establishment exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes diners feel right at home.
Side Street Inn is renowned for its famous pan-fried pork chops. These mouthwatering chops are seasoned to perfection and cooked until tender, with a crispy outer layer that adds a delightful crunch to each bite. The succulent pork chops have become a staple of the restaurant, attracting locals and tourists alike to savor this unforgettable dish.
Main Menu Items:
1. Fried Rice – “A Flavorful Classic”: The Fried Rice at Side Street Inn is a classic favorite that complements any meal. Prepared with a delectable blend of ingredients, including diced vegetables, char siu (Chinese barbecued pork), and eggs, this savory rice dish is bursting with flavor. Served in generous portions, it’s a satisfying option that will leave you wanting more.
2. Pulehu Ribs – “A Taste of Island Grilling”: The Pulehu Ribs offer a taste of authentic Hawaiian grilling. Marinated in a special blend of island spices and herbs, the ribs are then grilled to perfection, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish. Each bite is a journey through the delicious smoky flavors of Hawaii.
3. Kimchi Fried Rice – “A Fusion Delight”: For those seeking a fusion of flavors, the Kimchi Fried Rice is a must-try. This Korean-inspired dish combines the tangy and spicy goodness of kimchi with the satisfying elements of fried rice. Topped with a fried egg, it’s a harmonious blend of cuisines that will tantalize your taste buds.
“Side Street Inn is a hidden gem! Their pan-fried pork chops were out of this world—juicy, tender, and full of flavor. The ambiance is cozy and relaxed, making it the perfect spot for a great meal.”
“I absolutely loved the Pulehu Ribs! The grilling gave them a fantastic smoky taste, and the marinade was superb. The service was friendly, and the restaurant had a fantastic local vibe.”
“The Kimchi Fried Rice was a delightful surprise! The combination of kimchi and fried rice was genius. It’s evident that Side Street Inn takes pride in serving top-quality food. Highly recommended!”
Side Street Inn is undeniably one of the top hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants, offering a taste of local favorites in a welcoming family-owned setting. The star of the show is their famous pan-fried pork chops, a dish that has become a hallmark of the restaurant. Alongside signature dishes like the flavorful Fried Rice and the island-inspired Pulehu Ribs, Side Street Inn provides a diverse and delightful culinary experience. They are one of the favorite hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
With its cozy atmosphere and mouthwatering offerings, this restaurant truly captures the essence of Hawaiian hospitality and cuisine. A visit to Side Street Inn is a must for anyone seeking a memorable and satisfying dining experience in Honolulu. They can definitely be counted among the favorite hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants.
Now you know why these are some of the great hole-in-the-wall Honolulu restaurants 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 Honolulu restaurants and that this list is in no particular order.
So, as you explore the streets of Honolulu, remember that the adventure does not end here. Venture off the well-trodden paths, ask the locals for their recommendations, and embrace the spirit of culinary discovery. There’s a world of tucked-away restaurants waiting for you to uncover their unique flavors, heartfelt hospitality, and the true essence of the island’s rich gastronomic heritage.
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