We were in Hawaii two weeks this summer as a big family of 12 to celebrate my dad's birthday. We stayed at vacation rentals and did a lot of our own cooking, but here are some of the places we ate at and enjoyed. Many of them come thanks to previous board recommendations, so thanks!
In Honolulu: Hau Tree Lanai. There is no better place, in my opinion, to spend your first morning in Hawaii than here under the tree, on the beach, eating papaya and coconut-macadamia French toast. It's a bit spendy but we loved it.
Marukame Udon--soothing to the palate and to the budget. Long line, but it moved fast. The curry udon was a favorite.
Rai Rai Ramen--can you tell we like Japanese noodles? The sesame noodles are definitely the way to go. The gyoza are not the best I've ever had, but quite good.
Pineapple Room at Macy's: We sat at the counter and had an excellent lunch. I got a soup, salad, and tart thing that was exactly what I wanted. My husband's ahi burger was also excellent, and the wasabi potato salad is...quite something.
In Kauai: We stayed in my dad's timeshare near Kapa'a, so most of the restaurants we visited were near there.
Hukilau Lanai, just outside Kapa'a: When my dad recommended the "early bird special" at his timeshare, I was skeptical. But this turned out to be a 5-course tasting menu with paired wines ($40), which went from good to spectacular. The service was somewhat spotty for such an upscale place, unfortunately.
Sushi Bushido in Kapa'a: I'm no sushi expert, but we all enjoyed our meal there, from the California roll conservatives to the more daring, who ordered "chef's choice nigari" . The cocktails were nasty, though. And the live music was surprisingly good.
Hanalei Pizza: We had just had a long and very wet hike along the Na Pali coast, so anything hot would have been welcome, but this was quite good pizza with an excellent, crisp crust. They bring the pizza to you on the pizza stone, which is fun.
Hanalei Bakery? (It's in the same shopping center as the pizza place): We picked up a coconut cream pie there to eat later. It was really good: not too sweet and very coconutty, with a crust that stayed crisp even the next day.
Oahu North Shore: We stayed in Laie, where all the stores are closed on Sunday and the Foodland doesn't sell alcoholic beverages.
We really enjoyed the Haleiwa Farmer's Market, where we dropped many a dollar on fresh produce and fish. Another day we checked out the "farmer's market" on the BYU campus in Laie, where we scored some excellent and really inexpensive kaku (I think that's barracuda) and some nice produce. Most of the produce doesn't seem to be local there, but the prices are pretty good.
Giovanni's: We had to go. I thought it was good but not *that* good. The lemon butter sauce had an artificial taste, but the garlic shrimp was really good. While waiting in line, we sampled the wares of the smoothie stand and the "Ono-Yo" frozen yogurt truck, and they both had delicious if pricey treats.
Jameson's By the Sea: we had dinner there at sunset: we were seated inside but right near a large picture window, so the view was beautiful. Excellent cocktails, beautiful fish (and excellent crab-stuffed mushrooms!), very good service. This was a pretty big splurge, but everyone had a really nice time.
Ray's Kiawe Broiled Chicken: My husband and I happened to be in Haleiwa shopping and got hungry--the chicken smelled good and turned out to taste really good as well. The pineapple cole slaw also hit the spot.
We never went to Matsumoto's, we didn't get malasadas, and we never got a real plate lunch. Guess we'll have to come back sometime. Hope this list is helpful.
Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant
2863 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
3416 Rice St Ste 310, Lihue, HI 96766
62-540 Kamehameha Hwy Ste 1, Haleiwa, HI 96712
, Kapaa, HI 96746
Ching Young Vlg, Hanalei, HI 96714