Woman Eating a Poke Bowl, Oahu Dining
November 6, 2017
| By
Cindy L. Smith

Eat Like a Local at These Restaurants on Oahu!

Eat where the locals eat at these popular Restaurants on Oahu!

Get a feel for island life by eating where the locals eat. Below are some of the local’s favorite Restaurants on Oahu.

Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815
The people of Hawai’i have many traditions. The secret behind the longevity of this iconic eatery, like many things the locals embrace, is that things remain the same. The Rainbow Drive-In, opened in 1961 by Seiju Ifuku and wife Ayako, started out serving the time honored Hawai’ian Plate Lunch featuring big servings with the plate lunch’s signature sides of rice and macaroni salad. The prices were right and the locals started coming and never stopped. Over the years the service remained great and the prices fair so the locals remained loyal to this Oahu Restaurant.  

Highway Inn Hawai’ian Food
680 Ala Moana Blvd #105, Honolulu, HI 96813
Hawai’ians like things on their islands to remain the same, and who can blame them? The locals also prefer family businesses over corporate giants encroaching on the ‘aina. As Restaurants on Oahu go, you can’t get any more local than Highway Inn Hawai’ian Food. Founded in 1947 on the leeward side of Oahu, this place is old Hawai’i. It’s been a mainstay on the island since just after WWII. In 2013, the Toguchi’s opened a second location in Kaka’ako, just up Ala Moana from Waikiki. Come and watch them make Lau Lau, a traditional Hawai’ian pork dish. It’s some of the best you’ll find anywhere.

W&M Bar-B-Q Burger
3104 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
This is another place that has kept generations of locals coming back, starting with the Greatest Generation! This Oahu Restaurant, which opened its doors in 1940, has had the same five items on the menu more or less the entire 77 years they’ve been around. Their staple is the BBQ burger, and it is the only burger on the menu. This is another mom and pop joint, and has been in the Kawamura Family since the day it opened.

Haili's Hawaiian Food 
760 Palani Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
This old school Hawai’ian place takes the old ways that were passed down from the ancestors very seriously. This Oahu Restaurant started life as a lunch counter at Ward’s Farmers Market in 1948. Word got around quick, as it does among the locals, and in 1950 Haili's Hawaiian Food moved into their own space and the locals followed. Now, 67 years later, they’re still a local favorite.

Matsumoto Shave Ice 
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Shave ice is a Hawai’ian thing like the Mojito is a Cuban thing. You can get it elsewhere, but it’s never really the same as getting it from the source. Founded on the North Shore in 1951, Matsumoto Shave Ice is an Oahu institution. Japanese immigrants Mamoru and Helen Matsumoto, whose dream it was to open their own business, opened a grocery store. After becoming an established grocery, they started selling shave ice in the store. Since they were close to the beach, traffic in the store boomed. Ask the locals where to go to get shave ice, they’ll probably send you to Matsumoto’s.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food 
1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817
Not far from the Punchbowl, this Oahu Restaurant has been serving amazing food to locals since 1946. This is one of those local haunts that, if they’re lucky, the visiting haoles find out about before they run out of food, because that’s when they close. This great, old island eatery is cash only, so hit the ATM before you get there, the lines are always long.

Read about other popular Oahu Dining spots located near our Honolulu Hotel in our Oahu Dining Guide.