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Best of Honolulu 2016: Food

The 25 editorial and reader picks for tastiest food from our Best of Honolulu 2016 issue.


(page 3 of 3)

Best Poke Bowl

Photo: David Croxford 


We debated while sampling poke bowls: What constitutes a really great poke bowl? Is it the quality of the ‘ahi? The sheer poundage? The extra goodies included? Opinions varied. In the end, though, we all agreed that Aloha Cones was tops. This spot offers up an exemplary bowl of poke—your choice of shoyu, sesame, limu, wasabi masago or spicy ‘ahi, garnished with crab salad, daikon, cucumber slices and tomato. As a sign of how fresh the fish is, you can opt for sashimi instead—just imagine a hamachi sashimi bowl and try not to drool.   

725 Kīna‘u St., 861-0888, alohaconeshawaii.com.


Best Salad Dressing

Photo: Aaron Yoshino


Fourth-generation farmer Kylie Matsuda-Lum started serving her family’s liliko‘i balsamic dressing on salads when Kahuku Café opened in 2011. People kept asking to take home the dressing made from liliko‘i fresh from Kahuku Farms, so they set to work to bottle it and make it shelf-stable.Buy the $6 bottles at the farm, online or Saturday mornings at the KCC farmers markets. 

56-800 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, 628-0639, kahukufarms.com.


Best Smoked Meat

Photo: Aaron Yoshino 


Alicia’s Market’s smoked meat, which is only sold on Fridays and Saturdays, isn’t widely advertised but always quietly sells out. Six years ago, manager Chris Kam started smoking prime rib and brisket cuts with his own barbecue sauce. The brisket ($11.95 a pound) takes at least eight hours, the prime rib ($14.95 a pound) around six. It’s a Southern-style take on smoked meat, with a crusty top and a center that’s pull-apart tender and juicy (not chewy). It helps that Kam tops the chopped-up brisket with pan drippings, too. 

267 Mokauea St., 841-1921, aliciasmarket.com.


Best Lemonade


If you’re looking to stay cool, refreshed and hydrated this summer, your best bet is Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade. It offers flavors packed with Hawai‘i-sourced goodies including locally grown kale, Big Island seedless watermelon and Kumu Farms basil, with new flavor combos coming all the time. “When mango season kicks in, we’ll have a bunch of different mango combinations,” says co-owner Kawika Drummond. Spring for a mason jar, and  you can get refills for $5!  

Multiple locations, plus farmers market pop-ups (wowwowhawaiianlemonade.com for the full schedule).


Best Late-Night Eats 

Around midnight, we get hungry. Here are the best late-night spots for:



Best Late-Night Eats: Pizza

If you’re downtown, there’s no better place than JJ Dolan’s. The kitchen closes (11:45 p.m. on weekends, 9:45 on weekdays) but you’re free to hang until 2 a.m.

1147 Bethel St., 537-4992, jjdolans.com 


Best Late-Night Eats: Breakfast

Whether you’re a mega-early riser or a party-all-nighter, MAC 24/7 is there for you with its 24-hour kitchen and MAC Daddy Pancakes.

Hilton Waikīkī Beach, 2500 Kūhiō Ave., 921-5564, mac247waikiki.com.


Best Late-Night Eats: Japanese

Sushi King serves dinner Wednesday to Monday until 2 a.m., plus midnight specials are available after 9 p.m.: a jumbo platter, a chirashi special  and curry rice. 

2700 S. King St., 947-2836, sushikinghi.com.


Best Late-Night Eats: Karaoke

Grab some Korean pūpū and soju at Café Duck Butt and keep it going in one of the karaoke rooms until 2 a.m.  The savory pancakes and mochiko chicken are the bomb.

901 Kawaiaha‘o St., 593-1880 


Best Nicoise Salad

Honolulu loves all kinds of ‘ahi salads, but Chinatown’s new cool-kid restaurant Fête gets our enthusiastic vote for best nicoise, with a salad that celebrates fresh ingredients and authentic nicoise: a generous portion of nicoise olives, crisp greens, fresh ‘ahi belly, egg, green beans, potatoes, light vinaigrette. The perfect summer salad. 

2 N. Hotel St., 369-1390, fetehawaii.com.


Best place to buy poke 

Reader Pick 

Choices: You can get ‘ahi, salmon, shrimp and even tofu poke.
Photo: Aaron Yoshino 


They’re new, only having been open since late 2015, but our readers are already in love. The premise at Da Hawaiian Poke Co.: “Aloha Your Way” create-your-own poke bowls where you select your own poke, seasoning, and toppings. The real star of the place is the ‘ahi. “We highlight the freshness of the fish by not covering it up heavily with sauces or seasonings,” says Poke partner Mark Oyama. “We go to the [fish] auction on a daily basis, pick up Grade A ‘ahi, and filet all our fish in-house.” 

870 Kapahulu Ave., 425-4954, dahawaiianpokecompany.com.


Best Local Food Company

Reader Pick 

Photo: courtesy of may’s

When Palama Meat Co. created a series of bulk retail locations for consumers in the 1960s (way before Costco), it established May’s, a retail brand named for Palama Meat Co. founder Donald Lau’s wife. Since then, it’s been Hawai‘i’s local burger: At every family barbecue or camping trip, you’ll find May’s beef picnic-style and teriyaki burgers (especially the teriyaki, the recipe of which is a closely guarded secret). 

Available at most supermarkets, 682-8305, mayshawaii.com.



Best Local Snack Company

Reader Pick 

Photo: David Croxford

Wholesale Unlimited is the unmistakable face of local snacks, carrying more than 400 unique items sold in stores around the island and at its main facility at Mapunapuna, and, after 51 years, it’s still going strong. We have our own Wholesale Unlimited personal favorites, but we’re curious about the rest: What’s the company’s most popular snack and seed? “Betty’s Best Cornflake Cookie and our seedless green ume are our most popular items by far,” says president Mark Honma. 

960 Ahua St., 834-2900, wholesaleunlimitedhawaii.com



Discover more Best of Honolulu 2016 winners. 


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