10 Local Ocean-Friendly Restaurants on O‘ahu to Try Now
These restaurants and cafés hold themselves to a higher eco-standard that make deciding where to eat for ocean-minded people an easy decision.
For the eco-conscious, going out to get a quick bite to eat can turn into an ethical dilemma. Thankfully, these local restaurants help ease the guilt by employing environmentally friendly practices that range from opting for plastic-free cutlery, giving discounts for bringing in reusable cups or supporting local farmers.
In alignment with the “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” program certified by Surfrider Foundation, the ocean-friendly restaurants all follow these mandatory criteria:
- Only reusable foodware is used for onsite dining
- Paper straws are provided only upon request
- No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam)
- No plastic bags are used for takeout or to-go orders
- Single-use utensils, straws, condiments, and other accessory items are provided only upon request
- Beverages are not sold in plastic bottles
- Proper recycling practices are followed
Here are a few of our favorites that help protect the ocean and abide by other environmentally conscious practices:
Ali‘i Coffee Co.
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For a Portland vibe and some serious in-house roasted coffee in the middle of Downtown, head to Ali‘i Coffee Co. Order a taro ube latté ($4.60 for a 12 ounce cup) for an early morning buzz and continue the caffeine stream at lunch with a cold-brew “Coff Tail” and a flatbread featuring local ingredients. Bring your own reusable mug and straw to save 15 cents. You can also get a discount on growlers of cold brew when you bring your own.
If you find yourself hungry for lunch and want a hearty meal, Square Barrels is an anything-but-average burger-and-beer joint. Square Barrels grinds all of its meat in-house for its juicy burgers, including a Maui venison one—with none of that wasteful plastic packaging that often finds its way into the ocean. Needing to get back to the office sooner than you thought? Square Barrels has Styrofoam-free to-go containers with 100 percent compostable cutlery.
Pint + Jigger
Welcome news for Honolulu’s drink scene: Pint + Jigger, the Mō‘ili‘ili gastropub that closed in March 2020 when its building came up for redevelopment, is reopening in the Ala Moana Hotel in the spring of 2021. Also coming back: signature cocktails including the Mesquite Smoked Manhattan, sous vide Old Fashioned and Talventi on tap, a concoction of cold-brewed coffee, rye whiskey and Campari that earned a Best of HONOLULU nod in 2019. Eaters can order the signature stout burger, double-cut bacon and yes, the Scotch egg. A small space above the new Pint will host Harry’s Hardware Emporium, where Newman plans to reprise his Scotch Ginger Colada, Smoking Room Alder and rotating selection of barrel-aged cocktails. —Mari Taketa
SEE ALSO: Pint + Jigger Is Reopening Next Spring
Sunrise Shack Waikīkī
The Sunrise Shack, that cute yellow North Shore shack you’ve probably seen on Instagram more than a few times, has brought its eco-friendly presence to the South Shore with a location in the Outrigger Waikīkī Beach Resort. Using local and organic fruits and veggies whenever possible, Sunrise Shack Waikīkī offers a highly instagrammable Blue Dream Bowl with edible Miliani flowers from Mari’s Gardens ($11.95). Need a lasting boost of energy? Grab a bullet coffee, blended with coconut oil and grass-fed butter ($4.95), and sip it from a turtle-printed paper straw.
Banzai Sushi Bar
Enhance your sushi dinner with traditional low-table floor seating and a menu with local seafood and veggies at Banzai Sushi Bar. Tucked away in Hale‘iwa, the restaurant is filled with half low-table seating and half regular seating in chairs made from local bamboo and tables made from reclaimed monkeypod wood. Get your sushi fix with Banzai’s local seafood–bought fresh daily from the fish market downtown–or opt for a plant-based sushi dinner with its Pūpūkea Roll: cucumber, avocado, yama gobo (pickled burdock root) and shiso leaf topped with shiokombu or salted kelp ($12). Enjoy your meal under the dimmed LED lights and don’t worry about the couple of bites you just don’t have room to eat; some of the scraps are recycled to feed local pigs.
66-246 Kamehameha Highway, Suite B, Hale‘iwa, (808) 637-4404, banzaisushibarhawaii.com, @banzaisushibar
Kalapawai Café and Deli
Coming from one of the oldest family-run restaurants in Kailua, Kalapawai Café and Deli boasts a menu inspired by home-cooked meals and the local farmers that make them possible. The café utilizes local-when-possible ingredients from Waimānalo farms and also offers rotating dishes using surplus produce from local farmers. For a pūpū dinner paired with an extensive list of local beers, order the owner’s favorite island tomato and chèvre bruschetta or the chef’s cheese and salumi board with homemade accoutrements. For a quick early-morning meal, bring your reusable mug and order the breakfast wrap topped with Andy’s Salsa. The Kailua institution utilizes low-flow faucets throughout the restaurant, paper straws and compostable to-go containers.
750 Kailua Road, Kailua, (808) 262-3354, kalapawaimarket.com
Makana Ranch House
Makana Ranch House, the ranch-style restaurant with a beautiful outdoor courtyard setting in Wai‘alae, features a paniolo-style menu featuring 90 percent Hawai‘i produce, with 80 percent coming from O‘ahu. From a Moloka‘i venison burger on a taro roll ($14) to a hearty Apache stew with a chili verde sauce ($12), the menu packs so many tasty dishes you may not even have any leftovers, which is turned into compost out back.
3574 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 838-9315, makanaranchhouse.com, @makana_ranch_house
Hideout at The Laylow
One of Waikīkī’s trendiest cocktail-hour spots, Hideout at The Laylow also follows more than a few eco-friendly practices to appeal to those who support sustainability. The photogenic cocktails in ceramic animal-shaped cups and tiki-inspired glasses are paired with equally as cute monstera-leaf-print paper straws. Graze on the local (when available) fare like the guacamame (guacamole and edamame) with taro chips or an Island greens salad with ‘ono that is sustainable-certified, meaning that it is caught in restricted numbers using environmentally viable fishing methods. For a sweet end to your meal, order the Manoa chocolate bread pudding or “The Low Rida” cocktail served with a Tamarind Candy.
2299 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 628-3060, hideoutwaikiki.com, @hideoutwaikiki
Mud Hen Water
Mud Hen Water, the English translation of Wai‘alae, is another ocean-friendly restaurant found in Kaimukī that offers a hyper-local menu featuring island-grown produce and fish caught sustainably by local fishermen. Known for its modern twists on local style food, the restaurant serves out-of-the-ordinary dishes like its roasted beet poke with smoked macadamia nuts ($9) and its I‘a Lawalu, or local mahi mahi cooked in coals, steamed in banana leaf with local veggies topped with coconut creme ($27). Take away your leftovers in a compostable to-go container and feel good knowing you’ve supported more than a few local businesses.
3452 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 737-6000, mudhenwater.com, @
Maui Brewing Co.
Maui Brewing Co. follows ocean-friendly practices that extend as far back as its carbon-neutral brewing process. The main brewery located in Kīhei reclaims all expelled carbon dioxide through the brewing process and filters it to carbonate its beers and push it through the tap lines, resulting in a completely zero-emission brewing process. The Waikīkī and Kailua locations offer fresh local meat and veggies from Waiʻanae, Kahuku and other parts of O‘ahu. Itching for a Bikini Blonde or Coconut Porter to go? Skip the cans and fill up a growler at any of its locations on O‘ahu.
Maui Brewing Co. Waikīkī, 2300 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 843-2739, mbcrestaurants.com/waikiki, @mauibrewingco
Find more ocean-friendly restaurants on O‘ahu, here.