The 9 Best Places to Eat Outside in Waikīkī Right Now
When one door shuts, the outdoors open. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Honolulu for dining alfresco.
Find more outdoor dining options in the August issue of HONOLULU. Look for it in our online store.
Barefoot Beach Café
For breakfast in Waikīkī without all the usual noise and drama of, well, Waikīkī, the picnic tables at Barefoot Beach Café offer ocean scenery on a budget. Set on Queen’s Surf Beach (across from the Kapi‘olani Park Bandstand), the café serves acai bowls, poke bowls, loco moco, burgers, sandwiches and plate lunches. Skip the crowds by avoiding the usual breakfast/lunch/dinner times. But do try and hit breakfast between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m: Barefoot Beach Café makes French toast with freshly baked brioche topped with syrup, powdered sugar and fresh fruit. –JC
Sure the interior is chic—all gleaming surfaces and clean lines with socially distanced tables at the back of cavernous Dukes Lane Market & Eatery. But even nicer is Basalt’s lānai. Set along Dukes Lane in the shadow of the Hyatt Centric and next-door Laylow hotel, it feels tucked away—perfect for a stack of charcoal buttermilk pancakes, a chill pau hana with an order of duck and goat cheese empanadas, or Basalt’s rightly popular miso black cod. —MT
The Hau Tree restaurant at the rebranded Kaimana Beach Hotel has a new team of chefs headed by Chris Kajioka of Senia and Miro Kaimukī, and chef de cuisine Alan Takasaki, formerly of Le Bistro. While the new brunch and dinner menus focus on smaller plates that can be shared, the restaurant still has that iconic view.
The hotel’s new look is chic and midcentury modern, with an aqua theme that gives it a relaxed, tropical vibe.With the big hau tree trimmed back and the railing between restaurant and beach removed, there’s an even more open feel and the sand is inches away.
Open daily for brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. 2863 Kalakaua Ave., (808) 921-7066, kaimana.com/dining
Island Vintage Wine Bar
The novel coronavirus has done away with the self-serve wine and beer bars that were proliferating around town, which means you can no longer sample 40 different wines at Island Vintage Wine Bar. But copious choices are massively overrated—Island Vintage Wine Bar, even pared down, is still worth dining in. Its smaller selection offers a variety of organic and biodynamic wines, to be sipped in a tranquil dining room that opens out to lush foliage and the Royal Hawaiian. The cheeseburger is a crowd favorite, and I’ve never been disappointed with the light and brothy seafood entrées with local shrimp and clams, paired with a cold glass of pinot grigio, perfect for warm summer nights. —MC
Spread out along an open lānai like so many charms on a bracelet, Quiora is a rare restaurant that didn’t have to move much furniture to comply with social distancing regulations. Tables at the Ritz-Carlton’s Italian eatery were already spaced for discreet conversations, each situated to take in the view of a now uncrowded Waikīkī that, from seven floors above street level, soars uninterrupted above the coconut treetops of Fort DeRussy to the ocean beyond. Come for sunset, order a Cynar daiquiri and always add on a plate of Quiora’s silky, handmade pappardelle. —MT
The revolving Top of Waikīkī has closed for good and Sky’s new owner, Hide Sakurai, is transforming the former nightclub into a raw bar with its own identity and clientele.
The interior of Sky isn’t open at all. It will be once Japanese tourism picks up in the Islands again. Until then, when you reach the top of the escalators, turn around and head onto the wraparound lānai to check out the new menu at Sky Waikīkī Raw & Bar, which includes apps, entrées, seafood and dessert. –KV
Seoul Tofu House
Don’t be scared off by the first rule of ordering at this Korean tofu soup specialist. “Choose your spice level” covers everything from no heat to fiery red, all of it available on a shady elevated patio set back from passing foot traffic on Kūhiō Avenue. On offer are tofu soups with seafood, beef, pork, even ham and cheese or curry; plus Korean barbecue dishes and what we’re eyeing in this summer heat: chilled Korean noodles topped with pretty cucumber matchsticks and fresh ‘ahi poke. —MT
Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar
You don’t have to go down to the beach to dip your toes in the sand. Head up, instead, to Tommy Bahama’s rooftop, where cozy couches surround sandy fire pits and the clouds glow pink at sunset. Happy hour is from 2 to 5 p.m., but come around 6:30 when the fires are lit to have a martini (with a blue-cheese-stuffed olive) before grabbing a table beneath the pergola. Try the coconut-crusted crab cakes to start, with a sweet Thai chile sauce, or the coconut shrimp and papaya-mango chutney. –KV
Editor’s note: As of December, Zigu has closed temporarily.
The local-ingredient-focused izakaya Zigu is a collection of spaces, with high tops near the entrance, a private room in the back and prized counter seating where you can watch the chefs create artful plates. This is why even regulars may be surprised to find there’s a courtyard that runs the length of it all. The hiddenness of this large dining space makes it fun, and the separation from the boisterous interior gives it a relative peacefulness. In hot weather, get the chilled udon with basil pesto, the noodles green from an infusion of locally grown kale. Zigu’s smoky potato salad made with local eggs is a must in any season. –MT