The Best Hawai‘i Restaurants for Celebrating a Special Occasion

Making a reservation at these Hale ‘Aina-winning restaurants will promise an affair to remember.


Be it a romantic Valentine’s Day meal, a Mother’s Day brunch, a Father’s Day steak dinner, a birthday or anniversary seafood tower, or a New Year’s Day buffet, making a reservation at these 2019 Hale ‘Aina-winning restaurants will promise an affair to remember.


SEE ALSO:Dine-in and Takeout Menus for Valentine’s Day 2022 on O‘ahu


Most Romantic Restaurants

53 By The Sea

53 by the sea

Photo: Courtesy of 53 By The Sea


“53 by the Sea has the best ocean view in Honolulu, period. You sit at a vantage point that’s slightly out to sea as the coast curves inward down Waikīkī headed toward Diamond Head. White breakers line the outer reefs, clouds break on the mountains. At sunset you get quite a light show as a reddish-gold afterglow merges with Honolulu city lights twinkling on.”Don Wallace, senior editor


53 Ahui St., (808) 536-5353,


SEE ALSO: 3 We Tried: Who Has the Best Seafood Tower on O‘ahu?


Michel’s at the Colony Surf


Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino


“Stepping into the foyer of Michel’s at the Colony Surf, an intimate, 45-seat jewel box that hugs a strip of beach between Sans Souci and the Outrigger Canoe Club, you’re faced with a stunning coup de théâtre. A wall of glass blazes like a giant Imax projection, giving the front tables a ringside seat to a vast, unobstructed sweep of horizon. No wonder that, on a recent visit, 12 of the 20 tables were reserved for honeymooners and couples celebrating anniversaries.”—DW


The Colony Surf at Diamond Head, 2895 Kalakaua Ave., (808) 923-6552,



La Mer

la mer

Photo: Courtesy of Halekulani


Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kalia Rd., (808) 923-2311,




noe at the four seasons oahu

Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko‘Olina


Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina, 92-1001 Olani St., Kapolei, (808) 679-0079,


SEE ALSO: Diner-style to luxe: Where to book Valentine’s Day dinner


Best Brunch Spots

Herringbone Waikīkī


Photo: Courtesy of Herringbone


“It’s fun eating at Herringbone. It feels like a scene, a rave in an unfinished skyscraper, decorated by a team from Restoration Hardware and a couple of Hale‘iwa surfer horticulturalists. There’s no question Herringbone delivers fresh, frequently amazing shellfish—that’s its boast, part of what made voters choose it HONOLULU’s Best New Restaurant in the 35th Hale ‘Aina Awards. The crab claws were thicker, the flesh succulent. The lobster was equally solid, a generously sized tail not overcooked or held on ice so long it had dehydrated.”—DW


2330 Kalākaua Ave., Suite 316, (808) 797-2435,




orchids at halekulani

Photo: Courtesy of Halekulani


“Our dream of a perfect Sunday: unlimited fresh juices and Kona coffee, a view of the blue sea off Waikīkī and, thanks to Halekūlani executive chef Vikram Garg and his team, no end to savories, delicacies and desserts. ”—DW


Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kalia Rd., (808) 923-231,


SEE ALSO: 3 Sunday Brunch Plates You Need to Make at Halekūlani’s Orchids


Plumeria Beach House

Easter Brunch Kahala

Photo: Courtesy of The Kāhala Hotel & Resort


The Kāhala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kāhala Ave., (808) 739-8760,



Best Buffet Restaurants

100 Sails Restaurant & Bar


Photo: Courtesy of Miles Uncharted / 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar


100 Holomoana St., (808) 956-1111,




hoku at the kahala

Photo: Courtesy of The Kāhala Hotel & Resort


“Heralded for its innovative fusion fare melding Hawaiian, Asian, Mediterranean and European flavors, Hōkū’s is sure to impress.”—Lennie Omalza


The Kāhala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kāhala Ave., (808) 739-8760,



Lā Hiki Kitchen

Lā Hiki Kitchen

Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina


Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina, 92-1001 Olani St., (808) 679-0079,



Best Tasting Menu


Senia glazed pork belly

Clash of continental flavors: Glazed Kurobuta pork belly with beet “char siu,” Middle Eastern harissa, house-made pickles and Mānoa lettuce serves three to four. Photo: Steve Czerniak


“The 50-seat restaurant aims to fulfill many functions, with a main dining room where you can order from an ever-changing menu; a 12-seat “chef’s counter” that faces the open kitchen, where for $185 you’ll be treated to a customized tasting menu; and a private dining room upstairs.”—Lavonne Leong


75 N. King St., (808) 200-5412,


SEE ALSO: Is Restaurant Senia Worth the Hype?


Pai Honolulu

Turnip cake

Lee’s signature agedashi XO turnip cake. Photo: Steve Czerniak


“Pai Honolulu showcases the range of cooking styles and techniques of executive chef-owner Kevin Lee, yet feels like a neighborhood hangout, a place where you walk in and immediately know someone. Nestled in the lobby of Harbor Court in Downtown, the restaurant offers food meticulously and thoughtfully prepared.”—Catherine Toth Fox


55 Merchant St., (808) 744-2531,


SEE ALSO: Pai Honolulu Wins Best New Restaurant, Service and Tasting Menu


Arancino at The Kāhala


Carpaccio Di Orecchiete Di Mare (left) and Insalata Caprese. Photo: Steve Czerniak


“The quality of Arancino pasta received a ringing endorsement when di Mare’s rigatoni dell’amatriciana was named one of Buzzfeed’s ‘30 Dishes From Around the Country Every Pasta Lover Must Try.’”—DW


The Kāhala Hotel, 5000 Kāhala Ave., (808) 380-4400,


SEE ALSO: Meet the Family Behind Hale ‘Aina Award-Winning Arancino at The Kāhala


Stage Restaurant

Crab cake. Photo: Courtesy of Pacwest Studios


250 Kapiolani Blvd., (808) 237-5429,



Best Gourmet Comfort Food

Side Street Inn

Side Street Inn Colins Classics 2

Photo: Thomas Obungen


“Sure, the deep-fried pork chops and fried rice served in substantial portions continue to lure customers—including visits from No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain and Man v. Food Nation’s Adam Richman as well as mentions in Saveur and Travel + Leisure—but the atmosphere the owner Colin Nishida created in both of his restaurants is born from a genuine desire the late chef had for people to have a good time. ‘It’s almost like Cheers, where everybody knows everybody,’ says James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Wong, who started eating at Side Street back in the ’90s. ‘It’s just a friendly atmosphere, easy, casual, comfortable, relaxing.’”—CTF


Multiple locations,


SEE ALSO: How Side Street Inn’s Colin Nishida Went From Bar Owner to Restaurateur of the Year


Monkeypod Kitchen

best restaurants monkeypod

Photo: Courtesy of Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman Ka‘anapali


Multiple locations on Maui and O‘ahu,



Best Steak Restaurant

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

best restaurants steak

Photo: Courtesy of Ruth’s Chris Steak House Hawai‘i


Multiple locations on O‘ahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island,



Hy’s Steak House

restaurants hy's

Photo: Courtesy of Hy’s Hawai‘i


“Forty years is an especially long time in the often fickle and unstable restaurant business, but, on a rainy evening in early March, Hy’s Steak House teemed with guests. It has survived this long because it appeals to visitors and locals alike, despite the touristy location at the Waikīkī Park Heights hotel, offering intimate and indulgent experiences worth the occasional splurge. Diners around the restaurant sunk into luxurious leather booths, enjoying perfect steaks and conversation, the ambiance enhanced by romantic dark woods, warm lighting and wine. The drab weather, rather than ruining anyone’s plans, seemed to make the sprawling restaurant that much cozier.”—Katrina Valcourt


2440 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 922-5555,


SEE ALSO: 35th Hale ‘Aina Awards: These 3 Original Winners Are Still Winning Decades Later



restaurants stripsteak

Photo: Courtesy of Stripsteak


2330 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 800-3094,



Morton’s The Steakhouse

restaurants morton's steak hawaii

The Côte De Boeuf (literally “beef rib”) from Morton’s The Steakhouse. Photo: Courtesy of Morton’s The Steakhouse


Ala Moana Center, (808) 949-1300,



Best Dessert

MW Restaurant

restaurant dessert Affogato

Coffee heaven: the affogato features chocolate cake, coffee ice cream, and dehydrated chocolate. Photo: Steve Czerniak


“MW Restaurant’s menu, stripped down, reads like a Hawaii diner’s—fried chicken, ahi poke, Portuguese bean soup, oxtail stew, kalbi, tonkatsu. The dessert list, too (almost as long as the entrees), gives a survey of familiar comfort: candy bars, cheesecake, chocolate banana cream pie. Except nothing is what you expect: An oxtail stew and rice is an oxtail deboned, stuffed with more meat and braised, set on top of a beef-stew risotto. The banana cream pie doesn’t resemble a pie at all, but is instead chocolate, bananas, custard and whipped cream layered in a jar and topped with an oatmeal crumble. This is local food interpreted by two former Alan Wong chefs, with a little French Laundry and a lot of Zippy’s thrown in.”—Martha Cheng


1538 Kapi‘olani Blvd., #107, (808) 955-6505,



Moku Kitchen

best restaurants dessert

Photo: Steve Czerniak


“The local ingredients [are] sourced by the restaurants, from libations that use locally produced spirits to the Big Island beef used in its burgers. The salad greens are from Waipoli, vine-ripened tomatoes from Hau‘ula, onions from Maui, hearts of palm from the Big Island, mushrooms from Hāmākua, shrimp from Kualoa, macadamia nuts from Waiehu and strawberries from Kula. Even the noodles the restaurant uses in its saimin are crafted by the Iwamoto Natto Factory in Pā‘ia. And then there are the cream pies, a signature dessert at any Merriman’s restaurant. While the chocolate-macadamia, banana and haupia are delicious choices, the best-selling strawberry cream pie is the star, with a cloud of whipped cream, guava-jelly glaze and fresh strawberries.”—CTF


Salt at Our Kaka‘ako, 650 Ala Moana Blvd, Suite 145, (808) 591-6658,