By Olivia Cuccaro
Surrounded by the Pacific ocean, the Hawaiian Islands yield some of the freshest seafood in the world. Hawaiian cuisine ranges from traditional poke to barbecue to dishes of Asian influence. Across the islands, these are our picks of the best restaurants in Hawaii.
With locations in both Waikiki and Hawaii Kai, Roy’s highlights local Hawaiian cuisine from Chef Roy Yamaguchi. Roy’s Hawaii Kai opened more than 25 years ago and continues to uphold a neighborhood restaurant approach to fine dining, complemented by views of Maunalua Bay. The menu changes daily according to what’s fresh, but often includes blackened ahi tuna and Bristol Bay Hokkaido sea scallops.
Despite the lack of ocean views that other Hawaiian restaurants flaunt, Alan Wong’s Honolulu flagship has held a place as one of the area’s best restaurants since 1995. Known for the bold flavors coming out of its experimental kitchen, Alan Wong’s serves Asian-fusion cuisine in its office building location. Try the Chef’s Tasting Menu for dishes like Hawaiian kampachi sashimi and Maui nui venison.
For Hawaiian cuisine with a French influence, look no further than Chef George Mavrothalassitis’ Honolulu restaurant. Hailing from Provence, Chef Mavro’s signature dishes includes lobster, wagyu beef and island free range chicken. Enjoy a nine-course wine pairing with the Chef’s Grand Tasting Menu and savor bigeye ahi as well as Hawaii island goat cheese.
At the St. Regis Princeville, look out over Hanalei Bay while savoring signature dishes inspired by renowned chef, and Elite Traveler favorite, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Kaua’i Grill serves steak and seafood in a contemporary Hawaiian atmosphere, complete with a spiraling fabric ceiling in the shape of a nautilus shell with ruby glass hibiscus chandelier in the center.
Eating House 1849
To experience authentic Hawaiian cuisine in an upscale setting, reserve a table at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849, based on a 19th-century restaurant. Tokyo-born Chef Roy Yamaguchi is a James Beard award winner, cookbook author and cooking TV show host. The restaurant uses local ingredients for its menu, which includes pu pu (island tapas), salads, noodles and rice, land and sea.
Cane & Canoe
This restaurant’s name comes from its canoe house-like architecture that sits against Kapalua Bay. At the Montage Hotel, Cane & Canoe is a sophisticated restaurant offering both meat and seafood dishes, such as cast iron seared kobe ribeye and togarashi ahi tuna. Take in ocean views with a handcrafted cocktail inspired by the island.
Mama’s Fish House
Inspired by the Polynesia of days gone by, Mama’s Fish House Restaurant sits among the charming cottages of the Inn. On Maui’s North Shore, the family-owned restaurant serves fresh fish just steps away from a white sand beach. The daily menu is based on what the restaurant’s fishermen have caught in the last 24 hours, often featuring ahi, opah and papio.
Brown’s Beach House
An intimate meal on the shore can be found at Fairmont Orchid’s fine dining restaurant. Brown’s Beach House offers The Knoll, a private dining experience for dinner beneath the palm trees and under the stars. Fresh, local-focused dishes include grilled Kona lobster tail and kurobuta pork tenderloin.
Chef Peter Merriman’s flagship restaurant has been serving authentic Hawaiian cuisine to Wailea for more than 20 years. Its upcountry Waimea backdrop is the perfect setting for a farm-to-table menu that includes salads grown without aquaponics as well as fresh fish caught same day. A family style shared menu is also available, with lobster, caesar salad and a main course of local fish.