Eat Like a Local in Hawaii

The lū‘au is as iconic to Hawaii as the flowered lei and its traditions are rooted in history. But don’t miss out on these other local Hawaiian culinary experiences to go beyond the expected.  Go ahead, eat like a local!

Dining like a local in Hawaii means embracing dishes that represent centuries of melding cultures. Locals love a Hawaiian plate lunch, comprised of roasted meat — often barbecued beef, chicken or pork — along with two scoops of white rice and creamy macaroni salad. In Honolulu, the Rainbow Drive-In is a must, serving locals for over 50 years from its Kapahulu location. For a modern take on this local classic, try Kaka‘ako Kitchen, also in Honolulu, and choose from a main course of beef stew, five-spice chicken or sautéed mahimahi with a ginger-butter sauce.
Should you crave even more homespun seafood, wend your way north from Waikīkī to the fabled North Shore and its legendary roadside shrimp trucks.

Giovanni’s is a favorite stop — a graffiti-splattered truck serving a simple menu of plump shrimp bathed in butter and garlic, sautéed in lemon butter or drenched in a fiery hot sauce, all served with a side of rice. And save room–no Hawaii meal is complete without the refreshing flavors of a shave ice. But please don’t call it a snow cone!

A world away from the snow cone, this local specialty is made from fluffy, soft ice flavored with syrup. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice is an essential stop on Maui, known for its kaleidoscopic combinations like the tropically inspired coconut, mango and passion fruit. Ask for a topping of sweetened condensed milk and a sprinkling of toasted coconut to enhance the flavors even more.


For locals, farm-to-table dining isn’t a trend, it’s simply a way of life. Go straight to the source of island ingredients before they reach the table: follow an expert to a buzzing hive at Big Island Bees to discover the intricacies of collecting single-floral honey, followed by toothsome samples while you learn recipes created by four generations of beekeepers. The Island of Hawaii also produces coveted Kona coffee, best explored in the plantations of Mountain Thunder to see how the humble bean is transformed into aromatic brews. On Maui, a private guide takes you through the sugarcane fields along the slopes of Haleakalā Volcano until you emerge onto the pastures of Surfing Goat Dairy. Try your hand at milking the resident goats and then dive into samples of nearly every cheese produced on this 42-acre farm.

Whether you’re island hopping or immersing yourself into a favored spot, the essence of Hawaii is always present in your culinary exploration. Contact us today to discover the spirit of aloha in every bite.