We locals have noticed an interesting phenomenon in Waikiki. After mainland vacationers have arrived and checked into their hotels, they venture out and look around for a place to eat. They inevitably head for a McDonald’s or a Burger King or another recognizable sign.

We presume there’s some trepidation about the enormous variety of restaurants – the number of nationalities represented – in Hawaii. They’ve read or heard about that variety. They may feel they aren’t ready to deal with chopsticks, raw fish, exotic fare from exotic places or servers who speak little English. They feel they might be disdained or even ridiculed by the local restaurant customers as they clumsily try to properly handle the foreign food in front of them.

So they head for something familiar – Big Macs or Whoppers.

Take heart. Yes, there is a huge variety of ethnic restaurants serving dishes you may never have heard of. But – especially in Waikiki – even the ethnic restaurants cater to mainland tastes (and to Japanese tastes because of the number of visitors from that country).

In the mood for a good steak? There’s a bunch of excellent steakhouses. Conventional Italian? Likewise. Seafood that isn’t wiggling? Of course.

If you feel intimidated before setting out to eat, talk to your concierge or one of the desk clerks and say what you’re looking for. You’ll be advised of a number of restaurants that are sure to appeal to you.

Once you’ve become familiar with the island you’re on, by all means try some of the restaurants that come well-recommended or whose fare and ambience sound good to you based on their write-ups in the “what-to-do” books you find in your room. There are several world-class restaurants and chefs in the islands. Hawaii Regional Cuisine and the places that serve fusion entrees are wonderful. And please don’t avoid the ethnic restaurants. They’re authentic and the dishes are delicious, even if they’re new to you. Try one. Thai food, for example, although spicy, is very satisfying. (You probably have a good idea of what to expect in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant.)

Any time you feel the need for the fast food you know and love, be assured it’s easy to find. There are 75 (and counting) McDonald’s alone in Hawaii, and an abundance of their competing ourlets.

A sure thing is to give us a call at 1-800-843-8771, or pick an agent on the Hawaii-Aloha Web site (hawaii-aloha.com). Every one of us knows the territory very well and can steer you to some restaurants you’ll love.


  1. I lived in hawaii from 1981-84 and used to eat these little rolls of bread with prok inside. I mainly got them from “roach coaches” at the beach. What are those little “sandwiches” called? Is there a recipe for them on line that you know of?


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