If you have been following our blog or listening to our podcasts you’ve heard us talk about a favorite Hawaii dish called Loco Moco. It’s on the breakfast menus all over the islands and comes in many different forms with the same basic ingredients. A typical recipe calls for hamburger, grated onions, beef broth, Worcestershire Sauce, egg and white rice. Restaurants here take pride in how they prepare this dish all claiming to have the “best.”

The dish was originally created by the folks who owned the Lincoln Grill in Hilo back in 1949. Some boys from a local sports club who didn’t have a lot of spending money asked the owners to put some rice in a Saimin Bowl with a hamburger patty with brown gravy poured over the whole thing. The dish got popular, remained on the menu, and the rest is history.

Starting this weekend the quest for finding the best Loco Moco will begin and if you’re in town this weekend, you can attend the kickoff of the “Loco Moco Smackdown” event at the Cheeseburger Restaurant at the Waikiki Beach Walk. The fun begins this Saturday, June 19 at 11 AM. The kickoff contest will consist of celebrity judges who will challenge each other to a Loco Moco eating competition, blindfold and whoever finishes first wins the contest.

The competition will be running from June 19 to July 20 with various restaurants participating by offering their own versions of this favorite Hawaiian staple so if you can’t make it to the kickoff contest you’ll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy some good Loco Moco while your on your Hawaii Vacation.

The participating restaurants are:

  • Ocean House
  • Cheeseburger Restaurant Waikiki
  • Jimmy Buffett’s
  • Giovanni Pastrami
  • Keoni’s by Keo
  • Hula Grill


  1. It always looks ono in photos, no matter who creates it…and each restaurant interprets it differently. Thank goodness.

  2. The title says “in Hawaii”. Are you also including outer islands in the mix? Too bad The Bull Shed on Kauai didn’t make a Loco Moco. Their ribs and steaks were most ONO!!! I’d bet they could whip up a good brown gravy on the fly if they needed to.

    That’s my basis for an excellent Loco Moco, the Brown Gravy. If you can find one that’s:

    thick (but not too thick as if it was simmering all day), flavorful (must taste the beef and roux), not oily, smooth (no lumps), hand made from drippings, and balanced in flavor they you’ve got your winning establishment. To me it’s the major thing that makes the Loco Moco shine. The rice, hamburger patty, and easy over egg are secondary but the gravy brings it all together.

    Never tried your selections above. I do like Big City Diner’s Loco Moco. Aren’t most of those restaurants in Waikiki or the surrounding area?

    Just to be fair, I assume all the eggs have to be cooked similarly along with a uniform (size/weight) hamburger patty. Some places give two patties and two eggs while others give a really big patty and two eggs.

  3. Aloha Harry, Good point! This is located in Honolulu but some of the participants are chains. To be fair perhaps we should change the title to Loco Moco competition tries to find the Best Loco Moco?

  4. I wonder who makes the perfect Hamburger Patty? No Pork Hash, no Veal Hash, no onions, no flavorings, no binders, just 100% Beef (Sirloin, Chuck, or what have you).

    Cafe 100, successor to Liberty Grill, with a view of Waiakea Uka Spring. Mmmm, Loco Moco with side Kim Chee and Takuan.

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