We get the question all the time: “What is a good Waianae restaurant to get a bite to eat?”
Unlike finding a place to eat in Honolulu, knowing where to go when you’re out in Waianae on the West Coast of Oahu can be challenging. Since our Dolphins and You tour launches twice every day from Waianae Harbor (and a lot of our crew grew up on the West side), we decided to share our favorite local grindz in that area.
The next time you finish up a swim with the dolphins on our tour, you can stop by one of these Waianae Restaurants to get a delicious, local bite to eat.
What’s so special about the West Side, anyway?
Probably one of the best things about the West Coast, and Waianae in particular, is the truly “Hawaiian” feel that it has. Unlike the bustle and tall buildings of Waikiki or downtown Honolulu, there is a much more authentic feel for what it truly means to live in the Hawaii of days gone past. It is a place that resonates — almost on a spiritual level — with the culture and history of Hawaii.
And what better way to feel the culture than the explore some local foods? So, without further delay, here is our list of the top five local spots for seriously Ono Grindz!
#5: Hannara Restaurant
If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, this restaurant is the spot to do it. The menu offers an impressive variety. In the morning, guests can choose between pancakes, omelets and waffles for breakfast (We recommend the Macadamian nut pancakes)! For lunch & dinner, options include hamburger, fried rice, fried chicken, chicken cutlet, and traditional Hawaiian barbeque food.
It is a perfect place for am intercultural experience by mingling with the locals. It’s also large enough to seat a big group.
86-078 Farrington Hwy # 101
Open: 6:00 am – 8:00 pm (until Sunday 2:00 pm)
#4: Countryside Cafe
This cafe is in front of the sea, across the road. From the outdoor terrace, you can eat while enjoying the views of the ocean on one side and the Waianae Mountain Range on the other! The menu includes burgers, eggs Benedict, pancakes and french toast, as well as Hawaiian favorites kimchi fried rice and fresh ahi! Both breakfast and lunch will leave you full and happy.
Our favorite dishes were the “Walk Through the Country”, banana french toast, lilikoi (passion fruit) buttermilk pancakes and strawberry waffles. But even more than the food, the laid back atmosphere and fantastic service does not disappoint.
87-070 Farrington Hwy # 104
open: 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
#3: Mana Organic Cafe (Kahumana Organic Cafe)
This quaint cafe holds a charm like no other. Located on a private farm in the back of the valley near the stunning Waianae Mountains, this restaurant offers food as healthy as it is delicious.
We began our visit with an herbal tea called a Mana cooler, which was delightfully complemented by a vegetable salad, bread and soup. Some of our favorites plates included the Ahi plate (sautéed tuna) and the macadamia nut pasta with mahi mahi. Mahi mahi is a white fish that is outstandingly compatible with pasta. To finish up, we treated ourselves to a vegan lilikoi faux cheesecake. We’re not vegan, but this restaurant could have turned us!
Kahumana Organic Cafe
86-660 Lualualei Homestead Road
Open: Lunch 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, Dinner 5:00 – 8:00 pm (Tue – Saturday)
#2: Aloha Poke
Poke is a famous Hawaiian dish made with raw fish and seasoning. It’s best eaten fresh from the catch! Aloha Poke is one of the most famous restaurants in Waianae. Although it is a small shop, local people will drive from towns away to purchase its fresh catches. The shop offers poke with a diverse variety of flavors, including soy sauce, seaweed, blue onion and more.
Along with poke, the restaurant also offers the Hawaiian staple “plate lunch.” We recommend the Pipikaula (dried beef) or the Laulau (steamed pork and gravy). Bring it to the beach to get the full local experience!
85-993 Farrington Hwy
open: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
#1: Lighter Side Cafe
In our opinion, the shining, best restaurant of the West Side is “Lighter Side Cafe.” It’s a popular hangout for our crew after they get done swimming with dolphins on Dolphins and You. The cafe’s healthy options are the perfect ending for a day in the sun. Some of our favorite menu items include the Farmer’s scrambled eggs, the ahi salad and sushi burritos. But nothing beats the biscuits and honey!
The owner of the restaurant is actually the same owner as ‘Countryside Cafe,’ chosen as #4 on our list. Lighter Side Cafe lives up to its bright and simple name as our #1 restaurant in West Oahu!
Lighter Side Cafe
87-070 Farrington Hwy # 103
Open: 7:00 am – 2:00 pm