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The best restaurants in Hawaii


finding_Hawaiis_best_restaurantsWe get a lot of reader e-mails asking for our personal recommendations on the best places to eat in the Islands.

Where would we go for dinner if we were staying near Kamuela on the Big Island? What’s our favorite Honolulu neighborhood eatery with a great menu and affordable prices? Do we think Alan Wong’s Restaurant is really as good as people say it is?

We always direct them to the same source: our sister publication Honolulu Magazine's annual Hale Aina Award list.

Hale Aina is Hawaiian for “eating place.” Each year, Honolulu asks its readers to vote on the best restaurants on all the Islands. They’ve been doing the list for the past 25 years; it’s pretty comprehensive—categories include everything from best little restaurant you love and best bar to best hotel restaurant and best place for visitors.

The 2009 list of Hale Aina award-winning restaurants in 25 categories was published in Honolulu’s January issue. HAWAII Magazine editor John Heckathorn—who had a hand in launching the first-ever Hale Aina Awards and a couple decades worth of ‘em thereafter—writes about the awards in the January issues of HAWAII and Honolulu.

But we assume what you want right now is the actual list. So here it is … the 2009 Hale Aina Award winners (with links to Web sites, if they’ve got one).

Oh, and the picture above? That's The Cake Walk appetizer—a Kona lobster crab cake, seared ahi cake and sweet Louisiana rock shrimp cake—from Hale Aina Award winner Lahaina Grill.

Bon appetit!


RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

Alan Wong’s Restaurant
1857 S. King St., Third Floor
(808) 949-2526



BEST OAHU RESTAURANT

GOLD
Roy’s Restaurant
6600 Kalanianaole Highway
(808) 396-7697

SILVER
Le Bistro
5730 Kalanianaole Highway, Hawaii Kai
(808) 373-7990

BRONZE
Hoku’s
The Kahala Hotel and Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
(808) 739-8780

FINALISTS
Chef Mavro
(808) 944-4714

Nobu Waikiki
(808) 237-6999



BEST MAUI RESTAURANT

GOLD
Lahaina Grill
127 Lahainaluna Road., Lahaina
(808) 667-5117

SILVER
Mama's Fish House
799 Poho Place, Kuau
(808) 579-8488
   
BRONZE
Haliimaile General Store
900 Haliimaile Road
(808) 572-2666
   
FINALISTS
Roy’s Kihei
(808) 891-1120

Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar
(808) 669-6286



BEST BIG ISLAND RESTAURANT

GOLD
Merriman’s
65-1227 Opelo Road, Kamuela
(808) 885-6822
   
SILVER
Cafe Pesto
South Kohala Coast, Kawaihae Shopping Center, Kawaihae
(808) 882-1071
   
BRONZE
Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill
250 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa
(808) 886-4321
   
FINALISTS
Canoe House
(808) 885-6622

Kilauea Lodge
(808) 967-7366



BEST KAUAI RESTAURANT

GOLD
The Beach House Restaurant
5022 Lawai Road, Koloa
(808) 742-1424

SILVER
Hamura’s Saimin Stand
2956 Kress St., Lihue
(808) 245-3271

BRONZE
Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive, Koloa
(808) 742-5000

FINALIST
Mediterranean Gourmet Restaurant and Bar
(808) 826-9875



BEST NEW OAHU RESTAURANT

GOLD
Tango Contemporary Café
1288 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 120
(808) 593-7288

SILVER
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Waikiki
2201 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 628-6760

BRONZE
Beachhouse
Westin Moana Surfrider Resort
2365 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 923-2861

FINALISTS
Banana Leaf Italian Bistro
(808) 735-8833

Formaggio Grill, Kailua
(808) 263-2633



BEST NEW NEIGHBOR ISLAND RESTAURANT

GOLD
Merriman’s Kapalua
1 Bay Club Place
Kapalua, Maui
(808) 669-6400

SILVER
Sansei Waikoloa
69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive #H
Waikoloa, Big Island
(808) 886-6286

BRONZE
Mala Wailea
3700 Wailea Alanui Drive
Kihei, Maui
(808) 875-9394

FINALISTS
Lanai City Grille
(808) 565-7211

The Melting Pot of Lahaina
(808) 661-6181



BEST WINE PROGRAM

GOLD
Formaggio Wine Bar
2919 Kapiolani  Blvd.
(808) 739-7719

SILVER
Vino
500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 6D-1
(808) 524-8466

BRONZE
Chef Mavro
1969 S. King St.
(808) 944-4714

FINALISTS
Amuse
(808) 237-5428

Lahaina Grill
(808) 667-5117



BEST BAR

GOLD
Mai Tai Bar
Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Third Level
(808) 947-2900

SILVER
Ryan’s Grill
1200 Ala Moana Blvd.
(808) 591-9132

BRONZE
Duke’s Waikiki
2335 Kalakaua Ave. #116
(808) 922-2268
 
FINALISTS
Side Street Inn
(808) 591-0253

RumFire
(808) 922-4422



BEST PLACE TO TAKE VISITORS

GOLD
Duke’s Waikiki
2335 Kalakaua Ave. #116
(808) 922-2268

SILVER
Hau Tree Lanai
Address: 2863 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 921-7066

BRONZE
Roy’s Restaurant
6600 Kalanianaole Highway
(808) 396-7697

FINALISTS
Alan Wong’s
(808) 949-2526

Chai’s Island Bistro
(808) 585-0011



BEST ROMANTIC DINING

GOLD
Michel’s
2895 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 923-6552

SILVER
La Mer
Halekulani  Hotel
2199 Kalia Road
(808) 923-2311

BRONZE
Hoku’s
The Kahala Hotel and Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
(808) 739-8780

FINALISTS
Aaron’s
(808) 955-4466

Hy’s Steakhouse
(808) 922-5555



BEST BISTRO/NEW AMERICAN CUISINE

GOLD
Le Bistro
5730 Kalanianaole Highway
(808) 373-7990

SILVER
Town
3435 Waialae Ave.
(808) 735-5900

BRONZE
Chai’s Island Bistro
1 Aloha Tower Market Place
(808) 585-0011

FINALISTS
Lahaina Grill
(808) 667-5117

12th Ave. Grill
(808) 732-9469



BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

GOLD
Little Village Noodle House
1113 Smith St.
(808) 545-3008

SILVER
Fook Yuen Chinese Seafood Restaurant
1960 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 200
(808) 973-0168

BRONZE
PF Chang’s China Bistro
1288 Ala Moana Blvd.
(808) 596-4710

FINALISTS
Pah Ke’s
(808) 235-4505

Legend Seafood Restaurant
Beretania (808) 532-1868 or Waikiki Trade Center (808) 926-8999



BEST HAWAIIAN RESTAURANT

GOLD
Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Ave.
(808) 737-2275

SILVER
Highway Inn
94-226 Leoku St., Waipahu
(808) 677-4345

BRONZE
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
1240 N. School St.
(808) 845-8044

FINALISTS
The Willows
(808) 952-9200

Young’s Fish Market
(808) 841-4885



BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

GOLD
Assaggio’s
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., #1259
(808) 942-3446

SILVER
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
1450 Ala Moana Blvd. #4240
Ala Moana Center, Hookipa Terrace
(808) 356-8300

BRONZE
Paesano
2752 Woodlawn Drive
(808) 988-5923

FINALISTS
Auntie Pasto’s
(808) 523-8855

Café Sistina
(808) 596-0061



BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

GOLD
Tanaka of Tokyo
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Ala Moana Center, Hookipa Terrace
(808) 945-3443

SILVER
Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant
1824 S. King St.
(808) 949-4584

BRONZE
Nobu Waikiki
2233 Helumoa Road
(808) 237-6999

FINALISTS
Yanagi Sushi
(808) 597-1525

Hakone
(808) 944-4494



BEST THAI RESTAURANT

GOLD
Phuket Thai Restaurant
1960 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 109
(808) 942-8194

SILVER
Keo’s in Waikiki
2028 Kuhio Ave.
(808) 951-9355

BRONZE
Mekong II
1726 S. King St.
(808) 941-6184

FINALISTS
Champa Thai
(808) 488-2881, multiple locations

Chiang Mai
(808) 941-1151



BEST SPICY

GOLD
Sorabol
805 Keeaumoku St.
(808) 947-3113

SILVER
Phuket Thai Restaurant
1960 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 109
(808) 942-8194

BRONZE
Spices
2671 S. King St., Suite D
(808) 949-2679

FINALISTS
Cafe Maharani Indian Restaurant
(808) 951-7447

Green Door Café
(808) 533-0606



BEST DESSERTS

GOLD
Cheesecake Factory
2301 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 924-5001

SILVER
JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave.
(808) 739-0993

BRONZE
Roy’s Restaurant
6600 Kalanianaole Highway
(808) 396-7697

FINALISTS
Alan Wong’s Restaurant
(808) 949-2526

Cafe Laufer
(808) 735-7717



BEST RESTAURANT FOR 
A BIG GROUP

GOLD
Buca di Beppo
Ward Centre
1030 Auahi St.
(808) 591-0880

SILVER
The Willows
901 Hausten St.
(808) 952-9200

BRONZE
Prince Court
Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki
100 Holomoana St.
(808) 944-4494

FINALISTS
Sam Choy’s
(808) 545-7979
   
Mediterranean Gourmet
(808) 826-9875



BEST RESTAURANT FOR 
BUSINESS LUNCH

GOLD
Mariposa
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., #2101
(808) 951-3420

SILVER
Pineapple Room
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Macy’s, third floor
(808) 945-6573

BRONZE
Downtown @ HiSAM
Hawaii State Art Museum
250 S. Hotel St.
(808) 536-5900

FINALISTS
Kincaid’s
(808) 591-2005

Indigo Eurasian Restaurant & Bar
(808) 521-2900



BEST BRUNCH

GOLD
Orchids
Halekulani Hotel
2199 Kalia Road
(808) 923-2311

SILVER
Prince Court
Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki
100 Holomoana St.
(808) 944-4494

BRONZE
Hoku’s
The Kahala Hotel and Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
(808) 739-8780

FINALISTS
Plumeria Beach House
(808) 739-8780

Mariposa
(808) 951-3420



BEST AMBIENCE

GOLD
Michel’s
2895 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 923-6552

SILVER
Orchids
Halekulani Hotel
2199 Kalia Road
(808) 923-2311

BRONZE
Hy’s Steakhouse
2440 Kuhio Ave.
(808) 922-5555

FINALISTS
La Mer
(808) 923-2311

Chef Mavro
(808) 944-4714



BEST SERVICE

GOLD
Alan Wong’s Restaurant
1857 S. King St., Third Floor
(808) 949-2526

SILVER
La Mer
Halekulani Hotel
2199 Kalia Road
(808) 923-2311

BRONZE
Chef Mavro
1969 S. King St.
(808) 944-4714

FINALISTS
Hoku’s
(808) 739-8780

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
(808) 599-3860



BEST LITTLE RESTAURANT YOU LOVE

GOLD
Le Bistro
5730 Kalanaianaole Highway, Hawaii Kai
(808) 373-7990

SILVER
Little Village Noodle House
1113 Smith St.
(808) 545-3008

BRONZE
Town
3435 Waialae Ave.
(808) 735-5900

FINALISTS
Olive Tree Café
(808)737-0303
 
Baci Bistro
(808) 262-7555





BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT

GOLD

Hoku’s
The Kahala Hotel and Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.

(808) 739-8780

SILVER

La Mer
Halekulani  Hotel

2199 Kalia  Road

(808) 923-2311

BRONZE

Orchids
Halekulani  Hotel

2199 Kalia  Rd.

(808) 923-2311

FINALISTS

Mac 24/7
(808) 921-5564


Nobu Waikiki
(808) 237-6999

  


Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
"Best of Hawaii" 2009: Our favorite Hawaii restaurants
Cheap eats in Honolulu
Hawaii Pollinator Week focuses on role of bees in maintaining diverse ecosystems
Is Mauna Kea's summit baby-safe?






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