I have a confession to make.
Before you read my handy guide to the newest, freshest, healthiest places to eat in Honolulu, Hawaii- Waikiki, I advise you to lay down, wrap your white and blue striped Hilton pool towel around you, order a mai tai (two cocktail umbrellas, two chunks of pineapple, two cherries), and brace yourself for this tropical storm.
I love stopping in Hawaii on my way home from Japan- it’s a true privilege. But to be completely honest, when I board an exhaust-perfumed blue wiki wiki shuttle bus outside the terminal with a load of Japanese tourists, there are two things that I don’t looked forward to. One, waiting around for a “convenient” and/or “speedy” airport shuttle to get me to Waikiki. And two, the food– specifically, finding non-touristy ($$$), healthy places to eat in Waikiki (tourist trap).
Cheeseburger in Paradise?
One person’s paradise is another person’s not so favorite place to eat. If you are gluten-intolerant, on a low carb diet, vegetarian, or just want to eat healthy, you may have one heck of a time finding a non-sandwich for lunch on your first visit to the “Sandwich Islands”.
On this stopover, boy!, was I pleasantly surprised. Hawaii is like that. You get out of your airport shuttle, palm over a tip, the rain clouds part and you look up to see your first double rainbow.
I hope this guide to healthy eats will help you find your paradise in Hawaii. Follow it like a rainbow to lead your way your pot of eternal happiness or at least some organic loco-moco with kale salad.
Banán- Waikiki Beach Shack
This is for real. It’s not Photoshop; I only airbrushed an “imperfection” on my thumb.
The girl working the AM shift — super nice — made this special for me. Leaning up to the order window, I asked which location had the banana soft serve inside a banana peel. She politely explained that it was only a promotional photo; it wasn’t “very conducive for eating”, but if I come back tomorrow she’d make me one.
She remembered me. “Oh yah, you’re the food blogger! Just let me go in back to find a good banana for you.” The bananas they make the soft serve out of are fully ripen with brown spots, like what you’d use to make banana bread. Firm [pretty looking] bananas jam up their machine.
Healthy, dairy-free, fresh, local ingredients, farm to table (and table to farm), compostable cups and straws, really personable staff, Banán was the place that inspired me the most.
It turns out that nature’s imperfections, is what makes it sweet.
Down to Earth Organic and Natural Supermarket
This was the healthiest lunch I’ve ever eaten- no contest.
I rode here on my Biki rental bike– it’s an easy 10 minute ride from Waikiki across the canal, up Kapiolani past Citron and Lime Street. Went to town on the salad bar (all natural, vegetarian with vegan/gluten-free options) and had a “powerful protein” smoothie. Some sugar, either agave or honey, is added to their smoothies. Now that I go out of my way to cut added sugar out of my diet, I noticed even at the healthiest supermarket in town, sugar is added as an ingredient. Ah-ga-ve sounds natural and healthy, but it’s still added sugar.
Last night I finished watching Fed Up, the documentary on Netflix. Apparently, out of the 600,000 + food products on the shelf in the U.S., 80% contain added sugar. In the U.S., the average person consumes 126 grams of sugar daily. That’s about 25 teaspoons. The average in Japan is 57 grams, or about 11 teaspoons- less than half the amount as the U.S. (Source: www.washingtonpost.com)
But heck, I’m here on vacation. Gotta live. Mmm-m-m, smoo-o-o-othie.
Warning: Down to Earth is dangerously close to Leonard’s Bakery. You gotta go to Leonard’s once for an original warm, sugar-coated malasada.
Down to Earth
2525 S. King St. (and other locations on Oahu and Maui)
Goofy Cafe and Dine
This was the best avocado I’ve ever had.
I’m not huge into sprouts, but they did serve as a protective nest for the perfectly sliced luxurious fingerlings of avocado. The mildly sweet carrot dressing was refreshing on the local “morning salad”.
I have no doubt that this place is Japanese-owned. The clues: 1) mostly Japanese on staff 2) salad on the breakfast menu 3) no sugar added to dressing 4) when I asked to substitute an egg for wheat or taro muffin I received a firm no 5) the food presentation, balance of color and avocado sliced by a highly trained samurai chef 6) Disney character- sounding restaurant name.
For Waikiki, Goofy gives off local Hawaiian vibes: tradewind breezes with open windows on the second floor, ceiling fans, Jack Johnson playing, well-waxed surfboard mounted on the wall. Still, I felt a little bit rushed– maybe it was the egg substitution denial.
This place deserves the line out the front door. But the moment you put on Jack Johnson, dude, you gotta chill.
Goofy Cafe & Dine
1831 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 201
Heavenly Island Lifestyle
This is my new favorite spot for breakfast/lunch in Waikiki.
If I wasn’t writing this blog post, I would have eaten here every other day and spent more time at the beach. I had the local eggs flat omelette with mushrooms, taro, avocado, cherry tomatoes, greens, and a green smoothie both times I ate here. The second time my salad greens were blowing away on the front terrace but managed to get a quick snapshot while my eggs were still warm.
I really like their Hawaiian islands map that shows where all their local ingredients come from. By the way, did you notice anything about my omelette toppings?
Avocado déjà vu?
Later, I did some research online. Surprise, surprise, Heavenly owner is the same owner as Goofy and Aloha Table: giant Tokyo-based restaurant group Zetton Inc.
From what I read, the same Japanese chef creates the menus at Goofy and Heavenly. With another 70 restaurants, bars, cafes, and beer gardens around Japan, I think it’s fair to say that Zetton Group has a pretty good idea of what tourists from Japan in Hawaii want to eat.
This includes me. 😬
Heavenly Island Lifestyle
342 Seaside Ave. (Shoreline Hotel 1st floor)
Tucker & Bevvy
Just clicked now.
Finally realizing that the name of this place, Tucker & Bevvy, is Aussie lingo for food (“tucker”) and beverage. If you’re American, it maybe sounds more like a law firm.
Their concept is picnic food, reasonably priced grab n’ go sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies, and cold-pressed juices, all perfectly located right on the corner of the park and Waikiki beach. Their food is generally pre-made or pre-packaged for convenience, but everything is made fresh with local, organic ingredients.
Skip the Macca’s burger and fries, mate! This is your best choice on Waikiki beach for “real” fast food.
Wahda ya reckon?
(Now I’m hungry for their breakfast wrap and feel like watching old episodes of Kath and Kim on YouTube and listening to Kylie Minogue.)
Tucker & Bevvy
The tucker here = almond chicken organic green salad with Asian dressing and vegetarian chili.
Tucker & Bevvy
2586 Kalakaua Avenue (inside Park Shore Hotel)
Whole Foods Market- Kahala
Best lunch for 10 bucks?
Right here. Whole Foods.
Spinach-based salad, edamame, pickled daikon and celery, Asian sesame dressing, topped with a 1/3 pound of poké: half-and-half spicy ahi and ginger shoyu. The tuna for the poké is sustainably sourced, local caught, and will make you wanna hula dance with your chopsticks flopping side to side and up and down.
Getting to Kahala Mall by public transportation is a time commitment, time away from the beach. Always think twice about going, but every visit I remember it’s worth it. And I get to see the church where my parents ‘happily’ got married 39 years ago, directly across the street from the bus stop. Waiokeola Congregational Church on the black marque out front and lots of plumeria trees- they’re still my mom’s favorite flower.
Justin, guy on the bus who lent me a dollar on the way back (Hawaii public bus = $2.50 – no change given), told me the story of when he got mercury poisoning from eating poké twice a day for two months on Maui. Whole Foods poké for $16 a pound– I don’t think most of us need to worry about getting toxic levels of heavy metal in our blood. Priced for consuming in moderation.
Town in Kaimuki was the biggest challenge to get to without a rental car. I sat near the bar, where a garage door opens up to some patio seating, and ordered a “big salad” with fresh ono, a local firm white fish. On the way in I noticed a sticker on the door indicating that my fish was caught sustainably.
Hook. Line. And Sinker.
I knew I came the right place for my kind of food. Mia, the server, was also very nice. She told me about Superette restaurant (same owner) kitty-corner to Town and Leahi Health across the rode. The smoothies looked great but I was full after a “big salad”.
I really liked the poppyseed dressing; went really well with the orange.
3435 Waialae Ave.
Eggs ‘n Things (flagship)
Growing up eating pancakes Saturday mornings, had to go for macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup for my cheat day breakfast. I could eat 3 out of 5 plus two bites. Felt mildly sick from the overdose of pancake. Once a year is just right.
Eggs ‘n Things
343 Saratoga Road (and two other locations)
Banán- Waikiki Beach Shack
Allergens: fruit, nuts 🙁
Once you’ve digested your pancakes, the next morning I’d head back to Banán for a cleansing smoothie. The staff say #14 is the best. I agree. 😍
I love that there’s grains of sand on counter in this picture. That’s how close the beach is!
Other healthy options:
Foodland Farms Supermarket- Ala Moana Mall (Salad bar is really good, but no sign of organic vegetables like Whole Foods and Down to Earth.)
Dean and Deluca
Ruffage Natural Foods
Hi-Blend Health Bar
Greens and Vines
MAHALO! Thank you so much for reading my blog post! ❤️ Please leave me a note if you know of any good places that I missed. And if you have any questions, I can find out. Just leave a comment below. Are any of these places your favorite or would-be favorite? Please share your story.
“Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.” -on the receipt at Town restaurant.
Special thanks to the nice girl at Banán, Mia at Town, Crossfit Oahu, Alain, and Justin who showed me the meaning of aloha.
Does your friend love Hawaii or healthy food? Please share! 🌺