It’s been a busy start to summer for Food Gurus Hawaii and our clients, as we all start to settle into a new normal. Restaurant capacity is gradually getting back to full capacity, allowing diners and restaurant owners alike to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel — and we’ve got the data to back it! Food Gurus recently launched our new Hawai‘i Restaurant Index, in partnership with Hawaii Business Magazine.
The index tracks millions of restaurant transactions each month from more than 125 restaurants and hot food outlets across the Hawaiian Islands. The index includes a spectrum of local restaurants, including casual and fine dining; Waikīkī and Neighbor Island resort areas; quick-service restaurants; and select stores’ hot food sales.
In addition to the Index, we’re launching our new Food Gurus blog so that you can learn a little more about some of Hawaii’s best restaurants, all in one place. The blog will feature news, specialty menu items, media coverage, influencer shout-outs, and more! If you’re having one of those serious existential crises where you just can’t figure out where to eat lunch, make the Food Gurus blog your first stop to find everything from fine dining in Maui to happy hour in Waikiki.
Adela’s Country Eatery
Fast casual eatery in Kaneohe, Oahu
There are a lot of amazing food items at Adela’s Country Eatery, a Kaneohe restaurant that serves up dishes like plate lunches, whole fried chicken, and some tasty desserts. Their unique noodles, made with Hawaiian-grown produce, have been getting a lot of attention lately. Adela’s noodles, in all their colorful glory, were recently featured in Hana Hou Magazine. Read their “Flour Power” feature and feast your eyes on their stunning photos here. Not only are they beautifully vivid and eye-catching thanks to their natural colors, but they’re also versatile — coming alive under whichever Adela’s sauces and toppings guests choose to personalize their dish with. Adela also enjoyed some time in front of the camera this spring when she joined SpectrumOC16 on their Cooking Hawaiiian Style show. There she shared her Kalo Pasta with Coconut Cream Sauce recipe so you can try it at home.
Authentic Japanese food in the heart of Waikiki
Yoshoku Ginza Bairin is the youngest restaurant on the Food Gurus roster — in fact, we helped them open their Waikiki restaurant in February of this year. We invited media and Instagram foodies to join us in welcoming the new Western-style Japanese restaurant to the Honolulu food scene, right next to Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin. They had the opportunity to try tasty dishes like Omurice, Melty Beef Stew, and Seafood Gratin — this great article from Honolulu Magazine does a great job of summarizing the cuisine style and menu, and it includes some really mouth-watering photos. Now that summer is here, it’s a great time to stop by for dinner and finish your meal off with one of their classic Yoshoku items, the soda float. Options include melon, coke, and iced coffee flavors.
Now that both restaurants have been open for a few months, it’s time for them to make a few changes to integrate both restaurants under the “Ginza Bairin” umbrella, similar to how they operate in Japan. Ginza Bairin will operate as one unified restaurant with two separate dining rooms. The Tonkatsu room will be strictly dine-in, featuring an array of perfectly cooked Tonkatsu dishes served with the Shibuya family’s special sauce. In the Yoshoku Room, guests will be able to find a menu featuring classic Yoshoku dishes along with some of the most popular dishes from the Tonkatsu Room available on both the dine-in and take-out menus. All take-out ordering will be done through the Yoshoku Room’s menu and entrance. The changes will be in effect starting August 16, 2021. Don’t forget to ask for your kama’aina discount if you’re local!
Yoshoku Ginza Bairin | 255 Beach Walk St #2 | 808.200.1109 | open daily from 11am to 3pm and 5 to 9pm | Instagram
Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin | 255 Beach Walk St #1 | 808.926.8082 | open daily from 11am to 8:30pm | Instagram
Gecko Girlz Shave Ice
Fast casual desserts in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i Island
Gecko Girlz Shave Ice makes some of the best shave ice in Hawaii. We know because Instagram creator Lexie Puzon named Gecko Girlz one of her Top 10 Places to Eat in Oahu & Big Island. There’s just something about the fluffy texture of the ice and the variety of high-quality toppings that include all-natural syrups, handmade ice creams, and chewy mochi. Gecko Girlz has been settling into their new location at Coconut Grove Marketplace in Kona, including hosting a pet adoption event in the spring. Local animal rescue organizations showcased dogs and their services, while Gecko Girlz staff offered up their new permanent menu item, FREE puppuccinos. Expect to see many more community events from this dog-friendly Kona restaurant! Want to find out the secrets behind the best brain freeze in Kona? Gecko Girlz Shave Ice is now hiring! Visit their website and click on “Jobs” to learn more.
Fast-casual health food on Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai
Jamba Hawaii has been keeping incredibly busy in 2021. Dubbed their “year of innovation,” Jamba has released three new products so far this year. In January, they launched their new Bursting Boba by bringing back a few old limited-time specials like the Lava Flow smoothie to show off the new strawberry and orange-flavored boba that is now a permanent addition to their Boost Menu. In addition to Bursting Boba, Jamba Hawaii added traditional Tapioca Boba to their lineup a few months later. For summer, Jamba Hawaii brought back the Lychee Dream Smoothie as a limited-time special, and they’ll be launching their limited-time Watermelon Breeze smoothie on July 26. Finish off summer with a tasty treat at your local Jamba Hawaii (29 locations on four islands) and check out Jamba Hawaii’s recent features on Living808 and Instagram accounts of some of your favorite foodies like @hawaii-foodaholic, @kanakattackks, or @fiveftfoodie, who we invited to try the new treats.
Koho’s Grill & Bar
Casual dining featuring comfort food on Maui
One of Food Gurus’ longest-running restaurants is Koho’s, a Maui restaurant that has been serving the community for more than 30 years. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Koho’s makes the kind of stick-to-your-ribs style comfort food that makes life worth living. It’s the kind of place that has built a loyal customer base, but it also welcomes new diners all the time. Yelper Richard A. “discovered” Koho’s in February of 2020 and has been a fan ever since — check out some of his reviews on Yelp. Koho’s is now hiring for both front and back of house positions at their Kahului restaurant. Drop by the restaurant to fill out an application to become part of the Koho’s ‘ohana.
Manoli’s Pizza Company
Casual dining Italian food on Maui
Manoli’s is well-known on Maui for their vibrant, tasty pizzas, but there’s a whole lot more to this Wailea restaurant than dough and toppings. Their Maui happy hour options can’t be beat — with a regular pau hana style happy hour (3-5pm) AND a reverse happy hour (9-10pm). Both happy hours include great prices on pizza slices, beer, wine, and cocktails. If you’ve never had a Manoli’s Mai Tai, go ahead and add it to your summer to-do list because this is easily one of the best Mai Tais on Maui (a great place to stop by for National Mai Tai Day on August 30). Of course, pizza on the menu also means that it’s a family-friendly destination and LocalGetaways.com named Manoli’s Pizza Company one of the Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in South Maui.
Maui Tacos Oahu
Fast casual Mexican food on Oahu
This spring Maui Tacos Oahu, featuring some of the best Mexican food in Oahu, has been busy adding to its menu. The fast-casual eatery, with locations in Kailua and Pearl City, features a wide array of island + Mexican flavors under their Maui Mex menu. Now they’ve added three new street taco flavors to their lineup. The street taco menu already featured chicken, pork, and steak tacos; now they’ve added shrimp, fish, and Kalua pork. Maui Tacos Oahu owner Mason Cummings recently chatted with Kelly Simek on KHON2’s Food2Go about the new tacos. They’re not officially on the menu yet, so be sure to ask for these secret menu items before everyone else finds out about them!
Maui Tacos Oahu
Kailua restaurant: 539 Kailua Rd #102 | 808.261.4155 | open daily 10am to 9pm
Pearl Highlands restaurant: 1000 Kamehameha Hwy #222 | 808.200.4241 | open Monday through Saturday 11am to 8pm and Sunday 11am to 7pm
Convenience store with delicious prepared food on Big Island and Maui
If you’re wondering what a convenience store is doing on our Hawaii restaurant blog, look no further than the hot and prepared foods sections inside your neighborhood Minit Stop location (if you’re lucky enough to live on Maui or Hawai‘i Island). Whether you’re headed to the beach or bringing dinner home, you can find the crispiest fried chicken on the Island (and don’t forget the potato wedges) at Minit Stop. Check out what makes the food so ono with KHON’s recent Food2Go segment that highlights a few favorite dishes and specials. This summer, Minit Stop is giving customers even more reason to stop by the store and swipe their Minit Stop Rewards card by hosting the Jus’ Buckaloose sweepstakes with weekly prizes and two Grand Prizes of a four-night trip to Las Vegas. Learn more here.
Nalu Health Bar & Cafe
Fast casual health food on Oahu
With summer heating up, it’s a great time to visit Nalu Health Bar & Cafe at one of their three Oahu locations, including their North Shore restaurant and Kailua restaurant. Their delicious and healthy food makes the perfect fuel for a day at the beach, without weighing you down. One menu item you won’t want to miss is their authentic Brazilian açaí bowls, made with 100% açaí and not cut with other fruit juices — learn more about how they make their bowls through their recent collaboration with OluKai for their Anywhere #AlohaFridays Instagram series. This spring, Nalu was honored to be chosen as one of 16 Hawai’i businesses that have survived and thrived. Nalu received Hawai‘i Business Magazine’s Best of Small Business Awards for 2021 in the Food category.
Nalu Health Bar & Cafe
Kailua restaurant: 131 Hekili St #109 | 808.263.6258 | open daily 9am to 6pm
Haleiwa restaurant: 66-215 Kamehameha Hwy #1 | 808.840.0153 | open daily 9am to 6pm
South Shore location: 1170 Auahi St #145 | 808.597.8871 | open daily 9am to 6pm
Fast casual sushi on Oahu
Speaking of healthy food on Oahu, Ninja Sushi makes for great, light summer eats, as well. Now that groups are starting to gather again, it’s a great time to try one of their Ninja Party Sets. With 10 different platter options that include some of Ninja Sushi’s most popular items, they’re an easy and affordable way to feed family and friends. Head over to their Airport or Mililani locations to pick one up. Not quite party-level hungry? They’ve also got some amazing frozen treats from Samurai Brand — the Hawaiian Frost is a cross between ice cream and shave ice and comes in 13 fun flavors to help make summer even better! Franchise opportunities are available for those looking to get into the sushi business.
Off the Wall Craft Beer & Wine
Casual dining with South American flare in Honolulu
The folks at Off the Wall have been very eager to get through the pandemic so that guests can see them at their full potential. Now that Oahu dining capacity has been increased, they’re able to do more than just feed folks, they’re able to create a full experience for diners — including adding a new South American-influenced brunch on Sundays AND their new Wine Down Wednesdays with wine specials and music by Jazz musician, Jabari. Both weekly events encourage guests to get back to socializing and relaxing while enjoying incredible food and drink options (reservations are highly suggested). Oahu model Kamalani Pico recently visited us and did just that — check out her favorite Off the Wall menu items here.
Fine dining steakhouse on Maui
Finding a good steak in Maui is easier than you may think — just head to Lahaina for an elegant meal at Son’z Steakhouse. Treat yourself to one of their in-house aged steaks, like the Porterhouse, and find out why Travel and Lifestyle Blogger Madhura Raut, aka The Dream Mapper, recently named Son’z Steakhouse as one of her Top 10 recommendations for dining on Maui. Enjoy something from the extensive wine list while relaxing by the Hyatt Regency’s stunning water feature that includes a beautiful pair of swans.
The Counter Custom Burgers
Casual dining customizable burger bar on Oahu
The Counter Custom Burgers has a new owner, Jon Muranaka, and a new General Manager (recently promoted from Assistant Manager), Jon R Gilbert. With both Jons running the show, The Counter is once again locally owned and operated and folks are starting to take notice! The Counter Hawaii was recently recognized for having not one but two of Honolulu Magazine’s staff picks in their list of The 12 Best Meaty and Meatless Burgers on O‘ahu. That’s one vote for their meatless Impossible Burger and one vote for The Counter Burger — which is pretty much a burger however you like it with over a million possible burger-building combinations. Of course, they’re not just about the burgers — they have a great variety of sides, and customers who sign up for The Counter Rewards Program get a free side of fries just for signing up! Be sure to check out the rotating Burger of the Month on their Instagram every month.
All photos courtesy Food Gurus, unless otherwise noted.
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