The 10 Best Diners in Hawaii!

While Hawaii is home to elegant upscale restaurants and other modern eateries, it also boasts cozy and nostalgic diners. With an atmosphere that transports you to another time, and a combination of classic meals and traditional Hawaiian delicacies, the ultimate food experience awaits. Here are the 10 best diners in the state. 

1. Downbeat Diner and Lounge, Honolulu, HI

Here’s a vegan and vegetarian-friendly diner to please all hungry patrons on Hawaii: Downbeat Diner and Lounge. This classic diner sources much of its ingredients, including meat, locally which supports local farmers and producers. Menu items include wings, nachos, salads, sandwiches, and of course, breakfast served all day. The breakfast menu has all the heavy hitters, like French toast, pancakes, eggs, and breakfast burritos. 

2. Hawaiian Style Café, Hilo and Waimea, HI

Grab a table at the Hawaiian Style Café to get yourself a hearty breakfast or lunch. The breakfast menu is really something with flavorful dishes such as Hawaiian sweet bread French toast, kalua hash with eggs, and several types of loco moco. For lunch, there are affordable plate options that come with a massive amount of food, burgers, heart-warming stews, and sandwiches. Another bonus of dining here is that you’ll know that all leftovers not taken home by diners get donated to a local hog farm for animal feed.

3. Rainbow Drive-In, Honolulu, HI

Head back in time with a meal at the Rainbow Drive-In. This nostalgic eatery is a favorite spot for any meal, but especially for lunch, and is a drive-in diner, where staff serve you in your car. Diners get a great value for money here, as servings are large yet the prices are kept low. Opt for a plate lunch, which comes with an entrée, rice, and macaroni salad or coleslaw. The loco moco bowl is also popular here and includes one scoop of rice, one hamburger patty, and one egg.

4. Big City Diner, Multiple locations

Big City Diner offers what they call “Blue Zone Specials,” which are healthier menu items in addition to a regular menu. The breakfast menu is packed with tasty specialties offering plentiful egg and meat options as well as delicious roasted macadamia nut pancakes. Other local favorites such as kimchee fried rice, loco moco, and Spam can all be found on the menu. Big City Diner is also open for lunch and dinner, and stays open late.

5. Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Honolulu, HI

This cash-only restaurant knows how to cook the specialty dishes of the Hawaiian Islands and has been doing so since 1946. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, visitors can enjoy kalua pig cooked traditionally, stew, seafood, short ribs, and poke bowls. They also have set menus that make great take-out meals for busy families on a budget.

6. Ken’s House of Pancakes, Hilo, HI

Ken’s House of Pancakes has been in business for 25 years and is open 24/7 to allow for pancake-lovers to dine no matter the time of day. The truly massive menu is available throughout the entire day, and in addition to pancakes, Ken’s serves loco moco, eggs, noodle dishes, sandwiches, and burgers. Pancake highlights off the massive menu include “kokonut” pancakes, banana pancakes, and macadamia nut pancakes. They also offer a senior discount every day between 2 and 10 p.m.

7. Dean’s Drive Inn, Kaneohe, HI

Several years ago, Dean’s Drive Inn was featured in the popular TV show called “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” leading to its 2015 expansion, yet the food stays true its original mission of serving local flavors. Here, opt for a tasty plate lunch such as loco moco, teriyaki beef steak, or tofu katsu. Several vegetarian options are offered including vegetarian burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches.

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8. Chubby’s at the Avalux Café, Kailua-Kona, HI

Chubby’s starts off its menu by informing customers that breakfast is served all day. So, you can opt for waffles, loco moco, omelets, and steak & eggs whether it is 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. Other menu items include numerous pupus, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and even a keiki menu, which serves smaller portions.  

9. Koa Pancake House, Multiple locations

Koa Pancake House first began with a single location in 1988 in Oahu. Due to its consistently great food, the restaurant has expanded into several locations throughout Hawaii. Their menu features breakfast plates, omelets, eggs Benedict, crepes, waffles, and more. Their pancake menu is definitely notable, particularly with their offering of maple, coconut, or orange marmalade syrup to accompany the fluffy griddle cakes. They are also open for lunch, serving burgers, sandwiches, and loco moco.

10. Side Street Inn, Honolulu, HI

Side Street Inn serves Korean, Hawaiian, and American favorites in two different locations in Honolulu. If you are craving something a bit different, the rice and noodle menu is super flavorful, with fried rice packed with meat and vegetables, soba noodles, and furikaki rice. They also serve snacks, seafood, entrees, and a mighty-fine desserts menu.

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