Cover Photo: Nana Ai Katsu
Kaimuki is a cozy residential neighborhood sitting North of Diamond Head, with an abundance of great activities spread about the area. Among these past-time activities are ample local favorites and popular restaurants, including steakhouses, boba shops, authentic Hawaiian spots, and pubs. Whether you have a taste for a sweet treat or want to grab a pizza to-go, there are options all throughout Kaimuki for you to choose from. Check out some of our picks for the top restaurants in Kaimuki you need to try below!
To learn more about the best activities in Kaimuki, check out our blog post here!
The Surfing Pig Hawai'i
3605 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
The Surfing Pig Hawai'i is a popular restaurant known for its Hawaiian-style brunch dishes, small plates, and cocktails. It has won a variety of awards from the year 2018 to 2021, including Diner's Choice Award, Honolulu's Best New Restaurants, Best Place in Honolulu, and even #1 Restaurant in HI (All Islands). Some of its most popular dishes include street tacos, smokey BBQ cheesy mac, kampachi carpaccio, and sriracha fried rice, with customers praising the restaurant's flavorful food, friendly staff, and relaxing atmosphere.
The Surfing Pig Hawai'i is open for brunch Mondays to Thursdays from 10 AM to 2 PM, and Fridays to Sundays from 9 AM to 2 PM. As for dinner hours, they are open Mondays to Thursdays from 4 PM to 9 PM, Fridays and Saturdays from 4 PM to 11 PM, and Sundays from 4 PM to 10 PM. Happy Hour likewise takes place on weekdays from 4 PM to 6 PM. For those who are unable to dine in (reservations can be made here), The Surfing Pig Hawai'i also offers ordering online for pickup in the store here, as well as ordering online for delivery through BiteSquad, DoorDash, UberEats, and Food-A-Go-Go.
Photos: Kekoa T. on Yelp / Bernadette A. on Yelp
Koko Head Café
1120 12th Ave #100, Honolulu, HI 96816
The next spot on this list is Koko Head Café, an extremely popular breakfast and brunch spot off of Waialae Avenue. With popular Hawaiian- and Asian-inspired menu items such as cornflake french toast, Koko moco, breakfast bibimbap, volcano eggs, and poke omelets, this restaurant is celebrated for its emphasis on local flavors and its unique location. One of this restaurant's most popular features is its outdoor seating, which takes place underneath a large tent adjacent to the main restaurant and features several tables, string lights, and comforting plant accents.
Koko Head Café is open Wednesdays to Mondays from 7 AM to 2 PM, and you can make a reservation or join their waitlist on their Yelp page here.
Photos: Sandy M. on Yelp / Frances L. on Yelp
1142 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Located just down the block from Koko Head Café is Via Gelato, which is the perfect spot for those who want to satiate a sweet tooth. If you are in the mood for a delicious sweet treat, this gelato shop sells a variety of great flavors as well as gelato cakes, ice cream sandwiches, and unicorn food (a rainbow cone with rainbow sprinkles). Some of its most popular flavors include vegan green tea oreo, black sesame, fierce chocolate, birthday cake, and amazing seasonal flavors like pumpkin crunch.
Via Gelato is open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM, and also offers ordering ahead for take-out as well as delivery here.
Photos: Cyndy K. on Yelp / Chas S. on Yelp
3435 Waialae Ave Ste 103, Honolulu, HI 96816
Restaurant at The Cutlery, often referred to simply as The Cutlery, is an unusual spot as it is a combined steakhouse and barbershop located on Waialae Avenue. The steakhouse portion of the establishment is known for excellent meat cuts that melt in your mouth, as well as dishes like duck fat fries, mushroom medley, brussel sprouts, and pasta with shrimp and clams. The Cutlery is also known for its unique pet-friendy services, which include preparing dishes that can be consumed by dogs at your table. This feature makes this restaurant a popular choice for those who enjoy taking their pets to dinners, as this is an incredibly special experience that will be a bit difficult to find at other nearby restaurants.
The Cutlery is open Tuesdays and Sundays from 5 PM to 9 PM, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 5 PM to 9:30 PM, and closed on Mondays. You can make reservations for The Cutlery here.
Photos: Jessica Y. on Yelp / Sandra R. on Yelp
Nana Ai Katsu
3585 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Opened during the pandemic in August of 2020, Nana Ai Katsu is the passion project of co-founders Mike and Lei and is dedicated to their daughter Nanami (who is the inspiration for the name of their restaurant, which means "Nanami Loves Katsu"). What started as a food stand in a marketplace eventually grew into a restaurant on Kaimuki's Waialae Avenue, and it is known for its incredible (as indicated by its name) katsu, with layers of pork encrusted in panko flakes and deep fried. This restaurant has easily become a local favorite thanks to the incredible service, friendly owners, and high-quality local food.
Nana Ai Katsu is also known for its take-out preorders via calling or texting, and the restaurant's phone number can be found on its website here. As for hours, it is open Sundays from 11 AM to 2 PM, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 AM to 2 PM and 4 PM to 7 PM, Thursdays to Saturdays from 11 AM to 2 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM, and closed on Mondays.
Photos: Wendy K. on Yelp / Nana Ai Katsu
Moke's Bread & Breakfast Kaimuki
1127 11th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Another local favorite breakfast spot in Kaimuki is Moke's Bread and Breakfast, which is known for incredible crispy hashbrowns, pancakes with lilikoi sauce, Moke Nui omelets, and the loco moco prime rib. Led by Chef Moké Warren, a local of O'ahu and an accomplished culinary expert, this Kaimuki location opened in early 2019 after success in Kailua and two locations in Japan. This restaurant is located in the plaza off Waialae Avenue between 11th and 12th Avenue, which also has plenty of public parking available to customers.
Moke's Bread & Breakfast is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 7 AM to 1 PM, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Photos: Dennis Y. on Yelp / Jackie C. on Yelp
3620 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
If you're in the mood for boba tea (also known as bubble tea), Cowcow's Tea is one of the most popular spots in the Kaimuki neighborhood. This boba shop sells more common drink flavors like brown sugar milk tea, rose milk tea, and matcha green milk tea, but also offers more unique drinks like messy taro milk tea, mixed fruit green tea, and lychee sparkling water. Whether you want a dairy-free option or non-boba toppings, Cowcow's Tea offers a variety of customization options that make this a great spot for people of different dietary concerns and flavor preferences.
Cowcow's Tea is open daily from 11 AM to 9:30 PM, and it can be found along the main strip of Waialae Avenue. There is metered parking along the street, but most people will park at one of the nearby public parking lots and walk to the shop (such as the parking lot located between 11th and 12th Avenue).
Photos: Emi H. on Yelp / Joann Y. on Yelp
4210 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
J. Dolan's sits on the Eastern border of Kaimuki near the Foodland Farms across from Kahala Mall, and is known for excellent pizzas and American pub foods. Some of their most popular menu items include spinach and garlic pizza, jersey white pie pizza, shrimp scampi pizza, and chicken wings. This is a popular spot for a quick bite to eat with friends and family or to order a pizza for takeout, though keep in mind that they do not offer reservations (so plan ahead and make time to put your name on their list).
This restaurant is open much later than the other spots on our list, as from Mondays to Saturdays, J. Dolan's is open from 11 AM to 2 AM (the next day). Sundays, however, they open at the same time but close at 10 PM.
Photos: Dan O. on Yelp / Joan Michelle Y. on Yelp
1137 11th Ave #104, Honolulu, HI 96816
This next restaurant is a local favorite authentic Hawaiian restaurant located next to Moke's Bread & Breakfast, with popular dishes like garlic shrimp, squid luau, mini Kalua pig, and shoyu chicken- O'ahu Grill. The Head Chef, Chef Johnny, grew up on Moloka'i learning family recipes and the ways these recipes were prepared generations ago, which aids in his ability to create authentic, delicious Hawaiian foods for the Kaimuki community. Likewise, O'ahu Grill avoids additives and sugar and instead emphasizes the use of basic ingredients and the right amounts of Hawaiian salt.
O'ahu Grill is open daily from 11 AM to 9 PM.
Photos: Donna O. on Yelp / Christina L. on Yelp
Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery
3632 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
One of the final entries on our list is Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery, an ice cream parlor also offering baked goods like malasadas. This is another great spot to stop by for a quick sweet treat like cake bombs, malamodes, cookies, and more. The founder Gayla Young, a native to Hawai'i, officially opened Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery in September 2016 with the intention of making pastries and snacks that took people back to their childhood potlucks, gatherings, and celebrations. This can be felt in all of this eatery's menu items, which are regarded by customers as outstanding (especially the malasadas).
Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 AM to 6 PM, Fridays to Sundays from 9 AM to 7 PM, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For those who would prefer to order online and pick up in-store, there is an option to do so on their website here.
Photos: Sharlene C. on Yelp / Solongo B. on Yelp
Mud Hen Water
3452 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Our final entry is Mud Hen Water, a Hawaiian restaurant with creative, flavorful dishes and a friendly environment. Their dishes are locally sourced as well, with items like fried fish sandwiches, pineapple-polenta upside-down cake, tilapia skin salad, beet poke, and Kahumana duck egg, plus even more vegetarian options. The plates at this restaurant are meant to be shared, making this a great restaurant to visit with friends and family.
Mud Hen Water's hours are as follows:
- Tuesdays to Saturdays, 8 AM to 11 AM
- Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11 AM to 2 PM
- Sundays, 9:30 AM to 2 PM
- Tuesdays to Thursdays, 5 PM to 8:30 PM
- Fridays and Saturdays, 5 PM to 9 PM
Reservations for this popular eatery can be made here.
Photos: Anna C. on Yelp / Terry K. on Yelp