Looking for the best Haleiwa restaurants found on Oahu’s iconic North Shore? You have definitely come to the right place!
Yes, Oahu’s North Shore is renowned as the surfing capital of the world with its impressive winter waves. And Hale’iwa, about an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of busy Waikiki, is its gateway community. The historic and charming laid-back village is filled with well-preserved 1900s sugar-plantation era buildings, country ambiance, fascinating art galleries, delightful boutiques, and, of course, lots of really cool surf shops. Ask any Hawaiian, and they’ll tell you that Hale’iwa is absolutely the cutest, kitschiest town on the entire island. And after multiple visits here, we couldn’t agree more.
Just entering Hale’iwa Old Town feels like taking a trip back in time. We’ve often thought about how awesome it would be to visit during the world-famous surf competitions when pro surfers are seen strolling the streets as well.
But this time, we came to Hale’iwa for the foodie experience – because restaurants here are locally owned and operated and celebrate many of the iconic foods and culture that make the Hawaiian Islands so uniquely special. These were the ones that put a smile on our faces, made us feel like “ohana” (family), and left us happy and satisfied.
Visiting other destinations in Hawaii? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 7 Must-Try Ko Olina Restaurants
- 13 Best Traditional Hawaiian Dishes
- 10 Must-Try Breakfast Places On Maui
- Best Lahaina Maui Restaurants
- 10 Best Restaurants In Maui
The 6 Best Haleiwa Restaurants
62-540 Kamehameha Highway // 808-637-3435
On our first trip to Oahu many years ago, one of our favorite restaurants in Hale’iwa was called Jameson’s by the Sea. Though it was a rustic eatery in need of updating, we saw our very first “green flash” sunset here, a rare occurrence that made that first visit unforgettable.
After closing for several years, the venue, with its amazing setting just across from Hale’iwa State Park, was renovated and reopened in 2016 as the Hale’iwa Beach House. We were thrilled to dine here again and relive those precious memories.
The two-level restaurant is only open for lunch at this time. This authentic beach house features natural wood walls, floor to ceiling windows in the dining room with an open front giving it a bright, airy, and beachy feel. We had to start our visit with Hawaii’s favorite libation, the classic Mai Tai. The menu is impressive, featuring not only seafood but classic local island beef and pork entrees you just don’t find outside of the islands.
As a seafood lover, I ordered the Poke Bowl consisting of fresh ahi tossed in a poke sauce mixed with shaved red onion, sea asparagus, and topped with tobiko, scallion, and yuzu aioli on a bed of white rice. It was magnificent, to say the least.
Our server was so helpful when my spouse asked for her recommendation of a “real” local favorite. The Loco Moco was a seared wagyu beef patty atop white rice smothered in a red wine demi-glace, then topped with fried eggs and crowned with crispy potato skins. He was more than delighted with this savory choice. And we were thrilled to be back in this picture-perfect setting once again!
66-011 Kamehameha Highway // 808-637-8005
Located in historic Hale’iwa Town, this restaurant totally lives up to its motto of “fresh food, friendly staff, and fantastic views.” And it’s even better with a Mai Tai or Blue Hawaiian.
Founded in 1998, Haleiwa Joe’s, open for Sunday brunch and daily dinner, features incredible harbor and ocean vistas with postcard-worthy sunsets.
The menu was so extensive we couldn’t seem to get past the pupus. Each mouthwatering item was a siren call to our palates. We had to go with the Coconut Shrimp that somehow always tastes best in the Hawaiian Islands. With its plum and honey mustard sauces and lightly deep-fried to perfection, it was magnificent. Sizzling mushrooms with butter, salt, cracked peppercorn, and Parmesan cheese with crostini was another solid winner. Lastly, our Thai Fried Calamari served with an Asian dipping sauce was exceptional.
With two glasses of Italian Benvolio Prosecco in hand, we toasted a gorgeous sunset. And though we didn’t get the green flash effect this time around, the evening was still a memorable experience!
66-246 Kamehameha Highway // 808-451-2699
The Banzai Pipeline is a famous surf reef break on Oahu’s North Shore known for its giant curling waves, some of the largest in the world, that can actually form a tunnel.
Not to be outdone by its namesake, the Japanese seafood restaurant Banzai Sushi Bar has been rated one of Oahu’s best restaurants four years in a row by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. And while you dine here, you can watch those classic surf films as well.
“Keep it real-keep it raw” is the eatery’s mantra, and their sushi is as fresh as it gets. Seasonal fish is paired with the island’s bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Not only is the food here unbelievably delicious, but the chef presentations are a work of art.
The eatery is open Wednesday through Sunday 4-9 pm, but if you come at happy hour, drinks and a variety of handrolls are only $5. We loved Banzai so much that we came for happy hour and then again for dinner on another evening. We had to, since the menu is so extensive, it’s almost impossible to get through all your favorites.
Servers are extremely helpful, and their suggestions were spot on with our tastes. We loved the Sake Aburi with cucumber and avocado topped with Aburi-style (flame-seared) king salmon with a spicy miso sauce and jalapeno. If you like spicy, this is perfect.
The Sashimi trio was another gold-medal winner, allowing us to sample three different cuts of premium fish–the Hawaiian big eye ahi, New Zealand King Salmon, and Japanese yellowtail.
If you love sushi, this is the place to go!
66-460 Kamehameha Highway // 808-637-5516
This delightful family-owned diner represents the historic town of Hale’iwa to a T. We love the colorful historic building with its quaint indoor setting. The café specializes in American diner meets California Mexican, with fresh, made-to-order breakfasts and lunch plates. During our visit to the island, we came for breakfast before embarking on a hike.
We heard the Buttermilk Pancakes were divine, and they were. Fluffy and hearty, they come topped with bananas or mixed berries. Huevos Rancheros is another favorite, with two eggs on a corn tortilla topped with the Café’s homemade red salsa and cheese. This was served with Spanish rice, beans, and a flour tortilla. And yes, it was divine. It was all so filling; we didn’t eat again until dinner! But next time, we’ll want to try the Café at lunchtime.
If you happen to be in Oahu’s North Shore, this is a great place to come to start your day off right. Guaranteed, it’s the best breakfast you’ll find in Hale’iwa.
66-111 Kamehameha Highway #101 // 808-797-9649
When the original Uncle Bo’s opened a few blocks from Waikiki, it became known as one of Honolulu’s true hidden gems. Then a second location opened in Hale’iwa, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike. Though it may sound like a good-ol’ boy venue, it actually attracts a hip, eclectic crowd of diners who love their pupus and good food.
Open for Sunday brunch, happy hour, and daily dinner, Uncle Bo’s specializes in pupu appetizers, soups, salads, pizza, pasta, and treasures from the land and sea. If you’re not sure what to order, you can always start with the “Bohana” favorites marked on the menu with a red heart.
We definitely came for the pupus, and are so glad we did. We highly recommend the Dynamite Shrimp tossed in garlic chili aioli with a Parmesan panko crust. It was amazing with just the right amount of heat. Thai-Style Steamer Clams were another favorite, simmered in a mild chili and garlic oyster sauce. Other friends ordered Bo’s Big Nachos, and yes, they were quite an impressive platter filled with ham, kalua pig, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and mozzarella on wonton chips. That’s Hawaiian nachos for you.
Save room for dessert, as the Hobo’s basket of warm taro beignets with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and Frangelico American honey sauce is to die for. Six come in a basket, so if you want to share with a group, order at least two. They’re that good!
If you’re into pupus, and nice surprises, you’ll love Uncle Bo’s.
66-111 Kamehameha Highway, Suite #605 // 808-637-4827
You cannot, and we repeat, cannot, leave Hale’iwa without trying Matsumoto’s shave ice. Since 1951, this family-owned landmark grocery store has been selling shave ice, along with original t-shirts and other island merchandise.
Shave ice (yes, shave, not shaved) is an iconic Hawaiian dessert consisting of fine ice shavings flavored with fruit syrup or other sweet ingredients. It’s quite different from a snow cone, which is actually made with coarser crushed ice. On a warm Hawaiian day, Matsumoto dishes out over 1,000 shave ices servings. So, if you see a line, get in it, and stay in it, as the shave ice here is worth the wait.
The menu features 40 different flavors or you can choose a combination of three served in a cup or cone that also comes in three sizes. What makes Matsumoto so popular is the mouthwatering sweet taste of their varied flavors, ranging from pineapple, strawberry, and raspberry to more creative bubblegum, cotton candy, and root beer. If you really want to get exotic, go for the Li Hing Mui, a Chinese plum, a Pickled Mango, or Yuzu, Japanese citrus. And many Hawaiians are hooked on the Ichiban Special, made with a single shave ice flavor, vanilla ice cream, condensed milk, mochi (rice cake), and a waffle bowl.
If you’re in Hale’iwa, put Matsumoto’s on your must-do list. You’ll be so glad you did.
Spiritualist J.A. Medders once said that “Even the sweetness of a freshly cut pineapple from Hawaii is a sermon.”
Imagine what experiencing some of its best foods surrounded by such immense beauty is like. It’s aloha, and yes, it’s a slice of heaven.
Which of these Haleiwa restaurants will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Noreen Kompanik is a Registered Nurse and San Diego-based travel writer and photographer. Over 400 of her published articles have appeared in 38 different digital and print publications. She especially loves writing about family travel, luxury travel, food, wine, coffee, history and travel writing and shares these articles on her travel website What’s In Your Suitcase.