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Burger Picks for Oahu

Aloha,

I'm looking for the best burgers in Oahu. I've been there several times, so I have some ideas. What I'm really looking for is some local knowledge on the burger scene. Of course, all contributions are welcome.

I have to say, I've had some fairly pedestrian burgers in Oahu. I'm wondering if there's a place that makes Wow! burgers.

It would make my next stay there more memorable.

~Mahalo

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  1. In no particular order:

    Kua Aina: Originally in Haleiwa, but now with a couple of locations, these are a longtime favorite on Oahu.

    The Counter: One of the newest burger places in Honolulu, the beef is particularly good, and they have a wide variety of toppings and condiments.

    Burgers on The Edge: Also fairly new, good burgers, a lot of toppings, they also serve wagyu beef (meh), the sweet potato fries here are really good.

    Teddy's Bigger Burgers: Open a few years and expanding on the island, i think better than in and out or 5 guys. An upscale chain.

    Big City Diner: One of the best burgers on the island, big city diner also serves a variety of other foods.

    Murphy's Tavern: A long time restaurant in downtown honolulu, this is also recognized as one of the best places to get a good burger.

    W&M Burgers: W&M has been around since the 60s. They serve a local variation of the old time hamburger joint burger.

    Both Mariposa and the Pineapple Room at Ala Moana make good burgers.

    The Shack used to have really good burgers, but the last time i was there the patty was a machine stamped prefab disk, I wont be going back.

    I would not recommend getting a hamburger at most plate lunch places (grace's, rainbow-drive-in etc)

    -----
    Mariposa
    1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2101, Honolulu, HI

    Big City Diner
    3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

    6 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      Haven't eaten there yet but Honolulu Burger Co. on Beretania has been getting some press recently. For a casual place, I like Teddy's over Kua Aina, and for a fancy place, I love the burger at the Pineapple Room. Lunchtime only I think.

      Great thread.

      1. re: garrett

        Honolulu Burger Co. does look interesting. Grass fed big island beef, wow... and reasonable prices. Thanks garrett, I need to check this place out.

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Wow, these are great recommendations!

          The Pineapple Room and Honolulu Burger Co. look most interesting to me so far. I've been to Alan Wong's, but I haven't been to the Pineapple Room yet. Mariposa looks good too, although it was the lobster club that drew my attention.

          Thanks for all of the wonderful reviews. I'm looking forward to posting my own when I return from my trip.

          -----
          Alan Wong's Restaurant
          1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

          Mariposa
          1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2101, Honolulu, HI

          1. re: Burger Expert

            Unfortunately I have found the lobster club at Mariposa inconsistent and now they decided to charge $2.00 extra for their truffle oil fries which is absurd when you can get local greens salad w/out charge. Sometimes their bacon is less than done so if you do go tell them you want it crisp or else is somewhat of a relatively uncooked unappealing addition.
            I like the burger @ town, gorgonzola, bacon (again I tell them crisp), their fries with deep fried herbs on top often you can get garlic aioli if they have it for something else for fries to dip in.
            Roy's Waikiki has a very nice burger on the bar menu, asian flavors lovely meal.

            -----
            Mariposa
            1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2101, Honolulu, HI

            1. re: manomin

              Thanks for the bacon tip. I definitely like my bacon on the crispier side. I love a good aioli too. Garlic is my friend.

              I have to say that money is not a concern for me. I'm certainly interested in saving money when possible, but this trip is all about the best flavors available. And a slight nod towards convenience.

              1. re: Burger Expert

                I just re-visited this thread and have a comment. Burger Expert, were money a concern I wouldn't be forking over $20.00 for a sandwich. I just find it odd to be nickel and dimed over fries at that level of dining. If anything they should charge more for the greens.

    2. I'm fond of the Spud Burger at Teddy's. It's a burger topped with a McDonald's-like hash brown patty. It would be truly awesome if they used fresh hash browns.

      I've also had the Parisian at Burgers on the Edge. Burger with fois gras, apples and a wine reduction. I probably wouldn't have it again, because it was expensive, but I didn't regret trying it. The quality of all the ingredients was tops, and I agree that the sweet potato fries are great.

      A few years ago, I had something I think was called the Volcano Burger at Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab. Burger topped with crab cakes. Sounded better than it was, which was just okay. The combo almost had the effect of canceling each other out; better to have them separately. Doesn't look like it's on the menu anymore, though.

      My meal card for my upcoming Labor Day trip is almost full, but I might have to find a spot for Honolulu Burger Co. ...

      -----
      Burgers on the Edge
      890 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

      1. Sometime ago five of my friends went out and tried some the Honolulu Advertiser's nominees for best burgers (most of the places listed on this board). Three out of the five chose Teddy's Bigger Burger. (That was my second choice). It is a good burger and I think their sauce takes it to another level.

        My personal favorite is Kua Aina's Ortega burger.

        Everyone agreed that the kobe patty at Kiawe Grill (across from Stadium Park; btw, Kiawe is the Hawaiian mesquite, which they use to grill their burgers) was the best patty. (They really had a wimpy bun.)

        We did not care for Pineapple Room's burger (I believe grass fed beef), although I really liked the extras (bbq sauce, onion rings and a bunch of other stuff).

        I think W&M is a bit overrated (but it sure does smell good when you drive by!), and I would pass on that.

        Tried a burger at Honolulu Burger Co. and I thought it was just OK.

        Not a big fan of the Counter or Burger's on the Edge.

        Oh, for something different, you might want to try South Shore Grill's burger--which comes on a ciabatta roll, coleslaw with some kind of aioli sauce (can't remember specifically).

        -----
        South Shore Grill
        3114 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

        1. Just got back from Honolulu Burger Co. a few minutes ago. I probably should have tried the plain burger, better to judge the burger, but the Blue Hawaii burger looked so good.

          They may have been very slightly heavy handed with the gorgonzola topping, but better that than too skimpy. Lots of grilled onion, and a couple of slices of bacon. The lettuce was coarsely shredded, and the tomato was fresh.

          The meat is very lean, but not dry, and I thought it was flavorful, especially for a burger that lean. Must be the grass raised thing. They cook all their burgers medium, but it was not dried out, and while I prefer rare to med/rare, it was not a problem this way. The state health department basically requires burgers here to be cooked medium.

          There were two of us and we split a large order of the sweet potato fries. These were cooked extra crispy, just shy of overdone, but excellent.

          We got there just after 1pm, and between the time we arrived and the time our order was ready (about 6 or 7 minutes) the place pretty much cleared out. I am sure that contributed to not only the quality of our food, but the service as well. We sat out front, and at least three times employees came out to make sure our meal was ok and we had everything we needed. I am sure you won't get that kind of service during the lunch rush, but when we were there, the service was excellent.

          I will definitely be back.

          6 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Thanks for the report K-Man. I always know I can trust your account whether good/bad/suggestive/indifferent. I am with you with better more gorgonzola than less. I'd like to go there myself whenever it is I make it all the way to town! Sounds yummy!

            1. re: manomin

              Agreed. This is a good review. Thanks K-Man. Honolulu Burger Co. is definitely on the must visit list.

              1. re: manomin

                thanks manomin.I look forward to your report (or invite me to join you) I forgot to mention t hat they got a real nice char on the burger without burning it.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  went back again yesterday with another friend who wanted to try it. This time i got a cheeseburger, and I asked to have it medium rare. They were willing to cook it that way. The beef was again very lean, but flavorful and cooked to perfection. A trace of pink in the middle, and nicely charred on the outside.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    I had the cheeseburger for dinner tonight. Although I didn't specify, the burger arrived closer to medium rare than medium, but that's a plus in my book.

                    This was my first encounter with a grass-fed burger, and I would agree that it was lean but by no means less juicy or flavorful. I thought it was a quality burger. My only complaint would be that I like a softer bun. I ended up taking off the top and eating it open-faced.

                    A lot of interesting topping choices; I was tempted to try the Spam.

                    The sweet potato fries were excellent, if a little too large an order for one. The blue cheese fries sound good.

                    1. re: Debbie M

                      thank goodness i didn't notice the spam. ive been there three times in a week and a half already.

                      the sweet potato fries are much better than the regular fries, which i found to be soggy and greasy/oily. i was going to talk to them about it, but they were in the middle of a photo shoot. i guess it's going to get more popular soon.

            2. We've been to all the mentioned Burger Places and our favorite is still Liliha Bakery (they make their own buns) plus Char Grill the meat Patty while you sit at the counter watching the whole time.

              3 Replies
              1. re: russkar

                Liliha Bakery looks interesting. I may need to try their burger. The coco puffs look good too. Thanks for the cross-purpose recommendation.

                1. re: Burger Expert

                  The mahi mahi sandwich at Liliha Bakery isn't too shabby either.

                  1. re: Burger Expert

                    i don't think i ever made it that far down the menu (the pancakes are sooo gooood.) if russkar recommends it, it's good food. wow a great burger followed by a coco puff, now thats life.

                2. Tried Honolulu Burger Co. again.

                  We got two burgers:

                  1. Pastele lumpia burger. Basically, it's a lumpia (smallish) filled with pastele filling on top of a patty. It also came with lettuce, tomato and onions I believe. The pastele lumpia didn't really have that much flavor or it was overpowered by the burger. Still, it wasn't bad.

                  2. Burger with Hamakua ali'i mushrooms and shimeji mushrooms, with feta cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and a black truffle mushroom pate. This was OK, too.

                  One big caveat: I really can't fairly judge these burgers because I had them (and the ones I had before) cooked medium well. Why? Because I was sharing them with my wife, and that's the only way she'll eat them. (She actually would prefer well-done, which is insane to me. Just eat charcoal, why don't you?) The burgers are dry and a little crumbly when cooked like this, and so I didn't enjoy them so much. I could see myself liking them a lot more cooked medium/med rare.

                  We also got an order of fries. I agree with K-Man that they're a bit too oily.

                  We also got a chocolate shake, which was OK. (I like the runny quality of it, though.)

                  -----
                  Pastele Shop
                  2101 N School St Ste C, Honolulu, HI 96819

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: Jazzaloha

                    Thanks Jazzaloha. I appreciate the honest review. I'm getting a pretty good idea of what to expect from Honolulu Burger Co. I'll be there in a few weeks!

                    1. re: Burger Expert

                      man, i reckon you may have a hard time finding a "Wow!" burger here. there are several good burgers, and i've had a good number of them, but i don't think i've ever been wowed. that being said, i checked out the honolulu burger company the other day, had the blue hawaii, and it was a solid burger. nice meat, could have been better seasoned, and the veggies on it were nice. i dont undertstand shredded the lettuce, though - it all just falls out.

                      i usually enjoy 'the counter' in kaimuki...they season their meat well, its nice beef, and its always cooked the way i order it (medium rare to medium). its one of those custom jobs where you "invent" your own burger.

                      kua aina was mentioned above - this place, being a burger joint, is a let down. always. the burger is decent sized but invariably dry, underseasoned, and lacking character. skip it, unless you want a decent mahi sandwich.

                      south shore grill is an interesting idea. used to eat there a lot but grew tired of their slaw/aioli combo topping, but for a long time that stuff was DOPE. nice char on the burgers, decent sized patty, add some cheese and bacon and its a damn good burger,

                      I'll give a little shout out to W&M BBQ burger...this place is an institution, and if you want a taste of old skool Hawaii - this is one. been there since the 50's or so. the patties themselves are older school, smallish like a big mac (for comparison's sake), they dip their burgers and cheese in a teri-style bbq sauce while flipping around on the grill. you have to get at least a double patty, or what i crave every once in awhile -- the Hal's Special - this is a BBQ cheeseburger topped with bbq teri beef - and its mega ONO. such a taste of hawaii, so so good (but not in a high quality meat kind of way). and they have pretty decent fries.

                      people talk about Nico's Pier 38 having a really good burger....can;t vouch, but they supposedly have a delicious marlin burger on special somewhat regularly...call before you haul.

                      and, dear burger expert, you might should give a loco moco a whirl. you know what this is, yes? local boy breakfast --- eggs, burger, rice, gravy, and some sauteed onion if yer lucky. so indulgent, comforting, and FILLING. my current personal fave is up on the north east side of the island in La'ie, and a joint called 'Papa 'Oles'...2 big, nicely seasoned patties, 3 eggs, and they happen to have very flavorful brown gravy. add onions on there, dont attempt to finish it, you will hurt. my roommate loves the LocoMoco at 'The Food Company' in Kailua. actually, i think Nico's is supposed to have a pretty good one, as is 'The Counter'.

                      and i hate to be negative, but i cant imagine Liliha have a 'WOW' burger, i had their loco moco, and have had some other things on the menu (not the pancakes, however) and everything is underwhelming to bad. that being said, a COCOpuff is an amazing thing and should definitely be consumed by you.

                      wish i had something new and interesting here, if i get anothe ridea i'll send it along...

                      -----
                      Food Company
                      1020 Keolu Dr Ste D1, Kailua, HI 96734

                      1. re: fatstern

                        Great passage on Loco Moco. I think what really sets this dish apart from the individual ingredients is the GRAVY, which really ties it all together, and makes the rice really come alive. The suggestion that a burger seeker should give Loco Moco a whirl is a really brilliant one.

                        1. re: fatstern

                          you didn't mention the unique Sekiyas special, a hamburger sandwich with a side of saimin. Remarkably satisfying even if the burger is a prototype 1960s fast food burger.

                          1. re: fatstern

                            just remembered another....something i go grab here and again when i want an "alternative burger" is the schwarma sandwich at the Fat Greek (just a block up the street from W&M - can double up!) ... anyway, its a subtly seasoned ground lamb/beef patty thats grilled and thrown into a soft pita with some yogurt sauce. served with a refreshing greek salad.....throw that salad on the pita, get yourself a side of the EXCELLENT Fat Greek hot sauce and pour that on your schwarma, and you got yourself a tasty tasty tasty greek "burger"....i always feel like the schwarma could use a bit more fat in the grind to get it to the ideal burger moistness/texture, but alas, kebabs and the like tend to be a leaner mix.

                            1. re: fatstern

                              I haven't tried the shwarma pita, but I do like their falafel pita. And, yes, I like their hot sauce.

                              Fastern,

                              The burgers you've had at Kua Aina have been dry, huh? I'm assuming you get them cooked medium or medium rare? The burgers have never been dry for me, but I never get them cooked above medium.

                            2. re: fatstern

                              Thanks fatstern.

                              W & M BBQ Burger looks awesome! I love BBQ burgers. I'm not sure why I haven't heard of it until now. Really good recommendation there. The Hal's Special is making me salivate. BBQ burgers have a special place in my flavor profile.

                              I wont have high expectations for the burger at Liliha because I'm probably more interested in the Coco puff. I'll try them both. I'm looking forward to the whole experience.

                              I was going to try Hukilau for Loco Moco, but I might change to Papa Ole's. I'm hearing more good things about it.

                              -----
                              Hukilau Cafe
                              55-662 Wahinepee St, Laie, HI 96762

                              1. re: Burger Expert

                                When you say you like bbq burger, you mean teri-bbq or Southern bbq? I'm pretty sure the bbq burger at W&M refers to a teri-style burger. Btw, I really like the teri-burger at Teddy's (with their sauce).

                                Try the pancakes at Liliha, too if you get the chance. Also, the grilled butter rolls with the "radioactive" jelly is something pretty unique. (I also like the chocolate eclairs and lemon cake, although they're not unique.)

                                1. re: Jazzaloha

                                  that's an excellent point Jazz, in Hawaii the use of the term bbq almost always means teri style, not tomato. and yes, the burgers at w&m are teri burgers and the bbq meat is teri style. And for heaven's sake, don't ask people if its teri style or "real" bbq.

                                  of course bob's giant bbq on dillignham at waiakamilo has both teri and tomato bbq items, and their giant burger is pretty good, but the thick cut wedge fries are even better.

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    Alright, K-Man. I promise not to ask for "real" BBQ. I wouldn't want to look silly.

                                    Nice tip on Bob's Giant BBQ. I heard they have good Hibachi chicken too.

                                  2. re: Jazzaloha

                                    Yes Jazzaloha, very good point. I will clarify.

                                    Conveniently, I love both tomato BBQ and teri-style. I think maybe I like teri-style better than southern or western BBQ. Teriyaki is one of my favorite sauces. In fact, I'm having teriyaki beef this morning for breakfast.

                                    1. re: Burger Expert

                                      Have you ever eaten kobe hamburgers? If not, that is definitely a must try. Imo, they are the best tasting patties, but of course you will pay for them. There are several places that offer them (sometimes as sliders). I've tried them at two places: Kiawe Grill (they grill over mesquite or what we call kiawe wood). The buns are lame here, but you can get them with rice. (Not sure if they do a loco-moco.) There are several Kiawe Grills, but I'd go to the original in Moilili (off of King Street).

                                      I also tried a wagyu-kobe burger at Formaggio. I enjoyed this one, but again, it's pricey. Burgers On the Edge also serves a kobe burger, too.

                                      Btw, since you like teri bbq so much, I would recommend HK's, but I know the K-Man doesn't like this place. I've been going to this place for years, and I think they have the best teri bbq. I like the chicken, but the teri beef is good here, too--not rubbery. The meats are nicely char-broiled and I love the sauce. (It's on the sweeter side versus the gingery or garlicky side, so if that appeals to you...) I'll try to go back soon to see if they're still good.

                                      1. re: Jazzaloha

                                        Wagyu-kobe burgers are my absolute favorite. I go to Ono Cafe on the mainland to get my wagyu-kobe burger fix when I'm in the mood to splurge.

                                        Formaggio looks very interesting! The kobe panini burger there might have some competition with the lobster mac and cheese for my affection. I'm pleasantly surprised to learn about some places that I've never heard of before I started this topic, like Formaggio and W & M. I'm going to set aside a special day for burger tastings like people do for wine tours.

                                  3. re: Burger Expert

                                    W&M burgers. The bone I have to pick with them is they are great if (and this is a big if) they come straight off the grill. This is the problem I've found. Beware if they are picked up from the warming pan which I've seen them use when things are busy. Imagine a lukewarm burger on a cold bun, with cold cheese, cold lettuce and tomato. Not great.

                                    This is in contrast to how they were served at the 8th Ave (?) corner location years ago. Every burger was freshly grilled to order and absolutely heavenly. Guess you can't go back.

                                    1. re: curiousgeo

                                      wow, ive never had them when they didn't come off the grill, thanks for the tip geo

                                  4. re: fatstern

                                    @ Fatstern : Liliha Burger just might surprise you? They bake their own bun which is incredible. Then they Charbroil the Burger which is pretty darn good. Less than $5.00 is also a plus.

                                    1. re: russkar

                                      OK, so I tried Liliha's burger.

                                      Yes, the bun is good. It's sort of like a good dinner roll or pandesol. The patty was OK. I'm not sure it's worth the price as it's kinda on the small side (a big slider).

                                      1. re: Jazzaloha

                                        @ Jazzaloha: If Size Matters then Teddy's Burgers are for you on Beretaina.

                              2. Went to Teddy's burger recently and tried the pastrami burger. I used to like a version of this in Seattle, but I thought this burger was mediocre. My wife ordered the teri-cheeseburger--the teri sauce mixed with their special sauce is a good combination, but they either changed their teri sauce or gave us the wrong sauce; it wasn't as good. I do like the fact that they serve tater tots (perfectly crisp and not too oily).

                                A few weeks later we went to Kua Aina. I got my standard ortega burger (with jack cheese and grilled onion). Yep, it's still pretty great.

                                A few days ago we went to Burgers on the Edge for their wagyu kobe burger for $5 (between 3-5 PM). Unfortunately, we went on Veteran's Day and we failed to see the small print which said the deal doesn't apply on holidays. :(

                                -----
                                Burgers on the Edge
                                890 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Jazzaloha

                                  The best burgers on maui are at Coconut's Fish Cafe in kihei. If you like fish burgers that is. These are the best and most spicy fish burgers I've ever had. You have to check it out.

                                  -----
                                  Coconut's Fish Cafe
                                  2917 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753

                                2. I'm back from my trip to Oahu. I was able to sample quite a few burger places that were recommended. Before I begin, I have to say that Papa Oles has the best Loco Moco I've ever tried. It was like Wow!

                                  Formaggio: This was a fun time for me and my traveling partner. We're wine reviewers too, so we could do two reviews for one meal. The wines were all well chosen. This place is hard to find, but once you're inside it feels like a completely different place than its surrounding environment. For dinner we had the Lobster Mac and Cheese and the Kobe Panini Burger. The Lobster Mac and Cheese was out of this world! Nice chunks of lobster too. The Kobe Panini Burger had great flavor, but I didn't care for the panini bun. Of all the burgers we tried last week in Oahu, this one had the best flavor. Formaggio provides a great dining experience. They also told us that they run Burgers On The Edge. So we tried the burgers there as well.

                                  Burgers On The Edge: We had the King Arthur special burger with kobe beef, ham, garlic aioli and mozzarella. We also had the Steakhouse kobe burger. I liked it better than the King Arthur because I'm partial to BBQ flavors. They have a nice variety on the menu. The flavors were good. I wouldn't say they were spectacular. The sweet potato fries were cut thick and crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside - the way they should be cooked. Nicely done BOTE.

                                  Liliha Bakery: The burgers are small dinner roll sized. I liked the classic touch. The burger was full of fresh ingredients and the meat was juicy. However, it wasn't high on flavor. I was a little disappointed with the Coco Puff. It was served cold. I thought it would come warm and fresh out of the oven. However, I will be going back there for breakfast. The egg dishes are delightful.

                                  W&M: We decided to try the deluxe cheeseburger. We should have ordered the Hal's special instead because I couldn't really taste the meat. The fries were not that great either.

                                  Honolulu Burger Co: We ordered the Paniolo BBQ Burger (of course) and the Hawaiian Beach Boy. Again, I preferred the Paniolo BBQ Burger. I loved the jalapenos in it. They really kicked it up a notch. The Beach Boy was good, but I thought the pineapple salsa was a little wimpy. We liked Honolulu Burger Co. a little better than Burgers on the Edge. There was more flavor in the burgers, yet the meat was slightly dry. We loved the fries.

                                  Papa Oles: Loco Moco is so much better than chicken fried steak. And this Loco Moco was the best ever.

                                  Other burgers we tried:

                                  Bob's Triple D: This used to be Bob's Big Boy until they lost their franchise after the fire. Now they're serving a limited, custom menu so we decided to give it a try. The deluxe cheeseburger was fairly good. They even created their own special sauce. The fries were good too.

                                  Moana Surfrider: We ordered a burger and daiquiris from the bar outside near the pool. It was a decent tourist burger, but it was nothing to write home about. The banana daiquiris were delicious.

                                  On a separate note, we inhaled the lamb souvlaki at The Olive Tree.

                                  I still intend to sample some of the other burger recommendations that we missed on our trip last week. I'll be back early next year with another round of reviews. Overall, I'm very pleased and surprised with the local burger knowledge on Oahu.

                                  ~Mahalo

                                  -----
                                  Burgers on the Edge
                                  890 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816