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Jan 24, 2011 01:31 PM

Dining along Oahu's north shore?

Wife & I will be spending 4 nights on Oahu's north shore (Haleiwa) late February. First-timers to the islands, while we always get excited about visiting new places and trying their fares, confess that skimming through some of the TA restaurant reviews has been somewhat discouraging.

Figuring we'll be fine for breakfasts/lunches with the bakeries, sandwich shops and shrimp-trucks, etc., but could use a little help w/ the dinner stops. We'll spend an evening in Waikiki (probably try Alan Wong's or La Mer) before heading north. We'll have a rental car, and as we'll likely be doing some driving to some of the hiking trail-heads & snorkeling coves, we're not opposed to driving to other parts of the island for food, too. Not expecting 'fine dining', we'll be just as happy (well...almost) w/ plastic forks on a tired picnic table, so long as the food, drinks and company are good.

Read 'Foodies first time in Oahu' thread, but appears other than the shrimp-truck and shaved-ice, nothing else outside of the metro area got mention. Any advice to be offered towards some decent dining opportunities that don't require driving back into the Honolulu area each evening would be greatly appreciated.


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

La Mer
2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

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  1. for the most part you are not going to be looking for a gourmet experience on the north shore. that doesn't mean there isn't good food to be had.

    • Kua Aina has great burgers and sandwiches and is open till 8pm
    • Opal Thai Food is a 'lunchwagon' that is open till 6pm most of the time
    • Luibuenos mexican is supposed to be (I haven't been yet) among the best mexican restaurants on the island, open till around 9ish most nights
    • Haleiwa Joe's is a sit down restaurant with better than decent food, open till 9 or 10 most nights
    • Jameson's by the Sea has good food locally influenced great views and is open till around 9:30

    If you want to head down the highway to Turtle Bay both Ola and 21 North get uniformly good reviews. It is about 15 or so minutes away from Haleiwa, and may be where you are staying.

    If you type these names in a Hawaii Board search most of them will pop-up.

    5 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      K-Man to add to your Turtle Bay recs a new Italian restaurant opened up on 1/12 but I can't remember the name! I'm sure the TB website has the information.

      1. re: manomin

        its something like Leonardo's. I haven't heard a thing about it yet.

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          I'll have to go thru my trash on the computer, I got the press release about it.

      2. Just as a side note, most grocery stores here have a good seafood section, usually including at least a couple of varieties of poke. Maybe not the most fantastic on the island, but good. take some along on a picnic, an hour or so out of the chiller wont be a problem.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          We'll be in a condo w/ a kitchen. Not having seen her own kitchen for while, I suspect my wife will be going through some major withdrawal, and we'll likely prep a dinner or two for ourselves at the condo. Thanks for the poke suggestion. Be fun trying the different poke(s) and seeing what all the markets have to offer in fresh seafood.

          Sort'a off topic, but would you know if decent wine (preference for full-bodied reds) can be found up north, or might it be best to find it in Honolulu and take it up w/ us?

          1. re: ecolnago

            that really depends on you and what you think of as 'decent.' I have friends who think anything less than a $25 bottle is not decent. I have other friends who limit it to anything with a vintage. Im sure you could find a palatable bottle. It might be more than you would expect to pay. If you want a real selection, then yes, its better to shop in town. Just be careful about leaving it for a long time in the trunk of the car in the sun. There are two markets in Haleiwa, one or the other should have something you would find palatable, so should Foodland down in Sunset beach.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              Nice reply. Agreed, 'decent wine' is a very subjective description. Guess the question should have been 'can I hope to find a decent range of wines available?'. While I don't recall ever having what I thought was a 'bad' $50 (store price, not restaurant) bottle of wine, at $20 I've had everything from astounding to 'pour it down the drain, and fast'. Likely p/u a bottle or two in the metro area before heading north. If we need more once we get there, we'll see what we can come up with.

        2. Giovanni's shrimp truck is like no other shrimp truck you'll ever dine at..
          The garlic shrimp is so sublime and it has this thick carmelization to it that its addictive and so frigging good.
          The place is so beloved with such love that I didn't want to leave..great new area with covered picnic tables and gorgeous plumeria trees.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Beach Chick

            I was going to say, the shrimp trucks on the North Shore are where it's at. Especially Giovanni's. If you get the hot shrimp, be prepared. It's HOT! It's good, though. There's another place that has big shrimp fried in wonton wrappers Thai-style, which are quite good.

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              Appears everyone's got their favorite (Giovanni's, Mackey's, etc.) and I've only seen a couple that have had 'avoid' reviews. Will definitely hit at least one of them. Romy's seems to be spoken of highly and often. Is their fare different enough from the Hale'iwa trucks to warrant the extra few miles drive?

              1. re: ecolnago

                the nice thing about Romy's, as well as Fumi's just up the road, is 1) they are set right along the kahuku shrimp farms (ambiance) and, more importantly 2) they own those farms and the shrimp you are eating come fresh from those farms. Almost positive Giovanni's and most others do NOT use the fresh north shore shrimp. Pretty sure if you get there early enough, you can also buy fresh live shrimp from these guys from the tanks at the stands. And, depending on your skillz, maybe prep them a bit better than the stands. been hitting the shrimp stands up for awhile, and not much really blows me away and i find them all a bit inconsistent. unless they've changed up their recipe, romy's garlic shrimp arent great. but the shrimp themselves are better and fresher, and i feel like one can taste that difference. i say go with the simple preps at romy's and just enjoy the nice shrimp. same with fumi's. fumi's has a spicy garlic thats not bad. the garlic prep is def better at giovanni's...though i feel like it used to be better (or maybe i'm nuts) - used to be more of a buttery scampi and now it seems like more of an oily scampi. anyway, giavannis is the longtime fave, so you may as well hit them up. if you got the time and the inclination, try a few different ones...share plates as you go! also, next to giavannis is a fruit and smoothie truck...try out the fresh pineapple with li hing mui - always a treat!

                i feel like i should also mention my giovanni eating technique. just to make sure you maximize your garlicy delicious artery clogging potential. as beach chick mentioned, there is a nice thick garlicky goodness coating the shells of the shrimp, and chunks of garlic get all lodged in with the curve of the shrimp around the legs. most people peel the shells to get to the shrimp and then dip around the plate for more sauce. i say, before you peel, suck all that goodness off the outside of the shells, then peel, then dip, then eat. work it. forget the forks, eat the rice with your hands. you're gonna get way messy that gives you the competitive advantage over the others you may be sharing the plate with.

                1. re: fatstern

                  Aloha fatstern..
                  I don't know what they do with that garlicky shrimp sauce that is so thick and delicious but there is a technique to eating the peel shrimp and the fork was long gone after the first shrimp...super messy but its all good.
                  It's crack on a plate and I can't wait to get to North Shore to get my fix!


            here's another place that may be worth checking out: Fiji Curry at the kahuku sugar mill building.

            this is a great blog, btw. this guy and seem to be the only 2 dudes who really go for it around here...bloggingly speaking, that is....

            1 Reply
            1. re: fatstern

              Thanks for passing along these blogs. At a quick glance, they appear both very informative and comprehensive. We'll enjoy taking time to explore both. Wife is a curry nut, so we'll certainly look into Fiji.