One of the great things about visiting Hawaii is the chance to try new and exotic foods. What to do, though, when restaurant waits are LONG or you’re on a tight budget? Check out these tips for finding local foods in Hawaii!
Finding local foods in Hawaii — no restaurant required!
With Hawaii tourism booming, visitors to the islands are finding that restaurant lines and wait times can really cut into vacation time. Instead of waiting in long queues, think outside the box! You can enjoy the best local foods in Hawaii by navigating to some alternative locations for your meals.
The high cost of owning a brick and mortar restaurant has causes a proliferation of food trucks to pop up in the state. From the famous shrimp trucks of Oahu’s North Shore to food truck events that bring 30 food trucks together in one place, you’ll find grinds galore. And don’t rule out the roadside food trucks that offer must-try food items like shave ice, malasadas, and Hawaiian plates.
Patronized by visitors and locals alike, farmers markets offer up fresh local produce like you’ve never seen before. Try tropical fruits like papaya, apple banana, dragonfruit, pineapple, longon, lychee, and lilikoi, and gawk at the amazing selection of flowers.
In addition to fresh produce, many markets offer a great variety of food options. From locally made baked goods and acai bowls to complete plate lunch meals, you’ll find something to make your mouth happy.
Food events often feature local foods in Hawaii
The state of Hawaii hosts numerous food themed events each year. As things begin to open up again, watch for events like Spam Jam, the Kona Coffee Festival, and the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival to set dates for their events.
If you have a place with cooking facilities, you probably like to stock the kitchen with easy snacks and meals. You might be surprised to find that you can pick up some delicious local foods in Hawaii grocery stores! Some stores have excellent “deli” sections where you can grab an assortment of local favorites, like a poke bowl, potato-mac salad, or sushi.
You’ll find ready to heat kalua pig in the freezer section of many stores. Bagged poi will give you a chance to try the good stuff, not the watered down luau version. The fish department is a regular stop for locals seeking out fresh poke. And seek out 100% Kona or Ka‘u coffee to start your day right.
There is nothing more charming than running across a self-serve honor system roadside stand. Be open to stopping when you see one by the roadside. From fresh produce to flowers and lei, you never know what you’ll find!
You may also see local vehicles parked alongside the road offering items like dried ahi, dried aku, pickled mango, or malasadas. If you’re feeling adventurous, stop and give ’em a try!
Surprise! While you’re filling up, take a minute to check out the offerings at the attached mini market. It’s often where local construction workers will stop to pick up their lunch. It’s not fine dining by any means, but you’ll often find Spam musubi, manapua, or a pretty darned good fried chicken option for lunch on the go.