My husband’s office is in downtown Honolulu, and I usually do lunch with him about once every other week. After several years of downtown lunching here are my votes for the best lunch spots in downtown Honolulu. Do you agree? Let me know if there’s a new spot that I missed, and I should try!
Lucky Belly really filled a void in the downtown lunch scene. Instead of eating at an old pho shop (which I still like to do), Lucky Belly is a sheik and trendy Japanese fusion restaurant that serves gourmet ramen, and a few other delightful items for lunch. Large portions, extremely friendly service, and delicious bowls of noodles, Lucky Belly is often our choice for lunch, if we can get a table before the huge lunch crowd!
Located in the heart of Chinatown on 1120 Maunakea St between all the pho shops and vegetable and lei stands is a hidden gem Bruno Forno. This place has been here for several years, but so many people still don’t know about this quaint Italian restaurant. I traveled around Italy for a month, and in my opinion this place is the most authentic Italian restaurant on the island. The husband (from Italy) and wife owner team (they also own Mix Cafe) make the bread and pasta from scratch everyday. The menu here is small, simple, but flavors are spot on and everything tastes delicious and homemade. For lunch you can get a panini with bread and a small salad or what I come in for, their lasagna! The fungi lasagna is to die for!
When I usually think of Du Vin I think of happy hour and wine bar, but Du Vin serves some really delicious French inspired lunch dishes. Salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers, and daily specials all sounds typical, but every lunch I’ve had here is on another level of sophistication and something you might get at a trendy San Francisco eatery. For example their Du Vin Burger: with local ground beef, with island lettuce, tomato, and onion on a toasted Talera roll. Comes with two choices: caramelized onions, Gruyere, Swiss, blue cheese, apple-smoked bacon, mushrooms, avocado or fried egg for $14 with house made chips (that are also amazing!).
Located on Bishop Street in the hustle and bustle of downtown, Umeke Market is another hidden gem amongst dozens of eateries in walking distance. This market has a cafe within and serves burgers, deli sandwiches, homemade soups, and healthy local-style plate lunches all made with the freshest natural ingredients and a healthy spin. Try their Kale Smoothie, Triple Mushroom Patty, Buffalo Soul Jah Burger, Detox Soup, Chicken Curry Salad, Kale Salad, Garlic-Hoisin Turkey Meatloaf, or my favorite the Dirty Bird a ground turkey burger served with a fried egg. This is the best turkey burger, hands down on the island!
Located on 1170 Nuuanu Avenue, when making this best of list I had to include Mei Sum not because they have the best dim sum, but because they are the go-to for a downtown Honolulu lunch. This place delivers consistent Chinese food along with dim sum carts at any hour at a very affordable price. The service here is simply put, very bad, but fast. This is a great place to grab a quick lunch with your co-workers or take your out of town guests to Chinatown to experience the old school Chinatown that I grew up with. If you want kindness and grace, go to Little Village Noodle House.