Top Five: Oahu


Welcome to our Top Five series, where bomb women show us their city's food scene through their eyes. From speakeasies in Cleveland to roadside spam in Hawaii to whole hog barbecue in Charleston, they're showcasing their local haunts and the places you wouldn't find on your own. 

Curated by Brantly Baynes

A doctor, traveler, whitewater rafting guide, and Air Force veteran, Brantly believes life is an adventure--which makes sense, given she's lived in Hawaii for decades. According to Brantly, a new experience or food can make your day. She would rather try something new than make the safe choice. A perfect day for her is being on the ocean surfing, sailing, paddling or diving with friends followed by something delicious to eat and drink. So when you're in Hawaii, Brantly says to get on the ocean and don't be afraid to eat at the small strip-mall restaurants--they are fantastic and you can often BYOB!

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Credit:  Liliha Bakery

(1) Coffee

Liliha Bakery

515 N Kuakini St. Honolulu, HI 96817

Great bakery...but really you are getting coffee to go with your Poi donut and a Coco Puff!


(2) Breakfast

Rainbow Drive-in (or 7-11-if you are on the road)

3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Rainbow Drive-in is the perfect place to fill up after a morning surf session, swim or paddle. You have to get there pretty early before they run out of fried rice, but if the fried rice is gone go for the Loco Moco. On the road grab a Spam Katsu Mushubi (other Spam options are available but the Katsu rocks!!) Don't laugh--you haven't visited Hawaii if you haven't had a Spam Mushubi from 7-11. Great with a big gulp!


(3) Lunch

Opal Thai (now in China Town) 

1030 Smith St, Honolulu, HI 96817

Excellent Thai food, and owner Opal is welcoming and engaged in your food experience. Let go of control over what you want to order--Opal decides for you. Just go and enjoy every course--Opal will bring you fantastic Thai food. Bring your own beer or wine!


(4) Dinner 

Town (in Kaimuki)

3435 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816

Small local restaurant with locally sourced ingredients and frequently changing menu. Casual but often very busy. Excellent hand cut pasta dishes. Share multiple starters to get the full experience.


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(5) Drinks

La Mariana

50 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu HI, 96816

Oahu's most classic Tiki Bar. Enjoy a Mai Tai on the water. Fun decor with original Tiki design. Try the Ling Hing Mui Margarita, a Hawaiian classic. Honestly the food is not fantastic so come for a Mai Tai or a Margarita and the atmosphere.