2020 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: The Best Restaurants in Hawai‘i – Honolulu Magazine – September 2020

Congratulations to this year’s Hale ‘Aina Award winners announced on Sept. 14, 2020.

By HONOLULU Magazine Staff



Hale Aina Awards winners



We asked, more than 8,000 votes were cast, and now it’s time to unveil the winners of the 2020 Hale ‘Aina Awards!


Each year, our readers vote for their favorite restaurants in the Islands, as well as naming the Restaurateur of the Year. The top restaurants were announced during a virtual live-reception held Sept. 14, 2020. See our upcoming December 2020 issue for the stories behind the menus, ordering tips from some of our Hale ‘Aina Award honorees. Subscribe now to have our Best Restaurants issue delivered right to your home.


The Hale ‘Aina Awards are the state’s longest running and most prestigious dining honors, started by HONOLULU Magazine in 1984 to honor the best restaurants in Hawai‘i. Whether you’re looking for weekend brunch spots, your new favorite cocktail or the best places to indulge your sweet tooth, we got you. This list of Hale ‘Aina-winning restaurants is your all-year, can’t-miss dining guide.


Congratulations to this year’s winners for operating at the highest levels of quality, and offering Hawai‘i’s most delicious and innovative dishes. 


SEE ALSO: These 3 Original Hale ‘Aina Winners Are Still Winning Decades Later“>


Restaurateur of the Year

Michelle Karr-Ueoka & Wade Ueoka

MW Restaurant


Best New Restaurant

GOLD – Rigo

SILVER – Mad Bene

BRONZE – Feast

FINALIST – Ya-Ya’s Chophouse & Seafood


SEE ALSO: Zigu: A Hidden Japanese Izakaya Emphasizes Local Ingredients


Best O‘ahu Restaurant

GOLD – Roy’s Hawai‘i Kai

SILVER – Alan Wong’s

BRONZE – Merriman’s Honolulu



Best Maui Restaurant

GOLD – Lahaina Grill

SILVER – Merriman’s Kapalua

BRONZE – Mama’s Fish House

FINALIST – Lineage


SEE ALSO: Sheldon Simeon’s Lineage on Maui Wins Gold for Hawai‘i’s Best New Restaurant


Best Big Island Restaurant

GOLD – Merriman’s Waimea

SILVER – Hawaiian Style Café

BRONZE – Roy’s Waikoloa

FINALIST – Ken’s House of Pancakes


Best Kaua‘i Restaurant

GOLD – The Beach House

SILVER – Roy’s Poʻipū

BRONZE – Merriman’s Fish House

FINALIST – Restaurant Bar Acuda


Best Service

GOLD – Hy’s Steak House

SILVER – Lahaina Grill

BRONZE – Roy’s Hawai‘i Kai

FINALIST – Merriman’s Honolulu


SEE ALSO: Chef Mavro Celebrates 20 Years of Promoting Local Food


Best Business Lunch

GOLD – Mariposa

SILVER – MW Restaurant

BRONZE – Merriman’s Honolulu

FINALIST – Nico’s Pier 38


Best Breakfast

GOLD – Café Kaila

SILVER – Koko Head Café

BRONZE – Cinnamon’s



SEE ALSO: 2019 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: The Best Breakfast Restaurants in Hawai‘i


Best Brunch

GOLD – Orchids

SILVER – Koko Head Café

BRONZE – Café Kaila



Best Buffet

GOLD – Lā Hiki Kitchen

SILVER – 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar

BRONZE – Orchids



SEE ALSO: 35th Hale ‘Aina Winner: Herringbone Waikīkī is Hawai‘i’s Best New Restaurant


Best Cocktail

GOLD – Bar Leather Apron

SILVER – Moku Kitchen

BRONZE –  Bevy

FINALIST – Monkeypod Kitchen


Best Wine Program

GOLD – Vino

SILVER – Amuse Wine Bar

BRONZE – Lahaina Grill

FINALIST – Merriman’s Honolulu


Best Beer Program

GOLD – Square Barrels

SILVER – Maui Brewing Co.

BRONZE – Kona Brewing Co.



SEE ALSO: First Look: Off the Wall Emerges as Ward Village’s Newest Happy Hour Hot Spot


Best Bar Food

GOLD –  Side Street Inn

SILVER – Square Barrels

BRONZE – Pint + Jigger



Best Tasting Menu

GOLD – Senia

SILVER – Alan Wong’s

BRONZE – Pai Honolulu

FINALIST – Stage Restaurant


SEE ALSO: Pai Honolulu Wins Best New Restaurant, Service and Tasting Menu


Most Romantic

GOLD – Michel’s at the Colony Surf


BRONZE – 53 By The Sea

FINALIST – Mama’s Fish House


Best Restaurant That Caters

GOLD – Chef Chai

SILVER – The Pig & The Lady

BRONZE – MW Restaurant

FINALIST – Side Street Inn


Best Vegetarian

GOLD – Peace Café

SILVER – Tane Vegan Izakaya

BRONZE – Vegan Hills

FINALIST – Beet Box Café


SEE ALSO: The 12 Best Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes on O‘ahu Right Now


Best Gourmet Comfort Food

GOLD – 12th Ave Grill

SILVER – Side Street Inn

BRONZE – Kalapawai Café & Deli

FINALIST – Scratch Kitchen


Best Steak

GOLD – Stripsteak

SILVER – Ruth’s Chris Steak House

BRONZE – Hy’s Steak House

FINALIST – Morton’s The Steakhouse


Best Seafood

GOLD – Nico’s Pier 38

SILVER – Mama’s Fish House

BRONZE – Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill

FINALIST – Merriman’s Honolulu


Best Dessert

GOLD – MW Restaurant

SILVER – Liliha Bakery

BRONZE – The Pig & The Lady

FINALIST – Tiny Pryamid


Best Farm-to-Table

GOLD – Town

SILVER – Merriman’s Honolulu

BRONZE – Mud Hen Water

FINALIST – Moku Kitchen


Best Hot Pot

GOLD – Ichiriki

SILVER – Sweet Home Café

BRONZE – Asuka Nabe + Shabu Shabu

FINALIST – Nabeya Maido


SEE ALSO: The Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Hot Pot in Honolulu


Best Chinese

GOLD – Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

SILVER – Little Village Noodle House

BRONZE – Fook Yuen

FINALIST – Happy Days


SEE ALSO: How to Eat Xiao Long Bao and Other Tips for Enjoying Soup Dumplings in Honolulu


Best Hawaiian

GOLD – Helena’s Hawaiian Food

SILVER – Highway Inn

BRONZE – Young’s Fish Market

FINALIST – Waiāhole Poi Factory


Best Italian

GOLD – Arancino at The Kāhala

SILVER – Assaggio

BRONZE – La Cucina Ristorante Italiano

FINALIST – Taormina Sicilian Cuisine


Best Izakaya

GOLD – Izakaya Naru

SILVER – Izakaya Torae Torae

BRONZE – Sushi Izakaya Gaku

FINALIST – Izakaya Nonbei


Best Sushi

GOLD – Yanagi Sushi

SILVER – Ginza Sushi

BRONZE – Sushi ii

FINALIST – Mitch’s Sushi


Best Japanese Noodles (Ramen, Udon, Soba)

GOLD – I-naba

SILVER – Golden Pork Ton-kotsu Ramen Bar

BRONZE – Wagaya

FINALIST – Marukame Udon


Best Overall Japanese

GOLD – Gyotaku

SILVER – I-naba

BRONZE – Rinka

FINALIST – Yanagi Sushi


Best Thai

GOLD – Noi Thai Cuisine

SILVER – Thai Issan Cuisine

BRONZE – Opal Thai

FINALIST – Maile’s Thai Bistro


Best Mediterranean

GOLD – Olive Tree Café

SILVER – Yamas Mediterranean Cuisine

BRONZE – Shaloha Pita



Best Indian

GOLD – Café Maharani

SILVER – Himalayan Kitchen

BRONZE – Kamana Kitchen

FINALIST – Bombay Palace


Best Yakiniku/Korean BBQ

GOLD – Gen Korean BBQ House

SILVER – Million Restaurant

BRONZE – Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

FINALIST – Sura Hawai‘i


Best Overall Korean

GOLD – Million Restaurant

SILVER – Sorabol

BRONZE – Choi’s Garden

FINALIST – Gen Korean BBQ House


Best Vietnamese

GOLD – The Pig &The Lady

SILVER – Hale Vietnam

BRONZE – Pho Saigon

FINALIST – Saigon’s Restaurant


Best Mexican

GOLD – Azteca Mexican Restaurant

SILVER – Los Chaparros Mexican Restaurant

BRONZE – Mexico Restaurant

FINALIST – Alejandro’s


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