It’s no secret that Hawaii is what many would consider a paradise. Beautiful beaches, rainforests, and waterfalls are just a few of the factors that make Hawaii the perfect vacation destination. While visiting Hawaii, one way to add to the luxury of your vacation is to dine at some of the best restaurants in the area. The Michelin Guide is an excellent place to find unique, top-quality restaurants, so you might wonder if there are any Michelin Star restaurants in Hawaii.
While there are restaurants in Hawaii that we think are worthy of a Michelin Star, there aren’t any official Michelin restaurants since there isn’t a Michelin Guide for Hawaii. Michelin only has five different guides for the U.S. although they are adding two new U.S. locations in 2023.
With the addition of two new guides this year, Michelin is always looking for restaurants worthy of achieving Michelin status. Even though there isn’t a Hawaii Michelin Guide yet, there's always the possibility for one in the future, and if Michelin adds Hawaii to their growing list of U.S. locations, here are some of the restaurants we think should make the cut.
Hawaii Restaurants Worthy of a Michelin Star
There are numerous fine-dining restaurants in Hawaii that have the quality, food, and consistency necessary to receive a Michelin Star. Michelin Stars are based on specific criteria that include the quality of ingredients, harmony of flavors, mastery of techniques, the chef’s personality, and the consistency of the restaurant.
Restaurants that make it into the Michelin Guide can be awarded 1, 2, or 3 stars. Additionally, Michelin offers the Bib Gourmand award to restaurants that offer excellent food at moderate prices. Here are 8 restaurants that could make the cut for a Hawaii Michelin Guide:
- La Mer
- La Vie
- ULU Ocean Grill
- 53 by the Sea
Let’s examine what makes each restaurant worthy of the prestigious Michelin Star.
Among all the delicious dining experiences in Hawaii, La Mer makes the top of the list. This luxury French restaurant in Honolulu is the only restaurant in Hawaii that has received the AAA Five Diamond Award and the Forbes 5 Star award.
It’s difficult to say which is more stunning, the delicious entrees or the breathtaking views of the Pacific. Each of the entrees at La Mer is fresh, locally sourced, and is a combination of tropical cuisine and French-inspired cuisine.
Some of the chef-recommended plates include the Torchon of Duck Foie Gras and the Seared Foie Gras. You may also choose one of the other delectable meals from their menu such as the Chilean Sea Bass or the Filet de Boeuf, a perfectly cooked filet of beef complete with foie gras and truffle mashed potato drizzled in truffle sauce.
Hokus at the Kahala
This beachside restaurant, located in the Kahala Hotel & Resort is the premier place to have a memorable dinner in Hawaii. Each detail of the dining experience at Hokus is meant to surprise and delight any guest who visits. The cozy atmosphere combines the luxury of a fine-dining experience with the comfort of a beachside resort. Nothing quite beats the view from your table.
At Hokus, Chef Jonathan Mizukami leads the way to excellence. This culinary artisan perfected his craft in international Michelin Star Restaurants and at Hokus, he combines the local island flavors of Hawaii with French cuisine.
In 2021-2022, Hokus received the recognition of Critic’s Choice Best Restaurant by the Ilima Awards. To get the full experience, you can try the Grand Tasting. The Grand Tasting includes a seven-course culinary journey through the local farms, fields, and fisheries of Hawaii.
Senia is a play on the word xenia, which means hospitality. This name is a perfect introduction to the welcoming atmosphere of Senia where you are invited to share a meal with friends and family alike. Expertly crafted drinks and delicious entrees are the perfect combination in this neighborhood restaurant in Honolulu.
The cuisine at Senia combines the fresh, local ingredients found in Hawaii with the limitless possibilities of American-inspired cuisine. On Friday and Saturday nights, a limited number of guests can get the full Senia experience with the Chef’s Counter Tasting Menu.
This exclusive seating option is hands-down the best way to drink in the atmosphere and cuisine of Senia. You’ll witness Chef Anthony Rush lead his team throughout the dining experience and from this view, you get to witness how the magic happens behind the scenes. Pulling back the curtain to the kitchen of Senia will leave you in awe of the careful preparation that each dish requires.
As a AAA Four Diamond Restaurant and winner of the Forbes Four Star Award, dining at Spago is an experience you won’t want to miss. Located within the Four Seasons Hotel in Maui, Hawaii, this restaurant is inspired by the creativity of Master Chef Wolfgang Puck.
The cuisine at Spago combines some of the local flavors of Hawaii with Wolfgang Puck’s classic dishes. On the menu, you’ll find elegant items such as Asian Pear and Burrata, Kaluga Caviar, and Seafood Risotto. The Seafood Risotto is served with a side of asparagus and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano.
As part of the luxury dining experience, your server will help you find the perfect wine pairing for your meal. You can also choose your favorite drink from the specialty cocktail menu. Both the main dining room at Spago and the private dining area offer breathtaking views of the ocean.
La Vie is another exquisite restaurant you have to experience to understand. With a menu inspired by the local Hawaiian cuisine, there are few things more delicate and fresh than the entrees at La Vie.
Start off with the freshness of Hirabara Farm Beets, complete with pickled huckleberry and black sesame, and perfectly paired with a glass of Rosé. Next up, choose between entrees such as the Sonoma Duck Breast or the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu, both of which will leave your taste buds buzzing.
The style of the menus at La Vie is French inspired, with a twist of seasonal ingredients. If you plan on eating in the dining room, it's best to secure your table with a reservation. However, they also have open seating in the elegant Bar Room where walk-ins are welcome.
‘ULU Ocean Grill
Another Four Seasons restaurant makes the list with the award-winning ‘ULU Ocean Grill. Like many other restaurants on the island, this restaurant focuses on using fresh, local ingredients. At ‘ULU Ocean Grill, 75% of the food is locally sourced from Hawaii. That makes this restaurant an excellent place to experience local cuisine.
‘ULU Ocean Grill offers many signature dishes on their menu. You might choose the Hawaiian Ahi Poke, Charcoal BBQ Octopus, or the Misoyaki Kanpachi, which includes a black garlic emulsion and Hakurei turnip. Don’t let the welcoming atmosphere of ‘ULU Ocean Grill fool you. The chef takes every dish seriously and each dish brings together local flavors with an Asian twist.
The ‘ULU Ocean Grill also offers a Sushi Lounge menu complete with some of the ‘ULU specialties. From the Chef’s Assorted Sashimi to the Hualalai Sushi Trio, this is no ordinary sushi. After enjoying the selections from ‘ULU Ocean Grill, you’ll see sushi in a completely different light.
53 By the Sea
53 by the Sea is the perfect place to dine in elegance with beautiful views of Waikiki. As the winner of numerous awards, this restaurant remains one of the favorite places for locals and tourists alike to dine in luxury.
As you walk into 53 by the Sea, the breathtaking grand staircase is just the beginning of the beauty you’ll experience in this unique restaurant. The philosophy behind this restaurant is superb hospitality, professionalism, and preparation.
These values are evident in each detail of the surroundings and the delicate preparation of each dish. Their menu combines the best seafood and meat Hawaii has to offer with fresh, local ingredients. At dinner, you can start off with the Caviar, served with house-made brioche. Then, move on to dishes such as the Seafood Coconut Curry or choose the fresh catch of the day.
Finding the Best Restaurants in Hawaii
Anyone who has visited Hawaii, or even had the pleasure of living there, knows it’s an experience like no other. No matter how much time you spend on the island, visiting some of the most elegant restaurants is a necessary part of the experience.
If Michelin adds a guide for Hawaii in the future, the Michelin Inspectors just might stop by these highly-rated restaurants in Hawaii.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©okimo/Shutterstock.com.