As the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is typically the most well-known and most visited city in Hawaii. Since it’s also the most populated of all the Hawaiian cities, it's no surprise that Honolulu has some of the best dining experiences. In fact, there are enough restaurants in Honolulu that could make the cut for a Michelin Star or a Bib Gourmand rating if Hawaii had a Michelin Guide. The only reason there aren’t any Michelin Star restaurants in Honolulu is that no restaurants on the island have been rated by Michelin.
Even though restaurant owners and gourmet chefs across the country try to gain the attention of Michelin, there are only five U.S. locations that currently have Michelin Guides. With an interesting history, the Michelin Guide has become the most prestigious place to find restaurants worldwide, and they are continuously adding locations, like the two new U.S. locations that will be added in 2023.
Since Michelin often looks for new markets, there’s a possibility Hawaii could gain a Michelin Guide in the future. Keep reading to find out which restaurants in Honolulu may be Michelin worthy.
Honolulu Restaurants That Are Michelin Worthy
The unique cuisine, culture, and atmosphere of Hawaii are something you have to experience for yourself to fully understand. Each Michelin worthy restaurant in Honolulu brings its own flair combined with the local flavors of Hawaii.
The Michelin Star rating is given to restaurants that meet the specific criteria they’re looking for. Michelin Inspectors examine a number of factors at each restaurant including the quality of the food, the personality of the chef, and the consistency of the restaurant over time.
Michelin is also always looking for new restaurants to evaluate. If Michelin decided to visit Honolulu to create a guide, here are some of the restaurants that may be considered:
- La Mer
- Pai Honolulu
- Michel’s at the Colony Surf
While Michelin ratings are given in the form of stars, restaurants can receive a rating of 1, 2, or 3 stars depending on their overall quality and consistency. Let’s take a closer look at each Michelin worthy restaurant in Honolulu.
If you’re looking for an elegant and luxurious restaurant in Honolulu, La Mer checks all the boxes. From the time you walk into La Mer, you can tell each detail is intentional to elevate the experience of the guests.
As the only restaurant on the island that has received the AAA Five Diamond Award as well as the Forbes 5 Star Award, the meals are exquisite and the service you receive is top-notch.
If you’re looking for the perfect wine pairing for your meal, they also have an award-winning wine selection. It’s no surprise that elegant evening attire is required when you visit La Mer for dinner. After perusing the menu, you can choose from dishes such as the Chilean Sea Bass or the Lamb Filet.
Get ready for an international affair when taking a seat at Pai Honolulu. This elegant restaurant, located in the Downtown Arts District, is a culinary experience you won’t soon forget. Behind the delicious menu at Pai is Chef Kevin J. Lee, who apprenticed at some of New York’s top restaurants before opening Pai Honolulu.
As his culinary creativity flourished, he began the search for the perfect location for a restaurant of his own creation, which is how Pai Honolulu was born. At this fine dining establishment, Chef Kevin J. Lee combines his international experience with contemporary American favorites.
At Pai, you can choose from the Chef’s Tasting Menu or the Four Course Menu, depending on your preferences. The Chef’s Tasting Menu is sure to delight your palette with choices such as the 90-Day Dry-aged NY Striploin, complete with a Kona coffee and juniper crust and served with a side of taro and potato gratin. Your meal wouldn’t be complete without the Dark Chocolate Haupia dessert, with an almond cookie crumble sprinkled with coconut sugar.
Michel’s at the Colony Surf
Michel’s at the Colony Surf offers a tasteful dining experience with a perfectly crafted menu and breathtaking views. Soak in the beauty of the Pacific while you experience some of the best hospitality Honolulu has to offer.
The menu at Michel’s at the Colony Surf brings a unique twist to some classic seafood favorites. You can enjoy entrees such as the Ahi Tartare with walnut oil or the Lobster Bisque A La Michel’s.
You can enjoy other classics as well such as the Beef Wellington or the Hawaiian Coffee Rubbed Lamb Chops. Your server will help you choose the perfect wine to pair with your meal or you can choose from their selection of rare Japanese whiskies and craft cocktails.
Restaurants in Hawaii Worthy of a Bib Gourmand
While there isn’t a certain price range necessary for a restaurant to receive a Michelin Star rating, it’s unlikely for more moderately priced restaurants to attain the quality that Michelin Inspectors are looking for. However, Michelin has another rating that is meant to recognize some of the top moderately priced restaurants.
This rating is known as the Bib Gourmand. In Honolulu, the following restaurants may be worthy of a Bib Gourmand rating:
- Merriman’s Honolulu
- The Pig and the Lady
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Even though the Bib Gourmand isn’t the same as the Michelin Star, it’s still a high honor to be recognized in the Michelin Guide.
Merriman’s Honolulu was one of the first restaurants on the island to introduce the idea of farm-to-table. Led by Peter Merriman, this restaurant combines the casual feel of a neighborhood bistro with the unique culture and feel of old Hawaii.
Merriman's has won numerous awards from Honolulu Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, and Hawaii Magazine. Their menu includes entrees such as the Kalua Pig Quesadilla, Organic Taro Hummus, and the Garlic Roasted Wild Shrimp.
The Pig and the Lady
The Pig and the Lady is a Vietnamese restaurant located in Downtown Honolulu. This creative culinary experience is led by Chef Andrew Le who was inspired by his cultural roots to bring The Pig and the Lady to life.
The Pig and the Lady features modern, Vietnamese cooking in a vibrant and lively atmosphere. Their menu includes more casual eats such as Banh Mi, a Vietnamese-style sandwich served on a baguette. They also offer more distinguished dishes such as the Claypot Braised Kona Kanpachi cooked with pork belly and shrimp.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Helena’s Hawaiian Food is a restaurant that serves some classic Hawaiian dishes in Honolulu. Helena's is a family-owned business that has been open since 1946. Over the years, this restaurant has continued to be a favorite place for locals and tourists alike.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food received the Regional Classic James Beard Award in 2000. They pride themselves on being an unpretentious eatery that serves local favorites such as Kalua Pig, Short Ribs, and Lomi Salmon.
Finding the Best Restaurants in Honolulu
Honolulu is no doubt a beautiful place to visit, but there are also many aspects of the culture and cuisine that make it unique. Some of the best restaurants in Honolulu may be worthy of a Michelin Star, while some of the more moderately priced restaurants may be worthy of the Bib Gourmand award.
No matter what your tastes are, there are numerous restaurants in Honolulu that are worth visiting. If Michelin decides to bring their guide to Hawaii, many of these establishments may make the list of Michelin Star restaurants in Honolulu.
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