The 16 Absolute Best Hawaiian Restaurants In The US

You can not visit Hawaii without visiting Helena’s. It’s more than a restaurant, it’s an island institution. Helena’s Hawaiian Food is the third restaurant in Hawaii to win a James Beard Award, has a hidden table in the back dubbed the “Bill Murray table”, and the original owner’s name is not Helena, it’s Helen. Now, Helena’s is manned by Helen Chock’s grandson, Craig Katsuyoshi. Despite being the new captain, Katsuyoshi keeps her traditions alive. Pipakaula, or dried salted short ribs, still drape like bats above the kitchen like it was 1946 (when they first opened). The only thing that’s different is the accolades now plastered all over the walls. They bring about nostalgic memories of a grandmother showing off the prized possessions of her grandkids’ accomplishments. In this case, Katsuyoshi took that baton.

“Over the years, I’ve seen grandparents bring their kids, and now those kids are fully grown and they’re bringing their kids,” Katsuyoshi shared with Hawaii Magazine.

Even though Helena’s feels like home, it also buzzes with crowds on the daily. The short ribs and shredded kalua pork are a delight, that as Eater describes, is the “best food on Oahu”. Aside from the food, the vibes are memorable. Blocks of freshly-cut haupia give islanders a peek at snowy-like treats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the air drifts with the vapors of smoked meat. At Helena’s, after 70 years, it’s obvious it’s a long-live kind of island tradition.

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