If variety is what you’re looking for in where to eat in Kailua, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a great range of sit-down restaurant options, the array of to-go and prepared food is affordable yet tasty, and you’ll find various cuisine styles from American to Italian to Asian. Vegetarians shouldn’t have much trouble finding something to eat, either.
Steak and Seafood
Buzz’s Lanikai (413 Kawailoa Rd., 808/261-4661, 11am-9:30pm daily, $17-33) is famous for its kiawe charcoal broiled burgers and steaks as well as its salads. The small, popular restaurant is quirky and fun, complete with a tree right in the middle of the lanai seating. It’s right across from Kailua Beach Park, so it’s usually packed with a wait. Buzz’s is also known for its signature mai tai, a mix of rum with a cherry on top. If you’d like a juice mixer with it, order the B.F.R.D. Don’t forget to ask what that stands for.
Formaggio Grill (305 Hahani St., 808/263-2633, 11:30am-11pm Mon.-Thurs., 11:30am-1am Fri.-Sat., 11am-11pm Sun., $12-69) blends Italian dishes with favorites from the grill like prime rib, lamb chops, barbecued ribs, and filet mignon. Thin crust pizzas and rich lobster bisque complement the dishes, as does the wine-by-the-glass selection, over 50 bottles. Parking is extremely limited in front of the restaurant. Try the lot across the street by Macy’s.
Kalapawai Market (306 S. Kalaheo Ave., 808/262-4359, 6am-9pm daily, $8-24) is right at Kailua Beach Park, with another location in downtown Kailua (750 Kailua Rd., 808/262-3354, 6am-9pm Mon.-Thurs., 6am-9:30pm Fri., 7am-9:30pm Sat., 7am-9pm Sun., $8-24). The beach park location has a small sandwich deli and a limited grocery store that also sells beer and wine. The downtown location is strictly a café and deli with a coffee and wine bar and bakery. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with indoor and outdoor seating, they have made-to-order sandwiches and a selection of prepared gourmet foods.
Boots and Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen (151 Hekili St., 808/263-7929, 7:30am-2pm Mon.-Fri., 7am-2:30pm Sat.-Sun., $4-14) is all about pancakes, and people line up for them—macadamia nut pancakes to be exact. They also serve other traditional breakfast items and Hawaiian-style favorites all day long with a few lunch items as well. The restaurant is awash in sports memorabilia.
Morning Brew (600 Kailua Rd., 808/262-7770, 6am-9pm Sun.-Thurs., 6am-10pm Fri.-Sat., $1-9) is the go-to coffeehouse and bistro in Kailua. With good coffee, a great assortment of bakery goods, sandwiches, snacks, free Internet, and two-stories of seating, plus outdoor seating, it’s an easy all-day hangout if you have some work to do.
Cactus (767 Kailua Rd., 808/261-1000, 11am-10pm daily, $6-24) offers a blend of locally sourced ingredients and Central and South American cuisine, including influences from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The restaurant has a modern style, complete with regional wines and premium rums, tequilas, and liquors. They serve lunch and dinner.
Japanese and Thai
Noboru (201 Hamakua Dr., A-102, 808/261-3033, 11:30am-3pm Mon.-Sat., 5pm-9pm daily, $4-29) is the premier sushi restaurant in Kailua. They also serve teishoku, shabu-shabu, and chanko nabe. The modern bar offers over 25 different kinds of sake.
Check out Champa Thai (306 Kuulei Rd., 808/263-8281, 11am-2pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm Mon.-Sat., 5pm-9pm Sun., $7-11). Once you pick from the nearly 100 options of sauce, noodle, meat, and vegetable combinations, all that’s left for you to decide is how spicy to make it.
Health Foods and Groceries
Down To Earth (201 Hamakua Dr., 808/262-3838, 7:30am-10pm daily) is an all-vegetarian organic and natural food store. In addition to groceries, vitamins, cosmetics, bulk items, and produce, they also have a hot food bar and bakery. There are a few tables in front of the store where you can enjoy your meal. Hamakua Marsh is just across the parking lot.
Whole Foods (629 Kailua Rd., #100, 808/263-6800, 7am-10pm daily) has a hot food bar, sandwiches, cold prepared foods, fresh pizza, Chinese food, burgers, burritos, even a few beers on tap, and a comfortable outdoor lanai for sitting down and enjoying your grub.