Are you looking for the best poke in Honolulu and Waikiki? This guide from a Hawaii local has all of the tastiest recommendations.
The poke bowl craze has boomed in recent years with poke shops popping up all over the U.S. But, if I’m being honest, the vast majority of mainland poke places are far from authentic. I’ve seen mainland poke bowls with chicken instead of fish, greens instead of rice, and even a dusting of Cheeto crumbs on top!
So if you have the chance to try more authentic poke during your trip to Hawaii, you should absolutely do so! Here are 5 places to get the most delicious poke in Honolulu and Waikiki.
What Is Poke?
Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a local dish from Hawaii that is typically made with cubed raw fish, soy sauce (shoyu), seaweed, and other seasoning. It’s definitely a local staple, which is why it’s also on my Hawaii food bucket list.
Poke-Related Words to Know
There’s a lot of local lingo (also known as pidgin) that you’ll need to know when ordering poke. Below, I’ve included a little cheat sheet.
Ahi: Tuna (“ahi tuna” is saying “tuna tuna”)
Aku: Skip jack tuna
Shoyu: Soy sauce
Limu/Ogo: A type of purple seaweed
Furikake: A dried green seaweed mixture with sesame seeds
Inamona: Roasted kukui nut mix
Miso: A traditional Japanese fermented soybean seasoning
Wasabi: Spicy Japanese horseradish
Shiso Leaf: A type of citrus-flavored leaf
Ikura: Roe (red caviar)
Masago: Capelin roe
Taegu: Strips of seasoned codfish
Where Can I Get the Best Poke in Honolulu and Waikiki?
First, I have to be straightforward with you. It’s hard to find good, authentic poke in Waikiki. Many of the Waikiki poke spots try to cater to visitors and instead create inauthentic poke bowls. As a matter of fact, there’s just one Waikiki poke spot on this list.
So instead of trying to find a poke spot right next to your Waikiki hotel, I HIGHLY recommend driving (or biking or bussing) a little further into Honolulu for some fantastic poke.
*Note: Many of the places to get the best poke in Honolulu and Waikiki, including Paina Café and Ahi Assassins, closed down (at least their brick-and-mortar locations in Hawaii) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully we’ll get to see them again in the future!
Ono Seafood is a little hole-in-the-wall in Kaimuki that has incredible poke. Their tag line is “The best poke in Honolulu since 1995,” and they’re not wrong.
All of the poke options at Ono Seafood are great – from the spicy ahi to the miso tako (octopus). As a matter of fact, Ono Seafood has the widest variety of tako poke in town, as they have miso tako, spicy tako, shoyu tako, and Hawaiian style tako. So if you’ve been on the fence about trying octopus, this is a fantastic place to finally take the plunge.
*Pro Tip: If you see Ono Seafood’s food truck (also called the Poke Bowl Patrol) – probably near the Koko Crater Botanical Garden – get a poke bowl from there! Ono Seafood’s brick-and-mortar location looks a little bit sketchy.
Brick-and-Mortar Location: 747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Food Truck Location: 501 Kealahou St #A53, Honolulu, HI 96825
Maguro Brothers Hawaii
If you’re looking for the best poke in Waikiki in particular, Maguro Brothers Hawaii takes the cake.
Maguro Brothers actually got its start in the heart of Chinatown in Honolulu. And that location is still thriving with some of the best poke around. They were actually so successful that they decided to open a second location in Waikiki!
Regardless of if you decide to visit their Waikiki location or the Honolulu location, there’s lots of great poke to try. The classic shoyu onion ahi and the spicy mayo ahi have been crowd favorites for years.
Honolulu Location – 747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Waikiki Location – Waikiki Hotel, 415 Nāhua Street Pearl, Honolulu, HI 96815
Off the Hook Poke Market
Situated in Honolulu’s Manoa neighborhood, Off the Hook Poke Market is popular with locals, college students, and visitors alike. It’s definitely one of the places to get the best poke in Honolulu and Waikiki.
While many Waikiki and Honolulu poke places choose to make recreations of the same beloved flavors, Off the Hook Poke Market opted to experiment with new poke combinations – and wildly succeeded.
The cold ginger ahi poke is their signature poke, complete with a house-made ginger scallion sauce. The Japan deluxe poke is bursting with ginger, miso, and shiso leaf flavors. And all spice lovers will want to try the Kilauea fire poke, made with chili miso, crushed pepper, and jalapeños.
Address: 2908 E Manoa Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822
Nico’s Pier 38
Nico’s Pier 38 is known for having the freshest fish around. And fresh fish is SUCH an important part of good poke!
I will admit that the poke-ordering process at Nico’s is a little confusing. You actually have to order your poke in a separate section of the restaurant (on the left, if you enter through the main restaurant door), so don’t stand in the same line as everyone else!
Once you figure out the line situation, things are smooth sailing from there. Order your poke of choice – if you’re feeling adventurous, try the ultimate poke – and enjoy!
Address: 1129 N Nimitz Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817
BONUS: Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering
Tanioka’s is widely known as the best place to get poke on Oahu, Hawaii. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best restaurants on the island in general. But it’s listed as a bonus, because it’s not in Honolulu or Waikiki. It’s located in Waipahu, which is about 30 minutes away.
That said, Tanioka’s poke is so good that it deserves a spot on this list anyway. This local eatery serves all sorts of poke, including the typical ahi-based poke bowls, tako poke, clam poke, and even tofu poke. But the crowd favorites are consistently the spicy ahi poke, the limu ahi poke, and the shoyu ahi poke.
*Pro Tip: To get more of your money’s worth, get JUST the poke at Tanioka’s, not the rice. Put another way, the poke bowl is a lot pricier than just the poke, and the only additional thing in the poke bowl is rice.
Address: 94-903 Farrington Hwy, Waipahu, HI 96797
Where else can you get the best poke in Honolulu and Waikiki? Let me know in the comments below!
Visiting another Hawaiian island on your trip? Don’t forget to stop at the best Maui poke spots too!
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