Best Food Trucks In Hawaii - Oahu
Food Trucks are a common site in Oahu, especially en route to, and on, the North Shore. Not only is it a convenient road side option for the traveling public but its a means for local food based entreprenuers to sustain a living in the inflated real estate market of Oahu. The no nonsense menus rival any 5 star resort restaurant in regards to portions, taste and of course price. YAHglobal.Com has compiled a list of the best food trucks in Hawaii - Oahu. We have taken into consideration variety, convenience, and most importantly....flavor. We'd love your feedback on this one folks. We did our best to circle the island and sample selections from these portable eateries any time our bellies beckoned, but we're sure to have missed a few. Comment below to give us a "heads up!" on your favorites and we'll "investigate". Tough job, we know...
Note: The items listed are in no particular order of importance so don't get all worked up if you don't agree with the "order" - there is none.
Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Co.
Locations: Haleiwa Town - Kamehameha Highway before turning into beach park (Pictured on the left in Haleiwa, North Shore), Waikiki - On the corner of Kai'olo and Kuhio in the parking lot (on map above)
Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood gets the top nod over Giovanni's below because of the variety. If its just about the shrimp, then Giovanni's takes top spot, but not everyone craves seafood (a travesty on the islands). The shrimp is still excellent but the Top Sirloin Steak & Onion plate is superb for meat lovers as is the Steak & Shrimp Combo and the Pork Chop & Onions plate, and the....OK, we better stop. Blue Water has a perfectly placed location in YAHglobal.Com's favorite beach town of Haleiwa (off Kam Highway) and on the back roads of Waikiki.
Kakuhu & Haleiwa, North Shore, Oahu 293-1839
Giovanni's is highly regarded as the go-to shrimp truck on an island full of shrimp trucks. Upon numerous tastings there was no conclusive evidence to refute these testimonials, so there you have it; as a shrimp truck, Giovanni's is the best in Oahu.
Great Hawaiian Hot Dog
310 Lewers Street (in front of Moose McGillycuddy's)
Hot dog carts victimize us all, time and time again. You stagger out of your local watering hole and the scent smacks you in the face faster than a disgruntled soap opera wife catching her cheating husband in the act. You proceed to stuff yourself silly with one or two of these alleged meat filled symbols of Americana with no regard for taste. It all does seem to taste pretty darn good at that time of the night with alcohol aiding in your altered flavor bud perceptions. However, GHHD is not one to take advantage of your questionable state. They make one amazing, quality meat hot dog with a variety of toppings to make you salivate like Pavlov's "Pup" (horrible pun, sorry) before the poor guy/gal figured out he/she was being tricked half the time. Tipsy or sober, Great Hawaiian Hot Dog is the best cart of its kind in Oahu. Designated drivers will testify to this fact as well.
Photo courtesy of JonasApproved
Kailua Beach Shaved Ice
Found at the Kailua Search & Rescue training dock, along the border of Kailua and Lanikai Beach
If you've ever spent the day at Lanikai Beach without bringing along rations (food, water) you'll know what it feels like as you make the hike back towards Kailua Beach under the 85 degree UV rays beaming from above, turning what was once a blissful jaunt in one direction into a lethargic slumber on the trip back. As you come up over Mokulua Drive and into the descending portion of the road, you witness what could only be a mirage. It wasn't there in the AM when you arrived in Kailua via bus or after having parked your car in the beach lot, but there it is now, Kailua Beach Shaved Ice. Well, at least that's what we've called it here. Upon our encounter with this life saver, there was no discernible name written on the neon chalked menu of the RV/Truck, but “SHAVED ICE” stood out in large capital letters, and this is Kailua Beach, so we just put two and two together.
The serving size (as seen in the photo) is big (bigger when you make friendly conversation first). You expect the generic white papered cone and a quick refreshment as found with many lesser known shave ice stands on the island but this is not the case here. You also don't have to worry about slurping up all of the flavor too soon as there seems to be an endless supply of syrup throughout the snow ball shaped delicacy which marvelously ends in a perfect slushy pool at the bottom. Keep in mind that you have to “move” quickly here, as its a race against the hot sun when attempting to enjoy a shave ice in Hawaii. We recommend the Pina Colada or Orange Creamsicle flavors.
Da Falafel King
2255 Kuhio Avenue, Waikiki Trade Center, Waikiki, HI
Falafel stands and "mom & pop" shops are becoming very common place in North America (and beyond) and thus it might seem like a cop out if selecting one as a light lunch or dinner while on vacation when perhaps you should opt for some local flavor instead in order to immerse yourself better with the cuisine culture of the land you are in. But if you happen upon Da Falafel King when stepping off of the bus, out of your hotel, or simply browsing along Kuhio Avenue in front of Waikiki's Trade Center you would do yourself an injustice by missing out on what we consider to be one of the best falafels, chicken shawarmas, and beef kebabs (we went 3 times in two days) you have ever laid your beak on.
There was something magical (too dramatic?) about the pita they used, which was imported from the middle east. It was impossibly soft yet sturdy, never coming apart at its “seams” making it easy to hold, which as many fans of handheld food can attest, is absolutely essential to a positive dining experience. The pita perfectly encompassed the exquisitely spiced ingredients within without overwhelming it in any way. Be sure to request the french fry topping. That is correct, depending on how you approach them (with a smile) or if you ask nicely, they will top off your pita pocketed concoction with a small serving of french fries, completely altering your tastebuds association with shawarmas, falafels and kebabs that to have it any other way after would be fruitless. In a way, Da Falafel King will ruin you from all future cuisine of the like. The price, averaging at $10, is somewhat higher than you may be accustomed to paying for foodstand meals, but in case you didn't notice by our review here, it is far beyond worth the extra few coins. Next to Kamehameha, Da Falafel is the king of Waikiki.
Leonard Jr's Hot Malasadas & Espresso
Windward Mall, 46-056 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI
We were on our way through Kaneohe towards Kualoa Regional Park for an expedition at Mokoli'i Island (aka Chinaman's Hat) when we approached the corner of Kamehameha Hwy and Haiku Road and spotted a red and white candy striped truck with the name "Leonard Jr's Hot Malasadas & Espresso" shining through the trees that canopied the edges of the Windward Mall parking lot. We were in somewhat of a rush (as far as Hawaiian time is concerned) to salvage the remains of the afternoon but made a mental note to pull into the lot upon our return back towards Waikiki. You see, Leonard's is a name you cannot escape in Oahu and has become synonymous with another moniker heard throughout all of Hawaii - Malasadas - a deep fried pastry, rolled in sugar, born from Portuguese origin and brought to the South Pacific in the late 19th century. This donut "without the hole" can now be found in a multitude of bakeries and is one of the most sought after delicacies for visitors to the islands. Leonard's Bakery has been doling out malasadas since 1952 and their mobile food trucks have brought the mouth watering creation to anyone lucky enough to stumble upon their temporary real estate, including yours truly.
After an exhausting, appetite inducing 4 hour journey back and forth across coral reef, volcanic rock and rush hour Kamehameha traffic we arrived back at Windward Mall's north east corner where Leonard's remained open (thankfully!). Our good fortune continued as the scent of a freshly made batch crept through the open shutters of the truck. Money was paid and the parchment paper packed malasadas found their way into our hands and mouths before you could exclaim "Ono!". We've sampled other bakery and grocery store versions of this treat but it's safe to say that Leonard's has it perfected. Portuguese dough is sweet by nature and this translates exquisitely into their malasadas. The granulated sugar softened by the warm toothsome surface collapsed with a slight crisp, giving way to a soft, fluffy, yet chewy inside. A simple look around at the mouthful grins and eyes closed expressions on everyone's faces surrounding the food truck sealed the deal for this culinary thesis. Leonard's offers more than just a fancy named pastry, they serve sweet, sugar coated Aloha to the island of Oahu.
While Leonard's Malasadamobile frequents the Windward Mall on a regular basis, be sure to track the vehicle's whereabouts in case there is a special event that has them elsewhere. See link here
Extra note - In Hawaii, stemming from the Portuguese tradition of using up all of one's butter and sugar preceding the Easter season time of sacrifice, the day before lent is actually referred to as Malasada Day. "Practitioners" are encouraged to indulge in as many of these delicacies as their hearts' desire. Now that's a tradition we can get behind!
Corner of Alakea St. & S.Beretania, Downtown Honolulu (near Hawai'i State Art Museum)
Popular Oahu soul food restaurant - Pacific Soul - has gone portable with the Soul Patrol, taking to the streets of downtown Honolulu in a truck packed with grits and lots of gumption. This unique addition to the food truck landscape so dominated by shrimp and plate lunches is refreshing to say the least. Islanders unfamiliar with Carolina cuisine have been converted by the creations of Chef Sean Priester and his twist on the food of his childhood. The Buttermilk Fried Chicken is an ingenious creation with batter made from the thick and flavorful namesake dairy product. The same method is used to coat the deep fried Catfish Po' Boy sandwich (topped with island style togorashi sauce) which is scrumptious beyond description. The Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich, topped with coleslaw is tender and sweet and nothing could go better on the side than some Cheesy Grits. The meal of choice however, for this shrimp loving community, is the Garlic Shrimp & Cheese Grits combo, which elevates your taste buds to a whole other level. Once you go Soul you can't go without!
Opal Thai Food Truck
66-460 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI
Standing out amongst the multitude of food trucks in North Shore Oahu's Haleiwa town can be tricky, but Opal's has managed quite the reputation with his humble mobile eatery that garners much praise from locals and visitors alike, labeling some of Opal's offerings as best traditional Thai food on the island. Bold statements carry lots of responsibility but Opal takes the weight of the words from his fans and turns them into fact.
The Pad Thai is a hands down favorite for most, true to its roots without the often injected island influence. A Hawaiian twist is practically always welcome and encouraged, but sometimes you want your international cuisine to taste like it would if you were in some back roads eatery where the menu originated from, and Opal's is Bangkok all the way folks. The Fried Chicken Wing with crispy basil is also popular but our favorite dish is the Yellow Curry Chicken (w/Japanese sticky rice).
However the best way to place your order is to let Opal do the guess work for you. The owner has become a master of matching the palates of the customer to the plates he serves them. He is quick to inquire as to your preferences (spices, sweetness, textures, etc...) and make suggestions based on your responses. It is not uncommon to see locals walk up to the truck and put their faith in the hands of Opal, not knowing what they ordered until it is held in hand. The smiling faces seen after the last bite at the picnic table is proof in the pudding that Opal's knows both its Thai cuisine AND its customers.
Flipt Out Eats Food Truck
Changing Locations in Honolulu - For their current location check out Flipt Out's Facebook Page OR call 808 348 4016
The Flipt Out Eats Food Truck can be seen crawling to it's ever changing location, decked out in black from head to toe (including staff), in a "drive by" mission to bring Filipino Fusion to the hungry streets of Oahu. On an island with a siginificant Filipino influence, it's a wonder what took so long to bring this tasty international cuisine to the food truck dining heavy landscape.
Local favorites include the Pinoy Dogs - three mini-dogs packed into spanish rolls - each offering a different take on it's homeland flavorings (tocino, sisig, and gisantes). Our pick is the Kuya Melt (a grilled cheese type sandwich w/pork, garlic, onion, tomato, and mayo) and we insist that you make room for the Banana Split Lumpia, which combines strawberry, banana, marshmallow creme, and chocolate sauce all wrapped neatly (read: dripping with gooey awesomeness!) in a spring roll envelope.
UPDATE: Flipt Out is currently not in operation. We are keeping them on this list as they will hopefully return to the Oahu food truck scene in the new year. We look forward to their "come back"!
Mobile in Kailua, Oahu, HI
The bright blue, green, and yellow truck with a brighter smiling mobile chef (Camille) behind the wheel and open shutters serving the line outside is fast becoming one of the most enjoyable food trucks on Oahu. When we say enjoyable, we refer not only to the cuisine, but to the demeanor of the hostess and the patrons that pay her a visit. Everything about Camille's on Wheels is Kailua all the way. If you are not familiar with the beautiful beach town of Kailua, you simply need to know that its laid back yet vibrant, traditional yet contemporary, and all the other wonderful juxtapositions you can imagine.
OK, lets get to the goods. Camille's whips up some unique taco concoctions. The Thai Pork Taco is a local favorite but the Chimichurri Fish Taco, using the most tender Mahi Mahi, cabbage, cilantro, and marin sauce, can win over anyone, fan of fish tacos or not. The Machaca Beef is also an excellent choice for those that prefer a more traditional taco route, if you can call it that, as the hint of mango catapults the word "traditional" out of the equation pretty quick. On that same note, you are in luck if Camille has a batch of Mangos on hand as her Mango Pie is riduculously refreshing, comforting, sweet, filling, and demands regular rotation on her menu. Don't get us started on her other dessert treats. You never know what goodies she will have on hand (a big part of the fun at Camille's!), but if you manage to pass through when her Dulce De Leche Pecan Pie is "on deck", drop everything and FedEx us what's left after you've had your way with it.
Kahuku Food Truck Market
Kahuku, Honolulu, HI