On almost any given Labor Day weekend, you can find my family and me on the North Shore. Getting away from Honolulu to relax and recharge at the beginning of the school year has become our tradition. We love the laid back way of life and beautiful white sandy beaches, but mostly we love the North Shore food options.
Someday far off in the future, I picture showing up at one of the trendy eating establishments in Haleiwa town, such as Banzai Sushi or Haleiwa Joe’s, for dinner. I’ll enjoy having my wine glass refilled and getting waited on. But for now, most of our dining (even before the pandemic) takes place in the kitchen of our rental unit with takeout food from one of our favorite North Shore restaurants.
Our Favorite Child-Friendly Places to Eat
Sadly, this list used to be double the length. Whether due to the fall out of the coronavirus-caused recession or another reason, several of my favorite food options on the North Shore are no longer open. The closing of those establishments was a big blow to the community, in my opinion. However, the following places are still open (as of the time of this writing) and serving customers (through takeout only as Oahu is currently under a second lockdown order).
This is one of our favorite places to stop in for breakfast or lunch. Healthy, vegan, and OMG their avocado toast is to die for. A lot of places boast a delicious avocado toast option but this place may be the best. It is making me consider driving for an hour just to be able to eat it again. Once the dining room is able to reopen again, children can enjoy drawing on the chalk walls while the parents relax over their morning coffee (and toast).
Kono’s is always the first breakfast spot we hit up every time we are out on the North Shore. They are famous for their bombers (eggs, cheese, and potatoes in a tortilla wrap). While those wraps are delicious, I usually get the biscuits slider sampler or a sandwich. We’ve eaten there so often that my husband has seriously considered getting a tattoo of Kono’s logo. A 25% discount for life is yours simply for inking yourself with Kono’s surfing pig.
So fresh, so good! Their farm pizza is amazing. While you wait for your order you can meander around the gardens. If you want to make a day out of it, they also offer tours of their farm for visitors. While our family has never taken their tour, Em did go on one through her summer camp program last year. Out of two weeks of constant field trips, visiting Kahuku Farms turned out to be her favorite. She even brought home a little plant.
Yelp led me to this place and it did not disappoint. I was still living on the East Coast at the time but planning a trip to the North Shore during my next Hawaii vacation. Since I would head straight to the airport from the North Shore I was determined to find a place to get my final poke fix. I figured the countless raves of poke at the back of this grocery store couldn’t be wrong. However, when I pulled into their parking lot (which is ample and free but most definitely has seen better days) I was a little concerned. But yelp was correct. This nondescript grocery store sells some of the best poke on the island. I always grab a couple of options (but spicy ahi is a must) for pupus (appetizers) and lunch.
This is the only North Shore establishment on my list where we go for the ambiance and not the food. Actually, the adults may not go for the food… but it is always a huge win in Em’s book with several pasta dishes and pizza slice options. You can’t miss its open-air spot right in the middle of Haleiwa. It’s a great place to people watch and not have to worry about the kids causing a ruckus. We typically hit up Spaghettini on our first night there because the parking lot shares space with the grocery store. After we stuff our faces with pasta we head to the grocery store to buy snacks and water for our stay.
When I pulled up in the grocery store’s parking lot and saw the makeshift tent and huli huli spits turning, I was skeptical. This was supposedly the best huli huli chicken on the island (according to multiple sources)? The answer is yes, yes it is. I buy several meals worth and take some back to town with me when it’s time to leave.
Kono’s maybe where we start off our time in the North Shore, but Cafe Haleiwa is where we end it. This delicious mom and pop restaurant is always the perfect ending to our staycation. This trendy diner offers everything from Belgian waffles topped with toasted coconut and fresh local bananas to a mahi mahi plate with eggs.
Homemade local ice cream shop with unique flavors (I’m partial to the creamy rose) is a great after lunch or after dinner stop… or really at any time of day. And if you also need a toy to entertain your kid for the long flight home, the walls of the ice cream shop are filled with the cutest toys, stickers, and books. My daughter has definitely walked out of there with a full belly and a sticker book of unicorns.
My husband calls me a tourist for liking this very well-known and popular food truck over all other shrimp trucks, but in this case, the tourists actually know what they are talking about. Lines are extraordinary long from time to time, but it’s worth the wait. Most people eat at the tables in the food truck parking lot, but I usually pick up a couple plates of shrimp to take it back to our rental unit, so I place my order at Giovanni’s and then walk around the food truck park, picking up other food options for the family as well before making my way back to await my order.