Explore Lee Anne's Wong's Best Spots in Honolulu

Eat and drink like a Top Chef with these picks for best cocktails, shave ice, and sunset views

Honolulu, Hawaii skyline
Photo: SCStock / Shutterstock

OG season one Top Chef star Lee Anne Wong is a Hawai'i transplant, making the leap from New York City to Oahu in 2013 before settling on Maui in 2019. For close to a decade, she's been a part of Honolulu's vibrant food scene as partner and executive chef of Koko Head Café, a popular brunch spot. Her second restaurant, Papa'aina, is at the historic Pioneer Inn in Lahaina on Maui. A frequent visitor (and voracious diner) in Hawai'i's capital, this is her highly opinionated guide to Honolulu.

Best Breakfast

"Now that I live on Maui, every time I'm back in Honolulu there are only two places I'll breakfast: Fook Lam Seafood Restaurant (100 N. Beretania St., Honolulu) for dim sum and Koko Head Café. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say that given it's my own restaurant, but our brunch kicks ass, and I love dining in our new location!"

Pastry Perfection

"Michelle Karr-Ueoka of MW Restaurant is a pastry queen for her riffs on shave ice, banana cream pie, and crème brulee — all using native Hawai'ian ingredients."

I'll Have Another

"Dave Newman, the owner of Pint and Jigger, which just reopened inside the Alamoana Hotel mixes my forever drink: the Talventi, a mix of whisky, Campari, cold-brew coffee, and house vanilla cream. It's everything I need and crave. A close second is The Chung Chow at Bar Podmore. It's made with Pimm's Cup, ginger soda, and a rainbow of small spherical ice cubes in cucumber, mint, strawberry, orange, and lemon flavors. It is far and away the most beautifully whimsical drink that not only delights the kid inside of you but also satisfies your adult self who appreciates a sublime cocktail."

City Signature

"As my friend Chef Mark Noguchi would say, 'Saimin is life.' Palace Saimin is the best place to have this [iconic Hawaiian noodle soup]. There is no other. And Ono Seafood on Kapahulu Avenue has the best and most authentic poke in town."

Date Night

"If I manage to get a night off, I head to Sushi ii; the omakase tasting menu will make your head spin. And Fête, because chef Robynne Maii makes delicious, soul-warming food."

Secret Spots

"Our friends at Encore have a hideaway back patio that hosts live DJ dance parties and packs it out on Taco Tuesdays. You are accessibly adjacent to sister restaurants The Daley (best smash burger in town), and Pizza Mamo, famous for its Brooklyn-Detroit-style pizza.

Bird's Eye View

"In Waikiki, there are so many rooftop decks and patios to catch beautiful sunsets, mauka (mountain) and makai (ocean) views with a cocktail in hand. A few of my favorites include Deck at Queen Kapiolani Hotel, and House Without a Key at Halekulani."

Keep It Casual

"Izakaya Naru for the taco rice alone. Cafe Maharani for the lamb madras and cheese and garlic naan. SXY Szechuan for everything on their incredibly on-point Szechuan menu."

To Market

"One of the best things about Oahu is that there is a green market every day of the week in a different part of the island. I am at the farmers market twice a week; at sunset on Wednesdays, you'll find me at the Honolulu Farmers' Market, and on Saturday mornings, at the Kaka'ako Farmers Market at Ward Village. "

Coffee Culture

"I'm a big fan of Curb Kaimuki, where they roast their own beans. They pull the creamiest cortados in Honolulu."

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