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When I moved to Hawaii in 2015, I was on the hunt to try some new and delicious eateries. I hunted through yelp, Groupon, local forums, ask co-workers, and friends. There are so many choices its hard to pick a favorite restaurant in Honolulu.
So, I kept trying out different restaurants until I found one that was absolutely perfect, because, we all know the way to a girl’s heart is through her stomach! On my search for the perfect restaurant I was hunting for somewhere that had:
- Nice, Cold Drinks
- Great Atmosphere
- Delicious, Fresh Food
- Island Flavor
- Reasonable prices
Most of the places I tried checked off a few of those boxes, but none held onto my heart like Nico’s Pier 38. This restaurant is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. It’s a tradition in our household to make Nico’s our first stop whenever we pick up a guest from the airport.
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So what makes, Nico’s Pier 38 my favorite lunch restaurant in Honolulu?
- Fresh, Delicious Food
- Strong and Delicious Drinks
- Outdoor Seating
- Live Music
- Special Catch of the Day meals made with locally caught fish
- Speed of Service
When you go to Nico’s for lunch here are a few things you should know:
- It’s plate lunch style (served in a to-go container, to consume there or wherever your adventures take you.)
- Order at the counter, then go find your seat. Alcoholic Drinks can be purchased at the bar (if you choose to sit at the bar, you can actually order from your bartender.)
- Specials are posted next to the counter. They also have paper menus with their everyday items.
- Your buzzer will ring when your food is ready and you pick it up by the counter.
- An alternative to lunch in Nico’s restaurant is to pop into their connected fish market for a delicious poke bowl.
- They were featured on the famous Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri.
- They have a lot of fish-free options if you’re more of a land-lubber when it comes to your food. Haha.
My Favorite Nico’s Lunch Specials Are:
- The Famous Fish Burger- This burger is almost too good to be true. Made with fresh dill and other herbs, two huge fish burger patties and served with fries, this is my go-to meal after a Honolulu hike. (This is one of the menu items featured on Guy Fieri’s show.)
- Fish and Chips- A family favorite, this fluffy fried to perfection fish and chips meal is awesome. The fish changes depending on the catch of the day, so I always ask. Depending on the type of fish you either get one large piece or 2 medium pieces of golden perfection. Served with thick-cut french fries and their own ginger cilantro dipping sauce, this is a group favorite.
- Orange Chicken- Not too sweet, not too sour their homemade orange chicken is delicious and filling. The portion size is awesome for sharing or taking home some leftovers.
- Calamari- Their fresh calamari rings are our favorite. We order them every trip. They are made with fresh local ingredients and then fried to perfection.
- Catch of the Day– Fresh, fish is the best kind of fish! Their catch of the day changes each morning with whatever has come off the docks. Try this menu item for a delicious and interesting take. We’ve never disliked anything we order from their daily specials menu.
- Lemon Bars- My weakness is a
deliciousdessert that remindsme of my childhood. And the lemon bars here do exactly that. A perfect combination of sweet and sour, I always take one for the road.
- Mai Tai- A traditional island beverage made with two types of rum and pineapple juice, this cocktail scream island flavor. This is a no-frills, strong, tropical drink.
- Long Island Iced Tea- Love them or hate them, no drink is quite as strong as a long island iced tea. These long islands are made to perfection the old fashioned way. They’ll kick your butt if you have too many, but one will have you feeling happy, island vibes in no time.
- Kona Brewing, Big Wave Golden Ale– The perfect partner to your fish and chips, this beer is a classic Hawaiian ale. Light but full of flavor.
Bonus Information about Nico’s-
Nico’s Pier 38 is absolutely a local favorite restaurant in Honolulu. But, one big plus is that it is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner at Nico’s is a little different than lunch. There is table service and the menu changes quite a bit. There’s almost always live music at dinner time. Our favorite menu item at dinner is the Ahi Short Ribs. They are perfection.
Connected to their restaurant is their fresh fish market. This is a quick grab and go location with beverages, fresh fish, snacks and more. Their poke here is fresh and delicious. They have sushi rolls available for a quick bite. And you can even take home a slab of your favorite fish to cook for dinner too.
Nico’s has my vote for best restaurant in Honolulu! But, I always love to try out new places! Comment below if there’s somewhere you think I need to try.
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Cute place with great ambiance. Friendly staff as well. Have to say the food was below average. The calimari was unbelievably tough and the fries tasted stale. Good Mac salad. Maybe just a bad day, but I wouldn’t put it on my list of recommendations.
Thanks for weighing in! I’m sorry that most of the food wasn’t up to your standards. I am surprised I’ve eaten there over 50 times over the years and only had 1-2 sub-par experiences.
Thanks for the recommendations. We look forward to enjoying a meal at Nico’s when we visit Honolulu. We always try to eat where the locals eat whereever we travel to.
Thank you Smita! It really is a lovely place. I recommend going for lunch time and sitting outside if you can! It’s gorgeous and the food is amazing! 🙂 Hope you enjoy! Pop back and let me know what you think.