By Kelly Dobkin – Grab your grass skirt and pour yourself a Mai Tai because the all-new Zagat Hawaii Guide is here.
Based on the votes of 7,583 local consumers, ratings and reviews for 1,050 restaurants, nightspots, shops and attractions across the state are available in print, and for free online when signed-in across Google Maps, Search, and Google+.Don’t want to break the bank? This year a crop of inexpensive and informal restaurants popped up such as pubs like Pint + Jigger, Real A Gastropub and Asian restaurant Lucky Belly on Oahu. Maui welcomed Fleetwood’s on Front Street, owned by British rocker Mick Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac) and helmed by Chef Scott Leibfried (of TV’s Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares).
Restaurants also continued to embrace local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients with newcomers The Fish and the Hog and Lava Lava Beach Club on the Big Island and Cafe Julia, 53 by the Sea and The Grove on Oahu. Among high-end newcomers is Alan Wong’s latest venture Amasiaat the Grand Wailea Resort, which offers a menu of small plates “inflected with Peruvian and Spanish accents.”If you’re looking to spend your days taking in the sites, there’s much to see and do at Haleakala National Park (Maui winner for Top Appeal and Popularity), Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventure (Kauai winner for Facilities and Service) and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical (Big Island winner for Appeal and Facilities), while history buffs can experience the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and USS Arizona Memorial, both on Oahu.When it comes to retail therapy, top-rated chains include the luxe and internationally known Hermès, Cartier, Chanel, and Fendi, while local shopping favorites include ABC Stores, Hilo Hattie, Cinnamon Girl and Maui Jim. Among the newest shopping destinations are AirBuggy, a Japanese import located along the Waikiki Beach Walk offering baby apparel and strollers, as well as trendy women’s boutiques Florencia Arias and Milk & Honey in Oahu’s Chinatown.
After the sun goes down, the nightlife heats up on Oahu, with the Halekulani Hotel’s House Without A Key taking honors in three major categories – Atmosphere, Decor and Service – and offering “amazing” cocktails in a “gorgeous” setting. The open-air lanai of Mai Tai Bar at the Ala Moana Center was named Oahu’s Most Popular nightspot by surveyors, who raved about the “bargain” happy hours and “awesome” live music. However, newcomers include the trendy Addiction debuting in The Modern Honolulu, M Nightclub at Waterfront Plaza and The Republik, for its hybrid of music hall, art gallery and nightclub lounge.
To check out the other big kahunas in the Survey, see this year’s top restaurants in the slideshow below. And don’t forget to pick up your copy of the guide today.