What is it?
One of my all-time favorite Hawaiian foods, the Loco Moco is a concoction of ground beef, fried egg, gravy and sticky rice. If you have not discovered the pleasures of eating this, be sure to mark it down on your bucket list. It’s even easy enough to make on your own!
Hawaii is truly a culinary melting pot and the LocoMoco is living proof that when Western cuisine meshes with Asian, good things happen. Really good things. Before I begin to salivate and sound like I’m worshiping this dish, let’s go back in time to the 1940’s where a neighborhood shop in Hilo called the Lincoln Grill, created this monster. Nancy Inou-ye, one of the owners of the Lincoln Grill, decided to whip up a dish that was affordable for the locals. A sainam bowl with a combination of burger bits, gravy and rice became the product. How was it named the Loco Moco? The neighborhood kids were called crazy for requesting this dish, a witty line gave way to a witty name, and the Loco Moco was born. Initially a proclaimed mess, the Loco Moco has grown to become Hawaii’s humble, warming, comfort food that still rings resonance in Hawaiian cuisine today. Oh, and the fried egg came years later.
Where can I indulge on this delicacy?
If you are in Hawaii or plan to visit Hawaii, you are bound to stumble across the Loco Moco everywhere you go. About 90% of where you dine at, will have the Loco Moco. Perhaps that isn’t an entirely accurate statistic – but you get my point. Restaurants, hole-in-the-walls, food stands, you name it. And while I can sit here and recommend every place that I have tried the Loco Moco at, I’m only going to highlight a few. The list that I have created is my own personal opinion of the food.
The Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
An authentic experience to say the least, be sure to stop by, ask “owzit?” and enjoy your Loco Moco. The lines may not be as friendly on a busy day, but this is a true Hawaiian experience. Under 10 bucks, it’s a steal!
Big City Diner
3569 Waialae Ave
Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96816-2701
Known by the locals for their breakfast, this restaurant is unique for their Loco Moco partly because of their variety of the Loco Moco. (Try the kim-chee version for a flavor kick in the face.) Their Macadamia pancakes with coconut sauce is also highly recommended!
425 Koloa St Ste 104
Kahului, HI 96732
Location: right next to the Kahului airport. Be sure to try the Notorious BIG. This dish contains everything a traditional Loco Moco has but with added spam, Peruvian sausage and mushrooms. This place is known for their large portions so if you have an appetite and are near Maui, be sure to stop by. Also, the fried spam musubi is sinfully delicious.
969 Kilauea Ave
Hilo, HI 96720
Claiming to be the founder of the Loco Moco (along with every other restaurant) I highly recommend visiting this restaurant. Located in Hilo, this is a perfect place to visit to learn the basics of the Loco Moco (no pun intended). It’s simplicity masks its’ rich flavor and is sure to make a believer out of you. Be sure to try out their Lau Lau as well.
Joe’s on the Green
2545 Kiahuna Plantation Drive, at Kiahuna Golf Club,
Poipu, HI 96756
Located on a golf course, you can’t beat the fact that you can play some rounds and enjoy a nice meal afterwards. To be fair, I’ve only tried the Loco Moco here, nothing else. But I have to say it makes the ranking of top 5 Loco Moco dishes I’ve had. Their gravy is outstanding in my opinion. The consistency matches the bold flavor. Just make sure you digest this delicious meal before you start teeing off with your friends!
I hope one day you will all manage to visit at least one of these restaurants and have the same great experience that I had when I got the chance to dine at these places. Be sure to leave me some feedback because I know for sure that I’m missing some hidden gems that I have not listed or haven’t even been to!
I’m a food enthusiast at heart, and nothing satisfies me more than a great meal and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine and food brings us together, and gives us a chance to taste the heart of the culture.