Best Burgers in Hawaii

Wondering where to get a really great burger or cheeseburger in Hawaii? Here are the results of the various  readers’ polls and reviews for tops, island by island.


Kua ‘Aina wins best burger almost every year for at least 10 years running. There are two locations: in Honolulu at Ward Center and on the North Shore in Haleiwa town. They also serve a crazy good fish sandwich.

Teddy’s Bigger Burger won the 2009 StarBulletin reader’s poll. The burgers are so big and juicy that you’re going to need to wash your arms afterward.


Cool Cat Cafe located on Front Street in Lahaina wins top burger in Maui for at least five years running, according to the readers of Maui Time Weekly. The buns are baked locally and the veggies are super fresh.


There are no one burger that wins tops (partly because there is no weekly magazine polling readers), but there are three good options. Duane’s Ono Char Burger rates tops, according to the LA Times.

Bubba’s Burgers is an island institution and serves up a consistenly juicy and tasty burger.

Don’t forget about Barefoot Burgers, which does not disappoint, again according to the LA Times.

With no clear local reader’s poll winner, I’ll volunteer my direct experience that Duane’s is definitely worth the trip.

Big Island

Again a lack of local reader’s polls and outside reviews makes this tough. The Hawaii Tribune votes Burger King in Hilo as the best burger on the East Side. West Hawaii today votes Burger King in Kona as the best burger on the West Side. Hard times when a national chain wins. Makes you wonder what else is available.

So I’ll report my own direct experience. In Hilo, the Hilo Bay Cafe serves a flavorful almost guilt-free gourmet burger, and if you go during happy hour it’s cheaper.

Closer to Waimea, Tex Drive-In in Honokaa near Waimea serves a juicy and flavorful burger. They also serve a killer fish sandwich and some of the best malasadas (local donuts) on the islands.

The Waimea area of the Big Island receives accolades for Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Merriman’s serves a grass-fed local beef burger that will leave you teary-eyed because you’re sad you ate it all and there’s none left. Worth the splurge.

In Kona, it’s slim pickings, chains and tourist traps. They’ll scrath the itch, but nothing really local or noteworthy.

4 thoughts on “Best Burgers in Hawaii”

  1. I love burgers…

    I’ve always loved Islands’ Kilauea Burger, just enough spice, kick and juiciness. As for a regular cheeseburger without any special fixings, Mariposa is hard to beat. I also recently tried The Counter and loved the burger I created.

    1. I’m with you on The Counter. I tried it while researching this post, and the mediterranean-style lamb burger is worth going back for. It’s cool that you can choose the size of patty as well as the toppings.

  2. Tex’s Drive Inn? Really? I guess if you like eating that frozen stuff : / Have you tried Village Burger in Waimea? Local grass-fed Ranchers beef that’s ground IN-HOUSE daily is the way to go! Cooked to your liking, my fave is med rare w/ swiss, bacon & avocados! YUMMY! Can’t get any fresher than that.. Everything is FRESH & LOCAL.. I get to see my burger being ground, hand crafted & cooked right in front of me.. WOW! Absolutely amazing & awesome to know that we’re supporting Island ranchers!

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