Buho Cocina y Cantina boasts floor-to-ceiling views from its interior and a 7,300-square-foot rooftop lanai. // © 2015 Buho Cocina y Cantina
Feature image (above): Signature Restaurant gazes out over Honolulu from the 36th floor of Ala Moana Hotel. // © 2015 Ala Moana Hotel
Featuring lofty locations, these aerial eateries make the most of the island’s good looks. Their appetizing panoramas of Honolulu, the sea and the mountains rival the cuisine at hand, which only heightens the experience.
The following restaurants present a great choice for clients who are celebrating a special occasion as well as those looking for a new perspective on Hawaii.
Buho Cocina y Cantina
Open since summer 2014, this Mexican nest perches atop the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. Its 5,000-square-foot interior boasts a glass-and-steel tequila wall and an exhibition kitchen. For the best views, snag a seat on its 7,300-square-foot rooftop lanai looking out to the Waikiki skyline and bustling Kalakaua Ave. below.
In a landscape of wild sugarcane and a flame-shooting fountain, clients dine on pork belly flautas, yellowtail ceviche, Kauai shrimp enchilada and quinoa-stuffed chile relleno. The habanero Mexican chocolate brownie puts stars in diners’ eyes.
Clients shouldn’t let Mariposa’s location — on the third floor of Neiman Marcus in the Ala Moana Center — deter them. Shopping will be the last thing on their minds at this casually upscale establishment, which faces Ala Moana Beach Park and the water beyond.
Popular for its big, fluffy popovers that start every meal, its fresh island cuisine ranges from tiger prawns and seared scallops to Kona coffee-smoked pork chops. On Sundays, Mariposa also serves brunch and afternoon high tea. In more ways than one, it’s an Oahu restaurant that rises above the ordinary.
From the orange sun dipping into the ocean to the lights twinkling across Honolulu, the views never quit from the 30th floor of Ilikai Hotel. Stop by on a Friday night for a perfect vantage point of Waikiki’s weekly fireworks. Menu items inject Italian cuisine with a local flair.
Among its standout salads is a caprese with Hawaii Island tomatoes, mozzarella, mixed island greens and ricotta gnocchi. A roasted chicken comes with pesto orzo, artichoke hearts and caper berries. Live piano music provides a heady accompaniment to one of its flaming desserts.
Signature Prime Steak and Seafood
The elegance begins with a red-carpeted elevator and continues with crystal chandeliers, a marble-floored foyer and a white grand piano. Welcome to the 36th floor of Ala Moana Hotel, which encircles diners with ocean and shoreline vistas. Signature’s cuisine emphasizes top-grade steak, including a 24-oz. porterhouse; and fine seafood (think furikake-crusted ahi). Even the side order of mac and cheese is high-class, laced with lobster.
If all of this sounds a bit pricey, go during happy hour when bar food and premium wines are discounted and the views are still full-tilt.
Top of Waikiki
Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant has been wowing diners for decades. Located on the 21st floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza, it’s a movable feast of views from the mountains to the sea. With seating spread across three levels, Top of Waikiki specializes in Hawaii Regional Cuisine showcasing island ingredients.
Case in point: Oahu-grown sweet corn chowder with roasted green chiles and Portuguese sausage; and filet mignon with sauteed Waialua asparagus, Hamakua mushrooms, bacon, creamy mashed potatoes and truffle jus.