History of Loco Moco and Where to Find The Best Loco Moco on Oahu!

LOCO MOCO! This “local grind” is a Hawaii staple that is popular for breakfast, lunch or dinner — a comfort food dish we are always craving that is made with a medley of ingredients that work so well together!

So what is Loco Moco and where did the dish derive from? The original Loco Moco originated more than 70 years ago, in 1949, at a diner called the Lincoln Grill Restaurant in Hilo, Hawaii (Big Island). The story behind the creation of the Loco Moco dish was in response to a group of teenagers seeking an inexpensive dish to eat, something different and alternative to a sandwich and easy & quick to eat.

Hero/featured Photo of Rainbow Drive-In. Photo by Liliha Bakery

Photo by Pioneer Saloon

How did the name “Loco Moco” come about? It’s reported that the teenagers dubbed it Loco Moco after one of their Lincoln Wreckers Athletic Club team members named Loco (the first teen that requested the meal was nicknamed Crazy by his friends) and added “Moco” simply because it rhymed! 

Though many variations of the Loco Moco have been created throughout the years, a traditional Loco Moco Hawaiian meal usually consists of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, with gravy smothered all over to top it off!!

Today, this popular homemade fast food dish can be found on menus at many Hawaiian fast food restaurants, diners, mom and pop restaurants and food trucks!

Below are some local favorite spots for a Loco Moco on Oahu! Add them to your itinerary during your next visit to Hawaii for an ʻono (delicious) breakfast, lunch or dinner! Enjoy this famous plate lunch for breakfast to fuel your day, or pick it up for a midday lunch on the beach or for dinner for in-room dining (heat that baby up in our kitchenette microwave) and eat it on our lanai (balcony) after a long day of adventure! 

Mmmm, now we’re getting hungry …

ALOHA TABLE Waikiki (@alohatable_waikiki) – A local Hawaiian restaurant with a big menu – something available for everyone. Be sure to try their Premium Kobe Style Beef Loco Moco! Located at 2238 Lauula St, Honolulu, HI 96815 – a 5-minute walk from Coconut Waikiki Hotel

Heavenly Island Lifestyle (@heavenly.hi) – A local, organic popular all-day cafe! Don’t let the small line detour you away from visiting – it’s worth the wait! Located at 342 Seaside Ave – a 5-minute walk from Coconut Waikiki Hotel

Highway Inn (@myhighwayinn) – A Hawaiian food mainstay on the island, making traditional plates since 1947! Order their “Kamaaina Favorites” such as Loco Moco (or other variations Smoked Loco, Hawaiian Moco), Hawaiian Beef Stew Plate, Pork Lau Lau, the Kalua Pig and chicken long rice! Enjoy live local music at their Kaka‘ako location every Friday at 5:00PM! Kaka’ako location: 680 Ala Moana Boulevard #105 (11-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki Hotel) and Bishop Museum Cafe at 1525 Bernice Street (20-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki Hotel). 

Hukilau Cafe (@- This popular cafe serves breakfast & lunch dishes including Hawaiian French toast & loco moco and has been featured in Man vs Food, Food Network Magazine, and in the movie 50 First Dates! Located in Laie (23-minutes north of Kualoa Ranch) at 55-662 Wahinepee St.

Hula Grill Waikiki (@hulagrillwaikiki) – Enjoy authentic flavors of Hawaii sourced from local farmers + fisherman daily – this restaurant is situated on the beachfront in Waikiki beach! Located at 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 203 – a 9-minute walk from Coconut Waikiki Hotel.

Liliha Bakery (@lilihabakery) – steps away from our hotel, visit this popular local bakery at their newest location at the International Market Place! Choose from their huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoy local favorites like Loco Moco, Oxtail Soup, Saiman! No visit is complete without a box of pastries and baked goods like their famous Coco Puffs! Located at 2330 Kalakaua Ave (International Market Place) – a 9-minute walk from Coconut Waikiki Hotel.

LuLu’s Waikiki (@lulus_waikiki) – Meal with a view! Situated across the street from Waikiki Beach, eat your Loco Moco and take in the sights of Hawaii! Located at 2586 Kalakaua Ave Corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu – a 20-minute walk from Coconut Waikiki Hotel

Pancakes and Waffles (@pancakesandwaffleshawaii) – A local breakfast and brunch spot serving up all the favorites! Their Loco Moco is served in more than five different ways, including Roast Pork Loco Moco, Fried Rice Loco Moco, Chili Loco Moco and Corned Beef Hash Moco! Two locations: 1284 Kalani St d100 (City Square Shopping Center – a 19-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki), 98-1277 Kaʻahumanu St #103 (Waimalu Plaza Shopping Center – a 25-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki)

Pioneer Saloon (@pioneersaloonhawaii) – This menu is Japan meets Hawaii, serving local grinds and famous ʻono plate lunches with a variety of choices like their Chicken Katsu Plate, Grilled Chicken Plate, Loco Moco, Ginger Chicken Plate. Two locations: SALT At Our Kaka’ako – 675 Auahi St (11-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki Hotel) and 3046 Monsarrat Ave (9-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki Hotel).

Photo of LuLu’s Waikiki restaurant view

Rainbow Drive-In (@rainbowdrivein) – An island favorite, cooking since 1961, no visit to Oahu is complete without eating at this restaurant! Enjoy local favorite plate lunches – varieties include Loco Moco, Mahi Mahi, Beef/Pork cutlet, Portuguese and more! Don’t forget to check-out their rad merch shop! Kapahulu location is at 3308 Kanaina Avenue – a 9-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki Hotel.

The Alley Restaurant at Aiea Bowl (@aieabowl) – Looking for something fun and local to do, with good food? Check out this local bowling alley, where you can eat, drink, bowl and repeat – their restaurant The Alley Restaurant has an expansive menu, something for everyone and their cravings! Dishes include bowl + plate lunches, Loco Moco, burgers, “cosmic” pizzas and pupus! 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive – a 25-minute drive from Coconut Waikiki Hotel