Best Burger on O’ahu

A bunch of us idiots are planning to search for the best burger on O’ahu. The Honolulu Advertiser recently reviewed several burgers (See article “Burger Kings”. Here are some of the nominees I’m thinking of offering for our contest:

South Shore Grill




Pineapple Room



Kiawe Grill

There are several ways we can do this. We can all drive together to these different spots and try the burgers, or we can split up, pick up the burgers and bring them back for a sampling. I know Kevin prefers the latter, and I think that might be the best, although there are some drawbacks with that.

I’m thinking of doing this the following weekend, unless people are available Friday afternoon.

16 Responses to “Best Burger on O’ahu”

  1. Mitchell

    I definitely think we should go as a group to the various locales, even if it means it takes us a few different days. Heck, I’d even take a day off from work to do this, if regular school (as opposed to summer school) is in session, and make a day/evening out of it.

  2. Reid

    One of the significant drawbacks to doing the contest on multiple days is the difficulty of finding a date when everyone is available. We’re having a hard enough time finding one day.

  3. Reid
  4. Reid

    A few weeks ago Penny, Grace, Mitchell, Larri and I finally got together for the burger challenge. We went to five spots: Teddy’s, South Shore Grill, Kiawe Grill, Eastside Grill, Pineapple Room and Kua Aina. We decided to go to every restaurant togethre and cut a burger into five pieces.

    We left off some restaurans that appeared on the Honolulu Advertiser list because those that tried those places felt confident that it didn’t match up to some of the better places. Here are some of the places we felt confident ranking as second or even third tier burger joints: Bob’s BBQ, Nico’s, W&M, Kulia Grill and Diner’s (Mitchell swears their double cheeseburger is great, but he agreed they’re on the second tier.)

    Mitchell has the list of everyone’s final rankings, but before he prints those, I thought I’d write some of my thoughts about the elements I look for in a burger.

    First, there is the taste of the burger. This is probably the most important thing. I like a burger that is thick, juicy and, well, flavorful. I also want the patty to stay together and not crumble apart. What is critical for me is that the burger taste be at the forefront, not overpowered by accompanying sauces and food. Generally, I don’t care for burgers that have a lot of binding or filler.

    Second, even though the patty should be the star the sauces and other accompanying items are crucial, particulary the bread. The bread not only has to taste good, but I want the bread to stay togeher until the end. As for sauces, vegetables and whatever else, I’m open to anything so long as it complements the meat and not overpower it.

    I think those are the main two factors for me. We didn’t consider cost in ranking our burgers. Btw, I had a really good time, and I was surprised at the level of consensus on some of the burgers at least.

  5. cindy

    Hi Burgerites,

    I’m really curious about the results. I went to Formaggio last month (after a long hiatus) and found a Wagyu cheeseburger on their menu served on toasted foccacia (standard for all their sandwich plates) that I thought was really good (overlooking the side of overdressed microgreens). I think it was $12 and I didn’t feel ripped off. I’m not enamored of this place, and others have mentioned that since it switched hands, the food went downhill. This was a pleasant surprise for a “I’m too tired to fight traffic” kind of night.

  6. Mitchell

    All right, all right! I’ll get the results and photos posted this weekend, I swear! Check back in a day or two!

    (I don’t blame you…I’d be totally irritated by now if I were not the one in possession of the photos and notes!)

  7. Reid

    I”m ready to make a case for my pick.

  8. Reid

    OK, I’m going to give this a shot.

    Five people participated in this: Mitchell, Grace, Penny, Larri and me.

    We agreed on a lot or at least had similar ratings and comments.

    Mitchell, Grace and Penny liked Teddy’s the best with Kua Aina in second (although Grace might have not chosen Kua Aina second).

    Larri and I chose Kua Aina first. I chose Teddy’s second (close to the Kobe burger from Kiawe) and Larri chose Southshore’s burger.

    Everyone pretty much agreed that Pineapple Room’s burger was the worst. That’s the one that got the highest rating from the Honolulu Advertiser group.

    If any of this information is wrong, Mitchell will correct it.

  9. Reid

    OK, the official results:

    1. Kua Aina (Ortega)
    2. Teddy’s (Spud)
    3. Kiawe (Kobe)
    4. South Shore
    5. Pineapple Room (special)
    6. Eastside Grill (cheeseburger)
    7. Pineapple Room (old fashioned)
    8. Kiawe (Ostrich)

    1. Kua Aina (ortega)
    2. South Shore
    3. Teddy’s (spud)
    4. Kiawe (Kobe)
    5. Eastside Grill (cheeseburger)
    6. Pineapple Room (special)
    7. Pineapple Room (old fashioned)
    8. Kiawe (ostrich)

    1. Teddy’s (Spud)
    2. Kua Aina (Ortega)
    3. Kiawe (Kobe)
    4. South Shore
    5. Pineapple Room (special)
    6. Eastside Grill (cheeseburger)
    7. Pineapple Room (old fashioned)
    8. Kiawe (Ostrich)

    1. Teddy’s (spud)
    2. Kua Aina (ortega)
    3. Kiawe (kobe)
    4. South Shore
    5. Pineapple Room (special)
    6. Eastside Grill (cheeseburger)
    7. Pineapple Room (old fashioned)
    8. Kiawe (ostrich)

    1. Teddy’s
    2. Kiawe (kobe)
    3. Eastside (cheeseburger)
    4. South Shore
    5. Pineapple Room (special)
    6. Pineapple Room (old fashioned)
    7. Kiawe (ostrich)
    (Did not try Kua Aina–too full)


    Teddy’s sauce is what makes it have a chance at being the best, imo. The patty is solid, bread OK (although it can fall apart towards the end; something we didn’t discover because everyone only had one bite).

    Kua Aina’s ortega gets top marks because, to me, it has the total package. The bread is solid (the best of the bunch), but doesn’t outshine the meat, which, to me, should be the main focus. I like the juiciness and give a slight edge in flavor. (Penny said it needed more salt or seasoning, which I can understand) The sides are a great complement also: grilled carmelized onion, lettuce, tomato, the cheese with the grilled ortega chile. Ono!

    The Kiawe’s patty was probably the best tasting patty, but the bread wasn’t very good–kinda mushy, like the type you get at a diner.

    South Shore has that chipotle-aioli cole slaw that adds a unique flavor. It can be overpowering and messy though. If you like chiabatta bread, too, you’ll probably like this. You can tell Larri and Grace had different tastes by how they ranked this one.

    I had read about Eastside’s burger in the Honolulu Weekly, but, while it was decent, it wasn’t exceptional.

    The additions to the Pineapple Room special were really good–guacamole, onion ring, bacon(?), and some other stuff. But the patty itself was dry and lifeless. (I think they use grassfed beef.) The bread was kinda lame, too.

    We were suppose to try Town, but they weren’t selling burgers that day.

  10. pen


  11. Reid

    Mitchell, can we put pictures up?


    Hey Cindy if you’re still there, a bunch of us went to Formaggio last night and tried the Kobe Burger. It definitely would cause me to update my list (and I think others would, too). It’s definitely in the top three. It could be in one of those positions depending on my mood, but I guess if I had to choose, I would put it in the number two spot.

    To me what really makes this burger is the mozzarella cheese. It really adds to the burger–so much so, that I wonder why more burger places don’t serve mozzarella. It’s also great on cheesesteak. It really should be an option. The foccacia was just OK, but there was some kind of herb in there or in the meat that really added a good flavor–akin to the dominant spice/herb in a breakfast sausage.

    The patty was also solid, but somewhat surprisingly, I thought the Kobe patty at Kiawe was still better (perhaps because of the kiawe grill). The patty also had a slightly crumbly quality, that Mitchell might like. The burger went for $13, but I didn’t feel ripped off either.

    Has anyone tried the burger at Town?

  12. mitchell

    I’ll get them up soon. Sorry. They were on my external hard drive that got stolen, but I did move most of them somewhere online before that happened, so I’ll dig them up and post them.

  13. Reid


    That’s the cheeseburger from Town. It’s about $9 and comes with fries or a toss salad. The meat is of the grass fed variety, specifically from the North Shore Cattle Co. It was OK, but definitely not one of the better burgers. I’d say it’s below the South Shore burger and probably above the Eastside Grill. The patty and the bun were solid, but I can’t imagine any of the other tasters choosing this over their top picks.

  14. Reid

    We went to Teddy’s and Kua Aina this weekend.

    I had the pastrami burger at Teddy’s and I was ready to declare Teddy’s my favorite. But when I had the ortega burger at Kua Aina, I went back to Kua Aina.

    Btw, Larri had the teri-cheeseburger at Teddy’s and either they gave us the wrong sauce or they changed their sauce–for the worse! They now serve tater tots, though and that’s a good thing!

  15. Reid

    Btw, Burgers on the Edge sells the kobe burger for $5 between 3-5 PM on weekdays. You guys that live in town should go for this.

  16. Reid

    We’ve been a burger fix lately.

    A couple of people at chowhound said positive things about Liliha Bakery’s burger. I had never heard anything about the burger until those comments, so I was curious. We tried it a few weeks ago and the verdict is it’s not bad, but not a real threat to current best burgers. The chowhounds commented favorably on the homemade buns, and they were indeed good–almost like a bigger dinner roll or pandesal. The patty was homemade, but nothing special, and at $4, it seemed a bit pricey. (I’d describe the size as an oversized slider.)

    We also went back to Teddy’s.

    I got the teri burger and it confirmed that they gave us the wrong sauce the last time. The teri burger is still good (but I came away feeling convinced that Teddy’s is not as good as Kua Aina’s ortega burger). Love the tater tots, too!

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