The second you walk in the door of Guava Smoked, you’ll be surrounded by the amazing aroma of its succulent and savory local-style smoked meat dishes. A favorite island destination among visitors and locals alike for authentic Hawaiian-style barbecue, Guava Smoked is proof that food doesn’t have to be fancy to be extraordinary.
Located on Republic Street across from the 7-Eleven on Nimitz and Kalihi Street, Guava Smoked can be challenging to find. But that makes it the true embodiment of the phrase, “hidden gem.” Many diners not only cite their Guava Smoked experiences as a highlight of their Honolulu vacations but also as one of the best meals of their lives!
A decade ago, Guava Smoked owner Scott Shibuya got his start at local farmer’s markets serving up impossibly tasty pork based on an authentic family recipe from Kauai for cold-smoking feral pigs hunted on the island. What makes his food so unique? He uses invasive strawberry guava wood for smoking in an intensive process that both enhances the taste of the meat and tenderizes it.
Today, Guava Smoked is known for offering the best-smoked food on the island and is well on its way to becoming an Oahu institution. The business has also grown to comprise three locations and an expansive menu featuring pork, kalbi ribs, salmon belly, chicken, burgers, duck, falafel, butterfish collars, and more. “If it’s fatty…we’ll smoke it!” says Shibuya.
Depending on your hunger level, you can opt for something “lighter” like a rice bowl, or go for the “plate,” a full meal that comes with rice and your choice of mac salad, greens, or kim chee. Also, while meats may be the star of the show at Guava Smoked, you’ll also find dairy-free and vegan options.
Guava Smoked is the best kind of “hole-in-the-wall.” Fast, friendly, flavorful, and fairly priced, it’s the perfect place to stop for a quick meal before or after a day at the beach. They also offer takeout and frozen to-go options, which is convenient because seating can be limited at this popular spot. (Approximately 600 pounds of meat pass through their smokers every week!)
Everything we sampled at Guava Smoked was mouthwateringly delicious thanks to a secret ingredient: the infusion of the Aloha spirit in every bite. Here’s a look at a few of our favorites from the menu:
Kalbi Short Ribs
The meat is so tender it literally falls off the bone.
Cooked to melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness, this island specialty is buttery, rich, and impossibly tender — no sauce necessary!
Smoked Pork Burger
We opted for “Spicy,” and this super-tasty and the juicy burger had just the right amount of heat.
Perfectly cooked meat with a caramelized glaze that we’re still dreaming about.
Guava Smoked Fried Rice
We challenge you to find tastier fried rice than this flavorful menu offering.
While dessert may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of smoked meats, that will change when you try these decadent local favorites.
If you’re looking to make an inexpensive meal even more affordable, go during Happy Hour. From 3-6 pm daily, Guava Smoked offers $1 off drinks and discounted food specials.
-Parking is limited at Guava Smoked. If you can’t find a space, look for on-street parking.
-The restaurant is up a flight of stairs so may not be accessible if you’re dining with someone with mobility challenges.
-Need to charge up while you dine? Look for a booth with convenient electrical outlets.
-The duck and beef stew are only available on certain days, and more popular items—like the salmon belly—tend to sell out early. If you have your heart set on something, go early!