A restaurant pick from Guy Fieri that Beat of Hawaii agrees with wholeheartedly is this Honolulu find we’ve been returning to for decades -and did again recently. Add Nico’s to your list of things to do in Honolulu on your next Hawaii vacation. What started as a small takeout counter for lunch in 2004 at Pier 38 under French chef Nico Chaize has since grown into a gleaming new harbor-front view location across the street in 2012.
Introducing Jeff’s Picks – Sharing our Favorite Experiences With You.
Whenever we share our recommendations, you can be sure it’s unbiased and paid for in full by us. In this new feature, we’ll tell you where we enjoy going based on value and superb quality. As Hawaii residents, we have the chance to try out new places to go, stay or dine. If we find it’s a hidden gem, it will become a Jeff’s Pick to share with you. And if you have read Beat of Hawaii regularly, you know Jeff is not easy to please. If he likes something, it’s possible you will too.
Great value with a $30 Honolulu seafood lunch for two!
We stopped at Nico’s this past weekend and could not have enjoyed it more. Just off the beaten path but still intensely popular with visitors and residents alike, Nico’s at Pier 38 has yet to lose a thing as the years have passed. A frequent winner of the Hale ‘Aina Award, which honors the best restaurants in Hawaii, this year Nico’s received the Bronze medal for the best seafood in Hawaii.
Tricks to even more enjoyment at Nico’s Pier 38: what we ate for $15.
Consider one of the lunch specials we picked; unlike some Hawaii restaurants that will use frozen fish, Nico’s buys fresh fish daily. We had the ground ahi sandwich as well as the fish and chips. We shared two entrees, and it was hard to decide which was better, as they were both fabulous.
Guy Fieri’s #1 pick: Ahi Fish Burger
What caught our attention this time that we hadn’t noticed before was that Guy Fieri had been there and enjoyed Nico’s ahi fish burger as much as we have. It is fresh ground ahi which Nico spices to perfection. There’s also an ahi fish sandwich, which isn’t ground, at the same price. We chose the recommended, generous double-patty fish burger and could not have been more pleased. It was juicy and flavorful.
2nd Nico’s Pier 38 pick: fish and chips.
Okay, we were admittedly hesitant about this one. As we have mentioned, many Hawaii restaurants that serve fresh fish will also offer a lower-cost “fish and chips” option that is made with frozen fish. Just because it has a Hawaiian-sounding name doesn’t mean it is fresh and local. Take mahi mahi as one example, which can be sourced from all over the world, and yes, it is even sold imported and frozen in Hawaii.
That isn’t the case at Nico’s. Instead, the fish and chips are comprised of two very generous pieces of fresh and locally caught A’u (marlin). It was tender, juicy, and delicious! Served with homemade tartar sauce, and well-prepared french fries on a bed of cabbage. Simply excellent.
Planning your visit to Nico’s and what to expect.
Breakfast is served from 6:30 am to 10:00 am, lunch from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and dinner from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. No reservations are taken. A full bar is available, and Nico’s also has it’s own Fish Market if you are interested in getting quality fresh fish for your own culinary escapades.
The crowd can get intense from noon until at least 1:00 pm or after. However, when we arrived at 2:00 pm, we walked right up to order, didn’t wait long for the food to come, and had our pick of water view dining. You can enjoy live music from noon to 2 pm, and on Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm during lunch. Musicians play again from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Before leaving, we stopped at Nico’s Fish Market and Poke Bar and picked up some smoked monchong fish to put on a salad later at our vacation rental.
We’ve tried eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner there over the years. For whatever reason, we were nostalgic and have always preferred lunch. There’s a well-rounded menu with many choices.
Nico’s is located at Pier 38, 1129 N. Nimitz Highway, halfway between the Ala Moana Shopping Center and the Airport. Parking is free, easy, and nearby. We often stop here after arriving at HNL and on our way to Waikiki, or when heading in the other direction.