Hometown Hungers: Hawaii Loco Moco

In addition to the wondrous sunshine and hypnotic waves, Hawaii is also swimming in loco moco — a comfort food dish created right here on the Big Island.
Loco Moco


Photo by: LauriPatterson ©Lauri Patterson

LauriPatterson, Lauri Patterson

The verdict is in: Hawaii may just be the ultimate paradise. After all, in addition to the wondrous sunshine and hypnotic waves, this state is also swimming in loco moco — a comfort food dish created right here on the Big Island.

As the locals tell it, loco moco got its start as a way to satisfy the most outsized of appetites: those of teenage boys. If the goal is to leave one stuffed, this protein-packed powerhouse is certainly up to the task. A beefy burger patty is nestled on a mound of steamed rice, crowned with a fried egg and then drenched in a downpour of glistening brown gravy.

That original version dates back to 1949, though it has never been officially decided if the dish was first cooked up at the long-defunct Lincoln Grill or the still-going-strong Cafe 100 (which has trademarked the loco moco name).

Different variations have been dished out through the decades, with some riffs switching out the steamed rice for fried, substituting Spam (or another type of meat) for the beef patty and even using an entirely different kind of gravy altogether. Loco moco has continued to surge in popularity, as the dish has spread beyond its birthplace of Hilo, Hawaii, and can now be found on menus across the mainland United States. Check out Food Network’s gallery to find out where to tuck into a traditional take on Hawaii’s comfort food classic.

Next Up

Hometown Hungers: Montreal Poutine

Cozy up with Canada’s comfort-food staple: a gravy-soaked plate of salty fries and springy cheese curds.

Hometown Hungers: Kentucky Hot Brown

This signature sandwich of the Bluegrass State comes heaped with hot turkey and drenched in a sumptuous Mornay sauce.

Hometown Hungers: San Francisco Cioppino

Dive into a steaming bowl of San Francisco’s signature stew. This comforting dish brings together a luscious tomato base with a variety of succulent seafood.

Hometown Hungers: Wisconsin Frozen Custard

In Wisconsin, I scream, you scream, we all scream for … frozen custard. Creamy, dense and rich, this signature dessert of the Dairy State is always in demand.

Hometown Hungers: Minneapolis Juicy Lucy

This signature dish ups the cheesy, meaty ante of a traditional cheeseburger by turning it inside out.

Hometown Hungers: Baja Fish Tacos

A standout in a sea of tacos, this beach-centric bite features battered fish piled onto sturdy corn tortillas and crowned with a tangle of shredded cabbage and a tangy white sauce.

Hungry in Hawaii: Where to Eat in Honolulu

Oahu has always offered more than just kitschy luau shows and pig roasts. Check out our favorite restaurants in Honolulu and throughout the island.

Get Your Own Royal Wedding Cake

These bakeries are making cakes worthy of Windsor Castle.

3 of a Kind: Serious Coffee Milkshakes

When you’re looking for a buzz, here are three great places to find serious, espresso-spiked milkshakes.

Chefs' Picks: Pumpkin Spice

Innovative chefs around the country are elevating the status of pumpkin spice by taking it out of the paper cup and incorporating it into dishes that are far from basic.

Related Pages