Delicious Loco Moco: A Classic Hawaiian Dish That’s a Taste Sensation (updated 2023)

Loco Moco is a very popular local style meal on the islands that typically is served take out or fast-food style for cheap and easy lunch time fare for Hawaiian food that’s so good to eat any time of the day. I love making my own version of loco Moco with whatever I have in the fridge or just going out to a favorite dive nearby when I’m in the mode for this hearty type of breakfast, or really for anytime of the day.

Loco Moco is that comfort food that everyone craves on the island and so good to eat.

Try some Hawaiian Loco Moco and some recipe variations
Trying a traditional loco modo dish in Hawaii

Origins of the Loco Moco

The first Loco Moco dish was created in downtown Hilo, at the Lincoln Grill Restaurant in 1949 from local teenagers with a sports club that wanted something different than a sandwich and was very cheap, easy to make and fast to prepare. They asked for a bowl of rice with a meat patty and some gravy and later an egg was placed on top.

Started in the late 1940s, the loco Moco quickly became a popular comfort dish ordered around take out places in Hilo and then the rest of the islands with different variations in between of this delicious dish.

Origin of the Loco Moco
what is loco moco – a local favorite food

Loco Moco FAQ

Why is it called Loco Moco?

The instant hamburger over rice meal became a hit at the Lincoln Grill, the teenagers dubbed the dish Loco Moco for one of the members who’s nickname was “Crazy” also studying Spanish, the Term “Loco” fit right in along with moco which just rhymed with Loco. Although, Spanish visitors think it’s weird because moco means mucus, so the actual translation is Crazy Snot dish in Spanish. Local slang and pidgin fits right in with the Loco Moco in today’s food vernacular.

This burger on steroids is delicious and fast to eat especially with hungry locals, surfers or visitors wanting to eat something fast, local and cheap.

When can you order a Loco Moco?

Most people are surprised that Loco Mocos are on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner service because this food is a local favorite that covers all the typical ingredients to the three daily meals. This “ono” or delicious plate meal is so easy to make or just go to your favorite local diner to serve one up right away. It really is comfort food from Hawaii, fast and cheap to eat.

Why try eating Loco Moco?

This is probably the ultimate favorite local food to eat on the island especially if you want easy to eat comfort food that is so delicious or Onolicious as we say in Hawaii. This dish is typically on the menu at any diner, take out or mom and pop cafe all around the island and always hits the spot any time of the day. It is a savory, salty, gooey and filling dish that everyone craves for local style food on the islands.

What should you serve with loco moco?

Perfect combinations to serve with Loco Moco includes: Hawaiian macaroni salad, coleslaw, or kimchi or any fermented pickles.

Try Loco Moco – the ultimate comfort food in Hawaii

Why is it called Loco Moco?
loco moco meaning – crazy = comfort food

What is in a Loco Moco?

Basically, in a classic Loco Moco you’ll find a big scoop of rice that is topped with a hamburger steak and then smothered with gravy and a runny fried egg of top. There are so many different takes and combinations made from the classic dish that would make your mouth spin.

Most original references to the actual plate lunch were started with making and selling Loco Moco to hungry folks on the islands looking for some fast and cheap to eat from a surf shack on the islands.

The basic ingredients that make the loco moco flavorful include: grated onions, shredded garlic, salt and pepper, soy sauce and were an egg is used as a binding ingredient for the patty and keeps it all intact. A runny egg on top is the perfect topping along with a generous scoop of delicious gravy sauce.

Hawaiian comfort food at its best

Loco Moco is a favorite go to for locals on the island. The combination of gravy poured over sticky rice and an egg yolk broken into the dish adds to the creamy and mouth watering dish. But beware, loco moco’s are cholesterol heavy as most comfort dishes are.

The Loco Moco represents Hawaii’s melting pot at its best and representing the delicious mash up of Asian and Western cuisine on the islands. One one of the most popular plate lunch dishes offered at local mom and pop shops to even fine dining venues around the islands, Loco Mocos on the menu are always so good to eat.

What is in a Loco Moco?
loco moco recipe – so many different variations to try

Other interesting variations of the Loco Moco may include:

Loco Moco comes in all different variations with different toppings and ingredients mixed into the standard recipe. These are probably the most popular ingredients you will find as the mains in this dish.

Portuguese sausage

Fried spam



Kalua Pork

Teriyaki Beef

Teriyaki Chicken

Mahi Mahi, shrimp, oysters and other seafood

Where else is loco moco popular

Outside of Hawaii Loco Moco is also a popular dish in Japan and served in café style places called Yoshoku. The Japanese version of the Loco Moco has a thicker sauce made from ketchup and Worcestershire sauce or even a tonkatsu sauce instead of the gravy sauce typical of Hawaiian style loco moco.

Where else is loco moco popular

Check out these cool recipe variations of the Loco Moco

Making comfort food in a Loco Moco is relatively easy with few basic ingredients to use. Here are some very easy recipes from the classic Loco Moco to some really delicious interpretations of the dish below.

If you can’t find Loco Moco in menu’s where you live, why not make it yourself, it’s easy with the recipes below.

The Moco Loco Classic Recipe

Loco Moco with a Miso brown gravy

Moco Loco done 6 different ways

How about a Loco Moco Burger

Other fun facts and trivia about Loco Moco in Hawaii

Loco Mocos make a good hangover dish after a heavy night of drinking

Chef Hideaki Miyoshi of Honolulu’s Tokkuri Tei restaurant created the largest Loco Moco with over 600 pounds of rice, 300 pounds of beef, 200 pounds of gravy and 300 eggs to break the largest Loco Moco in Guinness World Records.

The popular Rice Fest in Hilo always sells Loco Mocos as the local favorite dish ordered at the festival.

One of the most unique eating venues selling mostly different variations of Loco Moco is found at Cafe 100 in Hilo, dubbed the Home of the Loco Moco

Other complimentary Hawaiian foods to try


A popular favorite food that can be a pupu appetizer or even a side dish, poke is the perfect side or even a meal in a poke bowl with rice or bento box. You’ll find that most poke here on the islands are already prepared for take out food, served over rice or bento style.

Check out our post here on Hawaiian Poke here for more inspiration and images.


A traditional food and starch that accompanies many traditional Hawaiian foods that are salty and savory. Poi is the popular starch made with pounded taro that ranges in fluid to more sticky consistency depending on the vendor.

Check out our post here on Hawaiian poi here for more inspiration and images.

Hawaiian Lau Lau

Hawaiian Lau Lau is one of the most popular traditional Hawaiian foods eaten around the islands and is so good when just made fresh. What you get with every bite of lau lau is What you get in the end is moist, melt in your mouth goodness and everyone loves eating delicious Hawaiian lau lau when it is brought to a gathering.

Check out our post here on Hawaiian lau lau here for more inspiration and images.

Check out these other delicious Hawaiian inspired food topics

A complete Hawaii foods guide

Locals love these tasty Hawaiian snacks

Popular Hawaiian dishes you need to try

Traditional Hawaiian food favorite dishes

Comfort foods of Hawaii

Delicious Hawaiian tropical fruits

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

Hawaiian style banana bread

Farmers markets in Hawaii

More inside tips to trying Loco Moco in Hawaii

here are some inside tips for trying Loco Moco in Hawaii:

Local Favorites: Ask locals for their favorite spots to enjoy Loco Moco. They often know the hidden gems that serve the best versions of this Hawaiian classic.

Variations: Loco Moco comes in various forms. Try different variations, such as adding Spam, Portuguese sausage, or teriyaki sauce for a unique twist on the traditional dish.

Share or Solo: Loco Moco portions can be quite generous. Consider sharing with a friend if you’re not particularly hungry, or go all-in for the full experience if you have a hearty appetite.

Breakfast or Anytime: While Loco Moco is often associated with breakfast, many places serve it all day. Don’t limit yourself; enjoy it for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Sides and Extras: Some places offer extra toppings like avocado, bacon, or kimchi. Feel free to customize your Loco Moco to suit your preferences.

Gravy Matters: The gravy can make or break the dish. Pay attention to the quality and flavor of the gravy when trying different versions.

Explore Different Islands: Each Hawaiian island may have its own unique take on Loco Moco. If you’re island-hopping, be sure to sample it in various locations.

Local Reviews: Check online reviews and food forums for recommendations on the best places to try Loco Moco in the specific area you’re visiting.

Balance with a Side Salad: Loco Moco can be quite hearty. Consider balancing the meal with a side salad or some fresh fruit to add a touch of freshness to your plate.

Save Room for Dessert: Hawaiian cuisine offers fantastic desserts. After indulging in Loco Moco, save room to try some local sweets like malasadas or haupia.

Enjoy your Loco Moco adventure in Hawaii, and don’t be afraid to explore the diverse world of this delicious dish!

Have you tried Loco Moco – what are your thoughts?

So does this post convince you to try eating a loco moco or have you actually tried eating one on the islands recently? This really is a hearty meal that is available to eat any part of the day on the islands and not just for breakfast or lunch.

Conclusion on eating Loco Moco

Trying loco moco is a delightful culinary adventure that immerses your taste buds in the flavors of Hawaii. This classic dish combines the richness of a juicy hamburger patty, the lusciousness of a fried egg, the savory goodness of brown gravy, and the satisfying comfort of rice. With each bite, you experience a symphony of flavors and textures that tantalize your senses. Loco moco is not just a meal; it’s a quintessential Hawaiian experience that showcases the unique fusion of cultures and ingredients found on the islands.

Whether you indulge in it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, loco moco is sure to leave you craving more. So, savor the taste sensation, embrace the local flavors, and discover why this beloved dish has become an icon of Hawaiian cuisine.

Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Loco Moco. I hope you are inspired to plan a visit and enjoy the amazing cuisine of Hawaii. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.

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  1. Kristin Henning

    This is right up my alley, big breakfast or any time of day. If with Spam, we have our Hawaii-Minnesota connection. But I’m all for the burger. Thanks for the variations and videos and the scrumptious post.

    • emorata

      Wow, what a surprise, didn’t think the loco moco would be up your alley for comfort food but get the Spam connection there, lol

  2. Jeff & Crystal Bryant

    We love finding out about regional dishes like Loco Moco. It’s amazing how many places have these types of surprises awaiting visitors and the backstory makes it all the more tasty.

    • emorata

      Loco Moco is pure comfort food here in Hawaii and eaten all times of the day.

  3. Lori

    Wow, now we’re talkin’! Would definitely try it with the mahi-mahi, shrimp, or oysters.

    • emorata

      Now that is a great take on loco moco with seafood.

  4. Cathy Sweeney

    Why didn’t someone tell me about Loco Moco before? I’ve been to Hawaii several times and never heard of it. Looks and sounds delicious. I think I’d like the Hawaiian version better than the Japanese version. Thanks for the recipes.

    • emorata

      The loco moco is a definite must try if you are in the mood for some local comfort food in Hawaii.

  5. Suzanne Fluhr

    I have to admit, Loco Moco was not my favorite food when we lived in Honolulu for 3 months. Besides being inexpensive itself, if you have it for lunch, you can save even more money because you probably won’t be hungry for dinner.

    • emorata

      Yes Loco Moco is definitely comfort food here in Hawaii and you don’t have to eat any more meals if you have it for lunch, lol



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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.