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Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

Oahu's Best Cheap Eats

These casual restaurants, shrimp carts, and roadside diners are local favorites.

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Overview: These casual restaurants, shrimp carts, and roadside diners are local favorites.

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Food/Dining
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Diamond Head Market & Grill

This informal joint in a residential neighborhood east of Waikiki is a takeout favorite.
 
Kelvin Ro used to cook at the governor’s mansion; now he serves dishes that pay homage to Hawaiian plate lunch classics such as teriyaki beef and char siu pork, along with occasional diversions like portobello mushroom burgers, grilled tuna steak with wasabi aioli, and a vegetable medley of kabocha squash, zucchini, and eggplant.

Don’t miss: Chef Ro’s tangy Korean barbecued chicken, one of his signature dishes, is paired with fried pork wontons and spicy kimchi; wash it down with some Hawaiian lemonade, sweetened with tropical blossom honey from the Hawaii Island Honey Company.

Address:
3158 Monsarrat Ave.
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii 96815
United States

Phone:
(808) 732-0077
Food/Dining
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Kuaaina Sandwich

What A luncheonette with surfboards on the wall, and sandwiches made with fish right out of the sea.

Owner Terry Thompson’s shop now has branches in Tokyo; only at the original location, however, are you guaranteed island-grown ingredients.

Don't miss: The enormous charbroiled burgers topped with slices of fresh avocado or pineapple are popular with the protein-loving surf crowd, but the grilled mahimahi steak on a kaiser roll is the real catch.

Address:
66-160 Kamehameha Hwy.
Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii 96712
United States

Phone:
(808) 637-6067
Food/Dining
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Rainbow Drive-In

One of the last drive-in restaurants in Honolulu, its parking lot is often filled with vans topped with surfboards. Rainbow is a favorite pit stop of beachcombers in flip-flops and office workers hoping to catch some rays on their lunch break.

Since 1961, the Ifuku family has owned and run this drive-in that serves traditional American favorites such as chili dogs and slush floats; their menu also includes popular plate- lunch specials such as barbecued ahi and chopped steak stir-fry.

Don’t miss: The homey fried chicken cutlet smothered in brown gravy with two scoops of white rice, just like how Hawaiian "aunties" make it.

Address:
3308 Kanaina Ave.
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii 96815
United States

Phone:
(808) 737-0177
Food/Dining
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Romy's Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp

What A flaming-red shrimp shack, in Kahuku, near the Turtle Bay Resort, Romy’s serves up its signature giant prawns wok-seared in butter with generous chunks of toasted garlic—it’s a vampire-free zone.

The Aguinaldo family has run Romy’s for more than a decade and the adjacent aquaculture ponds for 15 years.

Don't miss: End your meal with a quintessential island dessert: sweet pineapple chunks dusted with dried Chinese plum powder.

Address:
56-781 Kamehameha Hwy.
Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii 96731
United States

Phone:
(808) 232-2202
Food/Dining
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Sharks Cove Grill

An aquamarine-paneled truck parked in a palm-shaded gravel lot across the road from the eponymous cove, this propane-powered galley kitchen serves taro burgers and chicken salad to ravenous boarders who hang ten in nearby Waimea Bay.

Chef (and surfer) Willy Asprey raided his mother’s recipes for the Grill’s pesto shrimp skewers, and his grilled tuna skewers, drizzled with a creamy sesame-shoyu sauce, definitely merit the scenic drive to find him along Kamehameha Highway. Instead of the more typical macaroni salad, crunchy baby greens and brown rice herald a healthy shift in plate lunch side dishes.

Don't miss: The Bash smoothie is a taste of some of the island’s freshest produce, with bananas, apple juice, strawberries, and honey.

Address:
59-712 Kamehameha Hwy.
Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii 96712
United States

Phone:
(808) 638-8300
Food/Dining
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Side Street Inn

On an island where space is the prized commodity, strange couplings occur. Like karaoke and fried chicken. Side Street Inn, a chef’s hangout in Honolulu, has come into local fame (which is spreading since Anthony Bourdain stopped by in 2009) for its frying rap sheet.

The big kahuna is the fried pork chops. The filler is the kimchi fried rice. But the unheralded find is chef Colin Nishida’s fried chicken, which blends his Asian roots and Polynesian bent. Just save room for your turn belting out a ukulele-backed Black Eyed Peas hit.

Don’t miss: Grab a stool at the bar and try the potent cocktails (the house specialty is the Side Mui: vodka, Kahlúa, sour mix, and dried plum powder) and exceptional pu pus (bar snacks), from fried wontons to steamed Manila clams.

Address:
1225 Hopaka St.
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii 96814
United States

Phone:
(808) 591-0253
Food/Dining
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Ted's Bakery

This family-owned shop in Sunset Beach is splashed with a deep-sea graffiti mural that looks as if it could have been painted by the Little Mermaid on acid.

The Nakamuras serve solid renditions of fish sandwiches and bento boxes of chicken katsu or teriyaki beef.

Don't miss: It’s the silky chocolate pudding–coconut cream pie that keeps customers coming back. Sold whole or by the slice, this gooey dessert comes topped with decadent whipped cream.

Address:
59-024 Kamehameha Hwy.
Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii 96712
United States

Phone:
(808) 638-5974
Other Resources
Ted's Bakery
Official Website
Pictures in this guide taken by: wizardofoddd

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