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Budget family dining in Waikiki

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  • Elfin Apr 21, 2008 10:45 AM
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Anti-foodchain family with two toddlers seeks recs for lunch and dinner. We will hit Chinatown but are seeking some local joints with local cuisine. Helena's? Ted's Bakery? Also, any rec for a tasty yet no frills fish meal would be greatly appreciated. Haleiwa Joe's? Thankyou.

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  1. Not sure what your options are, whether you have a car, etc. It is really hard to have a tight budget and still eat in Waikiki. Even if you were not anti-chain, most of the chains even charge more in their Waikiki locations. Keep in mind that, except for occasional fine dining, most local people don't eat in Waikiki, so you won't find much "local" fare.

    There is a food court in the back of the international marketplace. Some of the prices there are not too bad (by Waikiki standards). There is a Korean take out place on Uluniu that is pretty good. There is a food court in the Waikiki Shopping plaza on the lower level as well as the 2nd or third floor. Not real cheap, but less than you might pay elsewhere. Mooses on Lewers is a "family style" restaurant, but I have a feeling it is going to have a "chain" character to you. The prices however are reasonable, and if you stick to the basics, pretty decent eating. Wailana Coffee shop - corner of Ala Moana and Ena Rd., is a local favorite, sort of a Denny's with some Hawaii overtones. Breakfast is a good deal there. Teddy's Bigger Burgers near the bottom of Kapahulu has really good burgers, chicken sandwiches, etc. at pretty reasonable prices. Finally, if you want to have a do-it-yourself lunch or dinner you might be able to pick up some items at one of the food pantry markets (best is at corner of Walina and Kuhio).

    If you want to walk a little bit out of Waikiki there is a food court at Ala Moana Center on the lower level, near the stage/center court. On the top level there is another cluster of restaurants, but definitely not budget food, and mostly chains. On the other end of Waikiki you can walk a few blocks up Kapahulu and check out Rainbow Drive-In, but it is not something you want to feed toddlers more than once or twice (vegetable? whats a vegetable?).

    1 Reply
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      If your kids aren't too rambunctious and wouldn't mind eating street food and looking at people, you could try Fatty's for good Chinese dinner, particularly the cake noodles. For tasty, no frills seafood, Legend on Kohio isn't terribly expensive ($10-20 main dishes), and the kids can look at the fish in the aquaria.

    2. Helena's Ted's Bakery, Haleiwa Joes are all mentioned in various threads, but are not in or near Waikiki. You might be able to find some Ted's pies in the Food Pantry. For more on places to eat outside of waikiki, check the threads I mentioned in the "3 nights in Waikiki" thread. Aloha!

      In response to a tasty no frills fish... find a way to get out to Niccos, pier 38 i think, off nimitz highway near costco/home depot/best buy - those are on the mauka side of the highway, the piers are on the makai (ocean) side. Monarch Seafood on Kalihi near dillingham is also good, but no place to sit and eat. Finally you might try Yama's fishmarket, sort of a seafood deli, they also have plate lunch. Yamas is on Young Street in Moiliili, half block west (ewa) of Isenberg (behind longs).

      1. I'm assuming that Elfin is looking for some sort of "casual" type local dining and priced reasonable with little ones? Maybe on the lines of Kakaako Kitchen or even Big City Diner (stay away from the Ward Center location though. I don't recommend them through past personal experience). If you're in Kaimuki, Happy Days on 12th and Waialae is OK for Chinese as well as Kim Chee II for Korean. Not too expensive and kid-friendly. As Kaimukiman had suggested, Wailana in Waikiki is convenient and sort of laid back coffeehouse. Rainbow's is more for take out plate lunches but good and reasonable. For burgers, W&M's on Waialae next to City MIll is pretty good but hard to get in and out. I personally like the burgers at Kua Aina but that's me! Nice and messy...St. Louis Drive In for okazuya is fast and different for a change. Have fun.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Clinton

          Wow! Thanks for the great recs. Street food is fine. We will be traveling in style- with the bus pass- so we will be mobile. We have never been to Roy's (I understand it is a chain) but it is supposed to be good. What about Sunrise, Hula Grill (on top of Duke's) and Ray's? We will be going to UH for some cheap eats near the campus.

          1. re: Elfin

            Roy's is always good.... see Bill Hunt's comments on other boards. There are a number of decent "cheap eats" near UH, there is a thread on that as well. If you are on the bus head down to Ward Center/Ward Warehouse. Kua Aina burgers are good, Kakaako Kitchen is great, and in spite of Clinton's misadventure I have never had a problem at Big City Diner at Ward, Much easier to get to than the Kaimuki (original) one. I would avoid Kim Chee II like the plague - really awful Korean food. Hit Sorabol or Chois Garden, or even Ginas in Market City or the one i mentioned in Waikiki. Happy days in Kaimuki is great for chinese, Hale Vietnam is very good vietnamese, and Duk Kee is also good chinese. Verbano is pretty decent for italian, not a huge menu, but fairly reasonable

            1. re: Elfin

              I think I have to agree with Kaimukiman on Kim Chee II in Kaimuki. On our last visit in November it was pretty awful comparing it to the past. Prices have increased and the food went downhill. Even the side condiments were skimpy and tasteless.But their whole kalbi rib was still good though. Other than that, I withdraw my recommendation now that I think about it. I've heard avout Gina's and may try that one next. Is that by the old Foodland in Kapahulu? Sorry Kaimukiman, we didn't care too much for Sorobol but that was us. Nice place and friendly staff but the food was so-so. Also, the wife was looking around for her K-drama actors who frequent the place but didn't see any. That didn't score any points...

              1. re: Clinton

                yeah, i remember when KimChee was good too, now its just MSG and kochu. ginas is mostly take out, unless you go off peak - there are like 3 tables (or is it 2), but the food is good and she gives generous portions. In fact I think that sounds like dinner tonight. Won't argue about Sorabol, its good...not spectacular.

                Check out my posting about forty-niner fountain... i was pleasantly surprised.

          2. Another option is Diamond Head Market and Grill at the corner of Monserrat and Campbell...the Grill is a renewed burger joint with just a couple of outdoor tables but the food is far better than burger joint standards, Healthy choices include fresh ahi and the plates come with fresh local greens, and brown rice is optional. The Market is upscale, but some excellent choices for takeaway. The location is a few blocks inland from the beach at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki and makes a great stop on the way to or from the hike into Diamond Head crater. You can do takeout and walk back into Kapi'olani Park for a picnic there or at the beach.

            1. Most of my dining is at the "other end" of the spectrum, but for a review of Haleiwa Joe's (Haleiwa location, not Kaneohe), see: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334698

              It's about mid-thread in the North Shore group. We'd not likely go back, but I'll let the review speak for itself.

              Hunt

              1. We ate at Ono's-really good and the owner super friendly. A must on any trip here. We went to Leonards for the malsadas (sp) and they were terrific. We had better creme puffs on the strip at a place that just did puffs. It was located in a shared store front/mini mall with a grocery store and a coffee shop. We found a great drink and food special at Hula Grill. The appetizers consisted of a pretty decent size burger and fries which was really good and cheap. The wings seemed popular and the fish n chips so-so---go for the burger and half priced mai tais and enjoy the ocean view.. Best deal on the strip