Short stay in Waikiki... would love to taste the local food
We are a small group of 3 (no kids) flying to Hawaii for a short holiday at the end of Feb. We'll be staying in Waikiki during that time.
During our stay, we'd really love to experience the best that the area has to offer in the reasonably priced segment (i.e. max of $30 per dish).
Things we'd love to try out are :
Steaks (incl. ribs)
Would appreciate any recommendations you can provide (non smoking places only).
Chowhound kinda frowns on discussing things outside of food, but let me try to insert some additional information and slide the traffic report in. Not sure how long you are going to be staying, but if you want to see more of the island (which is highly recommended) then do rent a car for at least a day and drive up the H-2 and from there out to Haleiwa. You can get some great food out that way, see the recent posting for food on the North Shore. <http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/761673>
You could also stop at Poke Stop along the way (mililani mauka exit) <http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701870>. But even the markets in Haleiwa and the Foodland by Sunset Beach have decent poke.
From there drive down along the coast at least as far as Kaneohe and then back over the mountains on either Likelike or Pali Highway. There is a good lookout spot on Pali Highway (but no restrooms.) On the drive down from Haleiwa you can make a stop at one of the shrimp trucks (there are a couple of threads on that subject. - <http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/411745> for one)
Depending on how long you dawdle to watch the surf at sunset beach/waimea/etc. that can be a half or full day outing. Do find out from your hotel what the parking rates are, it is a not inconsequential fee, and you may want to just rent the car for one day.
Try to be off the roads in Honolulu (or pretty much anywhere on H-I) after 3pm. Kalakaua, the main road into and through Waikiki starts to back up around 4, as does the AlaWai leading out of Waikiki. Kapahulu isn't as bad most of the time.
Renting a car definitely opens up your shopping and dining options significantly, but probably isn't necessary for your whole trip. Have you already made arrangements to get from the airport? Some hotels do have connections with shuttles, others do not. I would recommend looking into this before you get here. Oahu is very much car oriented. There is a good bus system, but they will not let you bring luggage on board. Shopping bags (so long as they fit on your lap) won't be a problem.
Russkar gave some great recs (as always.) But i was wondering about the conflict between the title of your question and the specifics. Much of it doesn't sound local. Not sure where you are coming from, and that may influence your choices.
You might consider Helena's or Ono's for Hawaiian food
Rainbow Drive In, South Shore Grill, or Grace's Inn for plate lunch (a local staple for lunch or dinner)
Here is a recent thread on burgers (which needs updating since it doesn't include wolfgang pucks) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/730118
And much as I may like Mexitilan and Azteca for Mexican, Hawaii is not where I would go for those foods.
if you want to push the $30 limit you can do pretty well at Town or 3660, if that is the price just for the entree. Very good hawaii/fusion cuisine.
And ALL restaurants and bars in Hawaii are non-smoking by state law.
South Shore Grill
3114 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
1296 S Beretania St Ste 101, Honolulu, HI 96814
Let me think.......I can't come up with a price off the top of my head but from 5:30-6:30
if you eat at the bar the entire menu is half price at both! Except the $12.00 steak dinner which is usually a special on Thursday nights and it is awesome (Vino). More
later, I'm cooking dinner!
Burgers- Wolfgang's Steakhouse (Lunch special $10- for Half Pound Fresh ground Top Sirloin Burger)
Steaks (incl. ribs)- Vino (NY Steak Special on Thurs $12-)
Sea Food- Nico's (fresh fish of the day $9-) & Uncles
Mexican- Mexitian Grill, Kaimuki
Desserts- Sushi ii
Japanese- Sushi ii