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Adventurous Family chowdown in Waikiki

Ok here is my list for Waikiki .. Please feel free to add info or delete some chosen restaurants as we probably wont be able to cover them all!

NORTH SHORE
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck or Romy's but leaning to Giovanni's as I believe better reviews?
Matsumoto's shaved ice in Halewiea
Cholo's or Luibueno (might skip both mixed reviews)

WAIKIKI AND AREA
Ailana Shaved Ice
Nico's (DDD feature) what is your favorite plate/food order from here please?
Rainbow Drive inn ( already have menu and highlighted top food here)
Helena's Best hawaiian food (any fav item you could suggest?)
Leonard's Bakery- Masalada's
ShoreBirds (grill your own meats (buy one get 1/2 second entree coupon from many magazines) (HH 12-5) $3.50 mai tai.
Serg's Taco Tuesday $2 fish taco's all others $1.50 (On East Manoa Street)

OF THE THREE BELOW WHICH ONE DEF HIT? CAN WE TAKE ONE OFF CHOW LIST ??
ME Korean BBQ great take out (katsu chicken. kalbi ,bbq ribs )
Fattys Chinese Food
Ah Lang (aka angry korean lady) BYOB and cups :O) 725 kapiolani blvd

Safeway by leonards buy poke, lomi lomo and lau lau and kalua pig for condo for take out
Costco good poke. seafood and other items to grill at condo as well as groceries.
The Shirakiya Food court
China Town at lunch time
Manukea Food court suggested a must for our family to browse around
Tuesday's Food truck round up. 5-7 trucks hit camile on wheels for great chicken pot pies(sell out early)
Farmers Market Saturday at Kapiolani College

Happy Hours (**def will go)
**Rumfire at Sheraton (HH 4-6pm best mai tai's)
**ShoreBird at Outrigger Reef (HH 12-5 and 4-7
Moose McGillacuddy's
Top of Waikiki (HH 5-7 $4 martinin/wine/beer and $7 pupus) revolving restaurant
Yard house beachwalk mon-fr 2-5:30pm 1/2 off pupus and reduced beer/cocktail prices

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Leonard's Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Top of Waikiki
2270 Kalakaua Ave Ste 1800, Honolulu, HI 96815

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  1. Aloha tree..
    Love love love O'ahu and the food is off the chain good..

    I would add for breakfast the Moose's with their 2 for 1 coupon in the 101 booklet in the back..saves $10+ and for breakfast, it was quite good...only breakfast.
    Happy Hour...Hula Grill and Duke's for the everyday HH is excellent and the mai tai for $4 and the calamari is addicting and so good for $6.

    Have a beer at the Mai Tai bar at my beloved and fave Royal Hawaiian hotel
    Have drinks and app's at House without a key.
    Dinner at Roy's in Waikiki...food is some of the best and not in the same caliber as any of the other Roy's, IMHO, Diva, the GM has so much Aloha and she will embrace you and your family..

    International Market across from the Outrigger Waikiki has great cheap food and you can get some of those sarongs..Hawaiian sarongs aren't the same as the gorgeous traditional Tahitian ones, but they'll do..

    Best pineapple slices fresh at the truck at the parking lot of Diamond Head..OMG for $3

    I'm sure the beloved K-Man and the other great Hawaiian posters will chime in..da best!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Beach Chick

      Do you go to the Mai tai bar at sunset or anytime of the day for a beer???do you order pupus here or just a drink and move on? I can see looking at the menu the beer is ordered compared to their $14 mai tais :o))) .....

      IS hula grill /dukes the same on oahu as is Maui? AS going to both islands.

      Drinks and apps at house without a key do you make ressies for the evening entertainment here? WAsnt sure if you had to order dinner to watch the musicians at sunset ??

      IS Roy's similar to George's on the cove as far as class/cuisine/ price tag? not looking to spend $150-200 on a meal with kids in tow.

      1. re: palmtree38

        Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar is nice at Sunset or all day, lol. Pupu's @ Rumfire then RH.
        Duke's - Hula's are same.
        HWOK doesn't require dinner, Pupu's are good.
        Roy's is not similar to G @ the Cove. We normally order Roy's Appys and it's always good.
        Don't for get my Pau Hana Suggestions in Royal Hawaiian Center, they are all cheap and above average. Pizza & Meatball @ IL Lupino, Steak Sliders @ Wolfgangs, Sushi Rolls, seared mushrooms, etc @ Doraku.
        aloha

        -----
        Royal Hawaiian
        2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

        Pau
        , Kamuela, HI 96743

    2. Luibueno's is one of the only reasons to go to the N.Shore, I would skip the Shrimp Trucks.
      Nico's absolutely
      Rainbow nothing special, substitute Liliha Bakery which is a 1000 times better.
      Helena's is ok along with Leonard's
      Shorebird is a tourist trap and the Mai Tai's aren't good.
      Serg's is ok but I would substitute Tropic's Bar & Grill (fantastic dive bar TT) $1- ea
      Ah Lang is decent but pass on the rest of that group.
      Safeway or Costco isn't the place to buy the best Poke.
      Tamura's or Alicia's would be first choice for fresh (not frozen) Poke. Expect to pay $12-15 per lb.
      Chinatown Cultural center has several strong choices for Dim Sum. Tai Pan, Legend's , etc. Mei Sum around the corner.
      Pass on the Tue Taco Kako Truck event from 11-2p, nothing special.
      Farmer's Mkt Sat @ KCC is a Zoo so go @ 7am to avoid the major lines or skip it unless you just have to see it. There is a new scaled down version @ Ala Moana Mall Top Parking level near Sears from 9a-1p which is much more accessible.
      Happy Hours:
      Rumfire is nice their Mai Tai's aren't (Best REAL Scratch Mai Tai's are @ Royal Hawaiian or Lewer's Lounge).
      Other good HH's (Pau Hana) , Wolfgang's , IL'Lupino, Doraku all in the Royal Hawaiian Center.
      Skip Yardhouse and go to Roy's which never disappoints. aloha

      -----
      Royal Hawaiian
      2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

      6 Replies
      1. re: russkar

        DArn Russkar I can see your not so keen on my hot chow list here... :O(

        Tropics bar and grill has a speical now on hot deals hawaii.. $6 for $12 of fare at lunch time.

        1. re: palmtree38

          Correcto about the discount deal but TT is a far better deal there. $1 per item, unbeatable. Practice your Pirate. Shiver me timbers

          1. re: russkar

            Do you have a link to this TT??? as i dont see unbeleatable happy hour pricing when i did a google :O)

            practice your pirate????

            1. re: palmtree38

              @Palmtree: Tropic's Taco Tue (TT) doesn't have a link. HH pricing is $1- per item, Tortilla Soup might be $2-
              Dive Bars are like where Pirates hang out so you should learn to speak Pirate for easy communication but not required.

              1. re: russkar

                what day and times are HH at this place?? and its it that much of a dive that should not bring kids here?? The Tropics location that I googled looked like it was in Hilton hawaian village is this correct??

                pirate chat?? hmmm

                1. re: palmtree38

                  @Palmtree: Nope it's not the one at HHV. The correct one is below.

                  (TT) is Tue, 5pm sharp. Kids will be fine for short visit.

                  Tropics Cafe Bar and Lounge
                  1020 Auahi St
                  Honolulu, HI 96814
                  (808) 591-8009

      2. Re: Matsumoto's vs. Ailana for shave ice. Interested in your comparison of the two. Another place in Town for shave ice is Shimazu Store. For convenience, Ailana has opened a new place in Waikiki, 2250 Kalakaua.

        Re: Rainbow Drive In. It's been my go-to plate lunch place for years. Get the Mixed Plate.
        Yes to Leonard's
        The Shirokiya Yataimura is a one-of-a-kind experience. When you get there, take time to look at all the options. Stop for those unique only-in-Japan spots, like the place that makes 5 different kinds of specialty rices, including sekihan (red bean rice) and the kuriokowa (chestnut) rice. Make your selection after you have seen it all.

        The Maunakea food Court is a great way to be introduced to the food of Hawaii. There are better choices elsewhere, including hawaiian, Korean BBQ, Chinese, Philipino. but no place else that has everything in one place like this.
        For poke, lau lau, etc, I would opt for Young's Fish Market.
        I think you will enjoy Shorebirds.
        Re: Giovanni's, it's good, but also has really long lines.

        -----
        Shirokiya
        1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

        Young's Fish Market
        1286 Kalani St, Honolulu, HI 96817

        1. Nothing like actually setting down a list to bring out the true feelings. Overall I think your list is great. It has a good combination of newer places as well as those that if you miss your friends will say 'waddaya mean you didn't even go to "x" for their "y".

          russkar's comments in particular strip away decades of local favoratism that may or may not be justified. After all, just because a place is a local institution doesn't mean it's still great. For example, I love Rainbow Drive-In. I've eaten hundreds of meals there over the decades, i hold fond memories of a multitude of friends and dates and all the rest there. If you want me to swear that I can't find better food someplace else, i'm not sure i can do that. On the other hand, the fact that it is an institution, that it has been an integral part of so many peoples experience (residents and tourist alike) also gives it a certain standing in the where to go lists. If I go to New York, i wanna hit Carnegie Deli, if I go to San Francisco I wanna have Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista, and if I'm in Honolulu, then rainbow is probably on my list (ok, it is on my list, but y'all have seen my list and its kinda long...LOL)

          4 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            @K-man: I like Rainbow drive in, just think Liliha Bakery is far better.
            As far as decades of local institution goes.
            Rainbow started in 1961 and Liliha Bakery started in 1950 and is open 24/6 to meet the demand.

            1. re: russkar

              wasn't intended as an attack on your reply and i'm sure you know that. i very much appreciate your insight. i never think of liliha bakery for 'plate lunch" type food, because while what they have is good, it is a limited menu for that food type. Beef Stew/Curry depending on which day it is, Fried Mahi, and Hamburger Steak.

              Yes, Liliha bakery IS an institution. I've had many many midnight meals there, but usually its more along the lines of a midnight breakfast , their true forte, than a midnight dinner.

            2. re: KaimukiMan

              I think K-man nails the attraction of many of the places I like, like Rainbow Drive-in, etc.

              No one would say Safeway or Costso has the best poke, but to decide what is the best poke in Honolulu is like asking who has the best pizza in NYC. There is Ono, Alicia's, Tamura, Yama, Tamashiro and on and on, but if you are going to Leonard's, Safeway is right there, or going to be in Costco already, it is okay, both do a nice with their pokes.

              I would drop the tacos and keep Me's BBQ, Ah Lang and even Fatty's. The food is good at all, great prices and they are all fun, local experiences.

              I like Roy's Hawaii Kai much better than Roy's Waikiki, but then again I haven't been to Roy's Waikiki in a couple of years because I was like 'enh' my first two times there.

              The two most important places for cocktails to me are the House Without a Key at the Halekulani and the Banyan Court (or what ever it is called these days) at the Moana Hotel. These two more than anyplace else scream Hawaii. When I was a keiki in the late '50's, early '60's, we used to go to the Moana every week to watch them broadcast Hawaii Calls. The House Without a Key at the old Halekulani was my parents favorite haunt.

              Duke's Canoe Club and Hula Grill are basically the same food as the places on Maui, neither is a fave for their main dining room, but I love Duke's Barefoot Bar in Waikiki, especially for lunch or Happy Hour and love all the TS Restaurants Happy Hours and of course, Hula Pie.

              And on a really weird ending note, for reasons unknown, people from the Philippines are Filipino and eat Filipino food. Wouldn't you think they'd either be from the Filippines or that they are called Philippinos and eat Philippino food? Who came up with that one?

              -----
              Halekulani
              2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

              1. re: scottca075

                Yes Costco and Foodland not the BEST poke but we are far from poke experts so for one stop shopping getting other grocery items this will work out for us..

                house without a key is this first come first serve? as im sure they take reservations for guests having dinner not just drinks?? I will look at their website to see what time their entertainers perform at.

            3. Ah Lang is good for the Spicy Wings alone, but why was Opal's Thai Truck not on the N. shore list?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Joebob

                Joe bob is the spicy wings the only thing you like at Ah Lang? or one of your favorite items..Do you bring your own beer in here when you dine??? Do you really bring one of the angry korean lady too????? :O)
                Not read posts on a Opal's thai truck do tell?????????

                Thanks KaimukiMan... I guess my list is small compared to yours??? :O)

                Ogawak.. yes will compare and give my opinion on returning.. I got those two suggestions reading up on shaved ice threads and these two looked like they were the top two in slurping! and mixed plate and loco moco and chili/rice on the list..

                1. re: palmtree38

                  We like the Chive Pancake @ Ah Lang among other items. We always take the Angry Lady Korean Sake.

                  1. re: palmtree38

                    Opal's offers Thai street food W-Sun. in the gully across from McDs in Haleiwa.

                    Personally, I thought the chive pancake had too much chives at Ah Lang.

                  2. re: Joebob

                    I just saw a show on food network on Opal Thai truck on Friday.. The food looks great and family run.. We love thai food... Anyone been and what was your chow experience????

                    1. re: palmtree38

                      palmtree38, don't overthink/plan your trip. Remember, this is Hawaii. 'Nuf said.