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May 19, 2012 10:11 PM

Good eats near Outrigger Reef (Oahu)

My husband and I are making our first trip to Hawaii next week, staying at the Outrigger Reef for 7 days. Looking for reasonably priced restaurant recs within a short walk/bus or cab ride from the hotel. I'm willing to eat just about anything but the husband is pickier. Not sure I can talk him into Japanese or Chinese unless they have some fairly mainstream offerings, and sadly no sushi either. He is however very excited to try loco moco and kalua pork.
Already have reservations at Roy's Waikiki and plan to visit Rainbow Drive-In and Leonard's. Might try to get to Helena's but it looks like a pretty long bus ride.
We are from Kansas City so no need for steakhouses, BBQ or Mexican, not that those are necessarily prevalent in Hawaii but we have plenty here. Also prefer to stay away from mainland chains, but I think that isn't a huge risk on this board :)
Also if there are any recommended shave ice places nearby would love to know about them. We will be renting a car one day for a drive up to the North shore and will likely make the requisite visit to Matsumoto, but might like a closer option as well.
Thanks for your help! Can't wait to be there!

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  1. Matsumoto's is always a stop. This past April we were going to stop but the crowd was out the door. We went on another block and stopped at Aoki's. This was always a good shave ice stop, but this time the syrup was watered down to almost no flavor. I wouldn't stop there again. Jimmy Buffet's at the Beachcomber is a good stop with some good food and strong drinks. The Shorebird in the Reef is a good stop as well, grill your own food there. Some people don't like this, a lot of other people do. On your way to the north side, stop at Giovanni's shrimp truck for some tasty garlic shrimp.

    1. For a Japanese meal with mainstream offerings, there is Ginza Bairin, a short walk from the Reef on Beachwalk. They serve Japanese style pork cutlet meals. The regular menu is quite expensive, but they serve rice bowls, known as donburi, which come as complete meals with soup and salad for under $20. Their pork cutlet rice bowl or jumbo shrimp rice bowl is very well done, using good quality ingredients. It's very popular with Japanese tourists, so you can be sure the flavor is authentic.

      2 Replies
      1. re: curiousgeo

        Curiousgeo - I have been remiss in getting my trip report posted but wanted to say thank you so much for the Ginza Bairin recommendation. We absolutely loved this place and ate there twice during our trip. Now we are trying to figure out where we can get this at home! We have found some local places that serve tonkatsu but I don’t think anyone will replicate my husband’s favorite – the tonkatsu sandwich. What a great way to introduce a picky white-bread American to Japanese – with a white bread/breaded pork sandwich! Thanks again!

        1. re: lupadoo

          lupadoo, glad you and your husband enjoyed the food. Looking forward to your trip report!

      2. While not on my "fine dining" list, we have had some wonderful meals at the Shorebird, on the beach in the Outrigger Reef. It is (or at least was) an odd little restaurant, where one picks their entree, and then they cook it themselves, on an open fire grill. Yes, there will be tourists, but I have created some of the best ahi dishes, ever experienced, there. Wife feels the same. The location, if one is seated at the low wall, overlooking Waikiki Beach, at sunset, is excellent, for so casual a restaurant. One really will need to "kick it up a few notches," to beat that - say La Mer, at the Halekulani, overlooking the live performance at House Without a Key. Also, for upper-level fare, that is almost as good as it gets, but... it is expensive (but well worth the price, in our book), and gentlemen must wear jackets - not really a bad thing, as the ocean breezes cool the interior quite well.

        If you have but one "splurge night," then I would recommend La Mer... or maybe Alan Wong, or Chef Mavro's (short cab rides, or a longish walk), on King Street.

        Below that level, I really like 3660 On The Rise, which IS a cab ride, but worth it.

        I have also had some lovely meals at Hau Tree Lanai, over on San Souci Beach, at the New Otanai, which also has lovely beach-side tables (slightly different view from Shorebird), good food and service, and money left over for breakfast.

        Back to the Halekulani, I also like Orchids.

        Most of all, enjoy, and much aloha,


        1. I know I'm gonna get poked in the eye for this, but if you're just meandering around the Waikiki Town Center one afternoon and given that the hubby is a little more picky - Puka Dog is fun. Not high end cuisine by any means....but fun. I'm Polynesian/Chinese, have a lot of family over there on my Mom's side and being self-employed (as well as blessed with family members who work for a popular airline), have the freedom to visit several times a year. Been all over Oahu and eaten at a lot of places but Puka Dog is a stop when I have my kids with me....because it's fun.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Mutch2Do

            i tried puka dog @ a food expo several years ago and was wowed. i normally don't enjoy exotic fruit relishes, but it was ONO! i'm glad to hear they're still in business.

            1. re: indelibledotink

              I always wondered what their fruit relishes would taste like drizzled over shave ice....I'm thinking it'd be pretty good!

            2. re: Mutch2Do

              While I have not dined there, I do hear great things about Puka Dog.

              Glad that you had a good experience, and just added another "mark" below their name. Hope to get there, next trip.



              1. re: Bill Hunt

                @Hunt: "Puka Dog is a stop when I have my kids with me....because it's fun".
                On the other side of the coin we pass it all the time and don't like it at all.
                Recommend Hank's Hotdogs nearby instead, way better.

                1. re: russkar


                  Is that Hank's Hautedogs? I have heard good things about that, as well.



                  1. re: russkar

                    I've been to Hank's Hautedogs and agree - a far better choice for something more akin to Mommy's taste. Their Lobster Dog on Fridays is truly drool worthy.

                    1. re: russkar

                      i have been dying to try them too. each day there is a special type of dog.


                      i'm sitting here drooling.

                2. people seem to be forgetting the 'reasonable cost' mentioned by the OP. I like hanks, but for hot dog's its not a reasonable cost - no matter how good that lobster dog is. Hank's isn't outrageous, but not a bargain by any stretch.

                  And if you stay in the bounds of Waikiki, not much is. If you want Hawaiian food try Ono's or Haili's. Both on Kapahulu within walk/cab/bus distance.

                  At the bottom of Kapahulu avenue in the Waikiki Grand is Teddy's Bigger Burgers. Not too high a price, and about 1000 times better than that abomination known as cheeseburgers in paradise.

                  Near Puka Dogs (not wonderful, not awful) is Fatty's Chinese Kitchen. Very reasonable, but mostly take-out. The food court at the International Market Place all in all isn't too bad food wise, or price wise for waikiki.

                  Will you have visitor passes for the bus? there are several decent places at Ala Moana Center, and more sell at Ward Centers. At ward especially consider Kakaako Kitchen (ka-ka-a-ko) and Big City Diner. Bucca De Beppo is also popular, but I've never been impressed. Unfortunately its difficult to get from Waikiki to Kaimuki on the bus, which has an amazing collection of restaurants in about 8-10 blocks in almost any price range.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    i have to disagree with kman, but teddy's bigger burgers aren't that palatable. they strictly adhere to desecrating the beef into shoe leather consistancy, and their larger burgers are just messy.

                    cheeseburger in paradise and cheeseburger waikiki have wonderful and flavorful burgers, which i'd gladly get 2 of if i were hungry. staff is very friendly and at the cheeseburger in paradise there is sometimes live music (for better or worse).

                    1. re: indelibledotink

                      Wow, I'm afraid I heartily disagree. Teddy's runs circles around Cheeseburger in Paradise. But I guess Chowhounds allows us to disagree. There may be better burgers than Teddy's on Oahu, but they will be more expensive.