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5 days in Waikiki

My husband is turning 40 in January and we are going to Waikiki to celebrate. I am pretty sure we are going to stay at the Kaimana hotel. We are planning on taking The Bus most places. I am looking for restaurant suggestions. We mostly want to keep things on the more affordable, less than $30 for 2 end of things. His actual birthday we will do something more expensive. A friend recommended Roy's?

We're from Seattle, though he's originally from Alaska and I am from Monterey, California. We are adventurous eaters, we like nearly everything. I would like recommendations that are full of local's, and easy to get to on foot or the bus. We love happy hours, any type of Asian food, fresh healthy salads and also big juicy burgers. We just want to make sure each meal we're really getting something great. If it's a national chain don't list it, we can go to Buca De Beppo's here, we're looking for something we cant get here.

Our tentative plan includes hiking up Diamond Head one morning, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial, possibly the Polynesian Cultural Center, maybe a luau. We arrive on a Tuesday afternoon and leave at midnight on a Saturday. Just a short trip, pretty touristy on our activities, but hoping for great food. Plus getting out of Seattle in January is an important mood lifter for us!

We aren't afraid of strip malls, though we do want to have at least one night's worth of dinner and drinks on the beach, or at least close enough to see it. Let me know what you really love. Also the best shave ice places. I love it here, and am excited to have it in it's birthplace. Thanks for any tips!

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  1. Honey-u need to up your budget!!! sheesh!

    1 Reply
    1. re: UES Mayor

      yes, hate to admit it, but UES is on the mark. In hawaii you need to plan about $40 for two for anything above minimum, especially if you are going to be in the Waikiki area. Things drop a little (underline little) when you get out of waikiki. For example, at Big City Diner, a fairly popular 'family' restaurant wiht a few locations, the burgers run in the $10 - $15 range. They are served with fries. But a soft drink is going to run $3 -$5. And this is a place known for decent (not cheap, but decent) prices. Zippy's is gonna be less, $8 - $12 for a typical plate lunch meal. Rainbow drive in keeps their plates just below $9, so including a drink you can do under $15 each. Go upscale a bit, say "Town" in Kaimuki, you can go as low as $9 or $10 for an entree, but once you add beverages or sides. . . And the entree's go up to the $25 range. A bowl of Pho most places, $7 - $9. Bahn Mi, $7- $9. And don't forget to add sales tax to all food purchases.

    2. It's tough but possible to find a meal for 2 for $30. It will probably be more of a "cheap eats" sort of thing. There's a thread on tripadvisor going on right now that I think would be helpful.

      http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-...

      The food court at Shirokiya (at Ala Moana Center) is probably a good bet for you. Helena's and Ono for Hawaiian food. Numerous places for plate lunches. I see Rainbow Drive-in recommended a lot on this board. Never been but portions look really large. I find the plate lunches so large that I generally share one. You can allot the extra money for another meal. If you're going to Diamond Head for hiking, there's Diamond head Market and Grill nearby. I haven't been to Shorebird, but have heard there are usually coupons for buy 1 entree get the second one free sort of deal. From reading reviews sounds like food isn't stellar but the setting is.

      Don't miss Leonard's for malasadas (less than a dollar for one). For shave ice, there's Ailana near the Ala Moana Center. Waiola is near Leonard's and Ono.

      For your birthday meal, I do like Roy's but like Alan Wong's more. But I think Roy's gives you a better food value for the price. Portions are so large that you can get by with a couple of appetizers and one entree.

      Hope you have a wonderful time here. There are many prolific posters on this board and hopefully they'll chime in with more recommendations for you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Miss Needle

        How could I forget Ono Seafood? Combo poke bowls -- 2 kinds of freshly made poke over rice and 1 soda for less than $7!

      2. The Trip Advisor Link does have a lot of good suggestions, and M. Needle is right on track. From the TA list I would pick Nico's at Pier 38 for seafood, Mei Sum in Chinatown for dim sum, Fatty's in Waikiki for Chinese, Phuket Thai at McCully, Goma Tei at Ward for ramen, KCC Sat am farmer's market or Wed 4-7pm Blaisdell farmers market downtown for Pig and the Lady sit-down. Would not agree with Ala Moana Makai Market food court for most options, but the one there I would go to is Don Don donburi...however the Shirokiya food court Miss N mentioned would probably be a better choice.

        1 Reply
        1. It can be done but up your $$ a little more..lots of great aloha advice.

          Moose's for breakfast on Lewer's has a 2 for 1 breakfast coupon in the back of those 101 things to do booklets you see everywhere...this is a great spot for a hearty breakfast and will run you about $13 for 2 people.

          Happy hours in Waikiki that are my faves are: Hula Grill in the Outrigger..mai tais for $4 and they use the same ingredients as off the menu...calamari is excellent for $6.
          Duke's at the Outrigger is good too downstairs...House without a key for $7 beers and Hawaiian music. Sansei has sushi on Monday.

          You can dine at the International market and get Hinano beers at the ABC store for around $7.
          Foodland has great ahi poke and get Leonard's malasadas.
          I believe your room has a small refrigerator so that helps on getting provisions to keep cost down.

          The bus is one of the best deals to go around the island for less than $3 with one free transfer.
          North Shore hit up Giovanni's for the garlic shrimp with 2 scoops...shrimp truck with a new canopy and restrooms.

          Bring your own gear for Hanauma (closed on Tuesdays) and get the $3 pineapple fresh filled bag at Diamond head crater parking lot truck..delicious.

          Roy's Waikiki is fantastic and larger portions to split and have a couple of drinks and apps.

          Aloha and have a good time!

          1. We spent 3 nights in Waikiki at the beginning of May. I concur with the recommendations for Helena's (if you can find someone to take you opihi hunting, you can get the best dish on the island for free; otherwise opihi and squid lu'au are the best dishes I had at Helena's), Ono Hawaiian, and Nico's to fit inside the $30 budget. You should be able to do that at Side Street Inn, too (original location or Kapahulu). We found a couple of happy hour deals at Top of Wsikiki that were pretty good (calamari and bbq pork sliders). View of Waikiki there is awesome. Getting a good table to see it is hit or miss (we lucked out on timing).

            1. We have done the Hawaii on the expensive and Hawaii on the cheap. The cheap was more fun planning.
              We bought bus passes (for starters).
              I agree that Ala Moana's food court was a good and inexpensive, we had several good meals in ChinaTown and a food court just off the beach was another find.

              You can do this on a budget and it's a good opportunity to find out what the locals prefer.

              1. You might want to rethink your lodging costs; given your budget for meals, maybe a hotel room off the beach with a kitchenette would work better in that you could prepare breakfast or lunch and then be able to up the amount to be spent for other meals. Your current price point puts you mainly into plate lunches, pizza, and bowls of noodles. Not that the food can't be good, it's just that it's more difficult to ascertain whether it will be good when you order since the restaurant has to cut its costs somewhere.

                In Chinatown, Lucky Belly on Hotel St serves ramen which gets raves. Next door, Downtown Diner's vegetarian entress are pretty good. And there is also Maunakea Market Place with its stalls for Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese food. All are accessible by the Bus.