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Waikiki 11/26 - 12/07

I am staying in a condo at the Ilikai and will not have a car so will be dependent on my feet and the bus/trolley for transportation. I've done some research, but I don't see a lot on this board specific to Waikiki Beach/Ala Moana/Downtown area. Looking for good, cheap eats and drinks. I am not necessarily looking for high end dining, but am not opposed to a one night splurge. Happy hours are good. Mom and pop places are good. Dives with good drinks and food are good. I realize this may be a tall order being in the midst of tourist heaven and hotels, but would appreciate any suggestions my fellow chowhounders may have.

I promise to report back after my trip.

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  1. Ilikai is a good choice especially with a mini kitchen.

    Locally HH are pretty good at Wolfgang's, Doraku, Il Lupino, BLT, all in and around Royal Hawaiian Center.

    Ala Moana has Morton's , Longhi's and Signature Steakhouse.

      1. across the street from the illikai is red lobster and outback. neither is cheap, but i really like them both, although most people here dont like red lobster... i love it (good value).

        across ala moana blvd is discovery bay center. bars, indian restaurant, seafood buffet todai (i have never been, heard the food is so so).

        behind discovery bay (mauka, or away from the ocean) are some other restaurants, i like the pho at the vietnamese place. you'll find the irish rose saloon, kinda divey, above it.

        cheeseburger waikiki is on kalakaua at the corner of ala moana blvd, i really like them, but most chowhounders seem not to care for them or sister restaurant cheeseburger in paradise.

        kitty korner is keos thai. i have not eaten there yet. it's a fancier place.

        also in the area if you head mauka on kalakaua tucked away on dudoit lane is the hideaway bar. can't get much divier.

        4 Replies
          1. re: Joebob

            Thanks Joebob. I hate wasting time and money on places that suck.

          2. re: indelibledotink

            The Hideaway sounds like my kind of place. Not much into chain restos. I have a Red Lobster and Outback a couple miles from my place that I rarely, if ever got to. However, Outback usually has a pretty good happy hour.

          3. Thanks very much for your tips. Any other good happy hour recs would be greatly appreciated.

            1. Ala Moana Center has a food court -- tons of variety of foods you might want to try....

              3 Replies
              1. re: roro808

                ala moana happy hour beer specials at shirokiya upstairs
                and japanese food vendors on every wall

                1. re: roro808

                  I second the recommendation for eating at Ala Moana if you are looking for food that is both good and cheap. There is a decent looking food court in International Marketplace, but I would say overall when eating in Waikiki, you will have to pick either good or cheap (and sometimes you will end up with neither, unfortunately). The Ala Moana food court is decent, and Shirokiya is budget destination dining.

                  If you like Japanese food, I have heard Marukame Udon, Iyasume Musubi, and Ringer Hut in Waikiki are good and cheap, but I haven't been personally. The Waikiki Menus tourist magazine has a long and detailed list of happy hour specials. There are boxes where you can pick up the magazine on the sidewalks in Waikiki and also at the airport.

                  1. re: Quince

                    Quince - Thanks for the tip about the magazine. I'll be sure to look for it.

                2. Aloha,
                  We've been going for years to our fave happy hour places in Waikiki and just got back 6 weeks ago, so they all are still good.
                  Dukes and Hula Grill at Outrigger..next to Moana Surfrider...mai tais $4...excellent $6 calamari.. Pulled pork sandwiches..
                  Top of Waikiki..great revolving resto.
                  Rumfire at Sheraton
                  Sansei for sushi rolls
                  $6 beers oceanfront bars at Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian..
                  House without a key for drinks and apps with Hawaiian music and the gorgeous ocean at sunset..priceless
                  Roys Waikiki rocks it and get their ahi poke and hamachi app..best thing evah..with a couple of drinkie poo's.

                  Eat at the International Market ( heart of Waikiki) before it closes the end of the year..local food court that is decent and cheap.
                  Leonard's for a malasada!

                  ABC stores are great for beers/snacks and souvenirs.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Thanks Beach Chick - Too bad you are not going to be there at the same time. I've seen your moniker in different areas on the boards before and like me, you seem travel far and wide. I usually go to the big island and am much more familiar with drinks/eats there.

                    Your recs look awesome and just the type of info I need.


                    1. re: ssioff

                      Aloha ssioff..
                      We hang out more in Kauai but I love O'ahu and the food and drink are always stellar...try and get at least 2-3 days after going back to the mainland.

                      Moose's on Lewers used to have a 2 for1 breakfast that was quite good in the back of the '101 Things to do in O'ahu'..if not, try the BOGO card.
                      So, you get out of there for about $12 for 2 huge breakfast entrees vs $22+..

                      Outrigger Shorebird is old school cool too.

                      Hawaii board are da best!

                  2. Since you're staying in a condo, you might want to initially check out Foodland (bottom floor of Ala Moana Shopping Center, close to the Post Office) to see the types of prepared food and groceries they have there. Foodland has a good poke bowl. Their deli offers pre-made salads and entrees at reasonable prices and the made-to-order sandwiches are decent.

                    Shirokiya is next to Macy's in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Quince has already mentioned their 2nd floor food court which is an interesting foodie destination if you like Japanese food and beer.

                    For small (i.e. non chain) restaurants serving a variety of Asian cuisines, you might want to check out Keeaumoku St. between Kapiolani and King Street. Keeaumoku St. runs into the Ala Moana Shopping Center at Nordstroms and the buses into Waikiki stop across Nordstrom's in the shopping center. I like Green Papaya which serves Thai.

                    Finally, closer to the Ilikai, there is Wailana Coffee Shop popular for breakfast, which I believe is served all day. Also the Chart House which has an early bird special; I haven't been there for many years so can't comment on the quality.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: honu2

                      Honu2, Foodland is already on the list and now the poke bowl too. The coffee shop will be nice on the days I want real breakfast. Can't wait to have some of that Portugese sausage that I am unable to find where I live. May check out the Thai, but there are a lot of great Thai places in my neck of the woods. For me it will be mostly about the fresh fish, mai tai's, happy hour specials, and of course the lovely aloha spirit.

                      Thank you everyone for all of your suggestions. I will do my best to report back after my adventure.

                      1. re: ssioff

                        Foodland has some of the best ahi poke..ask for the freshest batch.

                        Man, now I've got serious poke cravings.

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          Sorry Beach Chick. I crave it too, except for one or two high end restaurants where I live you need to make your own. Certainly not found in the deli like there.

                    2. One more quick question for the board. Dim Sum is nowhere to be found around my parts. Any suggestions for Dim Sum - carts would be a plus. Thanks again for all the suggestions.

                      24 Replies
                      1. re: ssioff

                        Royal Garden at the Ala Moana Hotel would be within walking distance.

                        1. re: ssioff

                          avoid the dim sum (manapua) at 7-11. Go for the Spam Musubi instead.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            avoid pork hash as well. hot dogs = ok.

                            1. re: indelibledotink

                              KaimukiMan - I tried Spam Musubi when on the Big Island and it was okay, but I come from the land of Spam. It does not interest me much as my mother was overly fond of serving it.

                              indelibledotink - Thanks for the tip, but being a kind of hot dog snob, I tend not to eat dogs at places like that. I like the old fashioned skin on type - grilled.

                              1. re: ssioff

                                If you're a hot dog snob, you might want to try Hank's Haute Dogs, not within walking distance, but any bus travelling on Ala Moana Blvd (like the no. 19 Airport) will get you to Coral St.. Hank's is within the first block of Coral. Actually, the block bounded by Ala Moana, Coral, Auahi and Keawe has restaurants that you might like to try: Highway Inn for Hawaiian, Cochina for Mexican, Taste for whatever is popping up, and Hank's.

                                1. re: honu2

                                  hula dog (formerly puka dog; puka=hole in hawaiian, and the dogs are in a loaf type bun which has a hole where you put the condiments) in waikiki is pretty good too, i tried them at a food expo and was expecting meh, as i'm not into fruit relishes, but it was delicious!

                                2. re: ssioff

                                  hawaii beats mn in being the land of spam.

                                  do you have scrapple? i've only had it in pa, never in hawaii, vegas, or nyc.

                                  1. re: indelibledotink

                                    Consumption wise Hawaii beats all the states, but it is made in MN and they have their very own museum. Hilarious. I think they should have put the museum on the islands. It probably would have gotten more visitors.

                                    No. No scrapple here, but we do have our own odd foods. The only time I've tried/seen it is in PA. I think it is mostly a regional delicacy.

                                    1. re: ssioff

                                      i do'nt think scrapple is a delicacy, it's more like bacon, served in diners with breakfast.

                                      ah, but do you have the spamjam? http://www.spamjamhawaii.com/


                                      1. re: indelibledotink

                                        Okay delicacy was the wrong word. Regional specialty may be more appropriate.

                                        No - no spamjam. Looks like fun though.

                                  1. re: indelibledotink

                                    honu2 - I have heard of Hank's and may make it there via bus. Highway Inn sounds interesting too. The bus will be my friend while I'm there. We have great Mexican where I live and I know from reading the boards and my friends on BI that good Mexican in Hawaii is not easy to find so I will probably pass on the Mexican while there. Taste, is that truly a "pop up" like different vendors with different cuisine all the time? The "pop up" concept is just starting here so that could be very interesting.

                                    idelibledotink - I have also heard of Hula Dog. Interesting concept I think. Pork(beef maybe not so much) and fruit can often times be a good pairing so I may need to check that out also. Too Funny - I figured that's what you meant about the pork hash.

                                    Again, many thanks fellow hounds. You have all been very gracious taking time to help make the chowish part of my vacation a bit easier and without a doubt tastier.

                                    1. re: ssioff

                                      Two friends tried the new Highway Inn on Ala Moana Blvd. last week, they swear they will never ever ever go back. The food was fine - after a nearly 60 minute wait. Not a good thing at lunchtime. They said the staff was nice, spent most of their time talking and joking with each other instead of working. They would occasionally stop by the table and tell them that their food would be out momentarily. Finally they had the manager come to the table and they told him what they thought of the place. He begged them to come back another time on the house, and that things would be better - but he didn't comp them for the meal they were waiting on.

                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                        I think he should have comped this horrendous experience. Then they would tell everyone about it but it would have a better resolution in their final outcome to friends. Surely then they would go again and try maybe after the hoopla over the new location has settled down and see if they were comped again and treated well with less wait. One more day! To add to another post there was scrapple freshly made in house at Whole Ox when they were open.

                                        1. re: manomin

                                          oh my god, i can't even imagine 'fresh scrapple.' you try it?

                                          1. re: indelibledotink

                                            No. I never did. I'm not that interested in that type of thing. Now we'll never know! At least from that venue!

                                      2. re: ssioff

                                        Taste is truly a pop-up. See their offerings for the week you'll be here at www.tastetable.com

                                        1. re: honu2

                                          Interesting. May have to check that out. Thanks honu2

                                3. re: ssioff

                                  legends in chinatown. loud crowd of swirling chinese voices, irritated ladies pushing around carts, delicious food.

                                  1. re: ssioff

                                    happy day in kaimuki
                                    mei sum in chinatown

                                    1. re: macsak

                                      mei sum is my sister's fave. i like em as well.

                                      ok, so most of you guys do not like nice day in liliha, but recommend happy days in kaimuki. same owners. exactly how is the food different/better, which dishes are better, which dishes are faves? i have never been there (happy days) yet, but enjoy nice day on the occasions i eat there. the dim sum is pretty standard, it's always crowded, chinese people work and eat there, lol. i am expecting a lot from happy days based on your opinions.

                                      1. re: indelibledotink

                                        I have not been to Mei Sum since they moved (i don't work downtown any more) but I used to like it a lot.

                                        I recommend Happy Days in Kaimuki because I have eaten there many times, know a lot of local Chinese and Immigrant Chinese people who eat there, and the prices are reasonable for what you get. I haven't been to Nice Day (yet.)

                                        1. re: indelibledotink

                                          Suggest you do everybody a favor and do a blind taste testing of standard fare dim sum like char siu bao, siu mai, har kow and taro puffs. Then you'll know for sure whether ownership makes a difference or if its really the cook that differentiates the food.