10 Best Restaurants in Honolulu Span the Culinary Spectrum
By Jade Eckardt
Honolulu is home to a seemingly endless array of restaurants, spanning various cuisines and atmospheres. The good news is that a ton of them are very affordable, so each meal doesn't have to hurt the wallet. Traveling can be expensive but eating in Hawaii doesn't have to be. From grab and go to nice restaurants, the spectrum of affordable restaurants on the island is vast. Whether in search of breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks, there's somewhere affordable to go on every side of the island.
For an affordable meal of gourmet local food, stop by the Heeia Pier General Store and Deli. The young and famous chefs combine modern fusion with traditional local meals right on the water on the east side. For breakfast or dinner, Cafe Haleiwa on the North Shore serves both at affordable prices.
If you're looking for best value restaurants in Honolulu, let us introduce you to a few of our favorites, starting with Andy's Sandwiches & Smoothies in Manoa Valley and Zippy's in Honolulu. They're low in expenditures and high in appeal. Andy's is a healthy joint serving sandwiches and smoothies while Zippy's is a real local eatery serving island favorites like loco mocos and plate lunches.
Great and affordable breakfast restaurants include Cafe Haleiwa and Kono's. Cafe Haleiwa serves traditional breakfast fare but with a Mexican twist, and as large portions. Kono's is more bagels, smoothies, wraps and coffee.
It's fast food � Hawaiian-style! And it's ono! These convenient eateries satisfy local folks with a focus on regional cuisine, including chili and saimin. Plate lunches make for good eating and feature everything from lamb curry to kalua pig to tripe stew. You'll also find shoyu chicken, sweet-and-sour spareribs, and roast turkey to tempt your tastebuds. This is Hawaii's answer to fast food, except it's walk in rather than drive through, and there's the option of ordering take out or actually sitting down and ordering. It's truly a local favorite and very affordable. Fantastic desserts and pastries are reason in themselves for a trip! (808-973-0870)
Spare, contemporary design not only makes an unassuming backdrop for this appealing bistro; it also serves as a thoughtful counterpoint to a menu of simply prepared but complex offerings. Stellar ingredients step in to be given loving attention from the chefs, who turn out dishes like a grilled half-chicken with pancetta, slow-braised pork cheeks, black mussels with fennel-tinged homemade pasta, and crisp, creative salads. Even burgers are sublime. Good wines heighten the flavors, and outdoor dining lets you take in good weather with your great food. You'll need a reservation here any night of the week, so don't forget to call in. (808-735-5900)
Pupukea Grill is a favorite for lunch spot for regular pro surfers, locals, and visitors (check out the array of signed surf photos under the tent). Farm fresh island produce and local fish help to inspire a seasonal menu that caters to both locals and visitors alike. This is not your usual lunch wagon. Although plate lunches are served, the rest of the menu consists of non- traditional lunch wagon fare such as panini, freshly made quesadilla, fish taco, signature fish bowls and shaved ice. The most popular item is our fish bowl which is served with freshly made pico de gallo, sour cream, and lime over brown rice. Combining "Okazu", Japanese, Mexican and local style cooking techniques and ingredients have allowed them to create a unique niche on the North Shore. ((808) 779-7943)
Lei Lei's Bar and Grill
Lei Lei's Bar and Grill sits right on the golf course at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. Like a bar and grill would be, it's laid back and casual, yet somewhat upscale and classy. There's a putting green out front where the kids can hang out (in full view) if they get restless, and views of the golf course and the mountain range offer gorgeous sights. Unlike the other restaurants at Turtle Bay, this one isn't right in the resort. The full bar can serve up anything you'd like, but their famous for mai tais and Lei Lei's lemonades. The menu has a broad spectrum of great food - burgers, pastas, salads, local fish specials with sides of mashed potatoes, ribs, and the list goes on. ((808) 293-2662)
A true local style hole in the wall, Hukilau Cafe is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. The small restaurant is modest, nothing fancy here and the food is served on disposable plates with plastic utensils. But it's true local food at very affordable prices. Eggs, Portuguese sausage, rice, bacon, and stews are served daily. This is the type of place where locals run into friends, and regulars are buddies with the servers. Decor is limited to football photos, many of which are dedicated to local football stars. It's often crowded in the morning, but that's a sign of how much people like it. By now you may be wondering if this is the place in the Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates. The restaurant itself wasn't, but the movie used the name. ((808) 293-8616)
Kono's in Haleiwa is a family run breakfast and lunch spot centrally located in historic Haleiwa on the North Shore. A small deli like eatery, you can call in and order before and pick it up or enjoy it there. They welcome walk in orders, also to be eaten on site or to take on the road. The menu includes breakfast items that deviate from the standard fare with various breakfast burritos and bagels, smoothies, and coffees. A toy box in the back offers plenty of entertainment for children. Surf videos play on the flat screen TV, and outdoor seating offers a place to people watch. ((808) 637-9211)
Andy's Sandwiches & Smoothies
A terrific alternative to fast food, Andy's has built its reputation on affordable, healthy fare. Since 1977, the casual place has served up vegetarian-oriented food that's not only good for the body but tastes great too. The selection of sandwiches features fresh ingredients, and everything is prepared in-house, as are the smoothies, crammed with lush fruit and natural juices. Breakfast also incorporates island produce, in waffles, muffins, and more. Hot or cold, you're certain to find something delectable at Andy's. And if you're determined to have protein that's not soy-based, they also offer turkey, roast beef, and chicken. (808-988-6161)
Cafe Haleiwa is a North Shore staple, owned and operation by a family who's lived there for decades. The cafe has been open for over a decade too, and is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Until recently the cafe served breakfast only, which was always good. The breakfast menu offered standard breakfast fare like pancakes and eggs, in addition many Mexican breakfast dishes. Just a few months ago Cafe Haleiwa opened for dinner, and is now one of the best dinner spots in the town. Their food is gourmet and still decently priced. The dinner menu offers unique dishes such as savory thyme cheesecake served with greens and fruit, ginger potato soup, and main dishes of fresh local fish, ribs, and steak. It's bring your own beer and wine here, which can be purchased next door at the adjacent wine shop. ((808) 637-5516)
Bogart's is one of those hole-in-the-wall places that is a tried and true reliable joint for locals in search of that perfect breakfast. Whether taken to eat on the go or eaten at one of their small sidewalk or indoor tables, Bogart's is a not to miss place for anyone vising Honolulu. The tiny cafe has an extensive hand written menu on the wall, and although it's quite varied and long, everything is really good. The coffees are also great and they have every type of espresso you could want. A real hit is the breakfast bagel sandwich, can't go wrong with that. Everything is affordable with good sized portions. (Honolulu, HI 96815)
Heeia Pier General Store and Deli
The Heeia Pier General Store and Deli is a classic Kaneohe eatery enjoyed by dedicated locals for three decades as it served up local classic like plate lunches and loco mocos (beef patty, egg and gravy over rice). But recently top chef Mark Noguchi took over the classic eatery and put a modern sustainable and healthier take on the local comfort food. All of the beef is from the Big Island and grass fed, the fish is caught nearby, and other vegetables are all grown locally - a locovore's dream. Located ocean front on the pier, diners can enjoy casual - but really good breakfast and lunch right on the water. (1 808.235.2192)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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