10 Best value places to eat take you on a world wide culinary journey
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
Trying to pin down words like frugal, value, and deal can be exasperating because different people have different ideas of cost savings. For 10Best, the range is broad - we include impossibly cheap eateries with amazing menus, and we share really nice restaurants that have perks like an impressive wine list with no corkage fee or a terrifically affordable prix fixe menu. 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 Like Like Drive Inn. They're low in expenditures and high in appeal.
So you've spent some of your hard earned cash on getting to Honolulu, and naturally you want the best food for the lowest buck. That's what's great about the island, there's good food for a fair price just about anywhere you look. What's even better is that the food comes in a broad array of ethnic and regional cuisines, offers a culinary adventure at each eatery.
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. There's also Zippy's, a true local favorite that is fast food, but good food.
10 Kua'Aina Sandwich
At Kua 'Aina, you'll find what are arguably the island's best burgers. Fresh-made and grilled to your specifications, the meaty treats are juicy and incomparable. You can order one of their variations (with avocado, pineapple, bacon, etc.) or dine the traditional way (with lettuce, tomato, and their slice of carrot). Don't forget to add a side of legendary shoestring fries, and if you come at lunchtime, be prepared to wait. Deli sandwiches and fresh fish are also available. The original Kua 'Aina is at 66-214 Kamehameha Highway in Hale'iwa (808-637-6067) and there's also a thriving location in town in at Ward Warehouse. (808-591-9133)
9 Kakaako Kitchen
Patrons of this popular place are constantly delighted by fair prices and fantastic food. Gourmet but accessible, the cuisine has a certain Hawaiian flair, thanks to Asian seasonings and the abundance of fresh fish and vegetables. In fact, it's a bit difficult to characterize the food -- just know that it's good! Savory breakfasts start the day off perfectly, and plate lunches are a frequent request for lunch and dinner. And just so you don't worry: Desserts are available, and the bread pudding is absolute magic! You can go casual here and its a great place for family gatherings and celebrations. (808-596-7488)
8 Pupukea Grill
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)
7 Ba-Le French Sandwich & Bakery
Chain though it may be, Ba-Le is head and shoulders above typical sandwich shops. Known for its French-bread concoctions, the eatery fills tasty rolls with all sorts of yummy ingredients, including pork, tofu, vegetables, chicken satay, and pâté. Thanks to an Asian culinary heritage, the place also makes available such condiments as pickled vegetables and tangy sauces. Hot, fragrant pho soup can also be had, along with spring rolls, desserts, and coffee drinks. Locations exist all over Honolulu and central Oahu. While enjoying their gourmet savory sandwiches, don't ignore the dessert breads such as chocolate cherry and walnut cranberry that are good enough to enjoy as dessert toasted with butter. (808-591-0935, 808-847-2299)
6 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. A perfect meal while exploring beautiful Manoa Valley. (808-988-6161)
5 Like Like Drive Inn
This is a tried and true classic local favorite. Family-friendly and accommodating, Like Like is ideal for groups, those with children, and folks who want a pleasant atmosphere and plenty of tasty food. You'll find a host of main courses, salads, and sandwiches, and breakfast is available all day long. A few local specialties are worth sampling as well, including chicken katsu and the broth-and-noodle soup known as saimin. Make sure to check out the daily specials before you order. Although this is a fast food style drive in, the prices are great and it's a true adventure into local food. (808-941-2515)
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. Fantastic desserts and pastries are reason in themselves for a trip! Open till late night, this is an ideal place for a casual breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late night snack after hitting up Honolulu's club scene. Don't miss the pastries that are also sold here. (808-973-0870)
3 Seoul Garden Yakiniku
Yakiniku (bite-sized morsels of grilled meat) is just one of this Korean restaurant's specialties. You'll also find a delicious assortment of stewed, pan-fried, and steamed meats, vegetables, and tofu options. Soups, noodles, and rice dishes are perfect for diners in need of a little comfort food. Lunch specials -- like much-loved Bi Bim Bap (hot meat and veggies topped with sweet, hot sauce) and seafood and soft tofu stew -- are served until 4pm and range in price from $6 to $8. One of the lowest prices places around, this place offers the opportunity to explore a plethora of foreign food, one of the best parts of traveling, right? (808-944-4803)
2 Bogart's Cafe
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)
1 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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