5/15/2012 02:09:00 PM

10 Must-Try Cheap Eats in Hawaii

Matsumoto's Shave Ice
Sometimes you want to splurge on a luxurious meal - other times, you're just looking for a tasty snack that won't take too big a bite out of your budget. So where to go? Read on for 10 of the islands' best buys, sorted by their Food score, and don't forget to let us know your favorite affordable eats in the current survey!

Matsumoto's Shave Ice
Food: 23
Decor: 11
Service: 18
Cost: $6
For those who think Hawaii means “sun, sand, surf and shave ice”, this Haleiwa “hole-in-the-wall” “icon” – voted the state’s Best Buy – is “one of the bucket list things to do” on the North Shore, dishing out “tropical slushy goodness” flavored with an “unmatched variety” of syrups, plus extras such as “ice cream on the bottom” or “azuki beans and condensed milk”; “don’t let the long line scare you” because it “moves fast”, thanks to a staff that’s “good with clueless tourists.”

66-087 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa; 808-637-4827

Cafe 100
Food: 20
Decor: 10
Service: 19
Cost: $9
This “really local” Hilo spot (the purported “home of the loco moco”) “puts the fast in fast food”, dishing out “tasty plate lunches” of Hawaiian and American fare; “don’t expect much in the way of decor” unless you “go out back and sit on the grass along the lagoon”, but given the “cheap”, “satisfying” eats, few are complaining.

969 Kilauea Ave.; Big Island; 808-935-8683

Duane's Ono-Char Burger
Food: 24
Decor: 8
Service: 16
Cost: $12
Fans of this Anahola “roadside stand” gladly sit at outdoor “concrete tables” with “chickens running underfoot” for “one of the best hamburgers on the islands”, plus “excellent fries” and “killer milkshakes”; it’s “not fast food” by any means, so “be prepared to stand in line”, and those who cry foul at the feathered company “can take it to the beach instead.”

4-4350 Kuhio Hwy., Anahola; 808-822-9181

Goma Tei Ramen
Food: 22
Decor: 18
Service: 20
Cost: $16
“Comfort on a cold (for Honolulu), rainy night” comes in the form of “chewy ramen and meltingly soft pork” in a “spicy sesame broth” at this affordable Japanese noodle duo in Ala Moana and Ward, while “hot, crusty” gyoza and “cold, refreshing” draft beer also make it “popular among locals and Japanese tourists in the know”; while the staff is “helpful”, you should “expect to wait for a seat” in the simple, “modern” digs.

Multiple locations

Kua 'Aina Sandwich
Food: 22
Decor: 13
Service: 16
Cost: $14
Every “now and then your health can afford” the “sloppy”, “artery-clogging” hamburgers, “excellent” “gourmet” sandwiches and “matchstick” fries “to die for” at this Oahu duo; fans praise the “family-friendly” ambiance of the original “shack” in Haleiwa and the “strip-mall” sibling in the Ward Center, and though service gets mixed reports (“fast or slow” and sometimes “rude”), diehards consider it “a must.”

Multiple locations

Ezogiku
Food: 21
Decor: 11
Service: 18
Cost: $14
“Japanese tourists”, “bar-hoppers”, “students” and others flock to these noodle “holes-in-the-wall” for “enormous bowls of ramen” that “never disappoint”, plus “great gyoza” and other sides; some sniff that they’re “nothing special”, but fans recommend them “if you want cheap food” and “don’t care about how a place looks.”

Multiple locations

Bubba Burgers
Food: 9
Decor: 13
Service: 18
Cost: $14
The “broke da mouth” eats at this trio of “casual”, “old-fashioned sit-down burger-and-fries joints” on Kauai are the “perfect antidote” to “health-conscious” dining, served by an “awesome” staff that “disrespects you” in a “fun way”; while “long, slow lines” don’t dissuade fans, many opt to “eat on the deck” or “take it to the beach” rather than dine in digs reminiscent of a “middle school cafeteria.”

Multiple locations

Aloha Mixed Plate
Food: 21
Decor: 17
Cost: 19
Service: $16
An “unmatched location” with “spectacular” views and “luau music” next door sets the stage for “terrific plate lunches” of “ono” “Hawaiian favorites” at this “authentic” Lahaina “gem”, where “huge portions” at “no-frills prices” equals “excellent value”; a few fret that the “friendly” staff appears “overworked”, and while a redo may not be reflected in the Decor score, some say “who cares when you front the crystal-blue Pacific?”

1285 Front St., Lahaina; 808-661-3322

Nico's at Pier 38
Food: 25
Decor: 10
Service: 16
Cost: $15
Think “food truck at the fishing docks – minus the truck” to picture this “unassuming” all-day takeout “adjacent to the fish auction house” in Iwilei offering “fantastic”, “fresh” seafood “right off the boats”, “awesome gourmet plate lunches” and breakfast fare, all at prices “too good to be true”; you “order at the counter”, then take your meal to outdoor picnic tables with a view of the “industrial harbor”, and while you can “expect to wait in line”, aficionados assure it “moves pretty quickly.”

Pier 38
1133 N. Nimitz Hwy., Honolulu; 808-540-1377

The Gazebo
Food: 24
Decor: 19
Service: 23
Cost: $19
Watching “turtles in tide pools” or “whales offshore” in the “beautiful” Pacific helps make the “long waits” bearable at this American “treasure” in Napili offering “amazing” morning and lunch fare (“incredible pancakes”, “impressive omelets”), served “fast” by “some of the nicest waitresses anyplace”; it’s “tucked behind a condo complex” so it’s “not easy to find”, and even with the view, the lines can be “exasperating”, but most agree it’s “worth it” for “breakfast in heaven.”

Outrigger Napili Shores
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Rd., Maui; 808-669-5621

3 comments :

  1. The best burgers on the island...indeed in the 50 states is Honolulu Burger Company! Kua Aina is great, but not even in the HBC's league.
    And for downtown food, Fort Street Cafe cannot be beat; cannot be beat. Breakfast, two eggs, bacon, toast or rice only $3.99. Best garlic chicken in Honolulu. Their Pho is the most generous and succulent I have ever encountered. The owners are kind, efficient and eagerly attentive.

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  2. Maui coffee roasters had the best coffee in Maui, by far. The owner nicky beans has been roasting coffee in Hawaii for more than 30 years. He has the highest standards for his beans and an excellent palate, personally sampling roasts and adjusting the type of roast to the selection of green beans that he sources from throughout Hawaii as well as south America and Indonesia. If you want delicious coffeet , go to Maui coffee roasters, or try his 100 percent kona or Maui blend which can be purchased at participating Costco stores. Nicky supplies coffee to the finest restaurants on Maui. Buy nicky beans and you will be glad you did!

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  3. You might want to update the description of Nico's Pier 38 as they have updated their establishment into a 160-seat open-air restaurant complete with full bar and fish market...it's not quite as "food truck at the fishing docks – minus the truck” as it was.

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