Roy's: The Original Restaurant of Several!
I would say Asian Fusion would be a good description of the food. Our first time in Hawaii, I felt this was an absolute necessity. We are fortunate to have Roy's in SoCal. One in Newport Beach, Palm Springs and Burbank but to dine at the original one on the last evening of our trip was very meaningful!
Favorite Dish: Well, my favorite is the butterfish. Should I order something else and try something new? Nah, I really like the butterfish. The girls had the filet mignon and boyfriend had one of the specials which was a combination fish dinner. We started with the chicken spring rolls and ended our dining experience with the famous chocolate souffle.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
Big Kahuna's Pizza and Stuffs
I ate at da Big Kahuna's twice on my most recent trip to Hawaii. One evening we grabbed a couple of da kine pizzas including da sumo special and da kanaka for $20 each. Da sumo comes with peperoni, ham, Italian sausage, bacon, Portuguese sausage, kalua pork, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives (it broke da mouth). Da kanaka pizza has shredded kalua pork, sweet and tangy barbeque sauce, and green onions.
We stopped in just two days later for lunch, and decided we had to try da killer kalua pork. Served on their gigantic "fluffy homemade jumbo buns," a large sandwich is really enough for two buggas, and it costs just $8.35. We also had about three dozen of da garlic cheese balls, dinner rolls baked in butter and garlic and topped with a five cheese mixture.
Don't expect da Big Kahuna to deliver your pizza. Their menu says, "our hole in da wall place no can handle deliveries. hard enough fo feed everybody at da door. so fo all da braddahs & sistahs who stay wai'anae, wahiawa & waimanalo sides, sorry for da road trip, but da buggas are ono!"
They are open 10 am to 9pm, "or until we have no more da kine."
Giovanni Pastrami - Waikiki
Giovanni Pastrami is a rather nice sandwich and pizza place that also bills itself as a sports bar. Located on the nicer end of Lewers Street, this restaurant looks small, but high end from the street. Once you enter, the restaurant is surprisingly large in the back, with a large square bar and plenty of tables.
We sat in the back and had some garlic Parmesan knots and a great pizza, along with some local Hawaiian beers. The waitress was very friendly and helpful.
This is a fantastic restaurant in the heart of Waikiki.
Da Big Kahuna Waikiki
Da Big Kahuna Restaurant & Tiki Lounge, not to be confused with Big Kahuna Pizza in Honolulu, has a location in Waikiki and one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We stopped here because I confused it with Big Kahuna Pizza, which has just one location near the airport.
Da Big Kahuna is a big Hawaiian-themed sports bar. Their food is mostly Hawaiian, but with lots of typical bar food thrown in just for visitors from the U.S.
I had the Hawaiian special loco moco, a beef patty with eggs, rice and brown gravy. Not too bad for about $14 dollars. I also had a New Zealand Steinlager Beer, which is amazingly popular in Hawaii, and amazingly not good.
We stopped at Cheeseburger Waikiki one night because we needed a kid-friendly place with non-Japanese food that wasn't a big mainland chain. Sounds easy, but in Waikiki, these criteria are not always easy to fulfill. Cheeseburger Waikiki seemed like a good option near our hotel, so we stopped in for a late dinner. The live music made the atmosphere fun, but the service started off slower than we would have preferred.
We started our meal with the crispy fried wontons, which were tasty, but overcooked and too crispy. We also had two hamburgers, but my plain cheeseburger was also overcooked. For my drink, I had the Waikiki Brewery's Golden Ale, but it wasn't a great beer either.
By the way, the Waikiki Brewing Company is located in the same restaurant as Cheeseburger Waikiki.
Max & Lucy's Restaurant, Downtown Honolulu
Max & Lucy's is a small restaurant in downtown Honolulu not far from the state capitol building and the historic palace. The restaurant gets very good ratings on Yelp, so we decided to stop here when we were in the neighborhood. Unfortunately we got there after 2pm and the restaurant was closed until dinner, but the owner saw us and small child, and he prepared two large takeout boxes of chicken and pork tonkatsu with salads for us... at no charge!
We walked down the street to a park and enjoyed the food. There was so much in the boxes, we gave some of the leftovers to a homeless person who was in the area.
Murphy's Bar and Grill: A little bit of Ireland in Honolulu
It doesn't matter where you travel you can find an Irish bar. I have found them in every city, in every country I have visited. But who really goes to Hawaii and eats at an Irish Bar? I do. It wasn't intentional. I do love Irish bars and frequent them when at home. But it was not something I had planned for Hawaii. However it was September and it was the day of the Baltimore Raven's opening game of the season. So Mark and I ended up in a Irish bar we happened to see watching the Baltimore Ravens from a street corner in Honolulu. It was a fun moment.
I was surprised at the menu in Murphy's. There was the traditional Irish bar selections. Guiness was on tap. But there was also some non Irish selections on the menu that surprised and pleased me. I had one of the best platters of liver and onions with garlic mashed potatoes that I have tasted. I washed that down with some Guiness and was really happy. UNTIL the Baltimore Ravens lost their opening season game. But it still was a great experience.
The Cheesecake Factory: nice food, huge servings..
This is a bakery and restaurant combined. The prices are reasonable and the servings huge! That was one surprise that I did not expect...we ordered mains but also a sampler for the appetizer and when our waiter came out it consisted of 4 different dishes. Our waiter was very nice and considerate, and the dishes were delicious.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
Gordon Biersch - Aloha Tower, Honolulu
The food and beer at Gordon Biersch is the same everywhere. The real draw at the Honolulu Gordon Biersch is the fantastic dockside location at Aloha Tower.
We had dinner here one evening, and were seated along the water next to a big Japanese boat. I started with the restaurant's standard Marzen, their auburn-colored Bavarian lager ($5), and later I had their seasonal Festbier, named for Oktoberfest. For my dinner I had their basic kobe-style cheeseburger with fries ($14).
The beer is tasty as always, but you can't beat the location.
California Pizza Kitchen - Waikiki
I had never been to a California Pizza Kitchen before stopping in at the Waikiki location in Honolulu. This second-floor store is on Kalakaua, in the heart of Waikiki's commercial district and just a half block from the beach.
We started with tortilla spring rolls, which are flour tortillas sprinkled with herbs, stuffed with chicken and veggies and baked in the pizza oven. We chose the Baja chicken and Thai chicken for $9. The Baja chicken was filled with Monterey jack and cheddar, corn, black beans, poblanos, red onions and cilantro, then topped with Parmesan and served with housemade guacamole. The Thai chicken had chicken, bean sprouts, green onions, carrots, cilantro and mozzarella, and was served with a peanut sauce.
For dinner we decided to try something different, and we ordered the Jamaican jerk chicken pizza. This was topped with spicy sweet Caribbean sauce, Jamaican spices, bacon, onions and bell peppers ($13.90).
The food was good, but I was disappointed to discover that they do not sell local beers here in the heart of Waikiki.
Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar
Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar is an absurdly expensive restaurant at a ridiculously overpriced hotel on a touristy Honolulu beach. I visited here in 2002 and was amazed to see a $20+ hamburger. I was even more amazed to return in 2012, after a long recession, and find the same $20+ hamburger! Sure this is a nice beachfront hotel in the heart of Waikiki's tourist zone, where rich Japanese tourist frolic in the sand, but it's still just a hamburger!
If you thought $20 for a burger was bad, don't even think of ordering a hamburger from room service. They up the price to $22, charge $4 service fee, and add on 17% gratuity. Your $20 burger now costs $26.50. Enjoy!
Want to feel even worse? Try their granola with milk and berries for $20 (plus $4 plus 17%). At least a liter of water costs only $10. $10 for water!?!? Don't forget to add $4 plus 17%.
The Royal Hawaiian was built in 1927 and is known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific. For some reason that sounds dirty to me.
Bautista's Filipino Kitchen - Waikiki
I have been to Bautista's Filipino Kitchen twice, in 2002 and again in 2012. On my most recent visit, I ordered the chicken kabob, beef kabob, and shrimp kabob combo for $12.50. I had to ask for rice, though I could have sworn the menu said it came with rice. The meat was tasty, but the shrimp was nasty and old. The shells just disintegrated in my hands when I tried to remove them, making a big mess. I guess local Filipinos just eat the shells. I'm clearly not Filipino.
Bautista's is located in Waikiki's International Market Place, an area filled with cheap souvenir stands and low-budget fast food restaurants, as well as a stage that features a variety of entertainment for an hour or two each day.
Bautista's opened its first location in 1986 in the Pearl Ridge Shopping Center. Soon after, the Bautista family opened additional locations in the Waikiki International Market Place and in Pearl City. These three restaurants still do business under family ownership almost 30 years later.
Schooners Restaurant sits at a great spot, right next to the USS Arizona visitors center, a short stroll from Aloha Stadium, and near the bridge to Ford Island. We ate here twice during a recent visit to Honolulu, mainly because it was close and convenient.
On our first visit, I had a Longboard Lager to go along with my braised beef rice bowl, a hearty helping of boneless short ribs with sauteed mushrooms and onions & Hoisin sauce for Q$10.75. I thought it would be similar to Korean short ribs, but it was more like stringy roast beef, but still pretty good and a lot of food for the money.
On our second visit, I had the brisket sub with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, mushroom, onion and au jus sauce 10.25. Oddly enough, this tasted exactly like the beef short ribs bowl, nothing like brisket. Really nothing spectacular, but reasonably priced for Honolulu.
The service here is slow, sometimes painfully slow, but the food is good, the quantities large, and prices pretty good. Worth stopping in if your are in the neighborhood. Great views over the harbor and a small marina. The worst thing is their habit of calling mom's roast beef anything from short ribs to brisket.
Sam Choy's Island Style Seafood Grille & Hapa Bar
We stopped at Sam Choy's Seafood Grill one weekday afternoon for a quick lunch. We were seated at a table on the large outdoor deck overlooking the beach. I had a BLT&C (bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese) with fries and a diet coke for a total of $12.50. The fries were thin cut, crispy and fresh and the sandwich simple but tasty. The service was very good, and we were in and out in 30 minutes. They also have a lunchtime buffet.
Sam Choy is a local Hawaiian chef who honed his skills on the island before opening his first restaurant, the Huki Lau Cafe, which has since changed owners. He still owns Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch, and Crab in Iwilei, Sam Choy's in Guam, Sam Choy's Kai Lana, and Sam Choy's Seafood Grill at Pearl Harbor.
Nico's Pier 38
Nico's is a relatively new seafood restaurant located at Pier 38, just off Nimitz Highway between the airport and Downtown Honolulu. During my last trip to Honolulu, I was so impressed with Nico's I ate there twice in one week.
My first meal was lunch. Nico's was packed, and there was a line to get to the cashier where customers place their orders. We in line waited about 10 minutes to place our orders, got our fountain drinks, then had a seat and waited for our fancy buzzers to go off. When mine buzzed, I went to the pickup window, and my lunch was gone, because someone else grabbed it. It took about five minutes for the staff to figure out what was going on and to give me the other guy's meal, served in a styrofoam to-go tray, like all the others
When I finally got my fish tacos, I was pleased. Two corn tortillas filled with beer batter fried fish, shredded cabbage, onions, and white sauce. Served with tortilla chips and tomato salsa for $8.00. It was excellent.
For dinner, it was even better. We arrived around 8:30pm, and were quickly seated right along the water in the busy restaurant. I struggled with the menu before finally deciding on the "fried ahi belly." All I could think was that this must be tripe, but then I realized it couldn't be... you can't eat fish intestines can you? Luckily, when they say belly in Hawaii, they mean the skin and mean around the stomach, not the stomach itself. The menu's description is what sold me: " The tuna's fatty belly steaks are quickly deep-fried and topped with a spicy tomato salsa." The tasty and very large dish was $15.25.
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