Last fall we were looking for a good place for a solid budget trip and Oahu was a standout. The weather is fantastic there in October and it’s such an easy destination for the kind of relaxing no-plan vacation we had in mind. That simply means that there is so much to see, do, and eat, that we can just take each day as it comes without needing to make a daily itinerary.
Our trip to Oahu in 2019 was the first time we visited Hawaii. Here is a look at some of the great places we found to eat on our first round of Foodie Finds – Oahu.
For this trip, I was able to decrease our costs for hotels, airfare, and car rentals which left us a very nice budget for dining and entertainment. Of course, we wanted to revisit a few of our favorite spots but were also excited to explore some new places.
Places we Revisited
What’s not to love about Dukes! It is centrally located inside the Outrigger Beach Resort on Kalakaua Blvd in Waikiki. We love to stop in after sunset for a drink and to split a slice of Hula Pie. They also offer a great breakfast buffet for a decent price. Some buffet stand-outs are their pancakes with coconut syrup and the Eggs Benedict.
If you are lucky, you might get a table with a beach view while you eat. Make reservations if you can or else prepare for a bit of a wait.
Another favorite that we absolutely had to revisit was Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore. They are located in a little rustic flea market with a few other food trucks. Their garlic shrimp is divine! I have tried both the regular and the spicy seasoned. Each shrimp plate comes with 2 scoops of rice. You can also order mac salad on the side, but I like to focus on the yummy shrimp.
Basalt is located inside the Duke’s Marketplace just around the corner from the Hyatt Centric in Waikiki. Although they are open all day, we like to go there for brunch. Try the St. Germaine Mimosa or their signature Charcoal Pancakes. My personal favorite is their Loco Moco made with a Waygu beef patty smothered in mushroom gravy over fried rice and topped with an egg.
They normally offer a list of daily specials.
The Dole Plantation is located on Kamehameha Hwy in central Oahu. Although it is a bit touristy for us, it is located right in the middle of our route when we are headed to the North Shore from Waikiki. We like to make a quick stop to stretch our legs, use the restrooms and grab a Dole Whip. This sweet pineapple ice cream is super delicious. You can get it plain or with various toppings.
They also offer plantation tours on a mini train, a pineapple maze, and a giant gift shop if you are interested. Watch out for wild chickens!
I travel with a beer drinker so we always check out a brewery or two when we travel. Kona Brewing is a great pub at the marina near Koko Head. Since it is waterfront, it makes for nice views while you check out their brews. You can order from their signature line as well as several small-batch beers that are only available at the pub. I like to get a flight so I can try a few and I always include their sassy Lemongrass Luau.
The Hula Grill is located on the second floor of the Outrigger Beach Resort in Waikiki (near Dukes). On this trip, we were very low-key and were not sure where we wanted to eat dinner one night. We popped into the Hula Grill without having a reservation. Make a reservation! We decided to tough out the lengthy wait and it was totally worth it.
This was one of the few nights we ate a grown-up dinner on this trip. We were both craving fish so I ordered the Crab Topped Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi and my husband had a fish dish that was one of their nightly specials. Both were fantastic and more than we could eat. We thought that the food was delicious and the views of Waikiki Beach from our table were stellar.
Heavenly is a great little restaurant located across the street from the Hyatt Centric in Waikiki. The desk agent at the Hyatt recommended it on our first trip, but we didn’t get a chance to go. During this trip, we made sure to check out their breakfast and their Happy Hour. Both were outstanding and they had the best service of anywhere we went.
We were on a Mai Tai tasting mission on this trip. Heavenly’s Mai Tai came in a close second to one we had at Monkeypod in Maui. I also really enjoyed the lentil bean soup that came with my avocado toast and their coffee was sooooo good. If you are planning a trip to Waikiki, put this unassuming treasure on your list.
My husband booked a 1/2 day fishing trip while we were in Waikiki. That day I took myself out to a nice lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Why the Cheesecake Factory? It is located right in the middle of the Waikiki Beach strip so I could easily walk there from my hotel. I also knew that my Amex Gold card had a $10 per month Dining Credit and that the Cheesecake Factory was one of the eligible restaurant options. So my boujee $26 solo lunch with wine ended up only being $16 after the credit hit my statement a few days later.
Duke’s Marketplace is not only the home of a great market and Basalt Restaurant, but they also have several areas where you can grab some tasty treats.
- Island Gourmet Coffee – The sweetest staff and their Coconut Mac Nut Latte is to die for
- Soleil Bakery – Delicious Macarons in local flavors like Kona Coffee
- Duke’s Lane Bakery – Warm Coconut Cream filled Malasada. Yes, please!
- Gelato Hawaii – Amazing rotating gelato flavors like Macadamia Nut, Passion Fruit, and Coconut
Honolulu Cookie Company stores are everywhere! Each time you walk into one of their stores, someone hands you a free sample. OMG, I totally love these little pineapple-shaped shortbread cookies. Yum. So many regular flavors to choose from along with a variety of rotating seasonal flavors. They come plain or chocolate dipped.
You can buy them individually or pick up one of their various sampler boxes. You can also order them from their website or find them on Amazon if you need to replenish your supply.
Hawaiian Happy Hour Tour and More
Yard House was a must to revisit because we love, love, love their Poke Nachos and their fun vibe. They are located on the Waikiki Beach Walk within easy walking distance of the hotel we like to stay at. Yard House has a fantastic Happy Hour with 1/2 off on a long list of appetizers as well as great drink specials. The food is amazing and they have an extensive selection of beers on tap.
This place is like a secret treasure. It is located on the Rooftop of the Waikiki Business Plaza near the International Marketplace. It is not well marked so you could easily miss it. As we walked by one morning we happened to see a signboard in front of the building advertising their Bubbles and Oysters Happy Hour. I was sold so we made a plan to come back to check it out later.
To get to this bar you follow a long dark hallway and then take an elevator up to the 18th floor. We wandered around a bit before we found the entrance. Once inside, we had to take an escalator up to the rooftop. What an adventure just getting there. The view of both Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach was fantastic and the oysters were delish.
Frankly, I could have stayed there all day. This goes on our list to revisit whenever we are in Waikiki again.
ShoreFyre is located on the top level of the International Marketplace. This was another stop on our Hawaiian Happy Hour Tour. We decided on the Pick Four Sampler and selected their Tropical Shrimp Ceviche, Hibachi Steak, Ahi Tuna Tataki, and my husband’s favorite Coconut Shrimp. As if that wasn’t enough food, we also ordered a side of their french fries to go along with the steak. Everything was artfully presented with drizzles of sauce, fresh garnishes, and local plumeria blooms.
Nom, nom, nom. This was another fun foodie find with terrific appetizers and drinks.
Is Hawaii Expensive?
All of my life I had heard that Hawaii is so expensive. I think that is why we waited so long to take our first trip there. But after 2 budget trips to Hawaii, I can honestly say that it’s not that bad. Although a lot of the products that they use have to be imported from the mainland, fresh fish and wonderful produce are abundant. I suggest trying as many fresh local dishes as you can. They are the ones you will really remember.
Hawaii has so many different types of dining options available. You can totally eat well and not break the bank there. Here are some easy ways to save a few bucks on your Dining Budget.
- Order the Daily Special
- Eat at one of the many local Food Trucks
- Avoid eating at Tourist Traps where the prices can be really inflated
- Try a sampler platter that lets you try several items for a good price
- Grab affordable breakfasts and snacks at places like Dukes Marketplace
- Check out some of the awesome local Happy Hours
- Order a Plate Lunch because they are delicious, inexpensive, and very filling
- If you are going out for a fancy dinner, eat brunch instead of both breakfast and lunch
- Ask Hotel Staff where they like to eat
- Eat early then grab drinks and dessert after the dinner rush
Dining on Oahu can be whatever you want it to be. If you want to eat in five-star restaurants, they have them. You can spend $250 per person for a luau dinner show or spread that money out across a whole week of amazing dining experiences. It’s just a matter of what YOU want. We like to mix it up.
The foodie finds on Oahu are endless. Especially if you are open to being a bit adventurous. When you are there you have to try shave ice, garlic shrimp, poke, loco moco, and other local specialties. Eat from food trucks, roadside stands, and small local restaurants in addition to the fancier dining options. Japanese folks are the second largest ethnic group in Hawaii, so try the musubi or order a pork tonkatsu plate lunch.
In addition to beautiful beaches and the seriously chill vibe, Oahu is one of our favorite destinations for Foodie Finds.
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure and Try the Local Foods!