Whether you’re on-the-go or sticking to a budget, your dining experience on the islands can still be tasty! We picked our favorite eats under $20 on Oahu for you to try.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
If you’re happy with your meal, tag us @HawaiiIslander on Instagram to share the love.
Diamond Head Market and Grill
Mixed plates (protein plus rice and salad) are the staple at this all-day dining room and bakery, but you can also get most of the proteins as a simple burger or sandwich. Save room for a slice of cake from the bakery, especially the chocolate haupia (coconut cream). Diamond Head market and bakery are open daily 7:30am to 9pm. Open for lunch & dinner every day 11am to 8pm.
There’s a gamut of Asian cuisine available at STIX ASIA, a new food hall that opened in February 2023 in Waikiki. While gourmet vendors like ramen shop Baikohken and Sushi Matsuri have a higher price point, there are more affordable options, too. Try freshly made buckwheat noodles from Shingen, where you can order an $18.80 lunch combo set with soba or udon and a mini donburi bowl. For a quick bite to-go, grab organic musubi from NANA MUSUBI, which range from $2.35 to $4.95 per musubi. There are three types of rice (organic white, organic brown and ancient black rice) and fillings include ikura, salmon, soft honey ume and (our personal favorite) mentai mayo. STIX ASIA is open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
First opened in 1946, family-run Helena’s moved to its current location in 2001, but has kept the down-home vibe and hearty local-style menu: kalua pig, short ribs pipikaula and beef stew. The set menus are the best value, provided you’re hungry enough. Bring cash. Open Tuesday through Friday 10am to 7:30pm.
Marugame Udon Waikiki
There may be a more extensive menu at its downtown location, but the Waikiki location (renovated in fall 2019) has all the highlights: delicious thick udon noodles with classic Japanese toppings and some creative ones, like kalua pig. Always go for the specials—and be prepared for a long but reasonably quick-moving line. Marugame is open daily 11am to 10pm and would be happy to serve you. marugameudon.com
These guys aren’t joking around when it comes to ramen. Noods keeps it hot and spicy ( if you want it that way ) and has ramen for all. From the traditional style to all vegan, this Kaimuki staple serves up ramen worth a visit. Open for takeout and delivery daily for lunch 11am to 2pm and for dinner 5pm to 9pm.
The Kapahulu corridor close to Waikiki is brimming with bargain dining options. Locals love Ono Seafood for its ultra-fresh poke, either raw ahi tuna and or cooked tako (octopus), with a variety of seasonings: wasabi, shoyu (soy), miso, Hawaiian, spicy. Order by weight or as a bowl with white or brown rice and optional toppings. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 4pm and is grateful for your business. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Seven Brothers Burgers
It’s all about the burgers here—and OK, the fries too, including fries with a sweet teriyaki glaze and the Paniolo option loaded with grilled pineapple, bacon bits, grilled onions, melted cheese and more. You can also get a burger with all those toppings, but the classic cheeseburger won’t steer you wrong either. Seven Brothers is open Monday throughSaturday 11am to 12am. Closed on Sunday.
Taqueria El Ranchero
Taqueria El Ranchero is serving up serious tacos and margaritas. This taqueria offers fresh salsas from pretty spicy to extremely spicy and all the classic favorites like burritos and quesadillas. Normally they have fun events for taco Tuesdays, mechanical bull riding, and salsa nights, but for the time being, those events are on hold. But the food is still delicious and worth checking out if you are in the area. Open Sunday through Thursday 7am to 10pm and Friday through Saturday 7am to 2 am with happy hour specials 2pm to 7pm.