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Eating in Waikiki

Waikiki is expensive so it is best not to eat at all. However, if after a few days of starvation you do want to have something to eat, here are some kid-friendly things to try.

  • If you have a place to cook where you are staying, or want to buy stuff like peanut butter and jelly to cut back on restaurant meals, the only large food store in Waikiki is Food Pantry on Kuhio Avenue near Walina Avenue. The place is about as big as a modest Safeway and is open 24/7. They have a bit of everything, including some local fruits and a big selection of Hawaiian-style juices (think mango-strawberry-banana mixes). The store attracts a crowd more into buying beer and munchies at night that may not be the best for your kids to hang with, but it is quite safe we found and there is no trouble at all during the day.
  • In downtown Honolulu there is a medium-sized Chinatown accessible by bus (if you check out their website, be sure to click on the link for a “Walking Tour”). We found the grocery stores there to be much cheaper than Food Pantry in Waikiki and the area is full of open air markets and cool stores selling just about anything that moves, creeps or crawls"€you can everything you see with legs except the tables. There are a lot of restaurants as well, most of which are reasonably priced albeit only reasonably clean. In the market, ask to smell a durian. Durian is an Asian fruit that smells and tastes like rotten hard boiled eggs. You can also buy durian ice cream which still tastes like rotten hard boiled eggs (though sweeter).
  • To get there by bus, on Kuhio Avenue heading away from Diamond Head, board the 2 School Street-Middle Street or 13 Liliha-Puunui Avenue to Hotel and River streets. To return, walk back to Hotel Street and in the Waikiki direction board the 2 Waikiki-Kapiolani Park or 13 Waikiki-Campbell Avenue. If you board the B CityExpress! School-Middle bus at a designated Express! stop on Kuhio Avenue, alight on Beretania and River streets. To return on the route B walk to King and Maunakea Streets and take B CityExpress! Waikiki. You could also board 19, 20 or 42 Waikiki Beach and Hotels on King Street. Buses run about 10 minutes apart. Approximate travel time is 30 minutes.
  • Everywhere in Waikiki you'll see racks of free coupon books. There are about three or four issues of different coupon books, and you'll want to grab one of each. Most restaurants in the area include coupons (usually of the buy-one-meal-get-one-free variety), and the books have handy maps and lists of phone numbers.
  • Ironically, some of the real Hawaiian food that Hawaiians eat is not readily available in Waikiki. If you rent a car or otherwise get mobile outside of Waikiki, look for a chain restaurant called L&L Drive-In. They won't win any prizes for cleanliness, but will dish up massive amounts of food for very little money. You'll need to sample local fare such as SPAM sushi or the infamous "Loco Moco", an amazing pile of cholesterol and carbohydrates consisting of a bed of sticky rice topped with hamburger patties topped with a fried egg topped with brown gravy. You might as well open a vein and pour bacon grease into your body directly.
  • A less ambitious and threatening food is shave ice. You, like me, will get over the grammatical thing and stop calling is "ShavED Ice" eventually. This is what the rest of the world would call a "SNO CONE" (another grammatical/spelling nightmare, what is it with this thing?). The Hawaiian version comes in amazing flavors. The most traditional version is served over macadamian nut ice cream. We stopped at a roadside stand and my oldest kid had a bubblegum and mango flavored shave ice (true). I took it easy with a lemon and beef broth version (I'm kidding, there was no beef broth).


  • Check out a Waikiki McDonald's. They usually sell some untypical McD's fare, such as ramen, saimen noodles and even sometimes a McLocoMoco (seriously). The rest of the stuff is the same as any McD's in the known universe.
  • Almost all restaurants have some form of kid specials, either money off regular meals or a kid menu. Some pricey places have kid food for free when adults eat full entrees. The upper age limit varies but seems to average about 12 years old as the cut off. Our eleven year old looks 14 but no one gave us any trouble.
  • A place called Tiki's (923-TIKI) near the Diamond Head end of Waikiki serves kids' meals on a Frisbee you can keep (greasy but yours) in lieu of a real plate. These things all change from time-to-time but check out the coupon books available all over Waikiki for the latest.