Hungry for good values, we combed through the Islands in pursuit of delicious meals for $20 or less. We lunched, we brunched, we wined, we dined. And we found you can eat well, accompanied only by a minted portrait of Andrew Jackson. The secret is not just knowing where to go, but what to order. So grab your wallet, and follow us.
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Stop licking the page and go to Andy’s in Manoa, which serves these delicious pancakes.
photo by Lara Hata
Andy’s Sandwiches and Smoothies2904 E. Manoa Road, 988-6161.
CHEAP EAT Spinach, Mushroom, Bacon and Cheese Omelet ($7.85), Banana Pancakes ($3.99), Side of Turkey Bacon ($2.25) and a Side of Country Potatoes ($2.25). $16.34 for two people.
We went a bit overboard ordering at Andy’s Sandwiches and Smoothies. Maybe it’s because a full breakfast on a weekday morning has become such a rarity, or maybe it’s because the smell of bacon, pancakes and total yumminess hit us as soon as we walked past the signature green awning of this Manoa gem. Food, hot off the grill, quickly filled our table: A mammoth omelet overflowing with fresh spinach and mushrooms and oozing with melted cheese; a stack of banana pancakes and syrup; a heaping pile of seasoned potato cubes; and a realization that our eyes were much larger than our stomachs. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed on Saturday, open Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The lamb rogan josh from Bombay Indian Restaurant.
photo by Lara Hata
Bombay Indian RestaurantDiscovery Bay Center, 1778 Ala Moana Blvd., 942-3990.
CHEAP EAT Lamb Rogan Josh ($15.95)
A newcomer to the Waikiki restaurant scene, Bombay Indian Restaurant is thoroughly warm and friendly, from the wait staff to the flavors in the cuisine to the saffron colors on the walls. One of the chef’s specials is lamb rogan josh, a yogurt-based, creamy curry, served over basmati rice. It’s nearly a dessert, the curry on the sweet side, the lamb melt-in-your mouth tender. For just a few dollars over the $20-mark budget, you could add a glass of Kenwood Yulupa sparkling wine ($6) that plays nicely against the curry’s textures, or for $2.50, add a serving of nan bread, baked in the restaurant’s tandoori oven. Dinner daily, 5 to 10 p.m.
Cafe Joy1028 Nuuanu Ave., 536-1341.
CHEAP EAT Pad Ka Pao, Garlic Mahi and Sweet Chili Chicken Plate Lunch, $7.15
With a name like Cafe Joy, how could you go wrong? Named for owner Joy Vixaysakd, this recently opened lunch spot on Nuuanu Avenue offers a spicy mix of Thai and Lao flavors. There are the usual red, yellow and green curries, but try the pad ka pao, a Lao stir-fry containing ground beef, green beans and Thai purple basil. The garlic mahi, which comes in a wonderful coconut milk sauce, is also a must. Fortunately, it’s easy to sample new dishes—combo plates are $5 for one item, $6.05 for two, $7.15 for three and $8.25 for four, and come with your choice of noodles, or brown, jasmine or sticky rice. We recommend taking your meal in the open courtyard behind the restaurant to get away from the downtown hustle and bustle. Monday to Friday 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., every First Friday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Champa ThaiPearl Kai Center, Aiea, 488-2881; 2452 Waialae Ave., 732-0054; 33 Aulike St., Kailua, 263-8281.
CHEAP EAT House Special Seafood Soup ($9.25) and Green Papaya Salad ($6.95)
For a twist on the conventional soup and salad duo, head down to one of Champa Thai’s three Oahu locations. The house special seafood soup, or potak, combines fish, shrimp, scallops and mushrooms in an aromatic hot-and-sour lemongrass soup, flavored with ginger and lime (an especially heavenly mixture when you’ve got a cold). For a refreshing complement to the broth, we like the green papaya salad—a traditional Thai dish done perfectly, with crisp, freshly shredded strips of papaya, tomatoes and red chili peppers. Visit www.champathai.com for lunch and dinner hours.