Cheap Eats

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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Kauai Pasta

3142 Kuhio Highway, Lihue, (808) 245-2227.

CHEAP EAT Chicken Parmesan, $14.95
Sure the daily specials at Kauai Pasta rival those of Roy’s Poipu Bar and Grill where co-owner Russell Stokes was once the executive chef, but it’s the classic Italian dishes we go for at this Italian eatery. Take the chicken parmesan ($14.95). It’s topped with a family-recipe marinara sauce and homemade mozzarella cheese and paired with a side pasta of your choice. Because the kitchen doesn’t practice portion control, you’ll be sure to go home with leftovers.

If you don’t have a super-size hunger, though, you might opt for the cappelinni pomodora. With angel hair pasta tossed with vine-ripened tomatoes, Parmeggiano reggiano, fresh basil, roasted garlic and olive oil, it somehow feels lighter. Must be the thin, angel hair pasta. Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Polynesia Cafe

Ching Young Village, Hanalei, (808) 826-1999.

CHEAP EAT Mac-Nut, Herb Crusted Ahi, $16.95
The tasty meals at the no-frills Polynesia Cafe make it easy to overlook the paper plates, counter service and industrial picnic tables sprinkled throughout the shopping center that serve as the cafe’s dining room. It’s not so easy, however, to overlook the measly, plastic forks. At least, not for the grinding we like to do here. Try the crowd favorite—eight ounces of sashimi-grade ahi seared in a flaky, macadamia-nut crust, topped with swirls of pesto sauce and served on a king-size bed of brown rice ($16.95).

Bring a bottle of wine—and a couple of sturdy forks—and head to Hanalei Bay for a sunset dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.


This tureen will haunt your dreams. Other favorites at Bangkok Cuisine include the summer rolls.

photo by Nina Lee

Bangkok Cuisine

395 Dairy Road., Suite F, Kahului, (808) 893-0026.

CHEAP EAT Tom Kha Ta Lay (Coconut Seafood Soup), $13.50
Bangkok Cuisine is a living room-size restaurant less than a mile from the airport. The cozy atmosphere is completed by scents of exotic spices and the tinkling of Thai music from speakers overhead. When we haven’t had its Tom Kha Ta Lay for too long, we dream of it—an aromatic soup seduction of coconut milk laden with lemongrass, green onions, shrimp, scallops, fish and mussels. The soup, which serves two, is best when heaped atop a mound of rice. Other Thai favorites include shrimp summer rolls ($9.50). Lunch daily, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner daily from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

Cafe Des Amis

42 Baldwin Ave., Paia, (808) 579-6323.

CHEAP EAT Indian Mahi Mahi Curry, $15.95
It’s easy to become entranced with Paia’s diverse culinary choices. Among these is Cafe Des Amis. Its candy-colored art and Caribbean music is enough to have anyone reaching for one of its Nutella crepes or fabulous Italian coffees. Try the Mahimahi Curry, generous pieces of fish simmered in yogurt, tomatoes and spices. It’s served with basmati rice and two kinds of chutney. Pairs flawlessly with a glass of Wolf Blass Shiraz ($9). Other goodies include a Mediterranean platter for two piled with pita and hummus ($12.95), or a brie-and-apple crepe with black pepper ($8). Open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.


The Shops at Wailea, (808) 891-8883.

CHEAP EAT Ahi Carpaccio, $16
Honoluluans are no strangers to the Longhi’s name, with a location at Ala Moana Center. But when on Maui, visit Longhi’s for the ahi carpaccio—yellowfin tuna splashed with lemon juice and served atop tomato basil and caper bruschetta. Wasabi and soy sauce with olive oil accompany it, while Estancia chardonnay compliments the dish nicely ($8). Also try the grilled portobello mushroom with basil pesto, warmed goat cheese and mancini peppers ($9.50). Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.


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