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30 Meals Under $30

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Photo: Rae Huo

Café Sistina

$25! Scampi alla vodka ($17.25), iced tea ($2.50), Gianduia (chocolate hazelnut) gelato ($5.25).

This restaurant captures you from the moment you walk in the door. The interior alone takes your breath away: owner and chef Sergio Mitrotti’s magnificent re-creations of various Sistine Chapel murals speak to his hidden artistic talents. Mitrotti’s culinary skills are just as terrific—his menu ranges from traditional Italian favorites to Mediterranean fusion dishes. We chose a mid-range entrée. Scampi alla vodka, a strong, hearty scampi with Manila clams and a gorgonzola-caper-vodka sauce mixed into spinach fettuccine. The rich, creamy Gianduia gelato (via La Gelateria) provided a sweet finish to this filling meal. Lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner nightly, 5:30 to 9:30. 1314 S. King St., 596-0061.

 


Photo: Mark Arbeit

Good to Grill

$13.98!  Chocolate lover’s pancake ($7.99) and breakfast tacos ($5.99).

Chocolate may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to breakfast, but after trying the chocolate pancakes at Good to Grill, you may want to reconsider. The pancakes are light and a perfect balance between chocolate and batter—not too rich, and they still taste like pancakes—topped off with strawberries and whipped cream. Add some variety to your breakfast with a tasty trio of breakfast tacos, packed with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, pulled pork and potatoes. These breakfast tacos are the best we’ve had! Breakfast Saturday and Sunday only from 8 to 11:30 a.m. 888 Kapahulu Ave., 734-7345, goodtogrill.com.

 
 

Restaurant Epic

$28!  Cioppino ($21) and Maso Canali Pinot Grigio ($7).

Get your seafood stewed  with Epic’s cioppino, which includes Alaskan King crab, shrimp, U-10 scallops, white fish and clams in a white wine and tomato stew with crostini. Sure, that’s an awfully Italian-sounding entrée from a place that seems part pan-Pacific, part bistro, but we loved it, along with the glass of pinot grigio. It’s enough to remind downtowners that Epic isn’t just a lunch spot, it’s one of those places which make it worth staying in the neighborhood for dinner, too. Lunch Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m., Friday, 4:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday 5 to 11 p.m.  1131 Nuuanu Ave., 587-7877, restaurantepichawaii.com.

 


Photo: Ryan Siphers


Mekong II

$28.85!  Spring rolls ($7.95), pad Thai noodles ($9.95) and yellow curry chicken ($10.95).

This restaurant makes you feel at home with its simple décor and casual charm; parking that’s a cinch doesn’t hurt at all. We tried the spring rolls to start. There were six in the order, but they flew off our plates due to the yummy mushroom, pork and carrot goodness. Luckily, the service was fast, so our main entrées, a yellow curry chicken and pad Thai noodles, were not far behind. The food was flavorful and completely comforting, making an evening out for dinner a prequel to an early night of slumbering. Lunch Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner nightly 5 to 9:30. 1726 S. King St., 941-6184.

 
 

 

Le Bistro

$29.60!  Escargot de Bourgogne with garlic, parsley and olive butter ($9.80), red wine and peppercorn short ribs ($19.80). 

This fine French dining  institution has never been a spot for penny pinchers, but we didn’t have to compromise our love for decadence to keep things affordable. Escargot de Bourgogne started the meal off right; each bite of tender snail with garlic, parsley and olive butter made us swoon. Then Le Bistro’s slow-cooked and amazingly tender red wine and peppercorn short ribs completely demolished us. If escargot is a no-go for you, we recommend swapping it out for a bowl of Le Bistro’s classic French onion soup gratinée, with Gruyere cheese and baguette croutons ($7.80). Pure happiness. Open nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. 5730 Kalanianaole Highway in the Niu Valley Shopping Center, 373-7990.

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