Honolulu Cheap Eats!
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The restaurant’s name lives up to its setting on the water. For Sunday brunch, soak in the sun and salt air while filling up on biscuits and gravy chock full of pork sausage ($12). Or answer the siren call of dessert-for-breakfast with grapefruit bread pudding topped with hibiscus anglaise and white chocolate-lavender gelato ($8, fruit varies depending on the season). 4-820 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, Kauai, (808)822-9332, oasiskauai.com.
The words “$12 steak” may not inspire confidence, but fear not—roughly twice a month, usually on a Thursday, Vino slashes the price of its $25 steak down to a mere dozen dollars. You get an 8-oz. New York-cut of antibiotic- and hormone-free, organic steak from Vintage Natural Meats, in a roasted shallot red wine demi glace, with broccolini and Tuscan mashed potatoes. Worth every penny at full price, twice as nice at half the price. Call or check the website for availability. Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., 524-8466, www.vinohawaii.com.
Shochan’s Hiroshima-style pork okonomiyaki ($7.80) is the ultimate Japanese comfort food of hearty proportions at a reasonable price. It’s all about the layers. Watch the chef cook at his griddle as he piles on the batter, soba noodles, cabbage, pork, egg and, finally, a hefty slather of okonomiyaki sauce with mayonnaise and bonito flakes. So oishii! 449 Kapahulu Ave., 225-0603.
On the farm
Everyone’s touting local these days—what better place to get farm-fresh than on the farm?
Give the shrimp trucks a rest and sink your teeth into Kahuku Farms’ vegetable panini ($9.50) at the Farm Café. It’s stuffed with grilled eggplant, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh-pulled mozzarella, all dressed in a creamy, herby sauce and pressed between fresh bread. For dessert, indulge in the hot, grilled banana bread (bananas from the farm, naturally), doused in caramel and vanilla-haupia sauce ($5.50). Almost everything, even the vanilla, is grown and made on the farm. 56-800 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, 628-0639, kahukufarms.com.
Here, you’re not so much dining on the farm as you are under it. Sample baby greens growing on the rooftop garden in the FarmRoof superfoods salad ($12), loaded with avocado and tomatoes, dusted with hemp seeds and served with a raw coconut vinegar and mac nut dressing. For those needing meat, go with the combo plate ($13) and choose from the pulled BBQ pork, beef brisket, or honey-citrus chicken, which you’ll want to smother with one of the homemade sauces: smoky-sweet guava chipotle or beer barbecue sauce. Each plate comes with sweet, tender cornbread and choice of sides, which should absolutely include the bok choy slaw, a refreshing, crunchy change from the usual. Desserts are fabulous, whether a moist and chewy coconut butter mochi ($4.25) or fruit tart ($4.25), which might be a zingy ginger and mango tart or lilikoi. 41-1025 Kalanianaole Highway, Waimanalo, 259-5737, sweethomewaimanalo.com.
A stop at Kahumana Organic Farm and Café rounds out a perfect, sun-kissed day playing at westside beaches. Head toward the Waianae mountains and sit in the café’s shaded lanai, from where you can overlook mango trees, rows of taro and other vegetables that might end up on your plate. The daily special ($12-$15) utilizes much of the produce from the farm: The last time we went, a fresh, juicy mango salsa topped sautéed ono, rounded out by okra and a heap of stir-fried tatsoi. 86-660 Lualualei Homestead Road, Waianae, 696-8844, kahumana.org.
These aren’t fast food burgers. The attention to detail and techniques borrowed from high-end kitchens make these burgers worth the price.
A burger for $11 may seem pricey, but The Whole Ox’s dry-aged, twice-ground, half-pound burger is certainly hearty. The dry-aging intensifies the beef flavor, which is left to shine with just a bit of caper aioli and grilled onions between thick buns. Pair the burger with the amazing fried potatoes ($4), craggy, crispy edges giving way to fluffy, starchy bliss. 327 Keawe St., 699-6328, wholeoxdeli.com.