The 10 Best Cheap Eats in Waikiki (#4 is literally a hidden gem!)

| |
Marugame Udon Nikutama Waikiki

Inside: In pricey Waikiki, cheap eats is relative, of course. But if you’re looking for tasty treats that won’t break the bank, here’s where to go.

After moving to Waikiki, it wasn’t long before my husband and I began the hunt for deals on great meals.

Our search for the best cheap eats Waikiki had to offer was born of necessity for three very simple reasons:

  1. We live in Waikiki.
  2. We LOVE to eat out.
  3. We’re not made of money.

I mean, it’s true that Hawaii is an expensive place to visit. But it’s a REALLY expensive place to live.

And though we adore trying new restaurants, we can’t spend $100+ bucks every single time (see item #3 above). 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to book through these links, I receive a small commission, which I will likely blow on mai tais, poke, and shave ice.  All of this internet voodoo takes place at no additional cost to you. 

Luckily, we’ve discovered lots of delicious “cheap” food options within a one-mile radius of our condo in Waikiki. 

Where to find cheap eats Waikiki-style

Cheap is, of course, relative in Waikiki but for the purposes of this post, these are all places where a delicious meal or a hearty snack will run you less than $15-ish.

So, if you find yourself hungry in Honolulu, here’s my short list of the best cheap eats Waikiki has to offer.

I live here, I eat here, and I’ve cracked the budget-friendly code.

Let’s get started…

Best Places to Eat in Waikiki on a Budget:

1. Steak Shack Waikiki

Steak Shack Cheap Eats Waikiki Hawaii
Order here at Steak Shack

When it comes to Waikiki cheap eats on the beach, this popular quick-serve counter is a long time favorite stop for locals. Located beachfront in Fort Derussy Beach Park, Steak Shack is on the second floor of the building next to the Outrigger Reef Beach Resort.

The menu is deliciously simple – a hearty plate of steak, chicken, or both served with organic greens and white rice.

The only downside at Steak Shack is the lack of a shady place to sit and eat. They have a scattering of tables with lovely ocean views but no shade whatsoever.

Your best bet is to grab one of the shaded park tables right next door.

Tip: Stop by on a Friday night just before sunset to grab your plate and watch the sunset from the rocks or the shore break (if the waves are low!), then stick around until 8:00p and enjoy the Hilton fireworks.

Steak Shack Seating Area Waikiki Oahu Hawaii
Plenty of tables but no shade

How’s the Wait?

Steak Shack is no secret these days. Expect to wait at least 15 minutes if the line is short, 20-30 minutes if it’s longer. Once you order at the front window, they’ll call your name from the side window when it’s ready.

What to order at Steak Shack

The Signature 6oz Steak Plate for $12.85 is one of the best deals in town.

Like all their plates, it comes with a generous portion of organic mixed greens and white rice. The only decisions you have to make are how you want your steak cooked and which dressing for your greens (ranch or Italian).

Steak Shack Steak Plate Waikiki Hawaii
The 6oz steak plate

Can I get a cocktail with that?

No adult beverages at Steak Shack. But if you’re taking your meal to the picnic tables along the beachfront, sit just close enough to Koa Oasis Booze Shack on the other end of the picnic tables.

Part of the Hale Koa Hotel (a military recreation resort), this small beachfront shack serves terrific cocktails at reasonable prices. My husband is retired Army so we go here often for $10 tropical cocktails.

But don’t worry, it’s just $2 more for non-military. Anyone can buy drinks here or at the Hale Koa’s lovely Barefoot Beach Bar.

Where to find it: Beachfront on the Diamond Head side of Fort Derussy Beach Park, 2161 Kalia Road, Suite 104, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: Open Sunday-Thursday, 10:30am – 7:00pm, Friday & Saturday, 10:30am – 7:30pm.

Check out the full menu here: Steak Shack Waikiki Menu

2. Hula Dog (Food Truck)

Hula Dog Cheap Eats Waikiki Oahu
Hula Dog Food Truck

This family-owned hot dog stand opened in 2000 on Kauai as “Puka Dog.” Serving Hawaiian-style hot dogs with creative local toppings like lilikoi (passionfruit) mustard and tropical papaya relish, the first Oahu location opened in 2007.

In 2008, Anthony Bourdain stopped by for a snack while filming his travel show “No Reservations” and the rest is history.

Since renamed Hula Dog, this colorful food truck is located in the small food truck park at the corner of Kuhio and Kapuni (along with Five Star Poke and Angry Shrimp).

When it comes to food trucks Waikiki has plenty, but Hula Dog is my favorite. It’s my #1 go-to for a quick bite when we’re out and about on a Saturday afternoon.

How’s the Wait?

Not bad. I’ve never waited longer than 10 minutes. Order at the window, grab a picnic table and they’ll call you when it’s ready.

What to order at Hula Dog

You can build your Hula Dog any way you like – choose the bread, dog, sauce, etc. – but I go straight for the best selling Poi Dog. The Poi Dog is a Polish sausage inside purple Taro bread with jalapeno garlic lemon sauce, pineapple relish, and Hawaiian mustard.

Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.

Pair it with a fresh squeezed lilikoi lemonade and you’ve got a delicious meal for less than $15. Not too shabby in this particular zip code.

Hula Dog Food Truck Poi Dog Waikiki Hawaii
Poi Dog & Lilikoi Lemonade

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Not unless you spike the lemonade and, as a responsible citizen, I am not recommending that. Or am I?

No, definitely not. Although there is an ABC Store nearby (naturally).

Where to find it: 206 Kapuni Street, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: Open daily from 11:00am – 8:30pm (last order at 8:15pm)

Check out the full menu here: Hula Dog Kuhio Menu

3. Marugame Udon (aka Marukame Udon)

Marukame or Marugame Udon
Marukame or Marugame Udon?

Founded in Japan, Marugame Udon opened in Hawaii in 2011 and has been a hit with Oahu visitors and locals ever since.

Known for its handmade udon noodles, tempura and musubis, part of the dining experience at Marugame Udon is watching the staff handcrafting the udon noodles as you choose your food in line.

It’s literally an udon factory in the heart of Waikiki.

Is it Marugame or Marukame?

This one confused me at first. On their website and Google, it’s Marugame. Yet, the sign on the restaurant itself says “Marukame Udon.” What gives?

Apparently, when Marugame Udon first opened in Honolulu it was as Marukame Udon. However, they later adjusted the name once it opened in the Continental U.S.

How’s the Wait?

If you go anywhere near dinner time, be prepared to wait in a long line. It moves pretty fast but finding a place to sit inside can be tough. The protocol here is to look for a table only after you have your food.

Long Lines at Marukame Udon Waikiki
The line at 6pm almost every night

My favorite time of day to go is around 3:00pm. I can almost always walk right in at that time and easily find a table.

But if you want to eat during the popular lunch or dinner times, there’s always the take-out window. It’s generally no more than a 5-minute wait and you can take your food to your room or the beach.

What to order at Marugame Udon

The signature dish at Marugame Udon is the Nikutama – udon noodles served hot or cold with sweet beef, a soft boiled egg and their made-in-house BK sauce.

Marugame Udon Nikutama Waikiki
Nikutama Udon at Marugame Udon

The Nikutama is definitely my favorite udon dish but I also love the wide selection of cheap tempura treats. I dare you to resist the tempura temptations as you slide your tray toward the register! (Spoiler alert – I cannot.)

Marugame Udon Tempura Options Waikiki
Tasty tempura!

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Nope, but the matcha latte makes up for it.

Where to find it: 2310 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: Open daily 10:00am – 10:00pm. Avoid 5:00pm – 8:00pm unless you’re willing to wait.

Check out the full menu here: Marugame Udon Waikiki Menu

4. Ty’s BBQ & Grill (Food Truck)

Ty's BBQ & Grill Food Truck Suzy Wong's Waikiki
Ty’s BBQ tucked away outside Suzy Wong’s

I’m embarrassed to say this food truck is the closest to our building yet it still took us nearly 3 weeks to discover it after we moved in.

Why?

Because it’s seriously hidden. Like tucked away down an alley behind a 7-11 hidden.

Just across the street from Ty’s is a full block of food trucks along Kalakaua Avenue. We visited those trucks a few times when we first moved in and they were OK.

But like most food trucks in Waikiki, they aren’t cheap. In fact for what we spent on some of those food truck meals, we might as well have gone to a real restaurant and not worried about fending off pushy birds while we ate.

But I digress. Back to Ty.

Located in the parking lot of Suzie Wong’s Hideaway, a local dive bar popular with bikers and neighborhood residents, Ty’s BBQ & Grill is the definition of a hidden gem.

How’s the Wait?

It usually only takes 10-15 minutes to get your food but if you order the ribs (and you should) they do take 20 minutes to prepare. Fair warning, we visited on a recent Friday night around 7pm and the wait for food was almost an hour.

In fact, Ty had to close his window for over an hour that night to catch up before he took any new orders. But hey, he’s a popular guy.

Ty's BBQ & Grill Food Truck Ribs Waikiki
Ty’s BBQ ribs

But that’s not the norm. Typically the wait time is just long enough to pop into Suzy Wong’s for a drink. Order outside at the truck and head inside to find a table.

They’ll find you inside and bring the food to your table when it’s ready.

What to order at Ty’s BBQ & Grill

If you go for Taco Tuesday, I love the Steak Quesadillas and my husband always gets the street tacos. The rest of the week, the ribs are easily the best thing on the menu (though the burgers are also pretty fantastic).

Ty's BBQ & Grill Food Truck Waikiki
Ordering at Ty’s

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Ty doesn’t serve cocktails because he doesn’t need to. His partnership with dive bar Suzie Wong’s Hideaway is a match made in heaven. His truck basically IS their kitchen.

Suzy Wong's Hideaway Dive Bar Waikiki
Inside Suzy Wong’s

Where to find it: 1913 Dudoit Lane, Honolulu, HI 96815. There is a 7-11 on the corner of Ena Road and Kalakaua Ave, go behind it. Trust me. Or, just put Suzie Wong’s in your GPS.

When to go: Open Tuesday-Saturday from 2:30pm – 9:00pm while supplies last. Taco Tuesday menu is only available on Tuesdays.

Check out the full menu here: Ty’s BBQ & Grill Menu

5. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

L&L Hawaiian BBQ Royal Hawaiian Center Waikiki Hawaii
L&L Hawaiian BBQ in the Royal Hawaiian Center Food Court

Started back in 1952 as a local chain of drive-in restaurants, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is now an international chain serving up classic Hawaiian, mouth–watering plate lunches.

What’s a plate lunch you ask? It’s simply a piece of fish or meat served with white rice and macaroni salad.

With more than 40 locations on Oahu alone, you’ll find L&L Hawaiian Barbecue everywhere in Hawaii. In Waikiki proper, your best bet is the location in the Royal Hawaiian Center Food Court (though it’s a few bucks more than the other locations – call it the “Waikiki tax“).

For a more affordable L&L nearby, check out the one I usually visit inside the Wal-Mart behind the Ala Moana Center.

Tip: That Wal-Mart also happens to be the best place in town to shop for Hawaiian souvenirs. In fact, there’s a whole section in the front of the store right next to L&L.

Known simply as L&L to locals, this popular wallet-friendly chain is home to the famous local plate lunch. Out around the island for a hike or a beach day? L&L is the perfect place to grab a quick, hearty meal at a reasonable price.

How’s the Wait?

This is a quick-service spot and generally the wait (once you place your order) is just 5 minutes or so.

What to order at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

The best-selling chicken katsu is my go-to plate lunch at L&L. The barbeque chicken is another delicious choice. I’m also a big fan of their macaroni salad which luckily comes with all the plate lunches.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue Katsu Chicken Plate Waikiki
Chicken katsu plate at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

Can I get a cocktail with that?

No, not in the food court. Of course – and I know this will come as a shock – there is an ABC Store right downstairs if you want to take it to go.

Where to find it: In Waikiki, it’s in the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Pa’ina Lanai Food Court (2nd Floor), 2233 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite B3, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: Open daily from 10:00am – 9:00pm

Check out the full menu here: L&L Hawaiian Barbecue Menu

6. Waikiki Market

Waikiki Market Best Cheap Meals Waikiki
Waikiki Market

I stumbled across this little gem on my walk to Hula Dog one afternoon and it’s quickly become one of my favorite places to shop for fresh foods. On the first floor, there’s an open-air bar and restaurant called Piko Kitchen. 

But the upstairs is where the magic happens.

While it’s technically a gourmet grocery store, Waikiki Market is so much more. It’s an upscale foodie paradise (think Hawaiian Whole Foods on steroids).

Yes, it has groceries, meats, and produce like any good grocery store. But the best part is the Freshly Prepared Food section where you’ll find 4 dazzling counters devoted to poke, local plates, rice (sushi), and a bake shop. 

How’s the Wait?

The great thing about Waikiki Market is there’s no wait at all. Walk in, choose your meal, and grab a table on the terrace to enjoy it. Or just take it to go like I always do!

What to order at Waikiki Market

This place is a poke paradise (it’s my husband’s favorite local spot for poke). I love the plate lunches and the sushi. And, of course, the sweet treats at the Bake Shop.

Can I get a cocktail with that?

They have a wide selection of alcoholic beverages available for purchase inside the store. Or, visit the stylish bar downstairs (Piko’s KIitchen) for a craft cocktail.

Piko Kitchen and Bar at Waikiki Market
Piko Kitchen & Bar

Where to find it: 2380 Kuhio Ave, 2nd Floor, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: Open daily from 6:00am – 10:00pm.

Check out the full menu here: Waikiki Market Menu

7. South Shore Grill

South Shore Grill Waikiki Beach
South Shore Grill Waikiki

One Sunday after hiking the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail for the first time, I was craving fish tacos. We were still new in town and had yet to discover any terrific fish taco spots.

So I hit up the “Googs” as we headed back toward Waikiki in search of the “best fish tacos near me.” South Shore Kitchen was the first place that popped up.

And what a score that turned out to be!

This family owned restaurant near Diamond Head has been dishing up fresh and flavorful Hawaiian grindz (local slang for food) since 2004. Fish tacos are the specialty of the house but the menu also includes classic Hawaiian plate lunches.

How’s the wait?

The seating area at South Shore Grill is pretty small so a bit of a wait here is not uncommon. In fact, every time I drive by there’s at least a small line outside the door.

But that’s primarily because the counter where you order is right inside the door so there’s not much room to queue. Try to avoid the popular lunch hour and you’ll have better luck scoring a coveted table.

What to order at South Shore Grill

Hands-down, the best fish tacos in Waikiki. Single tacos can be had for less than $5 each but the Grilled Cajun Ono Fish 2-taco plate gets my vote. It comes with rice, slaw, and their delicious tuna-mac salad.

Ono Fish Tacos Plates at South Shore Grill Waikiki
Ono Fish Tacos Plate at South Shore Grill

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Nope. At South Shore Grill, it’s non-alcoholic beverages only.

Where to find it: 3114 Monsarrat Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: Monday – Saturday 10:30am – 8:30pm (Wednesday 4:00pm – 8:30pm), and Sunday, 12:00pm – 8:30pm. As their website says, “Closed for big surf, luaus, and Sunday morning church.

Check out the full menu here: South Shore Grill Menu

8. Musubi Cafe Iyasume

Musubi Cafe Iyasume Waikiki Beach Walk
Musubi Cafe Iyasume Waikiki Beach Walk

If you’re in need of a quick snack to fuel your afternoon surfing lesson, Musubi Cafe Iyasume is the perfect stop.

Spam musubi is a big deal in Hawaii. (Full disclosure, I honestly had no idea what it was before we moved here.) This popular local snack food of Japanese origin consists of a block of rice topped with Spam and wrapped in seaweed.

It’s just that simple. Or is it?

Musubi cafe Iyasume has elevated this traditional Hawaiian snack to gourmet levels by incorporating a variety of ingredients and flavors, such as avocado, bacon, and different types of fish.

Musubi Cafe Iyasume is a favorite stop for both tourists and locals in need of a quick, delicious, and reasonably-priced meal.

How’s the wait?

Sometimes you’ll find a short line at the Waikiki Beach Walk location (because it’s so petite) but it moves quickly. This place is the definition of grab and go.

What to order at Musubi Cafe Iyasume

While the Spam musubi is the star attraction and wins the prize for the cheapest cheap eats Waikiki has to offer, Musubi Cafe also offers other Hawaiian and Japanese-influenced dishes, such as poke bowls and bento boxes.

Spam Musubi options at Musubi Cafe Iyasume
So many musubi options!

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Not here. Non-alcoholic beverages only. Because Spam and spirits apparently don’t mix.

Where to find it: You’ll find several locations around Waikiki but my favorite location is in the Waikiki Beach Walk, 227 Lewers Street, Honolulu, HI 96815.

When to go: All locations are open daily but the hours vary slightly. The Lewers Street location is open from 7:00am – 9:00pm. So you can get your musubi morning, noon, and night.

Check out the full menu here: Musubi Cafe Iyasume Waikiki Menu

9. Barefoot Beach Cafe

Barefoot Beach Cafe Waikiki
Barefoot Beach Cafe Waikiki Beach

Barefoot Beach Cafe is the ultimate choice for casual dining along Waikiki Beach. The cafe supports local businesses by using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, which means you get fresh cheap eats at a great price.

Just steps from the surf of Waikiki Beach, this is no frills Hawaiian waterfront dining with a million dollar view. No shorts or shoes required. Step off the beach, order at the window and grab a table by the surf. It doesn’t get much better.

But Barefoot Beach Cafe is more than just food, it’s a fantastic place to listen to live music and watch the sunset.

The menu includes everything from classic American fare like burgers and fries to Hawaiian specialties like poke bowls and loco moco. It’s also one of my favorite spots for breakfast in Waikiki.

Stop by for a leisurely breakfast, a midday snack, or a sunset dinner.

How’s the wait?

Order at the window and grab a table. They’ll call your name when it’s ready. Service is pretty quick, generally 10-15 minutes for food, much quicker for smoothies.

Order window at Barefoot Beach Cafe
Order here & grab a table by the water

What to order at Barefoot Beach Cafe

You really can’t go wrong here. But whatever you order, add a side of their awesome sweet potato fries and a smoothie.

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Unfortunately, no. Though this would be an incredibly lovely spot to sip a mai tai. Because the Barefoot Beach Cafe is right on the beach, it falls under the no alcohol rules for public parks.

Waikiki Beach views at Barefoot Beach Cafe
Blue water views at Barefoot Beach Cafe

Where to find it: 2699 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816.

When to go: Open daily from 8:00am – 9:00pm. Breakfast served until 2:00pm.

Tip: Stop by on a Friday evening and catch the weekly 8:00pm fireworks show from the Hilton. It’s a different perspective from this far away and one of my favorite places to watch the fireworks.

Check out the full menu here: Barefoot Beach Cafe Menu

10. ABC Stores

ABC Store Deli Lewers Street
Find this ABC Store for a full service deli

I know what you’re thinking. An ABC Store is not a restaurant. And you’re right, mostly.

But the truth is, when it comes to cheap eats Waikiki’s ubiquitous ABC Stores are hard to beat.

You can’t swing a ukulele in Waikiki without hitting an ABC Store. They’re a staple for necessities from sunscreen and Aloha shirts to pre/post-race supplies if you’re in town for the Honolulu Marathon.

But your local ABC Store is also a great place for an affordable quick bite.

In fact, if you visit one of the “Super ABC Stores” like the one on the ground floor of the Imperial Hawaii Resort, you’ll actually find a full-service deli restaurant serving all your Hawaiian favorites from plate lunches to loco moco.

How’s the wait?

With friendly and efficient check-out counters around the store, you’ll rarely have to wait more than a moment to pay for your food and be on your way.

What to order at the ABC Store?

Well, unless you’re visiting the ABC Store deli location, you’re not really ordering, it’s more of a grab-and-go operation. When it comes to the pre-packaged foods, I love their chicken quesadillas and wrap sandwiches.

Grab and go food at ABC Stores Hawaii
Plenty of grab & go options at ABC Stores

At the deli counter, my favorite things are the create your own salad or poke bowls. Salad bars are a luxury in the Waikiki food scene and this is one of the few places you can create your own salad in town for a reasonable price.

ABC Store Deli Counter
Order at the deli counter at this ABC Store

Can I get a cocktail with that?

Duh, it’s an ABC Store!

I can confidently say that your average ABC Store has a better beverage selection than any other cheap eats spot on my list (though Waikiki Market is a close second!). That includes specialty items like locally brewed craft beers, Hawaiian-made spirits, and unique tropical mixers.

Just remember, they don’t have seating, so you’ll have to take it to go.

Where to find it: The better question is where can you NOT find an ABC Store in Waikiki. They are pretty much on every corner. But for the best food selection, head straight for an ABC Super Store (complete with an extensive deli) like the one at 205 Lewers Street on the ground floor of the Imperial Hawaii Resort.

When to go: The beauty of ABC Stores? They’re open every day of the year from early in the morning until late at night. Hours may vary slightly by store but most ABC Stores are open from 6:30am – 11:00pm.

Check out the Lewers Street Deli menu here: ABC Store Deli Menu

And that’s a wrap on the best cheap eats Waikiki has to offer!

Did this post make you hungry?

If so, I hope you discovered a few new spots here to solve that problem without breaking the bank. In the search for cheap food Waikiki doesn’t make it easy. But thankfully there are a few great spots to find a delicious affordable meal.

Bon appetit!

Cheap Meals in Waikiki Hawaii
Pin it for later!

Oh, and once you’ve devoured that great (cheap!) meal, here are a few great places to explore around Oahu:

The 7 Absolute Best Things to Do on Oahu (if time is short!)

5 Easy Oahu Hikes for Those Who Love Nature But Hate Hiking

Escape the Oahu Crowds with a Visit to the Byodo-In Temple

A Guide to Oahu’s Insta-Famous Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

The Foolproof Guide to Hanauma Bay for Snorkeling

Share the Aloha!

Similar Posts