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Best Food on a Budget in Honolulu

By: Cityseeker
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Panini Grill Sandwiches

This tiny kiosk can almost be overlooked in the huge Makai Marketplace in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Located just inside the entrance nearest the mall stage, this sandwich stand offers reasonably priced pressed sandwiches for those who are interested in something quick and tasty on the run. Along with the sandwiches, there is a long list of salads, hot and soft drinks. Order at the counter and grab a seat anywhere. For those who are dining along, the constant foot traffic is entertaining. Mall parking is always free, but during lunch and dinner can be very difficult to find.

Honolulu, HI, United States
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Mei Sum

Although dim sum is usually reserved for Sundays, if you have a craving for dim sum, there is always Mei Sum in Chinatown. It is clean, well lit and the servers are quiet and efficient. If you come for dinner, the dim sum is made to order instead of being served on roaming carts. The menu has pictures and prices so all you need to do is point and order. Pork buns (manapua in Hawaii), steamed buns with pork in the middle, mochi rice with duck, sticky rice with pieces of duck steamed in a lotus leaf, are a few of the offerings. Don't forget to check out the daily specials! Tasty food at an affordable price! -Kim Fujiwara

Honolulu, HI, United States
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Big Kahuna's Pizza

Once a small, rustic, one-story building dwarfed by large warehouses in an industrial neighborhood, Big Kahuna Pizzas was hidden in the middle of a concrete jungle. A lane-widening project led to the demolition of their original home in the summer of 2007. It is now located in the Airport Trade Center (which is easier to find) and better than ever thanks to an expanded menu. In addition to a wide variety of both traditional and unique pizza toppings and sauces, they offer two absolutely huge sandwiches. Each one stands about 4-5 inches tall and is 8-9" wide. Granted, it's mostly a thick circular bun, but it is extremely filling. Pizzas on the other hand tend to run a little small (for the price) but the flavors help redeem that slight downside. All in all Da Big Kahuna is not your usual pizza place. -Rex Davidson

Honolulu, HI, United States
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Koa Pancake House

Even though it's not fancy and it's self-service, this modest award-winning eatery has won over the stomachs and wallets of island locals. The setting is more functional than fabulous with faux koa wood paneling and a few vintage wall hangings in keeping with the tropical theme. Seating is an abundant mix of tables and booths. The menu is endless and everything sounds yummy. Everything comes with three pancakes—don't forget the special coconut syrup—and everything ranges from scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage to Portuguese Vinha D'Alhos egg omelets. The prices are super cheap, and the place is super packed, especially on Sunday mornings. - Lottie Tagupa

Waipahu, HI, United States
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Pho & Company

Located next door to the only movie complex in Kapolei, this casual Vietnamese eatery is one of the more popular in the area. The restaurant is simply decorated, clean and inviting with more than a few Asian touches. The menu is filled with traditional favorites that include about a dozen different types of pho in a choice of three different sizes. There are several heartier choices like BBQ pork chops, lemon grass chicken and more than a few tasty vegetarian choices. The service is friendly and attentive, but the parking can be difficult on weekend evenings when the movie theaters are busy.

Kapolei, HI, United States
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