You know how it is. You’re at the beach, you’re a little sun tired, you’re sweaty, you’ve lost salt and you need something delicious for lunch that will fill your belly and, just maybe, your heart. If you’re headed to Oahu, I’ve got you covered.
Before we left, I loved scouring Eater articles and personal blogs to gather ideas about where to eat lunch while on Oahu. I made lists and maps and filled pages of my tiny notebook. We had 4 full days, so I wanted to plan well in order to hit most of the places I had researched. I had a few vague criteria about lunch places…it had to offer poke, it had to be able to travel to the beach, and it had to be highly recommended.
Here are 4 hole in the wall, must go, places for you to eat lunch while you’re on Oahu. I like to think of them as five star dives. At each of these places we paid under $30 total for two people to eat a very full lunch. Here we go:
I had read about Kyung’s Seafood on a few of Eater’s lists while I was gathering ideas pre-vacation. In fact, I was so excited to try it, we went straight from the airport to Kyung’s for lunch. Clearly it didn’t disappoint. The ahi poke was to die for. I ordered the poke & lau lau (pork) plate, but I wished I would have skipped the lau lau and eaten as much poke as possible. BF ordered a poke and BBQ chicken plate, which was a real win. Kyung’s Seafood stays open late, so it would also be a great place for dinner or second dinner.
What to order: poke & BBQ chicken plate, sashimi plate
Parking situation: a few spots around to the side
Eat in or take out: eat in! They have table service and also do take out orders.
Hibachi is inside a small market where they also offer smoked meats that smelled out of this world. We visited after a hike on the east shore Kaiwa ridge and before heading to Kailua beach. We sampled salmon, tobiko, ahi, hamachi, and shrimp poke–they were all outstanding. I settled on a spicy salmon with ginger over salad, but was almost swayed by the spicy tobiko with thai basil. They make so many different daily specials, you’ll find something to love.
What to order: one of the fresh daily specials in a mini poke bowl
Parking situation: there’s a small parking lot around back
Eat in or take out: take out to the beach. There’s a few tables outside, but it’s much more fun to go to one of the nearby beaches in Kailua
3. Barbecue Kai
Barbecue Kai is on the west shore and we had lunch here after spending time at Maili beach. Their mixed barbecue plate HIT THE SPOT. It was smoky, salty, tangy, meaty tastiness. I also had a renaissance in my love of mac salad. Probably because I’m lactose intolerant and anything creamy reminds me of the good old days when I could digest dairy. I digress. Smoked and roasted meats, that’s all you need to know.
What to order: mixed BBQ plate. Comes with bbq steak and chicken with rice and mac salad. Plenty for two people to split one combo.
Parking Situation: small lot attached, no parking issues.
Eat in or take out: take out to the beach. There’s two picnic tables available, but I would go to the beach down the street.
Alicia’s was our final lunch stop, before heading to the airport. We went out with a bang here. BF and I were sitting in the rental car, in a gas station parking lot eating our Alicia’s spoils and not talking, but making eye contact that said everything that needed to be said. Like, how is roast pork this crispy & juicy? What in god’s name is this sauce on my spicy ahi poke and how do I make it at home? Do we really have to leave?
What to order: Poke bowl and roast pork plate.
Parking situation: TOUGH! There are a few spaces but if you’re here any time around lunch, you’re going to wait for one. There’s not much street parking available either.
Eat in or take out: only take out. There’s no option to sit here.
Thanks for checking out my ideas for 5 star dives. I hope this gives you great ideas if you’re headed to Oahu! If not, I hope this intrigues you to plan a trip!
All images except first taken on iPhone because I was too hungry and excited to use my real camera.