Enjoy unique dining in Honolulu while helping non-profits!
Your vacation through Gift of Travel’s Travel as a Fundraiser program to Hawaii on Oahu that gives back to non-profits – and that already makes you feel good! But let’s not forget to keep the good times rolling once you’re there! And after some wine at Formaggio’s or Dim Sum at Kwong On be sure to tell everyone about our fundraising program for non-profits and how while you’re sitting there enjoying yourself a donation will be made to the n0n-profit you chose to support!
My growing interest in cuisine, both cooking and feasting, has led me to want to explore all different types of restaurants and unique foods. In the past year I have come across numerous “Hole-in-the-Wall” restaurants and eateries that I can’t wait to share with family and friends. Here are some Oahu finds that are great experiences in dining but won’t leave you broke!
Formaggio’s, A Wine Bar
This is my new favorite place to go for a light meal, great atmosphere, and good wine. It is located in Market City Shopping Center by Ben Franklin and is a small hole in the wall treasure. The Restaurant is quaintly decorated with wine decor and rustic orange stucco walls reminiscent of Italy. The low lighting and live music makes this a perfect place to come, eat, chat, and unwind from the day. Because this is a wine bar, they specialize in their array of wines and liquors, but the food here is incredible and delicious for the price. The entrees are smaller portioned, which is good, you can have an entree and still have room for a dessert, and nothing on the menu is priced over $12. The food selection ranges from paninis, soups, and fresh salads, to lighter tapas meals and a great dessert menu.
I highly recommend this place for dinner, dessert, or even just wine, but I know I will definitely be back many times!
In the heart of Honolulu’s downtown business district is a place that may normally be overlooked, but should truly be sought out instead. A small lunch establishment, Kafe Europa is a family owned business that serves up foreign cuisine for a bargain. The flavor is Aremenian, Russian, and Greek, the prices are cheap, and the flavors are unmatched by even the nicer sit-down Greek type restaurants. It is known for the European pastries turned out fresh every morning and the daily specials, like its home-style Russian Stroganoff. It has no place to sit and eat inside, but it is a quick walk to the Aloha Tower Marketplace Park and wharf, which makes a perfect picnic spot!
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
My loyalty for the best island burger will always be in Teddy’s. Their Waikiki location makes it convenient for a beach day lunch. They serve up made to order burgers and sandwiches with crisp ingredients and a variety of toppings. Their special sauce makes each burger juicy and tasty and paired with the fries, it is the perfect combo. They also offer thick delicious shakes, my favorite being chocolate/peanut butter. Whether you choose to dine inside surrounded by their 50’s style, California burger joint décor, or outdoors at the park or beach, their good pricing and awesome taste makes this my pick for best burger cheap eats!
Nico’s at Pier 38
Here is a place just past Aloha Tower and into the industrial harbor, where you can get the day’s fresh catch in gourmet “plate lunches”. The chef takes the local plate lunch up a notch serving panko encrusted ahi, “catch of the day” salad, calamari on fresh Nalo greens, and grilled fish sandwiches. Even the burgers are boasted about. The best part is that though the food quality is a better class, the local plate lunch prices remain. While you eat you can look out over the harbor and relax in the shade. Though it may be a little tricky to find, Nico’s is definitely worth the hassle.
For Chinese dim sum, you can’t beat the price or taste of this Waialae Avenue establishment. The array of choices to eat in Kaimuki can be overwhelming, but if you can find this small, family owned spot then you have truly found something special. It’s easy to spend just $5 on a lunch for two, but deciding what to order can be tricky. They have the traditional char siu (barbecued pork) manapuas, both baked and steamed, but then also have a delicious chicken bun as well. Other types of dim sum served are pork hash, half moon dumplings, curried half moon, and spring rolls. They also have a plate lunch style where entrees of the day, like beef broccoli, are steaming in front of you, and their fresh chow mien is the best around. For dessert they double as a Chinese candy shop that sells Chinese pretzels and rice candy or try their sweet rice cakes (similar to Japanese mochi). There is nowhere to sit, but drive your car up to Diamond Head, five minutes away, and watch the ocean while you savor your lunch.
Tea at 1024
When describing my favorite places to eat, I cannot leave out this gem in the downtown Honolulu business district. Stepping into this small English tearoom from Nu’uanu Avenue, is like stepping back in time. The small rooms could accommodate around 25 and are decorated with winsome and old-fashioned things, like lace and twinkling white Christmas lights. This is truly a place for adult women to come and play tea time (they even have large brimmed hats and feather boas for you to wear), but I have taken my fiancé in and he enjoyed it too! Music plays delicately in the background and before ordering, you pick your own teacup and saucer from a large display (its possible to purchase it as a souvenir when you leave). You can order light lunch dishes ala carte, but the best deal is to get the tea special ($15). It comes with your choice of tropical fresh brewed tea in a beautiful pot, a fresh salad, and three tiers of delectable treats. The top tier has homemade scones with fresh clotted cream and jam, and the second tier has an array of finger sandwiches in unique flavors such as crab salad and cheese. The desserts are bite size and often are little slivers of cheesecake, chocolate brownie, or fresh fruit tarts. The tearoom is only open from around 11am to 2pm (weekdays) so be sure to make reservations. This is truly a destination where you can relax and be transported to a more elegant day and age.
For more information on a vacation on Oahu, please visit our Oahu page
Article by Steven Wakita
Tags: dining in honolulu, fundraising ideas for non profit organizations, fundraising ideas for non-profits, gift of travel, helping non-profits raise money, honolulu, online fundraising, steven wakita, travel as a fundraiser, unique fundraising ideas, vacations on oahu, waikiki