EAT Diamond Head Market and Grill
3158 Monsarrat Ave., 808/732-0077
A health-conscious lunch spot. Order a grilled ahi sandwich to go, or sit inside and nosh on specials like the mochiko chicken bento. The blueberry scones make for a memorable breakfast, too.
EAT Kaka'ako Kitchen
Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., 808/596-7488
The best local cuisine ever to be served on a Styrofoam plate, and the most affordable way to sample chef Russell Siu's latest creations. The ingredients used here-Nalo salad greens and fresh ahi, for example-also show up on the menu at 3660 on the Rise (3660 Waialae Ave, 808/737-1177, 3660.com), Kaka'ako's older and more expensive cousin.
EAT Eggs 'n Things
1911-B Kalakaua Ave., 808/949-0820
It's breakfast only at this surfing-themed joint. The egg and pancake specials start flying at 11 p.m. and keep coming until 2 p.m. the next day. Expect all walks of life after hours, from musicians and chefs just off work to famished insomniacs.
1936 S. King St., 808/947-2211
Jimbo Motojima's place is a well-kept secret-few tourists know about its awesome homemade rice, soba, and udon noodles, served with smoky broth and extras like shrimp tempura, vegetables, and seaweed. Warning: Lunch lines are long. Advice: Call ahead for take-out.
EAT Leonard's Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave., 808/737-5591
An institution since the 1950s, and known for fresh-out-of-the-fryer Portuguese malassadas and malassada puffs. Only the coconut-haupia or guava-custard filling in the malassada puffs lets you know you're not in Lisbon.
EAT Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Ave., 808/737-2275
Locals line up here for the authentic pork laulau (the meat is wrapped in taro leaves and steamed) and poke (a seviche-like dish). Ono adds its own twist to poi (a paste made from taro) by fermenting it slightly; add a little sugar and it tastes as good as yogurt.
EAT Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave., 808/737-0177
A Honolulu favorite since 1961 and one of the best places to try a Hawaiian-style plate lunch: your choice of a main dish (such as teriyaki beef or boneless chicken) plus two sides, usually one scoop of macaroni salad and two scoops of white rice.
EAT You Hungry
1695-D Kapiolani Blvd., 808/949-8707
Visitors are unlikely to hear much pidgin spoken in the islands-it's more of a private language for locals-but the Hawaiian restaurant You Hungry provides a taste. Instead of regular and large, the menu distinguishes between "sorta hungry" and "hungry" portions; a toothpick jar is labeled like pick teet?
SPLURGE Hau Tree Lanai
Inside the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, 2863 Kalakaua Ave., 808/921-7066
Outdoor seating on the Gold Coast of Waikiki (at the Diamond Head end of Kapiolani Park). The Pacific Rim specialties like garlic seared ahi or mango-marinated pork chops are particularly good. Reservations are a must; request one of the romantic oceanfront tables.
THE VERY BEST MAI TAI
The quintessential Hawaiian cocktail, the mai tai (Tahitian for "the very best") was actually created in California at the tiki-themed chain restaurant Trader Vic's in 1944. The recipe didn't make its way to the islands until the '50s. Though the fruity rum concoction has gradually devolved into a cough-syrupy mess, a handful of hotel bartenders still know how to mix up the real deal. House Without a Key is the hands-down favorite. Its version has a slight hint of almond, and is served over crushed ice with fresh mint, purple orchid, lime, and a sugar cane stirrer (Halekulani hotel, 2199 Kalia Rd, 808/923-2311). Four runners-up: Hau Tree Lanai (Kaimana Beach Hotel, 2863 Kalakaua Ave., 808/921-7066), Mai Tai Bar (Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 2259 Kalakaua Ave., 808/923-7311), The Banyan Veranda (Sheridan Moana Surfrider, 2365 Kalakaua Ave., 808/922-3111), and Barefoot Bar (Hale Koa Hotel, 2055 Kalia Rd., 808/955-0555).