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Kelvin Ro's one-stop spot is a plate-lunch place, a gourmet market, and deli, bakery, and espresso bar, too—and it's a five-minute hop from Waikiki hotels. A take-out window offers grilled sandwiches or plates ranging from teriyaki beef to portobello mushrooms. The market's deli case is stocked with a range of heat-and-eat entrées from risotto cakes to lamb stew; specials change daily. There are packaged Japanese bento lunchboxes, giant scones, enticing desserts, and even a small wine selection. www.diamondheadmarket.com. Reservations not accepted. Credit cards accepted.
Known for uncommon variations on common breakfast themes (pancakes, eggs Benedict, French toast, home fries, and eggs), this neighborhood favorite is tucked into a hard-to-find Kailua office park; call for directions. Lunch features local-style plate lunchs which are good, but the main attraction is breakfast. Don't miss the guava chiffon and red velvet pancakes. www.cinnamonsrestaurant.com. Credit cards accepted.
A tasteful lunch spot in the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House, this cafe offers light and healthful food. The short but well-selected menu features housemade soups, crostini of the day, innovative sandwiches garnished with fruit, and a hummus plate with fresh pita. In the exclusive Makiki Heights neighborhood above the city, the restaurant spills out of the ground floor of the museum onto the lawn. The cafe also offers a "Lauhala and Lunch" picnic lunch for two, priced at $30, which includes a choice of sandwich or salad for each person, dessert bars, and beverage packed in a picnic basket. Credit cards accepted. No dinner. Closed Mon.
Long beloved for its Thai classics based on family recipes, such as spicy curries and stir-fries and sticky rice in woven grass baskets, Chiang Mai is just a short cab ride from Waikiki. Some dishes, like the signature Cornish game hen in lemongrass and spices, show how acculturation can create interesting pairings. The cozy space is decorated with Thai fabrics and artwork. 808chiangmai.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch weekends.
George Mavrothalassitis, who took two hotel restaurants to the top of the ranks before founding this James Beard Award-winning restaurant, admits he's crazy. Crazy because of the care he takes to draw out the truest and most concentrated flavors, to track down the freshest fish, to create one-of-a-kind wine pairings that might strike others as mad. But for this passionate Provençal transplant, there's no other way. The menu changes quarterly, every dish (including dessert) matched with a select wine. Several options (three to six courses, including a vegetarian option) are offered at various price levels, with a supplement for wine pairings at each level. Etched-glass windows screen the busy street-corner scene and all within is mellow and serene with starched white tablecloths, fresh flowers, wood floors, and contemporary Island art. www.chefmavro.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Enjoy the sunset views over the yacht harbor as you take in live local music nightly while sipping one of the signature "Guy-Tai" cocktails. Such offerings as ahi wontons, loco moco, and garlic chicken are perennial appetizer favorites with locals and tourists alike. For dinner, make sure you try specialties: prime rib, garlic steak, or bone-in New York steak from Kahua Ranch on the Big Island. But fish is also a high point here, and while specials change regularly, they are always made with the freshest fish available from the market. www.charthousehonolulu.com. No lunch.
Chai Chaowasaree's stylish, light-bathed, and orchid-draped lunch and dinner restaurant expresses the sophisticated side of this Thai-born immigrant. He plays East against West on the plate in signature dishes such as kataifi (baked and shredded phyllo), macadamia-crusted prawns, ahi katsu (tuna steaks dredged with crisp Japanese bread crumbs and quickly deep-fried), crispy duck confetti spring rolls, and Japanese eggplant zucchini soufflé. Some of Hawaii's best-known contemporary Hawaiian musicians play brief dinner shows here every night. www.chaisislandbistro.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Ten minutes from Waikiki, this is the Island version of a Viennese café. Light meals range from grilled sausage with sauerkraut to soups and salads. Try the classic apple tart, linzer torte, Black Forest cake, or chocolate macadamia-nut pastries. The café is open until 10 pm Friday and Saturday for a sweet nightcap. cafelaufer.com. Reservations not accepted. Credit cards accepted.
Virtually unchanged since it opened in 1967, this cozy maze of rooms opposite Kailua Beach Park is filled with the enticing aroma of grilling steaks. It doesn't matter if you're a bit sandy (but bare feet are not allowed). Stop at the salad bar, order up a steak, a burger, teri chicken, or the fresh fish special. If you sit at the bar, expect to make friends. And remember that this place is cash only. Be warned: their mai tai is the strongest you'll find anywhere. www.buzzssteakhouse.com. Reservations essential.
If you're wondering what aloha spirit is all about, check out this family-owned, local-style restaurant in the industrial backwaters of Kailua where brothers Ricky and Jesse Kiakona treat their guests like family. At breakfast, the signature dish is macadamia-nut pancakes; at lunch, pulehu (grilled) ribs. Then again, the pulehu ribs are pretty popular at breakfast, too. Portions are generous. There is a line outside almost any time of day, so budget some time for the wait. Reservations not accepted. No dinner.
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