Cheap Drinks & Food In Hawaii’s Paradise
Being happy in Honolulu is not difficult, especially as beach time ends and sunset time approaches.
For many, that’s when the urge emerges to have some cocktails, and Waikiki and Honolulu have that covered like an umbrella in a Mai Tai.
The choices are as varied as the drinks they serve – places with incredible views, live cultural music and atmospheres that range from fired-up tourists to laid-back locals. In most cases, these Happy Hours run seven days a week – that’s right, they are in effect even on weekends.
Some sensational bargains are out there– beers for as low as $1.50, cocktails for $3 and one place that serves free pizza. Eating and drinking in Waikiki does not have to be expensive.
There’s little question the liveliest off-the-beach bar is Duke’s Canoe Club. It’s location in the center of Waikiki’s active beach pretty much ensures the presence of every party-minded tourist at some point. It’s busy, loud and lively. And while $5.75 for a Hawaiian-brewed Kona beer is certainly not excessive, Duke’s has no specific Happy Hour. And this article only explores those places that offer food and drink specials.
Bars & Restaurant/Bar Happy Hours
But before getting there, it’s important to highlight another popular spot as sunset approaches, and that is the Shorebird at the Outrigger Reef hotel. It’s location right on the shore with open windows is as soothing as the music from the musicians playing Hawaiian music.
One of the most sought-after foods in Honolulu is sushi, and this highly-acclaimed Doraku restaurant in the main area of the Royal Hawaiian Center is the place to start such an experience. The food, service and ambiance is outstanding. Because of this, plus the incredible prices for such high quality meal, Doraku is highly popular among airline crews on layover, and locals love it, as well.
By the way, every restaurant in Royal Hawaiian Center is required to have a Happy Hour.
Hour Specifics: Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.
Specials: $3 wells, $4 Kirin draft, $5 large Kirin Ichiban, large sake bottle, house chardonnay and merlot. Appetizers range in price from $2.50-5 (California roll, $3; chicken kara’age, $4; ahi poke, $5).
• SANSEI SUSHI
Another sushi place is Sansei in the Marriott. It goes away from the traditional daily 5-7ish Happy Hour specials, opting instead to go with food and drink deals at different days and times.
Hour Specifics: Sunday-Monday, 5:15-6:15 p.m. Late-night Fridays and Saturday, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
Specials: Sunday-Monday: 50% off the menu. Fridays and Saturdays, 50% off food with $3 Crown Royal, Jagermeister and Bud Lites, $4 Heineken, plus $5 Belvedere (Fridays), $5 Grey Goose and Jack Daniels drinks, (Saturdays).
• CHA CHA CHA
A Mexican restaurant/bar in the heart of Waikiki Beach may seem a bit odd, but locals and regular visitors know Cha Cha Cha as a great bargain place for food and drink. This is especially true for Taco Tuesdays, which are so popular the small, simple joint must bring in a doorman. The fish tacos are grilled and served on flower tortillas but the real menu winner is the pork quesadilla. The margis are good, best when one of the male bartenders makes ’em, and best when the shaggy-haired blonde with the dark moustache is pouring.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-6 p.m., and 9-close.
Specials: $3 margaritas, $12 pitchers. Taco Tuesdays feature $2 tacos (starts at 10 p.m.).
• TOP OF WAIKIKI
While Rumfire gets PubClub.com’s vote as Waikiki’s Best Happy Hour, the top Happy Hour is at the Top of Waikiki. That’s because rather than being on the beach, it’s above it – 20 floors to be exact. The Top of Waikiki on Kalakaua Ave., is a bit of an old-school place but it’s beautiful and fills up with all ages of Happy Hour seekers. Adding to the ambiance, the bar revolves, revealing views of Waikiki from the mountains to the sea. The food is sensational and some of the appetizers can be quite filling.
Happy Hour Specifics: Daily, 5-7 p.m.
Specials: $2.50 draft (Kona), $4 mixed drinks, martinis and house wines. $7 premium martinis. $7 appetizer menu plus the daily “sunset special,” full meals in the $20 range, daily, 5-6 p.m.
• LULU’S WAIKIKI
Hawaiian comfortable and casual cannot be better defined than at this friendly open-air bar. With a mix of locals and travelers (many budget-minded), Lulu’s is the place to, as they like to say here, hang loose. It can also heat up with activity like Honolulu’s humidity. After Happy Hour, there are nightly drink specials starting at 10. Lulu’s is located on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki Beach, across Kalakaua Ave., with a full view of the beach out of its large windows, which welcome in the tropical breeze. And the patrons.
Happy Hour Specifics: Daily, 3-6 p.m.
Specials: $3 wells, $5 Mai Tais, $2 Steinlagers and $3 wells, Tuesday-Sunday 10 p.m.-close Additional daily select beer specials after 10 p.m. Mondays are Service Industry Nights; 50% off tab with industry i.d. Every full moon there are $2 Blue Moon pints and $3 wells.
• PUSSYCAT LOUNGE (FRIDAYS AT APARTMENT 3)
A “casual upscale” environment mixes in with DJs and a later Happy Hour that lasts all night. Local promoters FM take over Apartment 3 on Friday nights and call it Pussycat Lounge. 1750 Kalakaua Avenue. 3rd floor Century Center.
Happy Hour Specifics: Tuesday and Fridays, 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
Specials: 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesdays: $4 draft beer. $5 apartment3 speciality drinks, martinis, premium cocktails, pupu menu (including the popular pizza. Fridays: $3 drafts. (Stella, Bass, Guinness, Kona Longboard, Blue Moon, Rogue’s Dead Man Ale, Boddington’s & Newcastle.
• CHART HOUSE/HARBOR PUB
The most extensive Happy Hour menu is at the Chart House, the distinctive restaurant with locations throughout the USA. Its Honolulu spot is at the “Gilligan’s Island” harbor on the ewa end of Waikiki Beach (past the rainbow-tiled hotel which is the Hilton Hawaiian Village). It features modestly-priced beers, $4 cocktails and a full range of appetizers (Caesar salad for $6.50 to $2 off all steaks), plus additional daily specials on food and beverages. And it happens twice.
The Chart House is right above one of Honolulu’s long-standing dive bars, the Harbor Pub, which has its own Happy Hour featuring beers for a buck-fifty. While there’s no food specials, the Harbor Pub is known for its outstanding pizza, best on the island many locals claim, which range in price from $12-20. Starting at the Harbor Pub and then going to the Chart House for more drinks and dinner is Waikiki’s double header.
Happy Hour Specifics: Daily, open to 7 p.m., and again at 10 p.m. Harbor Pub: 4-7 p.m.
Specials: $3.50-5:25 beers, $4 wells, $4 margaritas and other drinks specials. Appetizer specials and nightly discounted dinners and drinks. At Harbor Pub, $1.50 domestic beers, $8 large pitchers of Budweiser and $3 mixed drinks.