I've written about the popular Side Street Inn, Rainbow's, and Likelike Drive In frequented by locals, and Big City Diner and Da'Kitchen that attracts many tourists. Here's a couple of smaller joints for those craving local eats:
A friend took me here after arriving HNL airport en route to Waikiki. A simple and tiny place, but nice welcome back to the islands. Prices are cheap and the food local style. On some slow days, the owners will throw in complementary side of their popular Takaki sashimi keeping loyal customers coming back time and again.
232 Kalihi St, Honolulu 808.847.6467
Another local joint to stop to/from HNL airport from the Waikiki area, Helena's is a slighter bigger joint than Ethels and has gotten good media press on the Food Network. From poi to laulau to short ribs, Helena's has won the favor of locals for over 60 years and remains a modest family owned business. Lines often run out the door.
1240 North School Street, Honolulu
A couple blocks from Ala Moana shopping mall, this new joint offers a variety of plate lunch items--Korean kalbi, Chinese chicken salad and Japanese bento choices alongside the usual loco moco, poke and butterfish...served with 2 scoops of brown rice and green salad/mac salad.
919 Keeaumoku St, Honolulu 808.942.2323
The somewhat-hip interior is not what you's expect looking from the outside as you drive along Kapahulu Avenue. It's a fun place to meet with groups for appetizers and drinks. The menu harkens to local style recipes while trying for a modern take on the old familiar. They don't nail each dish, but it's still a fun place to convene with friends.
559 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu 808.735.8311
There's also L&L and Zippys for those who prefer conveniently located chains.