L & L Drive-Inn (www.hawaiianbarbecue.com) is a plate-lunch bonanza, with 45 locations in Hawaii -- 36 on Oahu alone. Meanwhile, Zippy's Restaurants, the maestros of quick meals, offer a surprisingly good selection of fresh seafood, saimin, chili, and local fare, plus the wholesome new low-fat, vegetarian "Shintani Cuisine" (based on the dietary principles of Hawaiian doctor Terry Shintani). Every restaurant (21 of them on Oahu, at last count) offers a daily Shintani special, and some locations (Kahala, Vineyard, Pearlridge, Kapolei, Waipio) sell cold Shintani items in 2-pound portions to take home and heat up. Call tel. 808/973-0880 or visit www.zippys.com to find the location nearest you.
It's hard to spend more than $9 on the French and Vietnamese specials (pho, croissants as good as the espresso, and wonderful taro/tapioca desserts) at the Ba-Le Sandwich Shops (www.latourbakehouse.com). Among Ba-Le's 20 locations are those at Ala Moana Center (tel. 808/944-4752) and 333 Ward Ave. (tel. 808/591-0935).
Tasty Tours for the Hungry Traveler
See Honolulu -- one restaurant at a time. Former Honolulu newspaper food critic and chef Matthew Gray has put together "Hawaii Food Tours" to show you a side of Hawaii that you might not discover on your own. He offers three different types of tours, all with transportation from your Waikiki hotel in an air-conditioned van and all with running commentary on Hawaii's history, culture, and architecture. Our favorite was the "Hole-in-the-Wall Tour," a lunch tour from 9:15am to 2:30pm for $99 per person, where you visit at least four different ethnic restaurants (Vietnamese, Indian, local food, and dessert). Matthew has already preordered the best dishes from their menus. For information and booking, call tel. 808/926-FOOD (926-3663), or go to www.hawaiifoodtours.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.