Prices: $13 to $24
Bon giorno, Waikiki. This year-old wine bar is a budget surprise amid the pricey restaurants here. Hidden on the second floor of an old motel, Pane y Vino transports diners to Italy with Roman cuisine and more than 25 wines that can be purchased by the glass. Chef Fabrezio Favala describes the food as "a cross between the north and the south of Italy -- not too much cream, not too much tomato." Try the caprese ($9), grilled chicken with pesto sauce on a spring salad ($15) or eggplant parmesan ($16).
We loved. . . the servers and the inventive décor.
We didn't love. . . the difficulty we had finding the entrance.
Pane y Vino, 408 Lewers St., Waikiki; (808) 923-8466.
Halekulani's House Without a Key
Price: $9.50 to $19.50
Locals recommend sitting down at a table here exactly at sunset, but even if you miss that precise window, be sure to get here between 6 and 8 p.m. The attraction, besides a spectacular setting overlooking the Pacific, is elegant Kanoe Miller, a former Miss Hawaii who dances a graceful hula every night except Sunday in front of the setting sun. The venue is an indoor-outdoor restaurant and lounge at the Halekulani Resort, one of Waikiki's premier hotels. Have a seat and order a glass of wine ($7.50) and appetizers, or perhaps a Caesar salad ($10), spaghetti ($12) or dessert ($7.50), and watch Miller wow the audience. She's accompanied by various groups playing traditional Hawaiian music.
We loved . . . everything -- the setting, the dancing, the music.
House Without a Key at the Halekulani, 2199 Kalia Road; (808) 923-2311, www.halekulani.com.
Duke's Canoe Club
Prices: $6.95 to $14.95
This Waikiki landmark is too pricey to make our list for dinner, but try it at lunch (buffet $12.95) or for late-night meals. Inside, the motif is South Seas casual; on the Lanai patio, the view is 100% only-in-Hawaii: glowing tiki torches, waves curling slowly along the beach, the Waikiki skyline. Order a mai tai ($6.75) and a Beachside burger ($7.50), soak up the tropical ambience and pity your co-workers trapped at home in an office cubicle.
We loved . . . the vibe and the live music.
We didn't love. . . the line at breakfast.
Duke's, at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, 2335 Kalakaua Ave., No. 16, Waikiki; (808) 922-2268.
Fatty's Chinese Kitchen
Price: Most dishes $6.50
This tiny takeout or eat-in Chinese cookery is behind the International Marketplace, an easy-to-reach location for the Waikiki tourist set. Tourists often miss it, but locals don't. They line up for the Cantonese stir-fry that's cooked as they watch. The restaurant, which has been in the same location below the Miramar Hotel for 27 years, has nine plastic chairs outside and 11 stools at its well-worn counter inside. Among the popular dishes are chicken and mushroom stir fry, beef curry over rice and a sea bass plate.