Food & Drink

Drink and Dine on a Dime: The Best BYOB Restaurants in Honolulu

Published On 03/22/2016 Published On 03/22/2016

Finding a great BYOB restaurant always feel like a little victory since you're practically discovering an all-night happy hour: there’s nothing like throwing back your favorite adult beverages at a restaurant without the markups and dumb importing fees. Leave the math problems to your tax guy, and instead, hit up the grocery store before brown-bagging it to these killer restaurants. 

Kan Zaman Hawaii

Kan Zaman

Downtown

Add some barley and hops to your lunch, or wind down your day with a bottle of your favorite wine, paired with authentic Moroccan and Lebanese food in the heart of downtown. We’d recommend the lamb kebab, chicken shawarma. or Mediterranean mussels -- and opt to be seated on their palm-dotted outdoor patio. Pro tip: stop by on Wednesdays, when your meal and drink comes with a side of belly dancing. 

Ethiopian Love

Downtown

Ethiopian food is a great fit for both vegetarians and carnivores, so gather up a wide array of your friends (and their favorite beers) and get ready to sit around the table for a fun, utensil-free meal. Scoop up these well-spiced, flavorful, savory dishes with spongy injera in either the indoor dining area or beautiful outdoor garden. 

Mitch's Sushi Bar

Mitch's Fish Market and Sushi Bar

Mapunapuna

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a tiny sushi restaurant near the airport might not be the best place for expertly sliced raw fish, but that’s because you haven’t been to Mitch’s. Because of its prime real estate, it gets imported fish from the plane to your plate quicker than anyone else. Bring your own saké or Japanese beer from home, and stuff your gullet with sashimi so buttery-soft, it’ll make you weep. BYO tissues, too.

Sikdorak

Ala Moana

24 hours of all-you-can-eat meat. That’s really all you need to know, but we’ll go on, because it’s fun: layer your belly with all the Korean barbecue this meat joint has to offer, including rib eye, beef tongue, spicy pork, brisket, pork belly, chicken, and kalbi. It’s kind of like an activity kit: you get a cook-it-yourself grill and a 90-minute time limit to stuff yourself, while supplementing the meaty offerings with whatever your 21+ ID lets you buy from Walmart across the street. 

FLICKR/takaokun

Olive Tree Café

Kahala

Get one of your friends to snag a table while you hit up the Greek deli next door for some cuisine-appropriate wine. After you start in on a platter of hummus, baba ghanoush, and crispy falafel, and crack open a fruity Savvatiano, it’s easy to pretend that you’re vacationing in Athens.

Kickin' Kajun

Waikiki

When the night calls for more shellfish than you can shuck, this hot spot for Louisiana crawfish is going to call your name. Grab a six-pack of something refreshing to cool your palate. This isn’t a place to put on airs: tie on a plastic bib and dig your hands into bucket upon bucket of crab, clams, lobster, and crawfish -- and don’t be afraid to get your face (and your beer bottle) a little messy. It tastes better that way. 

Flickr/Kyle Nishioka

Dew Drop Inn

Makiki

Hidden along the busy streets of Beretania and Pensacola, this thimble-sized Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant is worth finding. Hit up the Safeway nearby to stock up on beer, then drop by this family-run eatery for its handmade pork buns, noodle soups, and mushroom chicken with garlic sauce. Um, but don’t forget the house fried rice, and spicy eggplant, and hot & sour soup... OK, just try everything.

ah-lang

Kaka'ako

Like the Soup Nazi who withheld his delicious offerings from Seinfeld and gang, ah-lang is known as the Angry Korean Lady -- a title she’s proud of. While she is a little angry, this one-woman show seriously delivers, with tasty kimchi pancakes, bulgogi, and tofu soup. If she’s known for her ire, it might be because, well, she’s the cook, server, busboy, and brains behind the operation. Fortunately, the Angry Korean Lady courteously lists a set of rules about how to not piss her off any further. One tip: share some of your BYO -- and don’t bring her Yellow Tail. You’ve been warned.

Flickr/Eugene Kim

Jawaiian Irie Jerk Restaurant

Kaimukī

Sample another island’s eats -- try Jawaiian Irie’s Jamaican jerk chicken, vegetarian rasta pasta, and goat curry. You can relax in this open-air restaurant under a grass hut-like awning, sampling the savory flavors of the Caribbean and your favorite cheap beers, nabbed from Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors just a few blocks away.

Sweet Home Café

Moiliili

Choosing Taiwanese hot pot for dinner is a win all on its own: choose your soup base, then toss in plates of beef, pork, seafood, vegetables, sausages, tofu, or dumplings, and gather your choice of homemade sauces and garnishes. Pair it up with a BYO bottle (if you go for super-spicy, a riesling might be a fit?), and be sure to pack up your leftovers. You’ll want to leave room for the complimentary Taiwanese dessert, a huge, refreshing bowl of shave ice topped with custard, almond tofu, and coffee jelly.

Serg's Mexican Kitchen

Serg's Mexican Kitchen

Mānoa

If you’ve ever driven past this open-air walk-up eatery on a Taco Tuesday, you probably already know this Mexican joint is BYOB, judging by the overall rowdiness of the crowd. But don’t let that deter you: Mexico City-style tacos, fish burritos, and pork carnitas are waiting just inside.

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Summer Nakaishi is a freelance writer for Thrillist and usually brings whatever is on sale. Follow her on Twitter: @summercolada

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Mitch's Fish Market & Sushi Bar 524 Ohohia St, Honolulu, HI 96819

Typically, the only restaurants people eat at near an airport are the ones inside the airport. But we're about to throw you a curveball here with Mitch's. This tiny sushi restaurant is known for their expertly sliced raw fish, AND because of its prime real estate, the journey from the fish from the plane to your plate is quicker than anywhere else. Bring your own saké or Japanese beer from home, and stuff your gullet with buttery-soft sashimi.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Sikdorak 655 Keeaumoku St #108, Honolulu, HI 96814

24 hours of all-you-can-eat meat. That’s really all you need to know, but we’ll go on: layer your belly with all the Korean barbecue this meat joint has to offer, including rib eye, beef tongue, spicy pork, brisket, pork belly, chicken, and kalbi. You have a 90-minute time limit to stuff yourself, but don't forget to supplement the meaty offerings with whatever your 21+ ID lets you buy from Walmart across the street.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Kan Zaman 1028 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96817

Authentic Moroccan and Lebanese food in the heart of downtown, what more could you want? We’d recommend the lamb kebab, chicken shawarma. or Mediterranean mussels- paired with your favorite bottle of wine, of course. Pro tip: stop by on Wednesdays, when your meal and drink comes with a side of belly dancing.

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4. Ethiopian Love Restaurant 1112 Smith St, Honolulu, HI 96817

Chances are, you don't often think of Ethiopian food when picking a cuisine for dinner- but that's about to change. This a great spot for groups, where you can eat spiced stews and veggies with injera bread- no utensils required. Scoop up these well-spiced, flavorful, savory dishes, and take your friends. Don't forget to bring some beers, and enjoy in their beautiful outdoor garden.

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5. Olive Tree Cafe 4614 Kilauea Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

After you start in on a platter of hummus, baba ghanoush, and crispy falafel, it’s easy to pretend that you’re vacationing in Athens. Snagging a table at this popular spot can be tough, but totally worth the wait. Plus, it gives you time to hit up the Greek deli next door for some cuisine-appropriate wine.

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6. Kickin Kajun 1518 Makaloa St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Get your shellfish game on, because this hot spot for Louisiana crawfish is going to call your name. Grab a six-pack of something refreshing to cool your palate, a plastic bib, and dig your hands into bucket upon bucket of crab, clams, lobster, and crawfish -- and don’t be afraid to get your face (and your beer bottle) a little messy.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Dew Drop Inn 1088 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96814

This hidden treasure along the busy streets of Beretania and Pensacola is a thimble-sized Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant worth finding. This family-run eatery has all the classics like pork buns, noodle soups, and mushroom chicken with garlic sauce, and then some. Before going, hit up the Safeway nearby to stock up on beer. Happy hunting!

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Ah Lang 725 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813

Like the Soup Nazi who withheld his delicious offerings from Seinfeld and the gang, ah-lang is known as the Angry Korean Lady -- a title she’s proud of. While she seems a little angry, it's only her was of showing she is passionate about her food. This one-woman show seriously delivers, with tasty kimchi pancakes, bulgogi, and tofu soup. Fortunately, the Angry Korean Lady courteously lists a set of rules about how to stay on her good side. One tip: share some of your BYO -- and don’t bring her Yellow Tail.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Jawaiian Irie Jerk Restaurant 1137 11th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

In the mood for some island eats? This Caribbean restaurant will blow you away with their jerk chicken, vegetarian rasta pasta, and goat curry. Before going, stop by Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors just a few blocks away before, and chill out and relax in this open-air restaurant under a grass hut-like awning. Feel that vacay mode and let your taste buds run wild while indulging in their savory dishes.

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10. Sweet Home Cafe 2334 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826

This relaxed Thai restaurant is all around great. If you're Taiwanese food newbie, the hot pot for dinner is a win all on its own. You customize it to your taste buds by choosing your soup base, then tossing in plates of beef, pork, seafood, vegetables, sausages, tofu, or dumplings. Pair it up with a BYO bottle, be sure to save room for something sweet. The meal is complete with a complimentary Taiwanese dessert: a huge, refreshing bowl of shave ice topped with custard, almond tofu, and coffee jelly.

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11. Serg's Mexican Kitchen 2740 East Manoa Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822

Known as the "Home of the famous Flautas," Serg's Mexican Kitchen offers some of the best authentic Mexican around. Not only that, but they bring a whole new meaning to everyone's favorite day of the week: Taco Tuesday. The crows gets rowdy in this open air eatery, so it's wonder it's a BYOB fiesta!

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