Thanks to all who posted so many recs for non Waikiki places to eat. Our 4 days on Oahu were a perfect break, and the good food didn't hurt. :-) For those in search of more backup to the stellar recs we got, read on.
We stayed in Kailua (which we were so pleased with) and ate at the following:
BOOTS & KIMOS - yes, the mac pancakes were great, as was their special omlette (the one they put their name on) and the portuguese sausage.
CINNAMONS - Get the mahi mahi/spinach/tomato combo eggs benedict. Seriously good! Friendly service and we didn't wait at all -on a Sunday, no less.
AGNES' - Got the hot Malasadas and YES, they were good, though I couldn't eat them every day!
PINKY'S - We ate there one night and just had drinks in the bar the next. Good fish sandwich and really good poke (their basic house one). Also - VERY good Mai Tai from the woman bartender - the guy the next night was good, but not as perfect as the first one.
KALAPAWAI MARKET - Just a block from the beach and across the street from our condo, this was such a cute place. Nice selection of wine (we took our own to dinner one night) and good coffee in the morning that we carried to the beach. Sandwiches looked nice.
PAH KE - One town up, on Kam highway. Looks like strip mall chinese but it was surprisingly good - we took our own wine and saw lots of other people with bottles and beer as well. The pepper beef was quite good, the orange chicken off their special menu was amazing - not at all gooey or cornstartchy and really fresh tasting.
We spent our time driving aimlessly and stopping whereever looked pretty (so pretty much all the time). Along the way, we enjoyed:
MATSUMOTO SHAVE ICE - good grief, that's a long line for shave ice, but it was good. Guava & Lillikoi were the flavors to beat in our opinion.
SHRIMP TRUCKS - We tried the famous GIOVANNIS and the other famous one, ROMYS. While Giovannis was good, it was about the sauce - that heavenly garlic sauce (we tried the super hot and while it was hot it wasn't miserable either). Romys, on the other hand, was about the shrimp - possibly the best shrimp I've ever eaten. We tried both the hot and spicy and the scampi and both were great - actually had "breakfast" there our last day. We took beer with us to both places, on a Chowhound rec - much to the envy of the shrimp eaters around us. Also - Giovannis - service? eh. They kind of threw the shrimp at us. @ Romys they were very nice and chatty.If all you want is garlic sauce, I have to say that Giovannis was great (and the rice covered in the sauce is something else) For really excellent SHRIMP, though, go to Romys.
KAHUKU SUPERETTE - Just before the shrimp trucks -- DO stop and get the poke. It was fresh and very good, and a nice app before the shrimp. Also a good place to buy your beer to drink with aforementioned shrimp. :-)
ROYS - We've eaten at at Roys in Orange County and wanted to try the original - where we were duly impressed. Ate in the bar and had the Canoe Sampler - which blew us away because the things that seemed like "throwaway" items were the best. The seared ahi was fantastic, as was the rib, the shrimp - all of it. Also had an absolutely mouth watering to die for butterfish app that made me want to eat it until I was sick. Truly great service as well and an all around pleasant experience.
ALAN WONGS PINEAPPLE ROOM - How fun! Like old school fancy department store lunches. Great food, too. Hubby had "upscale" plate lunch in the form of Kahlua pork & poi and the loco moco. I had an amazing chilled tomato soup and a Kahlua Pork "BLT" that rates as one of the best sanwiches ever. We had the famous spoons of creme brulee for dessert, which is certainly fun but we thought was about 50/50 on winner/loser flavors.
POKE STOP - Great place to eat lunch if you're headed to Plantation Village (which is dinky in an appealing way and we really enjoyed). WOW. I made myself sick on poke. Can't decide which was best, looking back, but it might have been the hamachi (yellowtail) just for pure fish quality. Hubby had a very yummy and perfect Shrimp Po'Boy - I just ate four little tubs of Poke until I was stuffed. In the same shopping center as a Longs, good source for cheap Mac Nut candy, flavored coffee and red salt.
NICOS PIER 38 - Our first lunch of the trip, after visiting Pearl Harbor. Hubby had plate lunch and even the die hard BBQ eaters we are - neither of us are sure we have EVER had such good pork (it was, of course, kahula pork). I had a salad with seared ahi that I loved, but I wanted to try all the fresh fish.
Also, I have to put in a plug for the grocery store for two items: Hawaiian Sun drinks, in a can. We tried all the "fun" flavors - guava strawberry, lillikoi, etc and we were addicted to them. Also - pineapple. The pineapple from the supermarket was better than what we got at Dole, and better than what we got at the little roadside stands. We sniffed them all and enjoyed. Daily!