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The food and beer at Gordon Biersch is the same everywhere. The real draw at the Honolulu Gordon Biersch is the fantastic dockside location at Aloha Tower.
We had dinner here one evening, and were seated along the water next to a big Japanese boat. I started with the restaurant's standard Marzen, their auburn-colored Bavarian lager ($5), and later I had their seasonal Festbier, named for Oktoberfest. For my dinner I had their basic kobe-style cheeseburger with fries ($14).
The beer is tasty as always, but you can't beat the location.
Updated Oct 7, 2012
Address: 1 Aloha Tower Drive, Honolulu, HI 96813
I had never been to a California Pizza Kitchen before stopping in at the Waikiki location in Honolulu. This second-floor store is on Kalakaua, in the heart of Waikiki's commercial district and just a half block from the beach.
We started with tortilla spring rolls, which are flour tortillas sprinkled with herbs, stuffed with chicken and veggies and baked in the pizza oven. We chose the Baja chicken and Thai chicken for $9. The Baja chicken was filled with Monterey jack and cheddar, corn, black beans, poblanos, red onions and cilantro, then topped with Parmesan and served with housemade guacamole. The Thai chicken had chicken, bean sprouts, green onions, carrots, cilantro and mozzarella, and was served with a peanut sauce.
For dinner we decided to try something different, and we ordered the Jamaican jerk chicken pizza. This was topped with spicy sweet Caribbean sauce, Jamaican spices, bacon, onions and bell peppers ($13.90).
The food was good, but I was disappointed to discover that they do not sell local beers here in the heart of Waikiki.
Updated Oct 7, 2012
Address: 2284 Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815
Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar is an absurdly expensive restaurant at a ridiculously overpriced hotel on a touristy Honolulu beach. I visited here in 2002 and was amazed to see a $20+ hamburger. I was even more amazed to return in 2012, after a long recession, and find the same $20+ hamburger! Sure this is a nice beachfront hotel in the heart of Waikiki's tourist zone, where rich Japanese tourist frolic in the sand, but it's still just a hamburger!
If you thought $20 for a burger was bad, don't even think of ordering a hamburger from room service. They up the price to $22, charge $4 service fee, and add on 17% gratuity. Your $20 burger now costs $26.50. Enjoy!
Want to feel even worse? Try their granola with milk and berries for $20 (plus $4 plus 17%). At least a liter of water costs only $10. $10 for water!?!? Don't forget to add $4 plus 17%.
The Royal Hawaiian was built in 1927 and is known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific. For some reason that sounds dirty to me.
Updated Oct 6, 2012
Address: 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
I have been to Bautista's Filipino Kitchen twice, in 2002 and again in 2012. On my most recent visit, I ordered the chicken kabob, beef kabob, and shrimp kabob combo for $12.50. I had to ask for rice, though I could have sworn the menu said it came with rice. The meat was tasty, but the shrimp was nasty and old. The shells just disintegrated in my hands when I tried to remove them, making a big mess. I guess local Filipinos just eat the shells. I'm clearly not Filipino.
Bautista's is located in Waikiki's International Market Place, an area filled with cheap souvenir stands and low-budget fast food restaurants, as well as a stage that features a variety of entertainment for an hour or two each day.
Bautista's opened its first location in 1986 in the Pearl Ridge Shopping Center. Soon after, the Bautista family opened additional locations in the Waikiki International Market Place and in Pearl City. These three restaurants still do business under family ownership almost 30 years later.
Updated Oct 6, 2012
Address: 2330 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 923-7220
Schooners Restaurant sits at a great spot, right next to the USS Arizona visitors center, a short stroll from Aloha Stadium, and near the bridge to Ford Island. We ate here twice during a recent visit to Honolulu, mainly because it was close and convenient.
On our first visit, I had a Longboard Lager to go along with my braised beef rice bowl, a hearty helping of boneless short ribs with sauteed mushrooms and onions & Hoisin sauce for Q$10.75. I thought it would be similar to Korean short ribs, but it was more like stringy roast beef, but still pretty good and a lot of food for the money.
On our second visit, I had the brisket sub with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, mushroom, onion and au jus sauce 10.25. Oddly enough, this tasted exactly like the beef short ribs bowl, nothing like brisket. Really nothing spectacular, but reasonably priced for Honolulu.
The service here is slow, sometimes painfully slow, but the food is good, the quantities large, and prices pretty good. Worth stopping in if your are in the neighborhood. Great views over the harbor and a small marina. The worst thing is their habit of calling mom's roast beef anything from short ribs to brisket.
Updated Oct 6, 2012
Address: 57 Arizona Memorial Drive, Bldg 604, Pearl Harbor
We stopped at Sam Choy's Seafood Grill one weekday afternoon for a quick lunch. We were seated at a table on the large outdoor deck overlooking the beach. I had a BLT&C (bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese) with fries and a diet coke for a total of $12.50. The fries were thin cut, crispy and fresh and the sandwich simple but tasty. The service was very good, and we were in and out in 30 minutes. They also have a lunchtime buffet.
Sam Choy is a local Hawaiian chef who honed his skills on the island before opening his first restaurant, the Huki Lau Cafe, which has since changed owners. He still owns Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch, and Crab in Iwilei, Sam Choy's in Guam, Sam Choy's Kai Lana, and Sam Choy's Seafood Grill at Pearl Harbor.
Written Oct 6, 2012
I ate at da Big Kahuna'a twice on my most recent trip to Hawaii. One evening we grabbed a couple of da kine pizzas including da sumo special and da kanaka for $20 each. Da sumo comes with peperoni, ham, italian sausage, bacon, Portuguese sausage, kalua pork, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives (it broke da mouth). Da kanaka pizza has shredded kalua pork, sweet and tangy barbeque sauce, and green onions.
We stopped in just two days later for lunch, and decided we had to try da killer kalua pork. Served on a gigantic "fluffy homemade jumbo buns" a large sandwich is really enough for two buggas, and it costs just $8.35. We also had about three dozen of da garlic cheese balls, dinner rolls baked in butter and garlic and topped with a five cheese mixture.
Don't expect da Big Kahuna to deliver your pizza. Their menu says, "our hole in da wall place no can handle deliveries. hard enough fo feed everybody at da door. so fo all da braddahs & sistahs who stay wai'anae, wahiawa & waimanalo sides, sorry for da road trip, but da buggas are ono!"
They are open 10 am to 9pm, "or until we have no more da kine."
Written Oct 4, 2012
Address: 550 Paiea Street Honolulu, HI 96819
Phone: (808) 833-5588
Nico's is a relatively new seafood restaurant located at Pier 38, just off Nimitz Highway between the airport and Downtown Honolulu. During my last trip to Honolulu, I was so impressed with Nico's I ate there twice in one week.
My first meal was lunch. Nico's was packed, and there was a line to get to the cashier where customers place their orders. We in line waited about 10 minutes to place our orders, got our fountain drinks, then had a seat and waited for our fancy buzzers to go off. When mine buzzed, I went to the pickup window, and my lunch was gone, because someone else grabbed it. It took about five minutes for the staff to figure out what was going on and to give me the other guy's meal, served in a styrofoam to-go tray, like all the others
When I finally got my fish tacos, I was pleased. Two corn tortillas filled with beer batter fried fish, shredded cabbage, onions, and white sauce. Served with tortilla chips and tomato salsa for $8.00. It was excellent.
For dinner, it was even better. We arrived around 8:30pm, and were quickly seated right along the water in the busy restaurant. I struggled with the menu before finally deciding on the "fried ahi belly." All I could think was that this must be tripe, but then I realized it couldn't be... you can't eat fish intestines can you? Luckily, when they say belly in Hawaii, they mean the skin and mean around the stomach, not the stomach itself. The menu's description is what sold me: " The tuna's fatty belly steaks are quickly deep-fried and topped with a spicy tomato salsa." The tasty and very large dish was $15.25.
Written Oct 4, 2012
Address: 1133 North Nimitz Highway Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: (808) 540-1377
Yummy Korean Barbecue offers fantastic, authentic, fast Korean food at reasonable prices. They have a few locations around the island including Waikiki at the Ala Moana Food Court. I had their bibimbap, which is a Korean-style salad featuring warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste, a fried egg and sliced beef for less than $9. The food was excellent and similar to my recollection of the same dish when I had it in Korea.
Yummy Korean Barbecue has eight locations in and around Honolulu, and the company runs five other casual restaurant chains that tend to be found in food courts and at the airport, including Lahaina Chicken Company (3 locations), Mama's Spaghetti House (1 location), Cheeseburger Factory (1 location), Steak and Fish Company (1 location), and Chow Mein Express (4 locations).
Written Sep 30, 2012
Address: 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 946-9188
Nice place to go for any meal, open late! Just a short cab ride from Waikiki and away from the crazy tourist crowds!
Favorite Dish: Their twist on chicken and waffles was amazing! The dessert waffles were amazing as well...YUMMYYYYY!
Updated Jan 26, 2012
Address: 815 Keeaumoku St 105, Honolulu, HI 96814
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