Nightlife / Best bar to rise from the ashes: Chiko’s Tavern
Like a resurrected phoenix, local bar favorite Chiko’s Tavern returned this year after a devastating fire, and with new décor, and it seems better than ever. Even the new lighting lends a brightness that wasn’t there before. To add to the nocturnal entertainment, a new pool table accompanies the dart boards. Our food favorites are back (mochiko chicken, holler!) and they’ve got stellar drink prices and weekly live Hawaiian music. But if you really want to be an off-the-menu baller, order the tater tots with the nacho stuff on top.
Best place for a lychee martini: BambuTwo Café & Martini Lounge
Dan makes them right. Period. This place also happens to be the best place to pau hana on a Monday. Or…any day.
Best venue that feels like a high school reunion: Dave & Buster’s
When you live in Honolulu, stopping by the post office runs the risk of a high school reunion. That it’s Smallville, USA, here is a point well taken. But what makes Dave & Buster’s the best place to chance that “Class of ##” possibility is that it’s loud and dark and crowded, so there’s less of that crippling awkwardness when you lie about inventing Post-Its since graduation. However, the real reason this spot wins the homecoming popularity contest is those half-off games and drink specials on a Wednesday night.
Once you get past the ridiculous line to get in, you’re quickly reliving that last day of senior year, signing everyone’s yearbooks with a face that ain’t exactly as Sharpie as it used to be. “Hey, I barely recognized you. Probably ‘cause I spent more time cheating off your tests in geometry than looking at you and stuff… Swanyways, how are things?! Cool, have a gr8 summa!” Consistently, alma maters unexpectedly bump into each other here courtesy of D&B’s $4–$6 drinks from 10pm to closing–all with a shot of nostalgia on the house.
Sure, D&B may not be the most original or sexiest venue, but then again, neither was high school. So find your junior year frienemy, settle the social score over a round of Daytona USA, and before you know it, everyone’s a few drinks in, turning the high school social scene on its pimply head. Where da jocks can’t shoot hoops, and the math team miscalculates the tip. Bye, bye, Meaningless Reputations because when you’re this incoherent, everyone’s a loser.
Best romantic spot for jazz, escargot and le escapade gastronomique: Brasserie Du Vin
Besides the fact that this place is stunningly beautiful, they have wine dinners worthy of redevance. Tip: Go late on a Wednesday afternoon, sit in the courtyard, order a bottle of Caymus Cabernet and prepare to enter the time machine.
Best mojito: Soul de Cuba
Bartender makes a secret simple syrup (might be guarapo?), and then uses a muddler and blends together lime and spearmint. He adds soda water, more mint, more limes and rum. And then more limes and more mint. And more rum. Getcha one.
Best Chinatown bar we take for granted: The Manifest
Sure Nextdoor gets awesome live shows. thirtyninehotel has provocative art pieces. Bar 35 has uku-billion beers. But where’s that one place that we always end up at for at least one drink at some point in the Hotel Street evening? Good ‘ole Manifest, here’s to you. (Except we can’t tell you specifically when we’ll be there.)
Best sake martini: Indigo
With all the fancy expensive sake concoctions out there at Nobu and Morimoto, we still get our satisfaction from what’s now a classic: The award-winning sake martini at Indigo’s. Maybe it’s the ginger, or even the cucumber, but this elixir is Asian alcoholic awesome. And from Tuesday through Friday, the happy hour price for this wonderful libation is only $2.75.