Best Food & Drink

Best Food & Drink: Early/Late night

Best Food & Drink / Best new breakfast/lunch-only spot

Café Julia

Both expats of Alan Wong’s, Chefs Lance Kosaka and Derek Watanabe have crafted a menu with fresh, wholesome foods that make up inventive dishes with a local flare. Crusted in furikake and accompanied by Japanese pickled vegetables, the New Zealand King Salmon was placed atop a bed of creamy risotto and sprinkled with salmon roe. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the salmon was moist and bursting with flavor, the type of dish of which I like to take smaller bites of to make it last longer.

“Chasing the Salmon,” August 1
1040 Richards St., [cafejuliahawaii.com], 533-3334

Best breakfast deal

Koa Pancake House

It doesn’t get better than two eggs and three buttermilk pancakes for $3.95 first thing in the morning–from 6:30 to 9am to be exact–for Koa Pancake House’s Early Bird Special. Everyone loves the full-service Original Koa Pancake House in Kaneohe, but their adaptation to the fast-paced world is a blessing for those of us up early and ravenous. Their fast-casual locations around the island in Wahiawa, Kaimuki, Hawaii Kai, ‘Aiea, Moanalua, Kapolei, and Waipahu now offer quick, to-go breakfast and lunch.

Best Hidden Karaoke Bar

Wailana Coffee House Cocktail Lounge

Everyone has their favorite karaoke bar they will defend to the microphone wire. But if you’re defending it, chances are everyone already knows it exists. There is, however, one after-hours bar we don’t hear many defending, though that’s probably because at this joint their mouths are filled with maple syrup. Yes, most people know Wailana Coffee House for macadamia pancakes that can sing, but did you know the 24-hour staple also has actual singing?

Adjacent the entrance, in a ridiculously cheesy tiki-themed lounge, you’ll find a mostly older crowd crooning “Honesty” by Billy Joel and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. To say the talent here would leave Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler’s jaws on the floor is a stretch. (Not because the talent isn’t exactly Idol-worthy, but the restaurant currently has a Zagat score of 17/30 and let’s face the music, those three wouldn’t be found anywhere near a menu that doesn’t rate at least a 29.)

But that’s part of its charm: No one’s trying to always upstage someone’s dazzling Adele cover with another dazzling Adele cover. Ultimately, everyone’s pretty much on key, and you can order a decent corned beef hash with a side of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” *drop the mic*

Also, keeping with the criteria of being “hidden,” each booth faces away from each other, so it’s pretty much impossible to get stage fright.

Wailana Coffee House, 1860 Ala Moana Blvd., karaoke nightly, 955-1764

Best Breakfast Deal for the voracious and pregnant

Pancakes & Waffles, Kalihi

12:35pm Eeeeee! So excited to try Pancakes & Waffles for the first time!

12:40pm Anticipation is a bitch but all good things are worth waiting for.

12:50pm It’s here! Holy cow . . . that’s a lotta food for one person. Are those three huge, big, fat juicy pieces of chicken on top of that giant Belgian waffle all for me?? That poor paper plate never stood a chance . . .

12:53pm OMG. Best. Waffle. Everrrrr. Ok maybe not ever but really effing good. And the chicken is like, rattle-your-brain/knock-out-some-fillings-crispy. Damn.

1:25pm Tap out. I force-fed my way through one whole chicken and the entire waffle and I’m sure I ate too much . . .

4:45pm Siiiiiiick.

1:02pm Pancakes & Waffles…we meet again. :)

Killer (fried) foods, enough on one plate to feed three, friendly staff, extremely affordable ($4–$9 for most breakfast dishes). Eat with caution.

1284 Kalani St., Ste D100, 847-7770

Best Breakfast Deal for the voracious and pregnant

Pancakes & Waffles, Kalihi

12:35pm Eeeeee! So excited to try Pancakes & Waffles for the first time!

12:40pm Anticipation is a bitch but all good things are worth waiting for.

12:50pm It’s here! Holy cow . . . that’s a lotta food for one person. Are those three huge, big, fat juicy pieces of chicken on top of that giant Belgian waffle all for me?? That poor paper plate never stood a chance . . .

12:53pm OMG. Best. Waffle. Everrrrr. Ok maybe not ever but really effing good. And the chicken is like, rattle-your-brain/knock-out-some-fillings-crispy. Damn.

1:25pm Tap out. I force-fed my way through one whole chicken and the entire waffle and I’m sure I ate too much . . .

4:45pm Siiiiiiick.

1:02pm Pancakes & Waffles…we meet again. :)

Killer (fried) foods, enough on one plate to feed three, friendly staff, extremely affordable ($4–$9 for most breakfast dishes). Eat with caution.

1284 Kalani St., Ste D100, 847-7770

Best place to eat after bars close

Liliha Bakery, open 24 hours except Mondays

There’s booty calls at 4am and then there’s baked goods and beef stew. One could be momentarily fun if you remember it in the morning, but the latter will guarantee a hangover-free tomorrow. If you’ve worked in the club industry or are just a professional bar fly, you likely have a late night addiction to Liliha Bakery, open 24 hours (closed Mondays) and serving up heavenly comfort food at reasonable prices. The aunties behind the counter are fast and efficient. Watch them make your food or meander to the bakery for some additions to your meal.

515 N. Kuakini St., 531-1651, [lilihabakeryhawaii.com]