Iconic Hawaii eateries

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Well, who knew Monday’s blog would be such a talker!

But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Hawaii has changed so much over the past few decades, it’s easy to find something to miss.

Longs Drugs Stores are now owned by CVS. Star Markets no longer exist. And the only place you can get a fresh waffle dog regularly is at the Panini Press at Kahala Mall.

But I didn’t want the blog to be a downer.

Though we don’t have Da Rink or Castle Park anymore, though restaurants such as Wisteria and Coco’s have long closed, though we’re seeing more Mainland big-box retailers open and local stores closing — there are some great places still around.

And today’s blog, I’m going to focus on those iconic restaurants, diners, drive-ins and take-out spots that make Hawaii, well, Hawaii.

Here’s the start to the list I’m sure you’ll finish: (Notice most of them don’t have websites yet!)

Rainbow Drive-In and its award-winning loco moco plate and slush float
• Like Like Drive Inn, one of the few local restaurants open 24 hours and serving breakfast all day
Liliha Bakery with its famous cocoa puffs and that old-school radioactive-red jelly served at the counter
• Wailana Coffee Shop on the outskirts of Waikiki
Zippy’s — it’s the closest thing to a locally owned chain restaurant and its chili cheese fries are a late-night nosh must
• Ono Hawaiian Foods on Kapahulu Avenue that’s still so popular you have to wait in line to get a table
Natsunoya Tea House on Alewa Heights
• W&M Bar-B-Q Burgers on Waialae Avenue — used to be on 9th Avenue — that still makes some of the best (and cheapest) burgers around
• Shige’s Saimin Restaurant, an iconic saimin stand in Wahiawa
Ted’s Bakery, though a tourist haven, still got great cream pies
• Gulick Delicatessen, one of the best-known okazuya located in Kalihi and serves the best vegetable tempura I’ve ever had

OK, finish my list! And tell me what to order next time I’m there!

71 comments
Nanigurl
Nanigurl

Palace Saimin. Order the saimin and bbq sticks!

CodyZamboni
CodyZamboni

the old Farrell's at Pearlridge

I haven't been to the new one,

but I heard the waiters don't run around carrying the giant sundae, and blow the siren, and flash the lights when it's your birthday. The old Farrell's did that. So much fun. Best birthday parties ever at Farrell's when I was a kid. Good times.

NikkiHem
NikkiHem

Ethel's Grill. Best Spare Rib Saimin, Hands down

NikkiHem
NikkiHem

You guys all forgotten about Ethel's Grill in Kalihi

Best Spare Rib Saimin and Turkey Tails

daryl w.
daryl w.

Poke Tower at Hapa Grill and curries and most everything else at Willows

MaxMaxMax
MaxMaxMax

@Cat Aside from "CVS" being on some products, I can't tell Longs is not Longs...

What about Egg 'n' Things?

...and has anyone noticed that Koa Pancake House is branching out locally BIG TIME? They just opened one in Hawaii Kai, and are currently constructing one in Kaimuki.

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

Man, you guys have a good memory. A few I can think of: Ruger Market, Leonard's Bakery, Jose's Mexican Restaurant.

M
M

Hello Cat, I like going to Fukuya's

turkfontaine
turkfontaine

DUKE has his statue at WAIKIKI, CAT should have hers at RAINBOW, 'cause a good percentage of her disposable income goes there. probably enough to send the owners kids to college.

nathankam
nathankam

- Sugoi Garlic Chicken

- Okata Bento on Waialae for anything

- Irifune on Kapahulu

- Bob's Big Boy in Mapunapuna

- Mitsuken in Kalihi

- Char Hung Sut in Chinatown

- Helena's in Kalihi

- Highway Inn in Waipahu

- Tanioka's in Waipahu

snow
snow

there's still quite a few oldies but goodies... thank goodness, 'cause i have lots of favorites! :)

sekiya's - love their hash tempura

kenny's - koreen fried chicken is the best!

mitsuba - sweet potato crumbles... mmm... so good when they are still warm!

kim chee I to ? - meat jun!

royal kitchen - best baked manapua ever!

is it lunchtime yet? ;)

WERUreo
WERUreo

I know nothing about the food there, but what about Original Buzz's Steak House? Now I'm just naming off restaurants that I used to always pass by when I was a kid but have never tried...

Cat
Cat

Helena's! Hello!

WERUreo
WERUreo

What about Highway Inn in Waipahu? I haven't been there since small kid time but I remember it being good.

streetgrindz
streetgrindz

Kilani Bakery is another Wahiawa Icon. Their brownies, chocolate center brownies and eclairs rule!!

Geez.... Wahiawa isn't the same if Dot's were not there. And, what a sad day when Cornet's went out of business, for us and the Cornet's hookers!!! LOL!

matti2d
matti2d

don't know how i forgot Paalaa Kai bakery in Waialua

tyfferz
tyfferz

Two more iconic eateries for Hawaii is Rocky's in Waipahu (I remember going there for breakfast and lunch when I worked at Arakawa's) and Sunny Side in Wahiawa ( I love their chocolate / custard pies). *stomach growling*

tyfferz
tyfferz

@CodyZamboni the new Farrell's does blow the siren and bang on the drums. I don't think they're as enthusiastic as it was back in the days though :) lol

WERUreo
WERUreo

@CodyZamboni I remember Farrell's, although it was so long ago, I don't remember it well. Is the new Farrell's in the same place it was before? I'm trying to remember where Farrell's even was in Pearlridge. Which phase was the old one in? Also, remember when Pearlridge was Phase 1 and Phase 2 instead of Uptown and Downtown? :P

harrycovair
harrycovair

@NikkiHem Sumo sized Oxtail Saimin. Winnahs! Just need to bring an extra change of shirts because you're gonna be sweating after you finish the bowl. If you haven't tried it yet, the Pork Curry is cooked to order but it's light Curry Sauce and not at all like the spicier Japanese or Indian style Curry.

Cat
Cat

@NikkiHem I haven't been to Ethel's in a looong time.

Cat
Cat

@MaxMaxMax Eggs N Things has new owners... Heard it's not as good as it used to be...

tyfferz
tyfferz

@nathankam Remember Kelly's on Nimitz? They used to have a big treasure chest for the kids to choose toys from along with their paper masks!

MaxMaxMax
MaxMaxMax

@nathankam Irifune is great! Been a few years since I've been, but looooooove the tempura!

WERUreo
WERUreo

@nathankam Wow, how could I forget Tanioka's? Oh and Char Hung Sut, mmm. The first time I ever tried their manapuas was just last summer. Man, that was some good manapuas!

Cat
Cat

@snow It's ALWAYS lunchtime :)

Cat
Cat

@WERUreo I haven't been there since they renovated for "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." Heard the food is still good, though.

streetgrindz
streetgrindz

@tyfferz ? where's my comment.

Let's try again.... now you made me ono for a Sunny Side Pie!!

Cat
Cat

@matti2d AND THE CREAM PUFFS! Oh, man, now I'm craving those!

WERUreo
WERUreo

@tyfferz I don't think I've ever been to Rocky's, but Waipahu Bicycle Shop right next door I used to go to all the time! And what was that grocery store that used to be in that little shopping area across from Arakawa's?

I just looked at the Google street view of Waipahu Depot Road. Wow, looks pretty much the same as always. When I was really young, I took piano lessons at Keiki Music School. Used to be in the building right at the corner of Depot Rd and Hikimoe...

Oops, starting to revert back to the other thread now haha.

streetgrindz
streetgrindz

@tyfferz awe man! now I gotta get me some pie from Sunny Side. Stay away from that place it's 'evil'!! Along with Kilani bakery's chocolate center donuts and eclairs!! At one time Wahiawa had the bomb Okazu-ya. I always looked forward to field trip day so I could get a bento from them.

808marv
808marv

@tyfferz @CodyZamboni Oh yeah old Farrell's was quite the spectacle for birthdays. Civil Defense had nothing on Farrell's old sirens lol! Man I'm hungry for a sundae now...

tyfferz
tyfferz

@WERUreo @CodyZamboni The old Farrell's is where Taco Bell / Pizza Hut currently stands. My honey still refers to Uptown and Downtown as Phase I and Phase II. :P lol

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

@Cat @NikkiHem right on re the spare rib saimin at ethel's.

also, ditto m below re fukuya's and its old-time flavors.

liliha bakery, not for the cocoa puffs (overrated!) but the killer pumpkin pie and chocolate drops.

helena's: pipikaula, squid luau, beef stew, chix long rice.

hy's and its tableside svc.

hungry now, gotta run.

MaxMaxMax
MaxMaxMax

Having eaten at the new place a few times, I'll say the food is still the same, but the experience is not the same at all... I miss the sneaking onto the surfboard bar waiting list bypassing the tourists waiting for the regular tables, LOL!

nathankam
nathankam

@tyfferz hmmm...I grew up on the Big Island, so I don't recall. LOL!

nathankam
nathankam

@MaxMaxMax I like that place too. Affordable, good food in a unique atmosphere.

nathankam
nathankam

@Cat not sure...but probably not long enough to fit in to the list in retrospect. Just feels old. ;-)

nathankam
nathankam

@WERUreo too many good hole in the wall places to eat man. Like the manapua a lot at Char Hung Sut.

tyfferz
tyfferz

@WERUreo The grocery store was "Big Way". I remember their meats were cheap! Down the road towards Times, there is a okazuya...I can't remember the name of that place but their vegetable tempura is ono!

Cat
Cat

@streetgrindz @tyfferz Yep, Sunny Side. Love that chocolate cream pie. I think I may like it more than Ted's Bakery, which, in my opinion, is a bit more touristy for my tastes now.

WERUreo
WERUreo

@tyfferz @CodyZamboni That's right across from the Phase 1 food court, yeah? Oh sorry, "Uptown" haha. Is Tilt still up there in Phase 1 too?

harrycovair
harrycovair

@nathankam @Cat Irifune has been around a long time. Bought my first racing bike next door to them in the mid 90's and they were already known by one of their specialty items: Salmon Won Ton.

harrycovair
harrycovair

@WERUreo @tyfferz What about Futaba's. Another Waipahu eating icon. Actually got to eat there again with some friends, who were visiting their parents, about 2 months ago. They still have an awesome Tempura platter.

WERUreo
WERUreo

@tyfferz Yeah, Big Way! Now I want to try and find old pictures of Waipahu. Bringing back all kine memories! haha

tyfferz
tyfferz

@Cat @streetgrindz I agree--Ted's Pies have become touristy and they were my alternative to Sunny Side Bakery before but now their whip cream tastes bleh. This past office Christmas party someone brought Sunny Side pies...that was the first thing I ate before heading onto the main dishes. LOL

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