Pioneer Saloon opens in Salt Kakaako

All your favorites from the Monsarrat location with better parking
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Pioneer Saloon has been a solid plate lunch spot on Monsarrat Avenue for a good nine years, offering hearty, tasty and affordable meals with familiar flavors for both tourists and locals. When it first opened, its "Japan meets Hawaii" approach to island favorites was a bit of a novelty; the restaurant's popularity over time has made it a standard.

Pioneer Saloon is so good that people will circle the block at the base of Diamond Head looking for a parking space nearby until they've invested so much time that they can't give up. You know you've done it. I've done it. Well, now you don't have to allot time to circling aimlessly — Pioneer Saloon has opened in Salt Kakaako, and they provide validation so parking is cheap or free, depending on how fast you eat.

Pioneer Saloon Kakaako

The new Pioneer Saloon is almost easy to miss at first, since the tiny signage is on the inside of the restaurant. You'll find it on the outside facing Auahi Street, next to ARVO.

Pioneer Saloon interior

Although the interior is smallish, you can opt to sit outside for al fresco dining.

Pioneer Saloon shabby chic

Since the space at Salt is small, Pioneer Saloon's shabby chic theme is relegated to a small corner, with items for sale.

Most people who are already familiar with Pioneer Saloon will be dining at its new Kakaako location for the convenience and the parking. I need to tell you this so you don't get your hopes up too high for the service. It's not bad; each time I've been there, they've been adequately friendly, with the exeption of one waitress who was quick, friendly, and good at managing expectations. I think the guys will work things out as time goes on.

Patrons will also be happy to see that the menu is the same in Kakaako, but items are about $1 more than on Monsarrat. For me, time is money, and the time I save by not circling the block 30 times is well worth the couple dollars extra. Here are a few things I've had at the new Pioneer Saloon, more for the benefit of first-timers, and for those who want to see how the Kakaako spot presents their food.

Furikake salmon ($13, on Monsarrat it's $12). You get a side of pasta salad or potato salad (not your choice, but whatever is available) and choice of rice.
shio koji chicken
My favorite, shio koji chicken ($12; on Monsarrat it's $11). This is creamy and salty, very addicting.
garlic ahi
Garlic ahi ($15, at Monsarrat it's $14). It's got a bit of spice on it, so be careful!
garlic salmon
Garlic salmon ($13, on Monsarrat it's $12).

There are also meaty dishes, like the classic hamburger steak or pork with ginger (sadly, my photo files got corrupted, but you get the idea on the servings). Pioneer Saloon Kakaako is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parking is located on the street or in the Salt structure.

Pioneer Saloon
Salt Kakaako
691 Auahi St.