Honest reviews of Hawaii restaurants and travel experiences from the Santos family in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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Located in the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu, the Macaroni Grill is a good, family friendly place to grab a lunch or dinner. We took some friend and three girls ages 3 to 7 there to celebrate Keli's 7th Birthday. All of the girls enjoyed macaroni and cheese with a side of fresh grilled broccoli. Yes, they ate the broccoli and loved it. I tried it and it was good. We ordered a Margherita Pizza as an appetizer for the table. At $10.99 it was a bargain. Good sized brick oven cooked pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil. Everyone said it was good. Both couples split a Ceasar Salad. It was also good and served with large pieces of anchovy on top. For entrees, our friends split the Mama's Trio. Three Italian favorites on one plate. Lasagna Bolognese, Chicken Cannelloni and Chicken Parmesan. This is a lot of food for $16.99. A bargain if you split it between two people. Shirley enjoyed Chicken Scaloppine. Sauteed chicken breast with mushrooms, artichokes, capers and smoked prosciutto in a lemon butter sauce. Served over capellini pasta ($15.99). There was enough for two people here and it was quite tasty. I enjoyed the Seafood Linguine. Shrimp, scallops and clams sauteed with oven roasted tomatoes, basil, arugula and linguine in a white wine, garlic and olive oil sauce ($16.99). The dish was o.k. A little oily and tasteless. The shrimp and scallops had no flavor. The clams were small but good. I could only eat half. The table enjoyed a double bottle of Chianti wine. At $32 it is a bargain for two bottles of wine. During the course of our dinner we were pleased to have two songs sung by one of the employees. She was Asian and 23 yet belted out songs in Italian that were really good. This is a great place to eat family style and bring kids. The service was excellent. The food and prices are good. Click links below for updated posts on Romano's Macaroni Grill: http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2012/04/ramanos-macaroni-grill-ala-moana-center.html http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2014/02/romanos-macaroni-grill.html
My best customer on Kauai is located directly across the street from this great little restaurant. When on Kauai we usually will enjoy a quick breakfast or lunch here. It is amazing to see the place packed every time we go. Locals and tourists love this place. When you enter the cafe, you grab a menu and then order at the counter. The cashier takes your order and gives you a number to place at your table. After a few minutes your food arrives. I enjoyed the Bonzo Burrito Tortilla Wrap. Eggs, ham, peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives, black beans, eggs, cheddar and jack cheese served with salsa and seasoned sour creme. This is a big burrito and it is served with toast and your choice of rice or hash browns. Good but not great. My friend enjoyed a traditional breakfast consisting of Two eggs, fresh fruit and choice of starch. The menu features a build your own omelette, pancakes, french toast and bagels. For lunch, they serve deli sandwiches, salads and burgers. If you are on the highway heading towards Waimea Canyon this is a great place to stop and eat. The service is friendly and the food is good.
I have been going to Cafe Pesto in Hilo for over ten years. Seems every time we go to Hilo we end up having a lunch or dinner here. The food is always fresh and good. Cafe Pesto serves salads, sandwiches, fresh fish, pasta, calzones, pizza and even some nice beef dishes. During this visit my guests enjoyed the Fresh Catch sandwich and salad. Nice pieces of grilled Ono, onion remoulade, lettuce and vine ripened tomatoes served on a french roll. The Fresh Catch salad is the same but served on a bed of organic baby greens. We also tried the Pepperoni Classico pizza that features pepperoni, italian sausage and dry salami. It was excellent. The small pizza is $8.95 and there are about six slices. I had the Blue Caesar Salad. Crisp hearts of Kiwano Farms romaine, gorgonzola and anchovy buttered croutons. Nice and filling for only $6.95. There was so much Blue Cheese on top. I moved it aside and ate only a few bites of the cheese. Everyone enjoyed the food. Service was good too. I highly recommend Cafe Pesto for lunch or dinner. For breakfast in Hilo there is only one place to go and that is Kens.
During construction of our bathroom, Shirley went to Zippy's several times to pick up lunch for the workers. A special caught her eye and stomach. It is the April Tax Break Special that features teriyaki meat loaf. For $5.25 it is the bargain of the month. You get two large pieces of meat loaf topped with grilled onions and served with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. For five bucks you cannot go wrong with this dish. Shirley had it twice this week so I tried a bite. It was good. Zippy's is a local institution. Locals pack the place and gobble up chili, fresh fish, beef stew, spaghetti, chicken katsu, burgers and a host of other local favorites. The prices are reasonable. Service is quick and the food is good.
When my friend Alan suggested we get together with his three year old daughter for dinner, we decided to pick a kid friendly place close to downtown. Dave and Busters was the choice.
We arrived around 6:30 p.m. on a Friday with a party of six. I was quite surprised that we were quickly seated with only a two minute wait. We ordered a couple of draft beers. They were ice cold and huge. Plus they gave us a dollar off on all beer before 7:00 p.m. Mix drinks are 50% off. For appetizers, we tried the Cheese, Guacamole with chips ($6) and Philly Cheese Steak Egg Rolls($8). The chips and dip were good and they kept filling up the chips for us. The Philly Cheese Steak Egg Rolls were awesome. They put thinly sliced beef into the egg roll and give you cheese and a tangy bbq type sauce to dip. They were so good, we ended up ordering another order later in the meal. Shirley enjoyed a Blackened Chicken Pasta with mushrooms ($13) that was also very good. I had a Chicken Wrap($9). Hot wings type chicken wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was good, but I could only eat one of the three pieces because I was full with the beer and egg rolls. The wrap came with a Ceaser Salad that was really good too. Our friends tried the Fried Mushrooms ($7). The plate of mushrooms was huge. So big that more than half was taken home. The kids enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich ($5) and chicken tenders for $6). Everyone was stuffed and we took half the food home. All in all I was impressed with the food and service. After dinner we went upstairs to the game room. The place was packed with people of every age. Keli and Lexy enjoyed many of the games while the Dad's enjoyed one last cool beverage. We have always avoided Dave and Busters for some reason. Now that we have enjoyed our visit we will be back again soon.
As of tonight, I have a new favorite restaurant to recommend to friends. Brasserie Du Vin located in downtown Honolulu is a great place for a glass of wine, pupu's or complete dinner. We went on a Saturday night and the place was pretty much empty. This is normal for Downtown. With parking at the Chinatown Municipal lot only $1.50, it is very convenient and affordable. We started with the Black Pepper Pate. This country style pork and chicken pate was crusted in black peppercorns and served with greens, pickled vegetables and stone ground mustard. The mustard adds a great taste to the pate. Simply stated this dish was awesome. At $6 it is also a bargain. It is served with warm, freshly baked bread too. We also enjoyed a Manchego Cheese which is a firm sheep's milk cheese from Spain. It has a melt-in-your mouth interior of nutty, butterscotch flavor according to the menu. The menu was right on. At $4 it was also a good deal. So far so good here. Our next dish was Escargots in herbed, garlic green butter. The snails were tasty. Shirley wanted more garlic in them. For our main entree, Shirley had the Grilled Flat Iron Steak with roasted shallot aioli and pommes frites. At $18 this dish was not too flavorful according to Shirley. I enjoyed a pan fried Rainbow Trout served with three large Tiger Shrimp, Apple Smoked Bacon and Ali'i Mushroom Beurre Blanc sauce. It was also $18. The presentation was great. You get the whole fish including the head. We sat in the outdoor courtyard at a small table for two. The seats are very uncomfortable, but the atmosphere is romantic. You don't really think you are in Downtown Honolulu when dining here. Rather a sidewalk cafe in Europe or Italy. Very nice.
I really like Du Vin and cannot wait to return. Oh yea, the price for everything was $75. This included two glasses of wine at $10 each. You can save a lot of money by arriving before 6:00 p.m. They have several half price selections that are real bargains. Imagine dinner for two for $30 at a great place like this. We are going back soon before 6:00 next time.
If you want to enjoy a piece of Hawaii history and the last of Hawaii's "Tiki" bars then La Mariana is a must place to visit. Located on the Sand Island boat docks you would never know this place existed if someone didn't take you there. It is hidden behind industrial buildings and looks like a dump from the outside. As you walk down the pathway that leads to the restaurant you are transformed to the Hawaii of long ago. A real life "Tiki" bar with fish nets, wooden tables and high back wicker chairs. I have never enjoyed a cocktail here as we always visit for lunch. I am told that the the bar is great for pupu's and drinks after work. My lunch here usually is the fresh fish served cajun style with linguine. It comes with veggies. I normally order a side salad because their blue cheese dressing is my favorite. My friend ordered the fresh seared ahi served with choice of rice or linguine. He had the rice and said it was fantastic. My other friend had a patty melt and salad. I had the club sandwich and a salad. The patty melt was great and served with a pile of fries. My club was really good and filling.
La Mariana service is very good when it is not too busy. I love the atmosphere at this place. There should be more of these "Tiki" type bars in Hawaii. They really bring back the old Hawaii. Don't expect the food to be the best in the world. It is good and consistent. Not great.
I go back over and over again because it is good and close to my office. Guests from out of town love the place and always thank me for bringing me there. My thanks to Chris Richgels for picking up the tab.
I would never think that we would have dinner at night on Hotel Street in Honolulu. Hotel Street is known for drugs, hookers, cheap bars and everything else that is bad in a big city. We met up with some friends for First Friday which brings people downtown to eat and drink. There are police on every corner so it is pretty safe. On the first Friday of every month, people that would not eat or party downtown come down to enjoy art exhibitions, wine tastings and tons of good looking woman. From twenty to sixty the crowd downtown is diverse on First Friday. We had walked around and found it difficult to find a place that was not super busy and kid friendly. When we saw a Mexican restaurant that we had never tried we went in with great expectations. At Maria Bonita you order at a counter from the menu board above. It is your typical Mexican fare. Tacos, burritos, tostadas and enchiladas. Shirley had the shrimp tacos which gave her a stomach ache. My friend had a big fish burrito which she said was missing on taste. Our other friend had the beef enchilada which he said was fine. I had the chicken enchilada and a carne asada taco. They both were o.k. The rice was good. The beans were a bit too watery for me but Keli liked them. The service was very slow. Took forever to get our food and two dishes were severed 10 minutes before the others. There were only two people working on a busy Friday night. Not good. I would try this place again before I condemn it.
If you are looking for a casual oceanfront spot for cocktails and pupu's look no further than Huggo's on the Rocks. This place is great. The outdoor seating area is totally covered in white sand from the beach. The tables overlook Kailua Bay and have a great view of the sunset, cruise ships and boats coming and going. There is live music and dancing on the sand. We arrived in time for a great sunset and enjoyed ice cold beer and margarita's. We enjoyed some nacho's, prime rib cubes and an appetizer platter that included shrimp and I think teriyaki sticks. Most of the food is cooked on a beach side grill next to the bar. Don't go to Huggo's on the Rocks for the food. If you want a good meal you can eat at their oceanfront restaurant called just Huggo's next door. Go to the Beach bar for the beer. There is no better place to relax and enjoy good friends in Kona. Thanks to Chris Richgels for picking up the tab.
I am beginning to really enjoy my business trips to Hilo. My customers always know the best "local" spots to dine. The last two visits I have ate at Don's Grill. This local institution is always busy because they have great food, good prices and service. Don's serves everything from steaks to local moco's and everything in between. I ordered a chef salad and was impressed with the fresh veggies, huge portion and great flavors. My friends feasted on chicken and vegetables, a BLT sandwich and fresh fish. I highly recommend Don's for a good quick meal.
To think I lived in Hawaii for almost 20 years and visited Hilo a dozen or more times and never been to Ken's is just terrible. This place is Da Bomb for breakfast. When I asked one of my Hilo customers where he would like to have breakfast, he said "Ken's". This was a great choice. Ken's menu is huge. They have everything you can think of for breakfast. The portions are huge, the prices are reasonable and the service is great. I ordered the mahi mahi with eggs. Yes, fish for breakfast. It came with fried rice and toast. Delicious. I cannot remember what the two other guys ate, but they were in heaven. There were so many plates on the table filled with eggs, pancakes and toast that you would think we were at a buffet. Ken's is a must visit when in Hilo.
I have been waiting for a place like Uncle's for a long time. A comfortable place near the water where you can enjoy a good, fresh piece of fish.
It is beyond me how a place like Hawaii can not have more restaurants like Uncle's. When you enter Uncle's be ready for a short line. You order at the counter and then take your food to a table. I have only been here for lunch and it is always busy. This was my fourth or fifth visit. The place keeps changing the way they present the menu board, but the food is always good. We started with the ahi poke appetizer. It is fresh raw tuna with a bit of onion. Fresh is the key to this dish. I had the fresh fish tacos. The are filled with mahi mahi and topped with cabbage and tropical salsa. Really good and filling. You get (3) hard tacos for $9.50 or two soft taco's for the same price. My friend ordered the Fish Burger. It was $8.75. He said it was very good and finished every bit of the thing. Uncle's offers the freshest fish because they are located adjacent to the fish auction where all the fresh fish is sold to restaurants. The offer several selections each day like Ahi, Mahi Mahi and Ono. The fresh fish is served with your choice of preparations; char broiled, sauteed or blackened cajun style and served with your choice of sauce; Uncle's special sauce, teriyaki or tarter. I like Uncle's a lot. While the prices are a bit high for lunch ($11 to $14 for entrees), the quality is fantastic.
in the quaint neighborhood of Kaimuki, 3660 is a good restaurant. I have been there many times and liked it. Mostly with business guests or good friends. My latest visit was nothing to write home about. We ordered the signature Ahi Katsu appetizer which was raw tuna wrapped in Nori and deep fried. The Nori ruined the dish for me. After one piece, I really did not want to eat another. The rice and veggies on the plate were all eaten before the Ahi was gone. We all followed with the crab and corn chowder. It was good but we all agreed the soup was very salty. My guest ordered a tempura battered catfish. It was heavily battered and placed in a bowl with ponzu sauce. At $23 it was a mess. The portion was large but not presented or prepared too well. Both myself and another guest ordered the Land and Sea (Steak and Lobster). At $45 you would be hoping for something great. Lucky I was not buying this time. Both are served sitting on the most tasteless mashed potatoes I have ever had. Every time you cut a piece of steak or lobster the mashed potatoes squish all over the place. My steak had no flavor. The lobster portion was big, but very bland and rubbery. I did not finish my steak or lobster. Neither did my friend. I am not in a hurry to take guests back to 3660. For the price, there are other places I would rather entertain. Thanks to Chris Richgels for picking up the tab.
I have been to Ruth Chris numerous times over the years. Usually the one in Restaurant Row near Downtown Honolulu. Some visits were good and some were just not up to par. With the
opening of the new Ruth Chris on Waikiki's Beach Walk, I decided to give this steakinstitution another chance. Boy was I glad
I did. The Waikiki Ruth Chris is located in the beautiful Beach Walk district. It is upstairs which makes it kind of hard to find if you do not know it is there. Even with the 2nd story location, people seem to be finding their way to the place. I went on a Monday night with business associates. As soon as we arrived I was impressed. The hostess greeted us with a big smile and quickly pulled up our reservation. We asked to sit at the bar to wait for our third guest. When we approached the bar we were again greeted with a big hello and offered some complimentary potato chips. These were the Maui style ones that are thick and slightly burnt. Fantastic! The bar service was excellent. When our third guest arrived, the hostess politely took us to our seat which was a full thirty minutes past our reservation time. This was around 6:30 and the dining room was fairly busy. Table service was excellent with so many people filling water, bringing bread and taking care of us that I could not understand how they found all these good employees. All positive and polite. The training must be excellent because the entire staff was working together to make sure we were happy. Now lets get down to the food. Our entire party ordered the Petite Filet. One of my guests had the Wedge salad, I had the Ceasar Salad and the other had a bowl of Onion Soup.
All were very happy. The Ceasar was perfect and not over dressed. The steak was one of the
very best I have ever tasted. It was so perfect that it cut like butter. All three of us agreed
that it was better than other times at different Ruth Chris restaurants. The plates were sizzling hot and the steaks were smothered in melting butter. We enjoyed sides of sauteed mushrooms and steamed brocolli. Both were excellent. Since my friend had a birthday this week we told the waiter and he brought out a complimentary desert. I think it was bread pudding. There was enough for all three of us and it was delicious. Tasted like cinnamon rolls. All in all, this
was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had in Waikiki. Two good points about Ruth Chris. One is the reservation system via their website. They make it so easy to make and confirm a reservation. It literally takes seconds. Two is the Early Bird dinner. For $34.95 you get a steak, side dish and desert. This is a very good deal for the quality and great service. Only thing is you have to order before 6:00. Thanks to Chris Richgels for picking up the tab.