Honest reviews of Hawaii restaurants and travel experiences from the Santos family in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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After taking on the burgers at The Counter and Burgers on the Edge, we decided to try an old Hawaii favorite that we had not been to in many many years. I don't remember the last time I ate at Teddy's. Must not have been impressed. This time I was in burger mode having sampled more burgers in the past few months than I have probably ate in the past two years. I ordered the Teddy's Burger with lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, pickles, sauce and ketchup ($4.69). Add a slice of cheese ($1) and you have the All American Burger for Memorial Day. My 5 oz burger was delicious. The bun was soft. The charbroiled burger cooked perfectly and then fresh lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion. You can actually taste the ingredients and the cheese. Teddy's also adds their special sauce which is like Thousand Island Dressing. Not too much. Just enough to give the burger some additional flavor. This is a really good burger. I like Teddy's and will return when I am in the mood for a large, fresh burger. This may be a few months away as I will go back on my diet after a trip to California next week.
You should have seen my face when I took my first bite of a Fish Taco from South Shore Grill. I almost threw up. Seriously. This food was so bad that we threw it out and felt sick for hours afterwards. Two people tried the tacos and two people didn't finish eating them and had a bad taste in our mouths for hours. Yuck.....Yuck....Yuck..... Where do I begin here. Well the South Shore Grill is in a great location near Kapiolani Park. The place was busy when we entered. You order at a counter with the menu written above on a chalk board. They say they are known for their fish tacos. They also serve chicken and shrimp tacos, burritos, burgers, sandwiches and plate lunches. We went for the tacos. One plate of Fish Tacos ($8.50) and one plate of Chicken Tacos ($8.25). It took a while for the food to be served. In fact a long time. I approached the counter to pick up the taco plates and asked for taco or hot sauce. They offered a Chili type paste that does not taste good on tacos. Therefore, no taco sauce. The plates were large and heavy. Filled with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, cole slaw and two tacos. Who wants white rice and macaroni salad with a taco? Not me. The rice was hard and seemed old. The macaroni salad was tasteless and the cole slaw was so tangy and filled with garlic. The tacos even worse. I took a bite of the fish taco and could only taste the garlicky mayo dressing that is all over the taco. That taste just overwhelmed me and frankly made me sick. The chicken taco had the same awful taste. We ate a few bites of each and said that is it. Throw the whole plate away. You cannot taste the fish or chicken because the sauce overpowers the entire dish. The cabbage is drenched in the sauce too. The only good thing I can say about the taco is that the tortilla was nicely cooked on the grill. THIS IS A TASTE OF HAWAII NO RECOMMEND. I WILL NEVER GO BACK!
What would Memorial Day weekend be without burgers on the grille. We invited some friends up for a small bbq featuring large burgers, corn on the cob, baked beans with onion and jalapenos. Simple and delicious.
Some of my friends wanted to get together and check out the new Trump Waikiki Hotel. We met at the restaurant/bar called Wai'olu. This place is indoor/outdoor with comfortable couch seating outside under the stars. Problem is that when the sun is out, the couches are useless as there is no shade. Once the sun goes down it is great. I about died when I opened the bar menu and looked at the prices. A glass of wine runs between $13 and $32. This is PER GLASS. A 3 oz glass of champagne is $46. I am not joking here. Just think about this when you have a table of 8 people. A bottle of beer is $7. Cocktails are $14. O.k., we started with a beer. We ordered some appetizers that were good but expensive. The Trump Onion Rings are $14. Good but not worth over $2 per ring. The cold cut with cheese plate is $25. Again good, but c'mon twenty five bones. I really liked the mini loco mocos served in a spoon and topped with a quail egg. Could eat a dozen of these. The manager came by as we were deep into our drinks and food. He offered us a champagne tasting with appetizers for what I think was $35 per person. Three shot glasses of different champagnes and a variety of small plate appetizers. We went for it. The total tab for this little night out was around $1000.00. Glad everyone pitched in. We had a fun time here but the prices were just too high. Service and food were good. Make sure you bring people with money to this place. It will break your bank.
Linda Lingle is always gracious and professional. I was happy to share a few words with her during the Charles Djou victory party. Her second term is about to expire and we hope that she continues to serve Hawaii by perhaps running for the Senate.
What a great night in Honolulu. After 20 years of Democrat rule, a Republican was finally elected to Congress. Charles Djou will be a great representative for Hawaii. He is honest, intelligent and not owned by Unions or the political machine that has handcuffed Hawaii politics for years.
We were meeting up with Keli's friend at Kahala Mall and Keli decided she wanted a burger for lunch. She remembered her burger adventure at Burgers on the Edge and said she could again eat the whole thing. We had tried The Counter when they first opened and were not impressed. Would our second trip be different? The Counter gives you a menu with a pencil. You mark off the size of your burger and then build it with dozens of selections. 1/3 pound beef ($8.95),
2/3 pound ($10.95) and 1 pounder for ($13.95). The burgers include your choice of cheese, four toppings and your choice of sauce. I opted for a 1/3 pound with Jalapeno Jack Cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce and pickles. First off I did not like the bun. Too rigid and no taste. The meat was also pretty tasteless and I could not taste the cheese. Shirley had a similar burger with grilled onions and gruyere cheese. Same review. Tasteless and could not taste the cheese. I ate only half of my burger and left the rest on the plate. We did love the Sweet Potato French Fries and Onion Ring combo ($6.95). The fries come with 3 sauces. BBQ, Ranch and a Spicy Mayo type. The Sweet Potato Fries are worth going back for. Perfectly cooked, crunchy and flavorful. This time Keli hit the wall after half of her burger. We all left full but not satisfied. I probably will not return here.
It is nice to have rich friends with fancy country club memberships. Since I am not a member, my money is no good at this place. This means everything is free for me. Kind of like Obamaland where someone else picks up the tab. The Oahu Country Club is set in a beautiful valley surrounded by spectacular mountains and a view to the ocean. We enjoyed a great lunch in one of the three dining areas. There is a terrace restaurant with great views, a fine dining restaurant and a lunch/pupu place that is kind of dated but comfortable. My friends opted for the Oxtail Soup which was more like a stew. Looked and tasted delicious. I tried a cup of the Portuguese Bean Soup. It was filled with flavor and delicious. I then had a steak sandwich with some cole slaw. The sandwich was big and tasty. Served with grilled onions, tomato and lettuce on a fresh bun. Splits of champagne were served for free too. After lunch, we exited to a table overlooking one of the golf holes. As the cigars were lit, the beers began to flow and a pizza appeared. Free pizza too. This is heaven. We had half pepperoni and half tomato and basil. While a bit greasy, the pizza was pretty good. I had to hit the restroom and found that the club has everything available for members. I even got a toothbrush and toothpaste and brushed up before leaving. This is a nice place to visit with friends that are members. I can't wait to return to this great place where my money is no good. Next time I will go to the Golf Shop and pick up a nice Tommy Bahama shirt. On the house of course.
The Harbor House in Kailua Kona is located just outside town and close to the Kona Airport. It is an institution for Kona Fisherman and a place not to be missed if you are looking for a cold beer. Beers are served in 18 oz Schooners and are chilled. This is a place for locals, tourists and just about everyone else. The open air atmosphere overlooks the harbor and many fishing boats. The bar is filled with fisherman, construction workers and people with a whole lot of stories. During our visit the entire table of four ordered the Fresh Ahi Sandwich. Fresh Ahi Tuna served on a large fresh bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and tarter sauce. The sandwich comes with fries or a nice large salad. We also tried a plate of fresh Ahi Poki. Fresh raw Ahi Tuna served on a bed of cabbage and onions.
My buddy Mark installed the air conditioning system at the Maui Brewing Company. During a recent visit to Maui we stopped in for lunch. This was not a diet day as you can see. We enjoyed the Beer Battered Onion Rings served with a Chipotle Remoulade ($7). The rings were large and very tasty. Chipotle sauce was a bit bland. I would have been fine with Ketchup. We tried the Beer Battered Brie with a caramelized pineapple sauce and served with a toasted baguette ($9). This was good but way too much cheese for me. I could not eat more than one piece. Next up was the Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($12). Smoked Gouda, Cheddar and American Cheese with Fried Salami, Caramelized Onions, Tomato and Banana Peppers served on a garlic buttered bread. This was really good, but I could only get down a few bites. I was overloaded on fried food and cheese. Next came a Supreme Pizza ($25). Marinara Sauce, Mozzarella, Pepperoni, Bacon, Mushroom, Green Pepper and Onion. I thought the pizza was good, but again could only get down one piece. Let me clarify that there were three of us eating all this food. My two friends enjoyed a cold beer with their meal and said it was good. There are many hand crafted beers to choose from here. The list of beers is impressive and includes the alcohol percentage of each brew. Some are up to 10% alcohol. One highlight of this place was the service. We had an absolutely great gal who always smiled and made sure we were happy. Top notch girl that really understands her job.
After a business trip to Nashville, I had to drive 4 hours to Memphis to visit Graceland. The legendary home of Elvis Presley now stands as a monument to the music King. As you drive up to Graceland, you ask yourself "why would Elvis live here". The home is in the middle of nowhere some 20 minutes outside downtown Memphis. The neighborhood now is filled with abandoned buildings, a few cheap shops and pretty much a run downed dump. Then there is the Hearbreak Hotel and Elvis visitor center. I paid $69 for the VIP Entourage Tour. Not much more than the regular tour, but you get to see a special wardrobe section and get in and out a bit faster. You are given a headset that narrates your tour as you enter each room of the home. You can walk at your own pace and do not need to stay with a group. I really enjoyed the tour. It had been a childhood dream and now it was complete. Graceland is beautiful but smaller than I had expected. The rooms are quite small considering Elvis always had the Memphis Mafia hanging out with him. The tour ends as you walk by the swimming pool and out to a small garden and the burial site of Elvis and him mom and dad.
Started my day in Memphis with an uncalled for wake up from the emergency sirens at 4:00 am.
I called the front desk to inquire what the sirens were for. They informed me that a tornado was approaching. This was a warning and they would monitor the situation and call back later. I woke up and took a shower just in case we needed to go to a shelter. The phone rang and I was told that the basement was ready to take guests if we wanted to go there. I stayed in my room and tried to sleep. Not possible with the huge bolts of lightening and booming thunder. I have never seen or heard anything like this. It was like we were being bombed. The rain just got thicker, louder and harder as the hours passed. When morning light came things calmed down and I was free to venture into the city to hit all my food and culture hot spots.
Ahhh...my first night in Memphis. First off, thousands of drunks on the streets for Memphis in May celebration and then a 4:00 am wake up call to welcome in a tornado. Glad I stayed in for the night and did not venture onto Beale Street. Heck the drunks and loosers around the hotel Madison were enough for me. Must be getting old. The Madison is a Five Star property with beautiful rooms. I got upgraded to a nice suite with a large sitting/tv area and bar. Nice corner room on 12th floor with view of city and the water. Perfect for watching thunder and lightning in the wee hours. The people of Memphis have been great. This is a very depressed area and most of downtown and the adjoining area are empty and abandoned. Elvis loved it here so it cannot be that bad. I don't have video of Graceland because they did not allow me to video while on property. Will post some still photos as time permits. Now that I have done Memphis, I can say that I am done. No need to return unless my daughter wants to visit Graceland or the Martin Luther King, Jr museum. With that said, we will return.
I had to plan my day in Memphis around seeing the World Famous Peabody Ducks. The tradition began in 1933 when the owners of the hotel powered down a little too much Jack Daniel's whiskey during a duck hunting trip. When they returned to the hotel they thought it would be funny to place some of their "live" duck decoys in the hotels fountain. It turns out that the guests of the hotel loved the little ducks so they put them on display daily. You can now see the ducks come down from the roof of the hotel. The board a reserved elevator and when the doors open, they race for the the fountain. The entire show takes about 10 seconds. During this time the entire lobby fills with people just waiting to see the ducks. People wait an hour or more in advance to see the ducks. I waited 10 minutes and had a good view. The ducks walk along the red carpet at 11:00 am and 5:00 pm. Now that I have seen this, I will not be back.
In the battle of the best ribs in Memphis, Neely's just got a leg up on Rendezvous. Thank goodness for GPS because Neely's is a few miles from downtown in a neighborhood you probably would not want to get lost in. The area is surrounded by empty and abandoned buildings. My experience here was less than great. The service is classic "I don't care". My drink (Dr. Pepper) was a Diet Coke. They forgot the beans, cole slaw and bbq spaghetti on my order but again, did not seem to care. You get the feeling that none of the employees want to be here and they are doing you a favor for serving your food. This is not how the place was portrayed on The Travel Channels Best Ribs episode. Anyway, the ribs are delicious. The meat fell off the bone and was basted in a smokey bbq sauce. The Beef Link was a bit "gamey" but also good. I liked both the Beef and Pork Ribs. The beef brisket was a bit dry in parts. The pork shoulder is good but needs more sauce. All of these dishes come in the sampler platter for $18.75. More than enough food for two people even if they forget to give you three of the items. I would go back to Neely's in a heartbeat and only hope that the employees are in a better mood. A slab of ribs will set you back about $20 here. That includes Cole Slaw, Baked Beans and Bread if they remember to bring them. BBQ Sandwiches run around $5.
I would highly recommend a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel whenever you visit Memphis. This is a moving experience for all of us who respect Dr. Martin Luther King. Seeing the actual hotel and the tragic site of Dr. King's death really touched me. The tears swelled as I stood before the balcony where Dr. King was shot down at the young age of 39. He was in Memphis to organize and participate in a peaceful march for garbage workers. The night before his death he gave a speech that expressed his knowledge that he would not survive the week. At the end of the speech he fell back and was assisted to sit down by those around him. Dr. King was on his way to have dinner with a fellow preacher the evening of his death. One shot rang out from the building across the street while Dr. King stood on the balcony in front of room 306. The shot stopped a man, but not the will of the people. Here are Dr. King's words from his last speech. "Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody. I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord".
I have visited the Lorraine Hotel and walked into the room where Dr. King spent his last hours. The room has been restored just as it was when Dr. King was murdered. The museum also contains dozens of exhibits and chronicles the history of civil rights in America. The tour is $15 and well worth the price. I came to Memphis to see Elvis…..I left with with admiration and thoughts of Mr. King.
I had watched the best burger and best grease places on the Travel Channel. One restaurant made both lists. Dyer's Burger in Memphis, TN. My trip to Memphis had to include a stop at this burger legend. Located on Beale Street, Dyer's is one of many restaurants dotting the beer friendly street which is kind of like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. There were drunks on the street at noon here so I can't imagine what it is like at night. I am not going back to Beale Street. The big thing about Dyer's burger is that legend has it that they have been using the same grease to "fry" the burgers in since 1912. That's right, "fry" the burgers. The dip them in this pan of grease and let them sit. Watch the video and you can see the grease drip off the burger right before the cook places the patty on a bun. I call the burger Gus in the video and don't know why. It is a Dyer's burger. Not a Gus Burger. I ordered up a single burger with cheese ($3.99). The burger arrived dressed with pickles, onion and black pepper. Not much meat on the thing and not the greatest taste ever. You could however feel the grease on your fingers as you at the burger. Not satisfied, I requested another burger with the famous Dyer's chili. I was surprised when the burger arrived because the chile was almost no existent. While good and better than the plain burger I wish there was more chili. This was a place to get off my list of food places to visit. Did it and don't need to go back. Esquire Magazine listed Dyer's as one of the top 60 things worth doing to shorten your life. Playboy online recently rated Dyer's as the #3 best burger in America.