Along with sand and sea, sun is one of Waikiki’s touted attributes, but even after the sun goes down there’s a lot to do in Honolulu’s famous beach locale. Open-air bars and creative cuisine contribute two more “S’s” — suppers and sips — to Waikiki’s motto.
For those with a laid-back business day, happy hour starts at 2 p.m. at Bills Sydney, the local outpost of an Australian chain renowned for creamy scrambled eggs and all-day pancakes. The bar serves premium cocktails from $5, Bikini Blonde Lager and other draft beers at $4, and snacks from cassava chips to Korean fried chicken.
The Trump Hotel’s Wai’olu Ocean View Lounge serves Sunset Fare 3–6 p.m. Draft beer is $3, but the mandatory beverage is “the world’s best mai tai” topped with sorbet and a chunk of caramelized pineapple. Linger Friday evenings until 7:45 p.m. for a comfortable vantage point to view the nearby Hawaiian Village’s fireworks display.
When President Obama comes “home” to Honolulu, he’s apt to dine at Morimoto, the chic contemporary restaurant of The Modern Honolulu hotel. Servers point out the favorite spot where the president enjoys the likes of seven types of sushi/sashimi, toro tartare and Waikiki steak.
For another presidential favorite, head to the grande dame Royal Hawaiian hotel’s Azure Restaurant to sample fish guaranteed freshly caught and purchased each morning at Pier 38. Monday evenings from 5:30 to 8 p.m. the hotel serves an Aha’aina lu’au on the beach, the historic playground of Hawai’ian royalty. Summoned by conch shell, guests swathed with leis watch craft demonstrations and move on to a multicourse dinner acknowledging the region’s ethnic groups. It all winds up with local songs and mandatory hula dancing, a nice encapsulation of local tradition.
Also steeped in tradition, Moana Surfrider serves cocktails and steaks on the beach. Hy’s, a 35-year-old local favorite with the Downton Abbey feel of a stately English library, serves prime rib, kiawe-broiled rack of lamb and lobster.
Close to the Convention Center, try innovative Hawai’ian-fusion sushi across the street at YuZu in the Ala Moana Hotel. Liquor is BYOB, but the 5–6 p.m. happy hour offers $3 edamame and $5 hand rolls.
Upstairs in the Ala Moana Center, enjoy open-air dining at Longhi’s, known for its Mediterranean décor. Sample founder Bob Longhi’s creations: shrimp and scallops with diced tomatoes and basil, lobster stuffed with macadamia nut breadcrumbs and Quintessential Macaroni and Cheese with garlic and anchovies. Top them off with Carmel Knowledge, a concoction of fruit, vanilla gelato and candied macadamia nuts swimming in hot caramel sauce.
At the far end of Waikiki near Kapi’olani Park, Queen’s Surf Beach draws a mostly gay and lesbian crowd. A few blocks away on the second floor of the Grand Hotel, Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand offers nightly specials: Tuesday, $5 José Cuervo shots go with $2 Tuesday Tacos. Not far away, Bacchus Waikiki proclaims itself Honolulu’s “hottest gay bar” with Margarita Mondays, Tequila Thursdays and Kinky Saturdays.
Also near the park, bartender Charlene Moe serves a mai tai with plum and licorice li hing powder at Hotel Renew’s cozy bar. Or vie with hip locals and visitors for a seat at Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar & Grill, specializing in group table sharing. Any individual can indulge in the oversized servings of garlic ribeye steak or Dynamite Shrimp wok-fired in garlic chili aioli topped with Parmesan panko crust, guaranteed to tide you over until Waikiki’s sun reappears.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
Without visiting, it’d be easy to throw Chicago into any number of categories. Everyone thinks they know Chicago; after all, it’s the third-largest city in America, the most prestigious foodie city in the country, the city of jazz, a comedian’s playground, an architect’s dream, a writer’s paradise. The list goes on. Only when walking the streets themselves do you realize there’s nothing categorical about the Windy City, especially as it continues to evolve.
PHOTO: © ADRIAN OLSTAD
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