Category Archives: Dining and Food

Where to get food from fancy to fast in the Honolulu and beyond.

Hilo – Local Style Escape Plus Aussie Hospitality

Celebrating its 19th birthday on August 1, 2009, Arnott’s Lodge is set across nearly 2-acres of lush Hilo property in the residential community of Keaukaha just east of Hilo Bay. Arnotts-Lodge-Sign

 

Normally, on the Lodge’s anniversary, free pizza, beer, and sodas would be served to guests seated in the outside dining area, lit by kerosene lamps.  But on this particular day, the lodge is booked beyond capacity at discounted rates, mostly to accommodate paddlers from Neighbor Islands who came to Hilo to participate in the HCRA (Hawaii Canoe Racing Association) State Championship Regatta (race).

 

A participant in the regatta who didn’t book room reservations in a timely manner, I’m referred to Doug Arnott, the Lodge’s owner, originally from Sydney, Australia.  Doug offers me a ride to his Lodge, a spot on his couch, and some Aussie hospitality—befriending me as he did my friend who referred me to his lodge.

We arrive after dark at Arnott’s Lodge, which is bustling with teenage boys and women clad in swim suits and Pareos from Hanalei, Kaua‘i, who paddled in the regatta.  Doug’s name is called out every few minutes and he responds, making his guests feel at home, pulling out a new futon bed, coming up with change for the vending machines, and going into his special stash of refrigerated chocolate candies for some guests.  I can see where he gets his youthful appearance at the age of sixty something.Doug-Arnott

 

Not only does he go out of his way for guests, he maintains the property with minimal assistance, mowing the large yard, where tents now house paddlers and other tourists from around the world.  He also oversees the maintenance of the Lodge’s three dormitory style rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms; 30 private bedrooms and kitchens and its six new deluxe rooms with private bathrooms and kitchens.

 

“The Lodge has something for everyone, at half the price you’d find it elsewhere,” says Doug.

 

I agree, as I nod off on the couch to the sound of muffled conversations from the communal living area nearby.   The next morning, I’m reminded of California Disneyland’s Tiki Room when I awake to drizzling rain and chirping birds.  Rain or shine, I’ve already eyed the numerous bikes for rent at the Lodge.

 

Doug offers me a bike for the day—just what I need for my R& R.  I choose the beach cruiser.  No gears.  Very simple.  My path, suggested by Doug, down Kalanianaole Highway, leads me past black sand beaches and lagoons formed by black, jagged rocks.  On this overcast, yet muggy day, the water seems cooler and cleaner than on Oahu.  The thick granules of sand at Richardson Beach, where I park my bike, wash off my feet and legs easily.  I lay my head on a banyan tree root that supports one of the many trees on the beach and rest on pine needles.

 

Relaxing shouldn’t be so difficult, but I’ve had several cups of coffee at Bears Restaurant in Hilo town that morning.  Ants biting me add to my inability to relax.  But the few others on the beach are picnicking, snorkeling, or hanging out with friends.  Then I see the turtle…and thoughts of too much coffee and ants disappear.  The huge turtle is grazing like a cow on plankton on the rocks just inches from my toes. Arnotts-Lodging

 

I’m sure that Doug could tell me stories and details about these turtles, as he can talk about the Big Island’s geology and history like only someone who has lived there and hosted visitors for the past 19 years can.  Although I won’t be going on any of Arnott’s Lodge Hiking Adventures this trip, they are undoubtedly uplifting and learning experiences.  Doug has taken visitors on unique and varied expeditions, from viewing lava flows to hiking near the top of Mauna Kea Volcano.    His tailored expeditions are popular with travelers, especially backpackers, hikers, bikers, astronomers, and climbers who visit Arnott’s Lodge specifically for these adventures.

 

My return to Arnott’s Lodge from Richardson’s Beach is surprisingly melancholy.  Not only have I gotten rid of the “must wear” rash guard, I’m turning my bicycle handle bars from side to side and zig zagging my way back.  I must have dumped some stressors.

 

In my lightened mood, I stop by the Hilo Tropical Mart and buy two turkey sandwiches and Doritos.Hilo-Tropical-Mart Healthy enough for me.  But when I offer them to Doug, he’s already prepared avocado spread on Rye crackers and a blended concoction from the refrigerator.  No, not a margarita (darn), but a blended mix of fresh pineapple, oranges, and ginger.  I should eat like this more often.

 

A week at Arnott’s Lodge might have a positive effect on me.  It definitely provided me with a relaxing day.

 

For more info: www.arnottslodge.com

 

Things to do near Hilo:

Arnott’s Lava Hike Aventure

Arnott’s Maunakea summit Expedition

Arnott’s Valleys and Waterfalls Saturday Tour

Watch turtles at Onekahakaha Beach Park

Stroll Liliukalani Park and Coconut Island

See Rainbow Falls

Pack a lunch and go to Wailoa State Park

Shop at Hilo’s Farmer’s Market for fresh fruits, veggies, and Hawaiian crafts on Wednesdays & Saturdays

Go for a drive along the Hamakua Coast and stop at Akaka Falls, Honoka’a Town & Waipio valley

Visit Mauna Loa Macnut Farm and Factory

For chocolate and shortbread, visit Big Island Candies

Visit Imiloa Astonomy Center

Check out the Tsunami museum

Shop at Prince Kuhio Plaza, Wal Mart, and Borders

See a movie for $1 at Kress Cinemas downtown, Hilo

Take a free bus ride to Pahoa or Kona

Places to Eat and Drink in Hilo:

Bears Coffee Shop, downtown, or Ken’s House of Pancakes (open 24 hours and serves senior discounts from 3 – 8 p.m.)

Check out “What’s Shakin” Smoothie Shack on the scenic route 7 miles north of Hilo

Have coffee at Kope Kope

Have lunch/dinner at Café Pesto, downtown

Have Japanese food at Miyo’s

Dine out at Hilo Bay Café’

SEÑOR FROGS Waikiki Beach Honolulu Hawaii

barwebTequila…tequila…to kill ya! What more can I say about Señor Frogs? If you want togo to a happening party, Señor Frogs is the place. From the “party starter” deejay to the tequila shot-pouring dinosaur, Señor Frogs is non-stop activity. And if the drink, dance, and music don’t appeal to you, you might get a laugh from the décor and manbikinibuttsayings that speak to almost anyone.

This date comes on the heels of a hike up Kuliouou Ridge and ends with a beach walk. Why not? Mr. Frogs is right next to the newly renovated Waikiki Beach Walk.

Cost: $3 Jello shooters, Tong Margarita $12 each, most pupus about $12

Do’s and Don’ts: Go before 10 p.m. to avoid the $10 cover charge and long lines.

ART AFTER DARK – Honolulu Academy of the Arts- Hawaii

Big applause to the Honolulu Academy of Arts PR folks; they sure know how to put on a good event. ARTafterDARK, a premier event happening from 6 to 9 p.m. on most last Friday’s of the month draws attention to the Academy and its featured exhibits. We’ve never not had a good time at ARTafterDARK.
Show up, get food, get drink, see the exhibit and usually a lot of friends, and wander the beautiful grounds to see what is set up in every corner to entertain you. Then, dance to popular music in the open air courtyard at the Academy. The strict ending time of 9 p.m. is perfect—time to go off and hit the town, or, if you’re tired after a work day, head home.

This particular ARTafterDARK, entitled Dragon Thunder, featured the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and exhibits from the region. The monks, in colorful robes, helped out with the event—painting surfboards with regional designs, demonstrating Mandala sand painting, and ancient Buddhist dances.

Cost: $10 cover charge (free for members), $4-7 per plate of food, $4-6 drinks

Do’s and Don’ts on this date: Plan to be surprised and entertained. Stay near the main courtyard at the start of the event if you want a good view of the entertainment. Or—hit the food booths while everyone else crowds to see the entertainment. Don’t fret the early closing time; this is a great ice breaker for the start of your evening.

Halloween – Monster Mosh 2008

Website: http://www.honoluluacademy.org

Oahu’s Best – Waiola Hawaiian Shave Ice Honolulu Hawaii


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Waiola Shave Ice Honolulu Hawaii by Discover808.com. We found this place off of McCully in Kaimuki in 1985 when we lived on Algaroba street. It was our first Hawaiian Shave ice and while we are still looking, we have found no better. Serving Honolulu since 1940!!!

Cost: Cups from $2.00- $2.50, Bowls $4.00, Extras 50 cents each

Do’s and Don’ts: Do try the ice cream and azuki beans under your shave ice.

THE CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, Honolulu

Need something to uplift you or help you regain peace of mind? The Contemporary Art Museum in Makiki Heights can help you out. Walk on a path through a meandering garden of tropical plants.

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Or sit in David Hockney’s L’Enfant et les Sortil ges (The Child and the Enchantment), installed in the Milton Cades Pavilion. On the day of our visit, aerial beach and water scenes that were part of On the Beach: Photographs by Richard Misrach were on display.

The restaurant offers light fare and the Art Shop is the best place to find fun and unique gifts that anyone can appreciate. (Maybe!)

Cost:

Entry fee: $5.00 or $45 annual membership for you and a guest

Restaurant: Sweet & Sour Soup $3.50, Grilled Veggies on focaccia $10.50(we split one) and Freshly-Squeezed Lemonade $3.50

Do’s and Don’ts on this date: As long as you’re up in Makiki Heights, take a drive around Tantalus and Round Top for the most exquisite scenic views of Honolulu, and/or do a Tantalus Hike.

HAWAII POLO CLUB @ MOKULEIA FIELD ON OAHU’S NORTH SHORE

Mokuleia on Hawaii’s North Shore is home to The Hawaii Polo Club, which holds matches at the Hawaii Polo Field on most Sundays during the six-month polo season beginning in May. The Club celebrated its 43rd anniversary in 2008 and is part of a nearly 140-year history of polo in Hawaii. Visiting polo teams come from as far away as England and Argentina. And the club has coined its matches, Polo by the Sea, hosting spectators to exciting matches with rolling surf and white sand beaches as a backdrop.
Open to the public, the polo matches are a great excuse to drive to the “country” and relax near the ocean while enjoying the matches and other opening, half-time, and post game activities, including hang gliding demonstrations, food, drink, and bands. Our visit featured the band Green Eggs n’ Sam, dancing and dining. Bring your kids or date and check it out this Sunday!
Cost: $8 entry fee

Do’s and Don’ts: Get there early for seating with umbrellas; Games start at 2 p.m. (gates open at 11 a.m.). Although food and drinks can be purchased, we recommend bringing a cooler with food and drink. Beach chairs and an umbrella or small tent for shade are good ideas as well. Don’t run across the field during a match!!!

LE GUIGNOL FRENCH RESTAURANT HONOLULU Hawaii

ala-and-waitressHonolulu’s premiere French restaurant, Le Guignol, serves French cuisine in a comfortable, contemporary setting across the street from Thomas Square and cattycorner from Neil S. Blasdell Center. It’s the perfect place to start the evening before a concert or symphony.

Chef/Owner Travis “Ala” Sutton starts his days at 7 a.m. preparing lunch fare on Wednesdays and Saturdays and dinner on Tuesdays through Sundays. Sutton cooks everything that ends up on the table, including such classic French dishes as baked burgundy escargot with roasted garlic and parsley butter, cumin roasted leg of lamb with curry demi glaze and Serbian flageolet beans and caramelized onions, as well as a local favorite, pan-roasted Opakapaka fillet with anchovy and artichoke green puy lentils and Beurre Noisette.

lamb-chops

The restaurant has an intimate bistro feel with only 12 tables inside and three on the lanai. Leilani (Travis’ mom) greets you and, along with other wait staff, provides attentive service. Dress ranges from casual to dressy—whatever you plan to wear to the concert.

Cost: Roasted Opakapaka $28.95, Escargot $8.95

Do’s and Don’ts: Don’t forget your bottle of wine; it’s BYOB. Do call early to make reservations to avoid settling for fast food before a concert.

Website: http://www.leguignolrestaurant.com/

Menu: http://www.leguignolrestaurant.com/files/15332750.pdf

NINNIKU-YA JAPANESE GARLIC HOUSE RESTAURANT

91kfrontHidden in the now blossoming Kaimuki in Honolulu is the Japanese Garlic Restaurant, Ninniku-ya, which means Garlic House in Japanese. Owner Chef Eiyuki Endo uses 5-10 pounds of garlic per day creating just about everything garlic: whole roasted Garlic Cloves, Garlic Spinach Salad, Garlic Soup, Garlic Avocado Ahi appetizer, Escargot, Ahi in a Garlic-Ginger sauce, Pasta with creamy Garlic-tomato sauce spiked with king crab, and Angus steaks served on a sizzling garlic-roasted81hot stone with Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Finish it off with Sorbet with light Garlic sauce. Anything without garlic? The Blueberry Martini, ahhhh…. Open since 1976 on Waialae Ave near Chaminade University, this little gem features indoor and outside seating, and casual dress code (where do you have to dress up in Honolulu, anyway?). We split the filet, escargot, spinach salad, avocado ahi pupu with a side of roasted garlic and were pleasantly stuffed.

Cost of Date: Most appetizers $12-16; Filet $38; Roasted Garlic $8; Blueberry Martini $8

Do’s and Don’ts on the date: Do get there early to find parking. Don’t expect anyone down wind (for the next 2 days) to not wonder where you’ve been.

THE VERANDA (at The Kahala Hotel and Resort)

charlotte-and-david

Our day hike was followed by a relaxing—sorta—evening with friends. It started at Judy’s place with her special peppermint, chocolate rimmed martinis. Then we were off in a hurry to hit the dance floor at The Kahala Hotel and Resort. Not sure if they really have a dance floor or not in their room called The Veranda. But we make one.

David Swanson gets the crowd—mostly couples and groups from 35 years on up—swinging with his smooth jazz, including George Bensen and Stevie Wonder.

Cost:

Two drinks: $14 each
Pupus: Free crackers, olives, and olive tapenade

Do’s and Don’ts on this date: For anyone who doesn’t know how to dance, just follow Judy Chorus Line (or are they aerobics?) steps

FIRST NIGHT (Streets of Chinatown) Honolulu Hawaii

1stnight

As part of Honolulu Chinatown’s revitalization, First Night happens on the first Friday of every month.Art galleries, typically closed during the evenings, open from 5 to 9 p.m. I thought that on this cold, rainy evening, most locals would skip First Night.I was wrong.Chinatown was hopping, from Indigo, where we started our date (and skipped the recommended Green Room, going to the slightly less crowded bar instead) to art galleries and 39 Hotel—where performance artists entertained us (and made me want to finger paint).