Kaimuki's 12th Ave Grill Goes Big

The biggest little neighborhood restaurant.


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Left: 12th Ave Grill’s pork belly confit, lacquered with Maui dark rum and pineapple. Right: The meatloaf melt, available at the bar an hour after opening and an hour before closing.
Photos: steve czerniak

 

It is ridiculous that this is a meal for two. I could be auditioning for Man vs. Food, facing down an eating challenge of two full racks of ribs, a bowl of baked beans, a casserole of creamed corn and a dish of coleslaw. And this is before the two thick slices of toffee chocolate cheesecake. This is 12th Ave Grill’s Sunday Supper. A meal for two? More like a meal for me and a paddling club.

But I’m not complaining, any more than I’d complain about too much food at Thanksgiving. I could eat this for days—the smoked ribs in barbecue sauce sharpened with a bit of pomegranate, coleslaw with shards of asparagus for character, creamed corn that still retains the sweetness and crunch of fresh corn. And baked beans!

I love baked beans, especially these, cloaked in molasses.

12th Ave Grill's Sunday Supper, a weekly-changing family-style feast. This week: fried chicken, biscuits and gravy.

The Sunday Supper, which changes weekly, is one of my favorite things about the new 12th Ave Grill. The restaurant has moved and expanded into a space more than twice its original size, but it is still one of the coziest and most comfortable dining experiences in Honolulu. And when the table is laid out like it is for Sunday specials, with plates of ribs or fried chicken or meatloaf plunked down in the middle, it feels like I have sat down to a family feast, where there is always too much food and everyone always takes home leftovers.

This is the new 12th Ave Grill, bigger and better.

For almost 10 years, 12th Ave Grill was squished into an unpromising alleyway in Kaimuki, the kind that, if you were in any other major city, you’d feel uncomfortable walking down. The restaurant faced C&C Pasta Factory’s dumpsters. Some of its other neighbors were Sconees Bakery, Duk Lee and Victoria Inn, a 30-year-old peas-and-carrots, rice-and-brown-gravy kind of place that served pudding in metal dishes. It would be almost a decade before a punk rocker would open his cheesecake shop around the corner, a former gelato truck would take over Covenant Bookstore and a craft beer bar would open a few blocks away.

The times, they are a changin’.

Chef/owner Kevin Hanney has been part of Kaimuki’s change. Three years ago, he took over the C&C Pasta Factory space and installed Salt, an upscale neighborhood bar with a charcuterie program.

And last year, he decided 12th Ave Grill would celebrate its 10th birthday where Victoria Inn used to be.

Read More Stories by Martha Cheng

 

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