7 Kaimukī Sweet Spots to Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings
When it comes to desserts, Kaimukī is tops.
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Via Gelato flavors include stracciatella chocolate chip, peppermint Oreo and green tea.
Photo: Steve Czerniak
Kaimukī earned a sweet reputation for its bakeries decades ago.
Old-timers fondly recall the danishes from Dick’s Bakery, the homemade bread from Choice Bakery, the butter rolls and long johns from 9th Avenue Bakery, the pumpkin and custard pies from Bea’s Bakery, and the chantilly cake and pancakes from Tropic Bakery. Later, there were decorated cakes from Cakeland and giant glazed doughnuts from Kimuraya Bakery.
And then they all closed, one by one, replaced with trendy restaurants, small boutiques and cubicled offices.
But, in recent years, there’s been a noticeable resurgence of dessert and sweet shops in Kaimukī, particularly along Wai‘alae and 12th avenues. In a single year, three sweet spots—a bakery, a cheesecake boutique and a gelato shop—moved into the area, just blocks from each other. And Kaimukī’s newer restaurants—Koko Head Café, Koa Pancake House, a renovated 12th Ave Grill, Town and Kaimukī Superette—have lured more and more people to this sleepy neighborhood in search of tasty bites.
“It’s definitely become a food destination,” says Ron Arnold, president of the Kaimukī Business and Professional Association, pastor at Kaimukī Christian Church and longtime area resident, who recently indulged in a slice of cheesecake at Otto Cake on 12th Avenue. “In fact, the thing I love about Kaimukī is that it’s still a walking community with a downtown atmosphere. It’s got its own identity, and people come from all over the island to Wai‘alae Avenue. It’s our Restaurant Row.”
There are a few established places—like Café Laufer and JJ Bistro & French Pastry on Wai‘alae—that built their businesses on their pastries, cakes and profiteroles. And there are smaller ones—like Jewel or Juice on Koko Head Avenue and the Pillbox Pharmacy on 11th Avenue—that lure customers with a few sweet treats. (Jewel or Juice is known for its smoothies and acai bowls; the Pharmacy serves Cascade Glacier-brand ice cream.) And most restaurants here, including Big City Diner with its homemade bread pudding topped with a haupia creme sauce, and Café Miro with its famous crème brûlée, have sought-after desserts on their menus.
“When you look back over the last 15 years, oh, my gosh, the growth,” says Lane Muraoka, owner and president of Big City Diner. “There are so many choices. You can eat at a different place every single day the whole week. It’s really a cool place to hang out.”