Restaurant Guide: 25 Reasons to Eat Breakfast
Reason No. 1: A perfect day on Oahu starts with the Surf and Turf eggs Benedict from Plumeria Beach House, at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. That’s beef tenderloin, tucked under crab meat and poached eggs. 5000 Kahala Ave., 739-8760. (For lunch and dinner, see Four Perfect Days.)
PHOTO: MONTE COSTA
Put down that boring box of bran, because we have found the most delicious, wake-me-up and go-go breakfasts available from Island restaurants. Whether you are a syrup-dipping waffle lover or want a savory, protein-packed treat, it’s all here. And don’t worry; if you can’t get out of bed in the morning, there are plenty of places where you can order breakfast all day long.
“I have a passion for cooking; that’s what sparked me to do this,” says Chrissie Castillo, who opened Café Kaila (her middle name) in October of 2007. “I tested my favorite recipes with my roommates, friends and family and what they liked made the menu.” The approved items included waffles, omelets, breakfast wraps, French toast, bagel sandwiches and Castillo’s made-from-scratch “light and fluffy, but not too sweet” pancakes in banana, blueberry, strawberry and caramelized apple. Get there early, as lines are often out the door. But then again, take your time. Breakfast is served all day. 2919 Kapiolani Blvd. Suite 219, (808) 732-3330.
Tied one on last night? Bogart's Cafe has steak and eggs to make you feel better.
PHOTO: SHEILA SARHANGI
This may be a surprise to some loyal patrons, but Bogart’s Café wasn’t always a restaurant. In fact, it was an ice cream and shave ice parlor. In 2000, Maria Barnette bought the store and converted it into a breakfast place, keeping the name, which was in honor of the previous owner’s Labrador. It’s safe to say that almost every item on the menu is what you’re hoping for. Key dishes, however, include the breakfast bagel, vegetarian omelet, Hawaiian waffle (topped with seasonal fruit and a homemade haupia sauce) and the large-portion, rib-eye steak and eggs, an item popular among hangover sufferers. 3045 Monsarrat Ave., Suite 3, 739-0999.
The little-known trick to Mix Café is to order your waffle after the downtown eatery’s breakfast hours. Sure, you risk the chance that the batter will run out, leaving you waffle-less, but you have a higher chance that the friendly staff will dump all the leftover berries onto your freshly made Belgian delicacy ($6). Sweet, savory and (if you play your cards right) filled to the brim with seasonal fruits, Mix’s notepad-size waffle is the perfect late-morning fix. Not in the mood for waffles? Check out the café’s yogurt, cups of fruit, muffins and fresh daily assortment of baked goods. Breakfast served Monday through Friday, 7 to 9:30 a.m. 1025 Alakea St., 532-4540.
Lox of Bagels
Sure, you can get all kinds of bagels at Lox of Bagels, but try something new and order bagel puffs. They look like a giant donut hole, basically, but are made of bagel dough and stuffed with yummy options like cream cheese, peanut butter, chocolate or an paste with sesame seeds. They are 89 cents for a cream cheese; $1.29 for the other varieties. Open Mon. to Fri., 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Sun. 111 Sand Island Access Road, 845-2855.
The Cream Pot
The Cream Pot, which opened in February 2008, can’t be in Waikiki (even though it is.) Instead, it looks like the shabby-chic cottage of a well-to-do French countrywoman—lace curtains, dried flowers, brass kitchen utensils on the wall. Owner Nathan Tran’s motto is: “When cooking, little things make a difference.” Like his décor, his dishes aim for detail. The salmon eggs Benedict is made with a lighter mornaise sauce, not heavy hollandaise; Belgian waffles are made with yeast, not baking powder (sans chalky texture); and the burgundy beef stew omelet is cooked in red wine and then reduced for 15 hours. At press time, outdoor seating is also in the works. 444 Niu St., 429-0945.
In May, Town added daily breakfast specials to its tasty, yet limited, morning menu. Why? Sous chef Alika Chung switched from nights to days, and as chef and owner Ed Kenney puts it: “The guy can cook.” Chung’s handful or so of creations can change by the day, but one crave-worthy item is the grilled polenta, made with juicy pancetta, organic kale, a sunny-side-up egg and grated Parmesan. The best part about mornings at Town? Sunlight spills into the dining room, speakers release upbeat music, Illy coffee awaits and free Wi-Fi is available for those (ahem) who need to get some work done. 3435 Waialae Ave., 735-5900.
PHOTO: SHEILA SARHANGI
Diamond Head Cove Health Bar
Virginio “Marcus” Marcos, owner of Diamond Head Cove Health Bar, won’t tell us how many açaí (ah-sigh-ee) bowls he sells in a month. “But,” he says, “it’s a lot!” The purple berry, which is plucked from palm trees in the Brazilian Amazon, is touted as a superfood, packed with antioxidants, essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. (Oprah even features the fruit on her Web site.) The “Da Cove Bowl,” Marcos’ biggest seller, features frozen açaí blended with apple juice or soy milk, organic crunchy granola, fresh strawberries, local apple bananas and Big Island honey. Tip: Eat quickly; it melts fast. 3045 Monsarrat Ave. Suite 5, 732-8744, www.diamondheadcove.com.
At the entrance to Mac 24/7 is the Mac Daddy Hall of Fame. Getting your photo on the wall of pancake fame seems easy enough; simply finish your plate. But just how big are the Mac Daddy Pancakes ($15)? About the size of three large pizzas—each one-inch thick—stacked with your choice of bananas, chocolate and walnuts or pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts. The result: too much food even for four hungry co-workers and a newfound respect for the two Mac Daddys. The best way to tackle the beast? Skip the edges and go straight for the chocolatey center. The restaurant is open and serves breakfast 24 hours a day, seven days a week; just ask for the breakfast menu. Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel lobby level, 2500 Kūhiō Ave., 921-5564.
Eggs 'n' Things
In March, Eggs ‘n’ Things moved locations, from Kalakaua Avenue to Saratoga Road, to be wheelchair accessible. Another change? The breakfast haven’s late night/early morning hours are a thing of the past. (The restaurant is now open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) “Basically, we weren’t making money at those hours,” says general manager Michael Skedeleski, who adds that they might reinstate them on weekends due to requests from many locals. Some things, however, are the same: servers sport colorful home-sewn aprons, the strawberry whipped pancakes are the most popular item (selling 100 per day), and the fresh ‘ahi and eggs. 343 Saratoga Road, 949-0820.
Koa Pancake House
After tasting numerous breakfast items from the menu, it became clear that the pancakes are indeed what define Koa Pancake House. We recommend the banana pancakes—light, fluffy and perfectly portioned, with slices of banana peeking out the top. And they’re cheap: A short stack of three is $3.50, or fill up on five for $4.50. Other flavors include buttermilk, blueberry, pecan or chocolate. With five locations around the island and breakfast hours that run into the afternoon, there’s no reason to miss breakfast anymore. Daily, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., multiple locations, www.koapancakehouse.net.
With four different preparations and the self-proclaimed title of “World Famous,” it’s easy to be tempted by Longhi’s eggs Benedict ($15). The appeal isn’t just in the fancy variations (Crab Cake Benedict and Lobster Benedict), but in the bread. Longhi’s has nixed the dull English muffin for an inch-thick slice of crispy French baguette. The result: a lightly toasted crust that contrasts with the softness of the poached egg. The hollandaise sauce clings to the edges of the baguette to create a perfect sauce-to-egg ratio with every bite. Fresh-brewed coffee and a view of Ala Moana beach don’t hurt either. Breakfast served Monday through Friday, 8 to 11 a.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Ala Moana Center, 947-9899.
PHOTO: COURTESY LONGHI'S
Tango Contemporary Cafe’s Finnish chef Goran Streng is known to add his Nordic flair to local flavors, and his Swedish pancakes are no exception. The dough is a mix of a pancake and a crepe, creating an ideal balance of fluffy and savory. No syrup is necessary for these blini-shaped pancakes. Instead, Tango tops its “Plattar” ($7.75) with a light fruit salad of cantaloupe, melon and strawberries and a side of jam. Not in the mood for sweets? Check out Tango’s Loco Moco Benedict ($9.50): two poached eggs served atop braised beef and a dollop of fried rice. Sounds odd, but it’s delectable. Breakfast served Monday through Friday, 7 to 10 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 to 10:30 a.m. 1288 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 120, 593-7288.
It’s bright and early and you’re in the mood for some breakfast. How about treating your stomach to something a little different? Forget the pancakes, skip the bacon and head over to Kaimuki’s Victoria Inn for a Japanese-style breakfast ($6.50). Served on a compartmentalized tray, the breakfast comes with miso soup, a dish of tsukemono, cold tofu, a choice of mahimahi or salmon, one egg and a bowl of rice. Who said Japanese portions were small? Breakfast served daily from 6 to 10 a.m. 1120 12th Ave., 735-1782.
PHOTO: COURTESY VICTORIA INN
Hawaiian Style Cafe
We heard Hawaiian Style Cafe portions were huge, but in person “Da Tita Mok” was almost as intimidating as the name—a hamburger patty, two slices of Spam, chicken cutlet, a fried egg, grilled onions, fried rice and gravy. Stand-in-line popular and no-frills, this café is as comfortable as your favorite uncle’s kitchen. Southern transplants will be shocked to see biscuits and gravy just like Gramma’s, only super-size. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sundays till noon. 64-1290 Kawaihae Road, Kamuela, (808) 885-4295.
Kawaihae Harbor Grill
Chef Darcy Ambrosio and Kawaihae Harbor Grill have a reputation for ultra-fresh fish and seafood at other times of the day. But at breakfast with the girls, we discover a softer side: “Orange Blossom French Toast,” a sensuous set of thick Punaluu-style sweetbread slices, soaked in egg batter and stuffed with orange zest-cream cheese, a perfect choice with mimosas. Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 61-3462 Kawaihae Road, Kamuela, (808) 882-1368.
PHOTO: KIRK LEE AEDER
In Kailua-Kona, U-Top-It chef Curtis Masuda’s original taro “PanCrepes” are piled with or wrapped around sweet and savory combinations of 57 ingredients to suit whatever you’re ono for. We started off with a Grilled Veggie PanCrepe, loaded with organic greens and fresh veggies, then rewarded ourselves with “Berries Royal,” three crepes with vanilla crème, whipped cream, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, raspberry drizzle and powdered sugar. Open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily except Mondays. 75-5799 Ali‘i Drive, Coconut Grove Market Place, Kailua-Kona, (808) 329-0092.
Ken's House of Pancakes
On the Hilo side, landmark Ken’s House of Pancakes deserves its own red alii marker. Open 24/7, Ken’s has authentic leatherette booths, a lovingly worn counter and spinny stools, a celebrity photo wall and a mega-menu—with surprisingly good heart-healthy, sugar-free and meatless options. Carnivores go for “Sumo Moco,” with three eggs, six scoops rice and gravy over either four Spam slabs, a 5-ounce beef patty or 6-ounce mahi, served with big bell ringing and staff bellowing “Sumo!” Open 24 hours a day. 1730 Kamehameha Ave. (808) 935-8711.
Joe's on the Green
Names have a way of cropping up on the menu at South Shore eatery Joe’s on the Green. There’s Kent’s Tofu Scramble. Josephine’s Banana-Macadamia Nut Pancakes. Jane’s Huevo’s Rancheros. Local Joe’s Special. And even though co-owner Caroline Frederiksen created and self-titled the open-air restaurant’s breakfast burrito, she admits Michael’s Eggs Benedict ($11.25) is the most popular item on the breakfast menu. Why? “It’s the sauce,” she says. “It’s nothing without the sauce.” According to Frederiksen, customers claim Michael’s Eggs Benedict is the absolute best in the world. Seriously. Michael, on the other hand, is keeping quiet. He’s the restaurant’s longtime chef, and, like most cooks with a hit on their hands, he’s not sharing the secret ingredients. Smart man. Breakfast from 7 to 11:30 a.m. daily. 2545 Kiahuna Plantation Dr., Poipu, (808) 742-9696.
Sometimes a simple ingredient can make all the difference. Take the Amigas Scramble ($9.50) at Olympic Café. The recipe goes something like this: Mix up a fresh batch of salsa fresca—onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Scramble three eggs. Combine together. Add plenty of cheese. Cook. Here comes the key ingredient: As the eggs set, crush a handful of tortilla chips and fold into the eggs. The chips add a sweet corn flavor, a hint of salt and a slight crunch. But that’s not all to this meal’s sensual delights. A side of cold, sliced papaya with a wedge of lime cools the mouth. Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to noon, daily. 4-1354 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa. (808) 822-5825.
PHOTO: KICKA WHITE
The dessert king of Kauai, Lappert’s also roasts its own coffee—blends with at least 10 percent of the beans from around the Hawaiian Islands as well as pure Hawaiian estate coffees. At Old Koloa Town, Lappert’s opens daily at the bright and bushy hour of 6 a.m., before any other shops prop open their doors, but, certainly, not before the neighborhood roosters start crowing. And because everyone knows coffee tastes better with a little something to nibble on, Lappert’s also bakes fresh daily a variety of rolls, muffins and cookies, all highlighting tropical tastes such as pineapple, passionfruit and coconut. Try the Caramel Macadamia Nut Sticky Bun. Just the name makes us salivate. Daily, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 5424 Koloa Road, Koloa, (808) 742-1272.
Cafe Des Amis
There is no food more versatile than a crepe. Loaded with meat, cheese and veggies, it’s fit to fill the belly of the biggest wave rider. Dusted in sugar, it’s the perfect keiki finger food. At Cafe Des Amis, they have all the bases covered—from protein-stuffed to smothered in strawberries and whipped cream. Don’t miss the lime and Maui sugar cane crepe ($3.95). The tangy lime is a great pick-me-up, while crunchy sugar crystals and velvety crepe satisfy the carb-craving sweet tooth in all of us. Breakfast served 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., or until they “run out of eggs,” daily. 42 Baldwin Ave., Paia, (808) 579-6323.
Maui folks love their dry-min for breakfast and there is no better place for it than Sam Sato’s, a Mom-and-Pop that’s been serving food for generations. Sam Sato’s always serves dry-min ($4.95 for a small) in a bowl rather than a plate, filled to the brim with chewy, perfectly cooked saimin noodles topped with bean sprouts, green onions and a generous portion of char sui you will later dream about. The broth is served in a small bowl on the side for dipping bites or slowly sipping at the end of the meal. Local faves can be added ala cart for a breakfast that will hold you to dinner. Breakfast served 7 to 11 a.m. daily except Mondays, dry-min served until 2:30 p.m. 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, (808) 244-7124.
PHOTO: RYAN SIPHERS
Kula Sandalwood Cafe
Sweeping views of the entire island and a homemade hollandaise sauce that you’ll trade your firstborn for in exchange for the recipe come to mind when thinking about Kula Sandalwood Café, perched way above sea-level on Mount Haleakala. But the real gem in this family-run establishment is the order of hotcakes ($6.95). Golden brown and seemingly stacked to the ceiling, surrounded by fresh Kula strawberries and Maui apple bananas, the cakes appear innocent enough for the first few bites of fluffy goodness, but will stick to your ribs like a hot bowl of oatmeal. Breakfast served 7 to 11 a.m. daily. 15427 Haleakala Hwy, Kula, (808) 878-3523.
Whether you are hiking around in search of petroglyphs, paying homage at the Garden of the Gods, swimming with pods of dolphins at sunrise or taking aim with a shotgun on your shoulder while clay shooting, Lanai is a place where a hearty breakfast is more than a luxury; it’s a necessity. At The Terrace, inside the Lodge at Koele, try the Hawaiian Paniolo Ranchero ($20). You’ll get two Island eggs over-easy, smoky kālua pork fried rice, Portuguese sausage and ranchero sauce to fuel your adventures. Breakfast served 7 to 11 a.m. in the lobby level of the Lodge of Koele , 1 Keomoku Hwy, Lanai City, (808) 565-4000.