Restaurant Guide: Four Perfect Days
We have assembled the ideal breakfast, lunch and dinner itineraries for Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. This is a gourmand’s fantasy trip—we set aside all earthly concerns, including logistics, calories and budget. Enjoy these, our recommendations for four flawless days’ worth of Island dining.
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Tip Top Cafe isn’t a ritzy resort restaurant. Far from it. Step inside this Lihue eatery and slip back into the 1960s, à la diners with vinyl booths. The hands-down favorite at this 93-year-old restaurant is the full stack of pancakes ($5.50). Try them with banana, macadamia nut and pineapple. Not a pancake person? You will be.
Jonathan Ota, a fourth-generation manager of this family-owned restaurant, gives credit to his grandfather’s secret recipe. The made-from-scratch pancake batter contains all fresh, natural ingredients. That’s all Ota will share when asked about the recipe, though some patrons speculate it must be sugar that gives the pancakes a crispy edge. Others venture that the key is a super-hot griddle, or that it’s more of a cake mix than pancake. Besides Ota, only one person in the kitchen knows the secret. 3173 Akahi St., Lihue, (808) 245-2333.
Roll up the sleeves of your rash guard and dig into a hands-on feast right on the beach from Anini Beach Lunch Shak. There, longtime surfer Barr Surles serves up tacos, burritos and flautas with your choice of fish, shrimp, calamari or chicken from his mobile lunch van. (Talk about a room with a view.)
We like the Baja-style House Combo ($8.50), a soft corn taco and flauta stuffed with beer-battered fried fish—usually local-caught ono—and refried beans. When we were there, Surles whispered, “It’s the best on the menu,” in between taking orders, frying fish and answering the nonstop ringing of the phone with locals calling in their orders. Surles’ tops his dishes with homemade salsa fresca and cilantro-jalapeno sauces. Anini Road, (808) 635-7425.
Imagine the casual, country feel of the Mediterranean regions of Europe. It’s dinnertime. Neighbors and family line a long table under the stars. Conversation and laughter float through the air. Wine flows. The season’s latest harvest or catch gets passed around. Now, move that scene to the cozy surf town of Hanalei. That’s what you’ll find at Bar Acuda, a tapas-style eatery with a menu inspired by chef/owner Jim Moffat’s years of travel around southern France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. His preference for simple, savory foods comes together in the Seared Sea Scallops ($16), two tender scallops pan-seared in a truffle demi-glaze and served over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. 5-5161 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, 808-826-7081.