This Kaka‘ako Café Serves Some of the Best Bagels in the Islands
Café Grace takes bagels to a new level.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt
For just over a year, Café Grace has served breakfast, lunch and drinks in true café style. The quiet-yet-businesslike Imperial Plaza, at the edge of Kaka‘ako, is part of what makes this a walkable neighborhood, with Grace giving a café-cool (read: not-too-hipster) vibe that is, hopefully, indicative of what’s coming to SALT this fall.
Café Grace is owned by Terumi F. Drake, the woman behind Lox of Bagels, which makes the best bagels in the state, according to tripping.com. You can find many of the same menu items here as at Lox of Bagels, along with cozy armchairs, reclaimed-wood furniture, potted plants, art for sale and bright colors that immediately make us want to settle in for a long afternoon of cofficing. Who can say no to being surrounded by the smells of coffee and bread?
For its one-year anniversary, Café Grace debuted a slew of new items made in-house with fresh ingredients. In addition to bagels and bagel sandwiches, the café serves pizza, pasta, soup, salad, desserts, drinks and more. We started with the new tofu watercress salad ($8.95), which comes with onions, tomatoes and a side of miso vinaigrette. We quickly devoured the tofu, springy and moist, before making much of a dent in the watercress, which was too much stalk, like eating a plate of celery. But we loved the house-made dressing, just sweet enough to overcome the bitter greens.
Paniolo Pork ($10.45).
We wanted to try the new prosciutto pizza but, sadly, it was unavailable that day. Instead, we opted for the Paniolo Pork ($10.45), a house-made pulled-pork sandwich with barbecue sauce and bacon coleslaw on a taro bagel. The sauce was tangy, with a bit too much vinegar for our taste, especially when there’s coleslaw along with it. We favored the sides: a green salad with some vinaigrette, and a mini-puck-size serving of quinoa with chunks of peppers.
Banana Walnut French Toast ($6.95).
Where Café Grace really shines, though, is right where you’d expect it to: with its bagels. One of our favorite dishes was the banana walnut French toast ($6.95), made with bagels instead of stale bread. Often, soaking bread in eggs and milk or cream can make it heavy or fall apart if you leave it too long, but the bagel slices actually seemed to soften all the way through while maintaining structure, making them light and chewy. With bits of walnut inside the bagel, topped with a few slices of fresh banana, powdered sugar, syrup and whipped cream, we knew what we’d order more of next time. And we’ll make all our French toast with bagels from now on.
Bagel Puff ($1.95) and Oreo Cupcake ($2.95).
For dessert (the French toast doesn’t count because, I lied, we actually ate that first—don’t judge!), we had to try a bagel puff ($1.95): bagel dough that is baked and filled with cream cheese and rolled in cinnamon sugar. By early afternoon, there were only two left, along with two strawberry guava puffs. (The café also sells toasted day-old puffs at 25-percent off.) The outside of the puff was warm and crackly, like cinnamon toast, but soft and gooey on the inside. We could eat these all day but, instead, we left just enough room for a delicate Oreo cupcake ($2.95), a lighter version of the dense devil’s food cakes most bakeries sell as their chocolate staples.
The cozy vibe, breakfast-for-every-meal menu items and bagel sandwiches make Café Grace an exciting reason to venture an extra few blocks out of downtown. And we’ll be back to try that pizza.
Imperial Plaza, 725 Kapi‘olani Blvd., open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., validated or street parking, 492-1470
Join us for Cirque du Cuisine! Dine on circus-inspired dishes from 13 award-winning restaurants under the stars in Waikīkī at the 2016 Hale ‘Aina Awards Celebration. Get your tickets to the event now.