Ars Café: Monsarrat’s Hidden Gem for Brunch and Art
Art and avocado toast enthusiasts inquire within.
Photos: Marisa Hartzell
It is with much reluctance that I write this review—Ars Café is my absolute favorite breakfast spot that’s not only within walking distance of my house but always seems to have an open seat.
Hidden in plain sight near bustling Bogart’s Café and Da Cove Health Bar and Café, Ars Café on Monsarrat Avenue offers a more sophisticated breakfast. Besides a local slow-drip coffee, there’s an array of freshly baked breads and rotating exhibitions of artwork to elevate the experience.
Inside, dark wooden décor with brassy gold accents emotes an old-time barbershop feeling that is complete with a jazzy, piano-forward record playing in the background. Here you can find Monsarrat locals (like myself), townie hipsters and the occasional group of tourists who just completed their trek to the top of Diamond Head.
Behind the counter you’ll find coffee brewed with a collection of science-experiment-worthy instruments—slow-dripping and brewing local Kona and Maui coffees. My favorite morning treat here, a sweet, honey-cinnamon latté ($5.50), comes in a hand-thrown ceramic mug.
Instead of a hearty, smothered-in-hollandaise-and-gravy breakfast that might send you right back to bed, Ars Café offers a balanced meal that leaves you energized and ready. Its avocado toast ($10.50) comes sprinkled with feta and chopped beets, topped by a perfectly poached egg with a generous side of arugula salad served on a dark wooden slab.
Ars Café also offers a blended Super Green Bowl ($9.50) topped with sliced strawberries, bananas and blueberries as a greener alternative to an acai bowl. A tray beneath the counter offers fresh baked goods, from banana breads to flaky sausage croissants, made every morning.
Bamboom Hilo 2018
Photo: Courtesy of Bobby asato
For the month of July, Bobby Asato, owner of film store Treehouse in Kakaʻako, is displaying photos shot in black and white on film that he developed in his own bathroom darkroom. Culled from annual trips to the Big Island, the collection, Blandscapes, features seemingly mundane, overgrown landscapes. Yet each photo captures Big Island in all of its untouched simplicity: cottages surrounded with thick native greenery and unpaved open roads lined with royal palms. There’s a vintage feel that goes well with the café’s overall theme.
“I enjoy the process, slowing down, thinking about your shots,” he says, explaining why he prefers film stock to digital. “Film photos seem to have more depth to me and the grain adds to the classic way of capturing photographs.”
There’s currently no wi-fi at Ars Café, so grab a book and a good friend and immerse yourself in a coffee shop that takes you back to a simpler, slower time.
Ars Café and Gelato, 3116 Monsarrat Ave., (808) 734-7897, ars-cafe.com.