Tommy Bahama’s New Retail Store in Waikīkī Comes With a Restaurant and Rooftop Lounge
The first Tommy Bahama “island” in Hawai‘i will host its grand opening this Friday.
‘Ahi tuna Tacos with wonton shells, island slaw and wasabi-avocado puree.
Photos: Courtesy of Tommy Bahama
If you’re like us, you had no idea the Island-lifestyle retail chain Tommy Bahama also served food. But executive vice president of restaurants Rob Goldberg says restaurants were part of the original Tommy Bahama vision, with 16 of its retail shops attached to restaurants. You may have come across other Tommy Bahama “islands,” the company’s term for its full retail-and-restaurant packages, at The Shops at Mauna Lani on the Big Island and The Shops at Wailea on Maui, but the Waikīkī island is the first on O‘ahu.
What business does a clothing store have making food? We were skeptical, but, by the end of the night, we were planning our return for ‘ahi tuna tacos and pineapple crème brûlée.
Right around the corner from Hard Rock Café (another shop-and-eat combo), the former three-story Burberry and HIC Surf building has been transformed into a two-story space. Head up to the second floor (we recommend taking the spiral stairs to get up close to the 14-foot-tall living wall of native greenery) and you’ll be transported immediately from a beachy shop to a trendy, casual restaurant. The architects knocked out the third floor of office space to create high ceilings and large windows overlooking Kalākaua Avenue, which gives the restaurant a very open and spacious feel.
Where Hard Rock’s restaurant creates a sort of rowdy, rockstar atmosphere, Tommy Bahama reflects its brand’s laid-back aesthetic. Though not as upscale as Stage Restaurant and its art-collector’s-mismatched-living-room vibe, it’s similarly stylish and cozy. Many of the tables and benches are made from reclaimed monkeypod, mango and mahogany wood, and the Tommy Bahama-brand chairs are seriously comfy.
Before we get to the food, we have to share our favorite part of the island: the rooftop lounge. In addition to the requisite bar and zigzag-strung lights, there’s also another living wall up here, this one made of organic herbs and veggies the restaurant and bar use in their dishes and drinks. In the far corner, there’s a sandy area with sofas surrounding a couple of fires. Start your evening here, quietly gazing out at Diamond Head and sipping on a piña colada served in a pineapple. Being three stories up might make you forget how much you hate driving through crowds of tourists to get here.
Coconut shrimp with papaya mango chutney.
There is a lot of emphasis on tropical flavors (coconut, pineapple, mango) but director of culinary Don Donley and executive chef Andrew Warner also use less typical local ingredients, even buying from one of the chef’s family’s farms. Neither is from Hawai‘i, so it’ll take some time for them to really see the breadth of what’s available here and showcase it to the mostly tourist diners, but they’re eager to do so and will offer a “Fresh Sheet” with the standard menu to highlight what’s locally sourced.
At a media preview last week, we joined a small group of diners for the very first tasting of the menu, which included coconut shrimp, macadamia-crusted goat cheese, coconut mahi mahi ceviche, hapu‘upu‘u and coffee-crusted rib eye. We really loved the details and the unique spins on the dishes, such as the Kona Longboard blue-cheese vinaigrette dressing on the salad, the lemon-chard marmalade served with the sea bass and the Maui Mokka coffee rub on the steak.
For dessert, get the pineapple crème brûlée. Yes, it’s another concoction served in a pineapple, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious and fun. Chunks of pineapple are suspended in a creamy custard under a perfect sugary crust, and you just know your Instagram followers will get a kick out of it.
Want to make it yourself? On your way out of the store pick up Flavors of Aloha: Cooking with Tommy Bahama, a hefty cookbook with more than 100 recipes alongside profiles of local farmers, ranchers and others, including Stennis Hirayama of Hirayama Farms, Keoki Wood of Parker Ranch and Tom Greenwell of Greenwell Farms.
Tommy Bahama Restaurant Bar & Store, 298 Beachwalk Drive, restaurant opens Friday, Oct. 30, daily at 11 a.m., happy hour 4–6 p.m., tommybahama.com