Best Bars 2007
Almost everyone over the age of 21 has a spirited opinion on the best bar in Honolulu. Because "best" is a somewhat magical recipe: Mix one shot of location, and one part drink specials, shake in a sports game or an appealing decor, and garnish with friends, dates and cute bartenders.
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Best Bar Patrons
There aren't many bars in Honolulu where the owner takes your order and then brings you a bowl of crunchy boiled peanuts, on the house. Or where a guy in a T-shirt and trucker cap hawks plastic bags of aku sticks and other aquatic appetizers from table to table. Where the bus driver sitting at the Megatouch machine does a pretty good job singing Moe Keale's "Aloha Is ..." after a couple of Bud Lights, which only come in bottles and, if you like, with a bucket of ice—all before 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Shinsho Tei may be full of regulars, but they're more than happy to share their hangout with new patrons. After we paid our tab and got up to leave, one customer called out, "Thank you for coming!" 1613 Nu'uanu Ave., next to Hungry Lion, 528-1007. 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Best Bar for a First Date
PANE & VINO
While playing tourist in Waikiki we spied a dimly-lit, rustic sign that read, simply, Pane & Vino. Intrigued, we climbed the stairs to a cozy enoteca with dark wood and an exposed beam ceiling. Our bartender offered tastes of the fruity and dry Montepulciano Abruzzo and the well-balanced Valpolicella Secco Bertani. The wines, all from Italy, were surprisingly affordable (bottled beers are also available, including the rarely spotted Italian lager, Peroni). For an hour or so we played tourist in Italy instead. 408 Lewers St., 923-8466. 5:30 p.m. to "until we are happy."
Best Gay Bar
Photo by Daeja FernandezThe Shack
HULA'S BAR & LEI STAND
The drinks are cold, the guys are hot and the view of Diamond Head can't be beat. By day, you can people-watch while relaxing on Hula's 70-foot lanai and enjoying a daily happy hour from 3 to 9 p.m. By night, check out the dancing, local bands and a monthly battle of the deejays. It's held the last Friday of each month, says general manager Dell Brooks. Other events include Wednesday volleyball tournaments. 134 Kapahulu Ave., 2nd Floor, 923-0669. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Best Bar for Sports
If you wake up on Sunday morning with an appetite for football, The Shack in Hawaii Kai is the place for you. Its Sunday NFL Breakfast begins bright and early at 7 a.m., with 10 games playing at a time, plus bloody marys, screwdrivers and a full breakfast menu. A prime waterfront location, two pool tables, three dartboards and a plethora of arcade games make it more than easy to kill time until happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m. 377 Keahole St., 396-1919. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., open 7 a.m. on NFL Sundays.
Best West Side Bar
The T-Spot Hideway gives leeward residents plenty of reasons to skip the trip to town—drink specials, tasty pupu, karaoke and live local music on Fridays and Saturdays. T-Spot did away with its cigar lounge earlier this year, but still sells dozens of varieties, including Cohiba, Arturo Fuente and Ashton. Kapolei Marketplace, 590 Farrington Highway, 674-8081. 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.