2013 Hale Aina Awards: When to eat where

Our readers named the best restaurants in the Islands. To help you navigate the wealth of great dining, we lead you through a year-long itinerary of Hale Aina eating: when to eat where.


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February:

You know what February means: romance, red roses, reservations … and don’t forget Lent. Which means every Friday is fish day. So where better to spend your Lenten Fridays than Nico’s at Pier 38 (Best Seafood, gold). This is the new Nico’s, expanded to almost three times the size of the old takeout counter. New is dinner service, which almost feels romantic with live music and the sparkling lights of the tugboats and industrial harbor. It may have moved across the street, but it’s still one of the closest restaurants to the fish auction, where Nico’s buys direct, unlike most restaurants, which go through a middleman. Nico’s furikake ahi is famous, though Nico Chaize shows his French roots with his catch-of-the-day specials, as with a pan-seared mahi with tomato ogo buerre blanc or opah blanketed with a crab and tomato-bisque sauce.

For those godless people whose only religion is romance, make a Valentine’s Day reservation at one of the best restaurants in the date-night category, where top finishers Michel’s at the Colony Surf (Best Restaurant for a Date Night, gold) and Hy’s Steak House (Best Restaurant for a Date Night, silver; Best Steak, silver) prove that we find something utterly romantic about decades-old institutions, tuxedoed waiters and tableside service. Slip into an oceanside table at Michel’s, where gold reigns in its ornate décor, down to the gold-rimmed plates. The menu is so classic as to be chic again: lobster bisque flamed tableside, Caesar salad tossed in front of you, a beef tenderloin Rossini (meaning it’s topped with foie gras). Desserts are a spectacle—such as an apple banana flambé to cast your date’s face in a lovely glow.

At Hy’s Steak House, the men can pretend they’re Don Draper and women can pretend they’re with Don Draper. Sink into a dark leather banquette and satisfy your carnal lust … for steak, that is. Here, the beef is USDA prime, and the fire fueled by kiawe. There’s no reason to stray from the steaks, whether a filet mignon or the Steak Neptune, a filet topped with shrimp and béarnaise. For two, you may want to lock eyes over the Chateaubriand, carved tableside.


The Chateaubriand, carved tableside at Hy's.

Photo by Olivier Koning

See the full list of winners.

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