6 O‘ahu Cafés to Get Your Art and Coffee On
Fuel up and support local artists at these artsy coffee joints.
I firmly believe art and coffee shops just go together. Like any metropolitan city, there are several cafés on O‘ahu where delicious food and drink are found alongside the talented work of local artists and photographers. These are my picks for local cafés that are known, not just as great places to fuel up, but for supporting and showcasing our local art scene.
Menu: Coffee, tea, lattes, house-made pastries and sandwiches.
Recommendations: Rose or lavender latte, hot or iced
A gathering place for the Diamond Head community for six years, Ars Café is as popular for its delicious, floral lavender and rose lattes as its longtime partnership with local artists. The current gallery exhibit is hosted in partnership with Kapiʻolani Community College’s Koa Gallery, represented by renowned local artist John Koga and artist and art educator Lawrence Seward. On display until May 14, you’ll find the work of Carl Jennings, an art professor at KCC, paired with pieces by his former student, Eddie Joaquin. There will be monthly art exhibits planned until at least April 2022.
Menu: Sandwiches, pastries and an extensive menu of specialty coffee and tea drinks
Recommendations: Matcha latte, nitro cold brew coffee, bagel sandwiches.
The spacious Kaimukī mainstay on the corner of Wai‘alae and 12th avenues boasts being a venue for local music and art for more than 20 years. The bustling shop may not host punk shows anymore, but its walls are covered with fun, eye-catching local and national pop art and eccentric signs. Most of the art stays up year-round, but one side room is dedicated to rotating shows by local artists. The current show features the work of local street photographer Ian Hunt. Plus, the sweet, creamy, silky smooth and perfectly-balanced matcha latte ($5.50-$6.50) is hands-down the best in town!
Menu: Hot or iced coffee and tea, pre-packaged snacks
Recommendations: Haupia iced latte
The popular college hangout showcases local artists and photographers on the walls. Although the business hours have been shortened, it’s still a unique, comfortable neighborhood joint to grab a coffee and settle in to work, study or relax. Photography and paintings line one wall, while Polaroid photos of patrons create a mosaic on another. There isn’t much food available right now but the lattes are worth dropping in for. My favorite is the hot or iced haupia latte, a sweet, creamy treat any time of day.
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. through 6 p.m., closed Wednesdays, 2700 S King St., (808) 391-6548, glazerscoffee.com
Menu: Paninis and toasted sandwiches, small plates, coffee, tea and lattes, plus a full bar with an extensive whiskey selection.
Recommendations: Chai latte. Italian parmesan meatball sandwich (beef, chicken or vegetarian options).
Manifest continues to support local artists, hosting art receptions and displaying a rotating gallery of art and photography on its historic brick walls. Functioning as a coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar by night, it has also played an active part in Chinatown’s First Friday festivities as both an art stop and nightlife hotspot. The current show is a strange and magical collection of paintings by visionary Native Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos. Manifest is also an underrated eatery. Of the several small plates and slider sandwiches they began offering last year, the Italian meatball slider (two for $6) really hits the spot. I also recommend the deviled eggs ($3,25), furikake agave chips ($2) and the B.A.T. panini ($10.50) made with thick-sliced bacon, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto pressed between melted Swiss cheese and garlic-basil-olive oil brushed French sourdough bread.
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Menu: Coffee, tea, ice-blended drinks, espresso. Pancakes, waffles, eggs and yogurt for breakfast along with salads and sandwiches for lunch.
Recommendations: Curried chicken salad sandwich; The Brew Breakfast (fried egg, prosciutto, grilled onion, tomato and goat cheese on naan bread); Kona or Waialua coffee.
Morning Brew’s Honolulu branch is located in the heart of the Kaka‘ako mural district on ‘Auahi Street. But the business itself predates the shiny, spacious digs at Salt by two decades. Owners Debbie and Peter Anderson started out serving patrons at Diamond Head Theater from a coffee cart before opening their first location in Kailua. Known as an eclectic, bohemian haven to eat, work, read or just chill with friends, both Morning Brew locations also prominently feature a changing selection of local art, from paintings to textiles, and local products; their Instagram account periodically posts calls for artwork.
On weekends, arrive early since the café tends to fill up with people picking up brunch or lunch. My favorite bite, The Brew Breakfast ($9.45), is on the heavier side but it’s so delicious and hits all the food groups with goat cheese, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes on naan bread.
Open daily, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., 600 Kailua Road, Ste. 120, (808) 262-7770, morningbrewhawaii.com, @morningbrewkailua. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., 685 ‘Auahi St., Ste. 113, (808) 369-3444, morningbrewhawaii.com, @morningbrewkakaako
The Collective Tattoo, Café and Gallery
Menu: Pastries, sandwiches and rotating food selections. Gluten-free and vegan options. Tea and hot or iced coffee from Koko Crater Coffee Roasters.
Recommendations: Vegan pastries
A vibrant corner of the Kailua art scene, The Collective doubles as a tattoo studio and a fun, funky café. In recent times, the café section has moved outside onto their lanai, which also hosts live music by local musicians on Sunday mornings, part of the Lokahi Kailua Market neighborhood event. Run by artists who paint and sketch as well as tattoo, there’s plenty of art to see on the walls and art classes for kids on Saturday mornings.
Open daily, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., 407 Uluniu St., Ste. 101, Kailua, (808) 230-8832, thecollectivetattoocafeandgall