But First, Brunch: 4 New Brunches to Check Out in Downtown Honolulu/Chinatown
From a full English breakfast to chilaquiles, biscuits and gravy to breakfast pizza—here are four reasons to brunch around Chinatown.
Aside from dim sum, Chinatown hasn’t been synonymous with brunch—day drinking, maybe, but not weekend waffles or biscuits. And Downtown Honolulu? Um, no. In recent months, however, not one but four places have begun serving weekend brunch in different corners of the district (not including Livestock Tavern, which has had brunch for some time). Whether you’re a pinkies-up type of bruncher or casual and big plates are more your style, there’s a place for you in Downtown/Chinatown this weekend.
Smith & Kings
Corner of Smith and King streets
Opened in 2015 by New Yorker Samantha Moore and her family, Smith & Kings is a gastropub serving beer, craft cocktails and hearty, East Coast-style fare. Moore closed the corner bar in December 2020 for renovations, reopened 11 months later and has been serving brunch ever since.
Their brunch menu is extensive, with nine house special dishes plus an eggs Benedict menu, small plates and a few desserts. Think egg-topped brunch burger with country fries and truffle aioli, chicken and waffles, deviled eggs, and biscuits and gravy with sides of fried chicken or house-made sausage. Whether you’re getting a later start or you’re looking for a tasty brunch that can handle some booze, Smith & Kings is your spot.
Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.—3 p.m., 69 N. King St., (808) 744-5772, @smithandkings
Merchant and Alakea streets
Chef Anthony Rush and partner Katherine Nomura of Senia first whet the public’s palate with cocktails and snacks when they opened Podmore in August. Since the posh eatery debuted brunch in November, it’s quickly become a destination brunch, with luxurious details giving daytime diners a feeling of opulence that’s become rare even in Waikīkī.
Podmore has a small but thoughtful menu. Rush offers up the UK on a plate, especially with the full English breakfast ($28), which is made entirely in-house and combines rations of comforting elements including thick smoked bacon, blood pudding, baked beans and local pork sausage. My favorite is the Christmas Morning ($24), a tantalizing stack of house-smoked salmon, wilted spinach and a poached egg perched atop a super crispy potato rösti then blanketed with a browned butter hollandaise. Naturally, you can also get it with a dollop of osetra caviar to finish. Pro tip: Always get an extra rösti to eat with their decadent house ketchup.
If ambience is your thing, and you’re more of a quality over quantity kind of bruncher, Podmore will make you feel right at home in the fanciest kind of way.
Proof Social Club
Walking down Chaplain Lane on the way to Fort Street Mall will mean crossing paths with Proof Social Bar which, for those who remember, used to be Mercury Bar. A lot has changed, but the spot has the same alternative vibe. It’s divey and endearing at the same time.
Proof’s menu has a little bit of a lot of different kinds of food. Cook Louis Miller has infused his favorite memories of his travels through Europe into his brunch. You’ll find gazpacho ($10) and buttermilk waffles ($11) alongside a build-your-own frittata ($25).
The bright, simple but satisfying avocado toast on house-baked ciabatta covered in ripe avocado, pickled onion, bacon and edible flowers is a standout. The Midwestern Welcome is a 14-inch pizza topped with melted mozzarella, breakfast sausage, bacon, eggs, hash browns and white gravy. Fun fact: Proof Social Club is dog-friendly and offers a puppy brunch menu with treats for your four-legged friend.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path or are dying to share some eggs with your pup and other pup lovers, pop into Proof Social Club and stay a while.
Smith Street between Pauahi and Hotel streets
At the other end of Smith street you’ll find home-style dishes from all different parts of Mexico and a delightful outdoor patio with lots of seating. While lunch and dinner have gained Tlaxcalli cult popularity with lovers of authentic Mexican fare, the restaurant added brunch last year. The menu is succinct, with $14 plates featuring favorites including huevos rancheros and chilaquiles. What I really want to try is the machaca con huevos, a Sinaloan beef dish hailing from chef-owner Julio Gutierrez Santacruz’s hometown. Tlaxcalli will add a Valentine’s Day prix fixe brunch menu ($45 per person) to its regular lineup with oysters on the half shell, ceviche tostada and a choice of oxtail or pork chile relleno along with sides, sangria and five leches cake.
For the Mexican food lover or seeker of unique brunchy flavors, Tlaxcalli has got you covered. It also just got its liquor license so stay tuned for bottomless mimosas.