Get Your Late-Night Pūpū and Fried-Food Fix at This McCully Eatery
The Social Honolulu Eatery and Bar serves high-quality bar food until 2 a.m. every night.
The Social Honolulu Eatery and Bar opened in the spot vacated by Dash Gastropub last year. It offers a variety of pūpū to share—or not.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt
When Dash Gastropub closed in 2015 after three years in business, it didn’t take long for The Social Honolulu Eatery and Bar to replace it with much of the same. But, unlike Dash (as in, dine and dash? A dash of salt? What even is a gastropub?), the name tells you everything—it’s a place to gather with friends, eat good food, and drink.
On a recent Saturday, we wandered in for a late dinner and were immediately struck by how underwhelming the décor was. Bare concrete floors, high ceilings and black lacquered furniture leave much to be desired but, at least without much ambiance, you’re free to fill it with your own energy. There isn’t any host stand so, after awkwardly hovering near the door for a minute and not getting noticed, we ambled to a table near the bar.
We like The Social because of its focus on food. There is a solid drink list with a few specialty cocktails, including a Maui Mule with PAU Maui Hawaiian Vodka and liliko‘i puree ($10). But, if we’re in the mood for drinks, we get our fix at the nearby Pint + Jigger where we feel hip, sipping smoke-infused cocktails around lantern-lit benches. The Social is less speakeasy-cool and more just-be-who-you-are, but with really good pūpū.
By 9 p.m., the crowd was almost exclusively 20- and 30-somethings hanging out in groups, playing darts and relaxing in booths. The Social is open until 2 a.m. every night, even on weekdays, so you can still get good quality food at reasonable prices if you work late. But good luck with the bathrooms after you’ve had a few drinks—everything is at a sharp angle in an awkward corner you have to squeeze into.
But onto the food: The menu is extensive, with about 50 items to choose from, sorted into light pūpū, heavy pūpū, fried pūpū, pasta and rice, and between the buns. We figured none of it was good for us (and we’re not about to get a tofu salad in a sports bar) so we dove head-first into the fried section, ordering dynamite chicken and kalbi poutine to start.
The dynamite chicken ($9) has a slight kick to it, not too hot. About two dozen fried, boneless pieces come drizzled with sweet and spicy sauces, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and green onion. We ordered everything to share, but I could definitely have eaten all of this on my own with a side of rice, especially since it wasn’t greasy. The kalbi poutine ($9), a basket of fries topped with kalbi-braised pork, gooey cheese and fried onions, made a gratifying, artery-clogging accompaniment, since the meat was there more for taste than as the star of the dish.
The dynamite chicken comes drizzled with sweet and spicy sauces, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and green onion.
But writing of stars, try the uni mentaiko pasta ($15). Strands of spaghetti are coated in salty, briny goodness from the uni and mentaiko cream sauce, with ikura, the boba of the sea, popping in your mouth with each bite. We also really enjoyed the kim chee fried rice ($9), which packs a lot of bacon, caramelized onions and garlic butter, comes topped with two eggs and nori, and is hard to stop eating even when the kim chee runs hot. Take a sip of your Maui Mule and dive back in.
The uni mentaiko pasta is a nice medley of salty, briny goodness from the uni and mentaiko cream sauce, with ikura that pop in your mouth with each bite.
Overall, The Social is less a destination and more the place you find yourself when you want somewhere to linger late at night. And there’s nothing wrong with that—especially when it has uni pasta.
1018 McCully St., $5 valet parking available, enter from Young Street, open nightly until 2 a.m., 943-1025
READ MORE STORIES BY KATRINA VALCOURT