The 6 Best Places To Eat Outside in Kaimukī and Kāhala Right Now
When one door shuts, the outdoors open. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Honolulu for dining alfresco.
Find more outdoor dining options in the August issue of HONOLULU. Look for it in our online store.
12th Ave Grill
Closed through much of 2020, 12th Ave Grill reopened this winter with a new outdoor dining patio. It’s carved out of the municipal parking lot adjacent to the restaurant, shaded by tall awnings and enclosed by reed fencing. There are new cafe, deli and dinner menus by new chef Mauro Gramuglia; reservations are recommended for dinner. –MT
Kapa Hale is the newest addition to the Kāhala dining scene. It’s the first restaurant by Keaka Lee, formerly of New York’s Gramercy Tavern and Chinatown’s The Pig & The Lady, so while the food is upscale modern American/Hawaii Regional Cuisine with heavy usage of local ingredients, this is the city’s first expression of all this through a Hawaiian food lens. The eclectic menu includes these lomi tomato-garnished pipi kaula short ribs atop a fresh corn polenta, a section devoted to local vegetables, and at brunch, a quiche lū‘au. Limited patio seating abuts the parking lot, but that’s part of the urban charm. –MT
At Mud Hen Water, you can enjoy these warm summer evenings beneath string lights in the spacious courtyard.
photo: olivier koning
Mud Hen Water
You feel like you’re at a fancy picnic when you eat outside at Mud Hen—not just because of the picnic table seating, but because of the strings of lights crisscrossing the sky above. Kaimukī is a strolling town, so greetings fly over the planter boxes when diners recognize passersby on their evening ambles. This part of Mud Hen brings home the neighborhood feel of the area, something we wish we had in our own ’hoods. It’s as irresistible as the restaurant’s farm-to-glass cocktails and as memorable as its he‘e (octopus) lū‘au stew and miso butterscotch rice pudding you will order every time. –MT
Many of the restaurants in Kaimukī aren’t built for outdoor dining, but Himalayan Kitchen’s second-story spot has ample seating in the open courtyard at the top of the stairs (sorry, no elevator) next to Sugarcane. Come for lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, or dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. every night except Monday, where you’ll be seated beneath string lights and umbrellas. No matter what you order, start with the garlic naan and don’t forget to BYOB. –KV
Olive Tree Café
Not much has changed at this no-frills Greek cafe and deli — this and reliably tasty fare like dolmas and souvlakis. Still cash only, still BYOB. –MT
4614 Kilauea Ave., (808) 737-0303
The Ripple of Smiles
The Ripple of Smiles recently reopened its outdoor patio, painted a jolly green, shaded from the sun, fringed with foliage and cooled by ceiling fans—altogether as lovely a setting as you can get across from City Mill’s parking lot. Here, find solid Vietnamese classics such as pho and papaya salad with a house-made fish sauce, as well as extensive vegan options, which most recently included bitter melon stir-fried with mushrooms and stir-fried lemongrass rice noodles. It’s also open for breakfast, recently debuting a vegan manapua. Make sure to ask for a side of hot sauce, also made in-house. –MC
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:02 a.m. to 2:32 p.m. and 5:02 p.m. to 8:32 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8:02 a.m. to 2:32 p.m., 5:02 to 8:32 p.m., closed Tuesdays. 3040 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 354-2572, @the_ripple_of_smiles
Read more stories by Martha Cheng and Katrina Valcourt