The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: The Best of Honolulu in 1997

HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor Paradise of the Pacific, which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi, with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at March 1997.


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For the past three decades, the HONOLULU team has scoured the city to find the best of, well, everything. I’ve personally had to help taste test salt-and-vinegar wings, dozens of kinds of crispy beef jerky, piles of fried chicken and more. In 1997, HONOLULU asked local celebrities and notables to pick their favorite “best of” the Islands.


Movie star Tia Carrere’s Best Way to Get Discovered seems rather specific. “I was at the checkout stand of the Waikīkī Food Pantry when it happened to me,” explains Carrere, “but I can’t guarantee that will work for everybody.” While in line, she was approached by the parents of a Hollywood producer who thought she’d be perfect for their son’s film, Aloha Summer. The rest is history.


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Then-music director of the Honolulu Symphony, Samuel Wong, picked the best seats at the Blaisdell Concert Hall: “Balcony center (starting at row H through about row N, seats 1 and 2, though seats up to 17 on the left and 18 on the right are pretty good.” He also selected Lewers Lounge as the best place to go once the show is done. The late-night spot, with its nine-page drinks menu, reopened at the Halekūlani Hotel in the fall of 2021.


Hawai‘i Five-O’s Kam Fong was asked which was the best episode of the show. “Fong’s favorite was one where Chin Ho had the rare thrill of gunning down Erik Estrada, playing a drug dealer who runs off with Chin’s daughter for a quickie off-island wedding. … ‘Basically I liked any episode where I was the main focus. Those were rare.’”


SEE ALSO: What it’s like to play a dead body on Hawai‘i Five-O


The HONOLULU team also selected other bests including Hawai‘i website (UH’s Virtually Hawai‘i), the place to park while running errands downtown (Harbor Court was 50 cents for a half-hour back then) and the boat for people who hate boats (Navatek I). They also couldn’t help but weigh in on then-state Rep. Quentin Kawānanakoa’s pick for best poke, Tamashiro’s Market. “Though we trust Kawānanakoa’s poke prowess where O‘ahu is concerned, our choice for best poke in the state is the HTA Superstores on the Big Island, where piquancy and sheer variety seize the day.”


We still enjoy researching this reader favorite every year. Watch for our 2022 Best of HONOLULU issue in July.


From Our Files Covers March 2022


Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at



Find more photos from Honolulu’s past every Thursday on Instagram @honolulumag.