Try Weekend Brunch at These 5 Honolulu Breweries
Here’s what The Hall by Beer Lab, Hana Koa Brewing, Lōkahi Brewing, Aloha Beer and Waikīkī Brewing have on tap.
Brunch is one of the best reasons to wake up on a Sunday morning. Eggs, waffles, mimosas and coffee—all in one place—will get anyone out of bed. And while beer and brunch aren’t a normal pairing, I love the unexpected twist of a bustling brewery opening up on a sunny Sunday morning to flip some pancakes. Follow me as I check out weekend brunch at five of my favorite breweries around Honolulu.
Weekend 1: The Hall by Beer Lab
My first stop is The Hall by Beer Lab, nestled below Ross Dress for Less at Pearlridge Center just steps from the parking lot. The setup is casual: You choose your own seat at one of the picnic tables. I like it, even if the tables are not the most comfortable. Even better, while Pearlridge is the only one of Beer Lab’s three locations serving brunch, it’s served every day of the week. The menu is by Sistah Truck, which also serves up lunch and dinner here, and has enough options that make it hard to narrow down.
I go with the banana crème brulée french toast ($14) I’ve seen on Instagram, and it does not disappoint. The flavors are exactly what you would expect from the name, and no syrup is needed. Also a highlight is the kim chee fried rice ($9) with bacon; it comes topped with a Peterson’s Farm egg from Wahiawā. With a subtle spice, this dish delivers the salty balance I’m looking for. I tell myself the kombucha cocktail ($10), which is spiked with a shot of vodka, is healthy and guzzle it down! Next time I might opt for coffee—aside from the usual iced latte and cold brewed coffee, they have an iced chai tea latte and an iced matcha latte, all favorites of mine. Choices, choices!
Weekend 2: Hana Koa Brewing Co.
Week 2 of my brewery brunch route takes me to an eclectic stretch of Kaka‘ako. Sunday brunch at Hana Koa, a popular spot on Kawaiahaʻo Street across from the Rice Factory, goes from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. I’ve only seen this space packed with beer drinkers in the afternoon and evening, so today I don’t recognize it. The mid-morning sun casts a warm glow over the tables, creating a peaceful vibe I love. The menu is small, which is a bit disappointing to someone who loves Hana Koa’s bigger dinner menu and themed specials. The pastrami benedict ($14) is not your typical brunch item. The pastrami is lean and not as salty as Spam and bacon; it pairs well with hollandaise sauce. I think more places should consider serving this. The classic loco moco ($14) comes with a patty that’s a bit on the tough side but is topped with a Texas brisket drippings gravy that is thick, rich and oh-so satisfying.
As for drinks, both the Dole Whip mimosa ($10) and a grapefruit mimosa ($8) are delicious, though on the smaller side. The first is a blend of pineapple, papaya, banana and coconut with sparkling wine and a creamy finish, while the grapefruit mimosa packs a puckery-tart punch and while not sweet, still feels like a treat. I can drink six of these on a good day. Overall, the brunch atmosphere is great, but I prefer the dinnertime offerings.
Weekend 3: Lōkahi Brewing Co.
I’m surprised by how much I’ve come to like the space at one of the newer breweries in town. Lōkahi Brewing opened last year in the old Precision Radio building on South King Street and takes full advantage of its high-ceiling mezzanine layout. Most regulars sit at the bar, but those who want some seclusion opt for the small section of upstairs seating that overlooks the main floor. The tables next to the window are my favorite because they catch a lot of natural light. It’s a cozy space, but they’ve made it work.
Although messy, I enjoy the huevos rancheros ($18) mashup of ranchero sauce, runny eggs and Lōkahi’s crispy potatoes. The potatoes are a must-have: Light and crispy, they put most others to shame. The PLT: Portuguese Sausage Breakfast Sliders ($13) are simple and surprisingly tasty with the house Sriracha aioli. Since this brunch happens a bit later in the day, I’m comfortable opting for the BEERmosa, a concoction of sparkling wine with a Lōkahi sour beer of your choice. The beer takes the flavor lead, but I detect a slightly sweeter finish. Next time I hope to try one of their sweet menu items.
Weekend 4: Aloha Beer Co. in Kaka‘ako
Weekend 4 and I’m back in Kaka‘ako, the city’s brewery district, this time on Queen Street. The open-air bar and dining area and expansive outdoor seating at Aloha Beer’s flagship location cannot be beat, especially when it’s dog friendly. They have picnic-style and high-top tables, all spaced out so dogs can comfortably lie down. I swear there’s always a pup around. No complaints here! The brunch menu has interesting options and dog-friendly meals including Bibim-pups with chicken breast and veggies. The cocktails are right up my alley. The layered and photogenic wine down sour ($15) is light, letting the flavor of the wine come through. Honey and egg whites make it creamy and balance the cabernet. I prefer the Aloha Bramble ($13). It’s a bit tart, with fruity elements that brighten it up—good on a very hot day.
The Cajun sausage flatbread ($13) is one of my faves (it’s fun to have a loaded pizza for breakfast). A variety of textures from crunchy bell peppers to fluffy eggs and meaty sausage make it fun to eat. This one should be shared. The star of the show is the deep-fried french toast ($13), whose custard cream and Nutella make for an indulgent duo lightened by strawberries. The bread is thick and drenched in all these toppings, so beware, it might get messy. Order this to share too, as it will induce a food coma. And prepare to roll out of there!
Weekend 5: Waikīkī Brewing Co.
The last weekend of my brunch journey leads me to a brewery I’ve never been to. Waikiki Brewing has been on my to-try list for as long as I can remember, so I’m excited to finally stop in. On weekend mornings it’s relatively peaceful. This brewpub is also dog-friendly, offering a Fido Moco with chopped local beef and egg. The Irish coffee ($10) is served hot and tastes more of Jameson Irish Whiskey than Lion Coffee. It burns my throat in more ways than one. I think I might like an iced version, if that’s possible?
The smothered breakfast burrito ($18) calls my name and leaves me with no regrets. It’s as salty and meaty as it sounds, with generous chunks of ham, bacon and pulled pork; salsa and onions add freshness into this monster of a burrito. The sausage country gravy is silky with some chunks. This dish would be an amazing hangover meal. The avocado bennie ($14) lets me get some green in and is good if you want a lighter start to the day. The creaminess of avocado and poached egg are livened by fresh tomato. I love that the dish swaps out the usual english muffin for a piece of toasted focaccia, which adds a bit of crunch. Why don’t more places opt for this? I can’t wait to visit again!
If there’s an okazuya around, Kristi Tolentino will make room in her stomach. She’s the go-to friend for food recommendations, the one who always wants you to send a photo of what you’re eating. Don’t see her in line at the okazuya? Chances are she’s hopping around coffee shops or planning her next trip.