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Staying in Kailua on Oahu. Would love recs for Kailua as well as surrounding towns/area!!

Hello! My husband and I are staying in Kailua for 8 days and were hoping to find some help as to where the good places to eat are! We've been once before and loved Boots & Kimos (pancakes w/mac nut sauce, fried rice omelette...both amazing!) as well as Teddy's.

Our in-laws are taking us to Side Street Inn (I think that's the name) one night...any other casual, but great places like that in Kailua or surrounding towns? We're open to all types of food, but specifically, we would love to find some good dim sum, saimin and plate lunch. Is there any good dim sum on this side of the island, or will we have to go to Honolulu/Chinatown?

Thanks for your help!


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  1. There is not much in the way of "fine dining" on the windward side, but you should try and get down to buzz's steakhouse - right across from the beach. There is a Big City Diner over near foodland, sort of a local "family" restaurant - the kim chee fried rice is killer, the burgers are great, and the ribs and meatloaf both melt in your mouth. Lots of people like Zia's, I wasn't all that impressed. There are two deli's (gee a deli and brents) both have their following. I can't remember the name but I've been told the mexican restaurant is pretty decent - I haven't been there in years. Kalapawai market (both locations) get good to mixed reviews. Agnes' Portugese bake shop (malasadas) is a local landmark on the Windward side. Down the road in Enchanted lake is The Shack - good burgers. Really not too much over toward Kaneohe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      thank you so much for the recs! :)
      fine dining is not necessarily what we are looking for, so no worries. we will be visiting mariposa's in honolulu, so the rest of the time we just want to have GOOD food! any ideas for dim sum without heading to honolulu?

    2. Check out Mama's Island Pizza (right next to Foodland) for the best chicken wings ever. The pizza is pretty good and the sandwiches are decent. Bob's Pizzeria just opened (next to Braun Clinic, just up from Kalapawai Market) and he serves huge slices of Boston-style pizza at reasonable prices. Sit at the bar at Buzz's and order whatever the fresh catch of the day is and the artichoke surprise. I'd definitely head into town for dim sum.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Yoshio

        Thanks, Yoshio. Sounds like some great advice! In regards to dim sum, is it typical that it's only served on the weekends or do they serve it at lunch as they do at some places here in SF?

        1. re: lj2899

          Dim Sum is served every day at most places that have it. Consider Legends at the Chinese Cultural Plaza, Panda on Keeaumoku (not the fast food place at the Ala Moana Food Court), Royal Garden in the Ala Moana Hotel, and Happy Days in Kaimuki at 11th and Waialae. (sorry all of them are in "town" - ie Honolulu)

      2. I know it's a chain, but I had a pretty terrific meal at Kona Bewing Company. We both ordered fish specials -- had a red curry Thai-influenced dish and mine was crusted with Maui onions, or something like that. Eating right over the bay with the sky going dusky and the lights coming up on the hillsides all around; it wasn't a bad choice. Plus, good beer.

        1. A new dim sum restaurant opened in Kaneohe recently.

          Joyful Garden

          Haven't been there but I think that might be the only choice outside town.

          1. Kailua is full of small restaurants and pubs like Cinnamons (try the carrot pancakes) and Lucy's Grill and Bar. Baci Bistro is across the street from Lucy's and has pretty good Italian. Garret posted information on Joyful Garden in Windward City Shopping Center (Kaneohe), that I believe is the only Chinese restaurant serving dim sum in the Kaneohe-Kailua area. Your best bet is the Chinese Cultural Plaza where Legend, Legend Vegetarian and Won Kee are located as well as Hifumi (Japanese) because it gives you a lot of choices. You could also walk across Beretania and try Mei Sum (dim sum) on Pauahi St., Little Village (Chinese) or try one of the Vietnamese or Thai restaurants between Bethel and River St. Ducs Bistro and Indigo would be are two of the nicer restaurants in the area.

            Cinnamon's Restaurant
            315 Uluniu St, Kailua, HI 96734

            Lucy's Grill & Bar
            33 Aulike St, Kailua, HI 96734

            Duc's Bistro
            1188 Maunakea St, Honolulu, HI 96817

            Indigo Eurasian Cuisine
            1121 Nuuanu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96817

            Baci Bistro
            30 Aulike St, Kailua, HI 96734

            1. my cuzin used to work at this one popular restaurant-fine dining in kailua i think... for some reason the name escapes me... if i see it, i'll know =)

              we're going to crouching lion in about a month of so... i told my friend i'ld take him out anywhere, and that's where he picked.... not sure how it is though...

              btw aloha hawaii CHs i'm back on the boards (somewhat)... =) been traveling and wedding planning... yay! =)

              1 Reply
              1. re: kinipela

                talk him out of Crouching Lion...

                ok, its been years, but the food was borderline bad, and I haven't heard anything in the inetervening years (at least 10) to tell me otherwise. I understand there was a time long long ago (in the 1960's) when the food was good.

                if you want to sit and stare at the waters of the north shore give Jameson's in Haleiwa a try

              2. Was very pleased with the new Big City Diner in Kailua last week. The food and service were excellent. I think this BCD has the best settings from all the other locations. I was impressed.
                Didn't get to eat at Pake's in Kaneohe on Kam Highway but the last time it was pretty good. I think Kim Chee I is nearby?

                1. My husband and I went to a place called Keneke's near Kailua for plate lunch. The Kalua pork plate was big enough to feed 3 people and was soooo good! I also enjoyed Duke's steak house in Kailua. I actually opted for their Mahi dish and it was the best I've ever had.

                  1. thank you everyone for your suggestions. we couldn't quite make it everywhere, but will certainly try to hit more spots on our next visit!

                    our first stop was sidestreet inn for dinner with my in-laws when we arrived. i hadn't realized it was in honolulu (oops :) ). it was a game night, so it was packed...but we were able to order the pork chops and fried rice that i've been hearing about forever. the pork chops were not as great as i had expected, but the fried rice was yummy and a great deal at $10...it was too much to feed 4 of us! we also had the chicken gizzards (super) and the kal-bi (good). not sure if it was worth the fuss, but good food.

                    we were saddened that boots & kimos was closed the week we visited, but big city diner was pretty good for breakfast. the loco moco was good (the onions really made it stand out) and so was the kim chee fried rice.

                    keneke's had crazy big plate lunches...the pork gigantes (i think that was how it was spelled) was yummy and different...everything else was pretty standard, but all of it was good and was a great value!

                    we frequented k&k drive in on our way to the beach (it shares a parking lot w/island snow and the kayak rental place off kailua rd)...it's a little hole in the wall plate lunch place that is packed at lunch...the garlic shrimp there is super (not similar to the shrimp truck garlic shrimp), as well as the chinese-style spicy fried chicken. i tried the war won ton mein too and it was pretty good. not only was this place convenient, but it was cheap (under 8 bucks for most combo plates and under 5 bucks for minis) and the people were extremely friendly!

                    we did make it to pah ke's in kaneohe (can't go wrong with anything from raymond's menu)...that place is wonderful and the owner also pointed out masa and joyce's okazuya down the street for bentos and musubi. we went there twice...yummy california hand rolls, yakisoba and musubis!

                    while on a venture through north shore we hit up romy's shrimp truck. the garlic shrimp were wonderful and fresh and the hospitality was definitely nice...not sure if it was worth the 20-25 minute wait for our order though!

                    our one day in honolulu/waikiki we made it to mariposa for dinner. the food was still good, but i was not wowed by much of it. even the monkey bread was just ok. it was a little disappointing, considering that on my last visit the service was really superb (it was a little off that night, but i do want to say our server, jessica was wonderful...it was the support staff that needed some polishing) and the food was all amazing. for a friday night (with the added draw of fireworks) at 7 there were only about 20 tables seated (it looked like it was only about 1/3 full). has this place lost it's splendor?

                    we were treated to roy's in hawaii-kai earlier in the visit and our waiter (who used to work at mariposa's...maybe he left with good reason?) helped us select a great dinner. our table ordered everything from the short ribs to the meatloaf. everything was good, and the flavors were great.

                    our in-laws suggested helena's to us and we happened to make it there at one point during our trip. the staff was warm and the food was delicious! the ribs were some of the best i've had and the fried butterfish collar is a must have!

                    of course after dinner we drove around the corner to liliha bakery and tried the coco puffs...good, but so rich! we also tried a lilikoi (and maybe passion fruit?)-filled malasada. the filling was perfect, but the malasada it filled left much to be desired.

                    though we had not planned on it, we were able to try both the malasadas at agnes' bakery as well as leonard's. the ones at agnes' were good, but after we had our filled ones at leonard's, we realized there was no competition! besides the wonderful haupia and chocolate fillings, the malasada itself at leonard's had a better taste and was the perfect chewiness!

                    thanks again to everyone for the suggestions! i hope my little report back helps a bit!