Where to Get the Best Waffle Fries You'll Ever Eat
The “Milk and Cereal” pancakes will make you crave footie pajamas and cartoons
Ward Village is another hotspot for shopping, entertainment, and eating that's gone through recent changes. And Scratch Kitchen & Meatery is its best place to hit for an awesome brunch. While their original Chinatown location closed, fans of the “Milk & Cereal” pancakes can still indulge in the taste of their childhood with this unique dish. Their Brekky menu also includes the Latin-inspired papas con chorizo, and a slow-roasted pork dish, cochon de lait egg Benny. Don’t ignore their lunch and dinner menus if you arrive after 3pm when breakfast stops. Chef and owner Brian Chan comes with the experience from successful Honolulu restaurants, and he’ll almost definitely keep serving great food for years to come.
What you’re getting: "Milk & Cereal" pancakes, cochon de lait egg Benny
Great for an after-swim brunch on the east side of the city
Snorkeling all morning at Hanauma Bay got you jonesing for something to fill the gullet? Stop by Moena Café in Hawaii Kai for that post-swim brunch. You'll munch down on the banana chantilly pancakes or stuff themselves silly on the Short Rib Loco Moco, a local favorite of sunny-side-up eggs layered over short ribs on top of your choice of white, brown or fried rice, then all smothered with a demi-glaze sauce. It's a delicious gut-buster, but afterward, you can burn off those extra calories by hiking up Koko Head trail just down the road. Just make sure to get out of the water well before 3pm when the café closes. Owners Eric and Nicole Chang also opened up a second location on the opposite side of town in Kapolei so if chose to swim alongside Nemo instead of catching brunch, you can take the drive out west and enjoy dinner, cocktails, and entertainment on the weekends.
What you’re getting: Banana chantilly pancakes, Short Rib Loco Moco
Wake up early to get a seat in this popular spot
While chef Lee Anne Wong recently welcomed a new baby into her life, that hasn’t kept Koko Head Café from slowing down and the hidden restaurant, just off of Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki, still commands long lines for breakfast and lunch. The restaurant’s followers will wait, come rain or shine, for the cornflake French toast or the Dumplings All Day Wong dishes. Your best bet: Avoid primetime lines and arrive a tad early or nearer to closing time to get a seat. It is worth waking up early for a Koko Head brunch, and the wait is worth it as the food is super ‘ono! (That's Hawaiian for "delicious," if you're new here.) Watch out for the cocktails though, as they can induce an after-brunch-siesta on the beach.
What you’re getting: Cornflake French toast; Dumplings All Day Wong (dumplings of the day)
No cartoons here -- just great locally sourced goods
Don’t expect to find Mickey, Minnie, or Goofy serving you an order of Big Island honey French toast, as this restaurant takes its name from the right-footed surfing slang, not the Disney character. You will find a menu full of breakfast specials made from locally sourced eggs, greens, honey, and a whole lot more. The café, found just off busy Ala Moana Boulevard, caters mostly to tourists walking by, but locals still enjoy the cozy, beach house feel with the arched roof and surfboards hanging from the rafters. The only thing that's missing is a sandy floor. Aside from eggs Benedict and omelets, Goofy’s also offers healthier local fruit topped açaí bowls and local greens smoothies. Breakfast ends at 11am, but the café has a lunch and dinner menu along with a full bar. It's well worth the Waikiki parking struggle.
What you’re getting: Big Island honey French toast; local greens smoothies
A boozy brunch joint that serves elegant, delicious eats
Another hidden gem found inside the parking lot at Puck’s Alley, The Nook, described on their Facebook page as a neighborhood “boozy bistro,” serves “ingredient-focused” breakfasts such as “not-so-classic” hits like the decadent lilikoi cheesecake pancakes and “regular fare” like Chinese five-spiced braised pork Benedict... hardly anything most foodies would call “regular”! Their AM cocktail menu stars favorites like the tequila-laced Morning Fiesta espresso that will surely kick start your day. Plenty of parking makes this spot a smart bet if you're driving.
What you’re getting: Lilikoi cheesecake pancakes, braised pork Benedict
Fresh fruit-topped pancakes are worth the wait in this cozy spot
A favorite among Japanese tourists, visitors arrive well before 7am to indulge on Café Kaila’s heavenly and heavily fruit-drowned pancakes and Belgian malted waffles. They are well worth the wait at this smallish diner just a short drive away from Waikiki. The restaurant’s popularity has even given birth to two locations opened in Japan. Locals and tourists alike feast on the huge three-egg omelets and enjoy specialty breakfast sandwiches and quesadillas.
What you’re getting: Belgian malted waffle; buttermilk pancakes
A last-of-its-kind diner from a time gone by
Nothing beats nostalgia and the original Liliha Bakery in Liliha is the nostalgic champion of yesterday's Hawaii -- when cars had fins and coffee was just a few cents. Luckily not much as changed at this old- time favorite as you sit next to other customers on a long countertop. While not as hip or fancy as some newer restaurants, Liliha Bakery sticks to the basics and do an incredible job at it. Order fresh hotcakes off the griddle that come out crisp on the outside but oh so fluffy soft in the middle, with butter oozing off the sides. Chow down on a Denver omelet with a side of corned beef hash. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee as you sit at the counter and reminisce in the yesteryears of Don Ho and the slow Hawaiian rhythms of our grandparents. The bakery side of the café also makes world-famous chocolate-filled Cocoa Puff pastries that are to die for. The old greasy spoon stalwart of years gone by now has a second and newer location off Nimitz Hwy. The original location still stays open 24 hours (closed on Mondays) where you can enjoy brunch any time of the day or night.
What you’re getting: Hotcakes, Cocoa Puffs to Go
Asian fusion brunch means "yum!" near Ward Village
This self-described Asian fusion restaurant stands apart from other brunch spots in town thanks to a menu that hints at owner’s Taiwanese background. They offer different takes on typical breakfast fare, like their popular pork belly Benedicts which features poached eggs atop slow-cooked pork belly, topped with pickled veggies and hollandaise sauce over French bread. For those with a sweet tooth, the green tea azuki pancakes topped with fried mochi, red beans, ice cream, and green tea sauce will hit the spot. Asian fusion dishes like their porky bao buns and Li Hing Mui sweet potato fries round out the menu and are unforgettable. Found at the edge of the booming Ward Village area, the restaurant is a hit with locals and visitors alike.
What you’re getting: Pork belly Benedict, green tea azuki pancakes
The off-the-Waikiki-drag spot to eat at and be seen
The cool kids have made the Surf Jack Hotel the place to be seen and Mahina & Sun’s is definitely the place to be seen eating. The restaurant overlooks the small hotel pool where the hip strut their stuff in board shorts and bikinis. Enjoy avocado toast with a poached egg and sip a tragically hip Tokyo 75 made with Uncle Val’s botanical gin and Japanese plum spirits. Don’t miss out on their thin-crust naked pig pizza made with uncured bacon and sweet onions. The local DJ Aloha Got Soul provides the soundtrack to your brunch, which adds to its cool vibe. All tables also come with a bottle of locally made Adoboloco hot sauce that goes well with almost everything on the menu. Bruch is now served on both Saturday and Sunday until 2pm, but their brekkie items are only served till 10:30am during the week. Beware hotel parking isn’t cheap, even with restaurant validation; so street parking might be your best bet.
What you’re getting: Avocado toast, Naked Pig pizza, Tokyo 75 cocktail
The spot to get Sriracha hollandaise sauce over short rib Bennys
The family-owned Koa Café expanded from the original The Koa Pancake House chain, and while they still serve the local favorites of omelets and pancakes, Koa Café spins their own brand of breakfast and brunch offerings like the guava lava mochi waffles and the Angry Korean Benedict, where Asian-style short ribs and eggs are smothered in a Sriracha hollandaise sauce. The omelets are creatively named like Tap the Rockies, Koa Cafe’s take on a Denver omelet, and the self-explained Bacon Me Crazy which is stuff full of porky goodness. Breakfast is served every day until 2pm, and you can get your brunch at either the Moiliili spot or the Kapolei location. In a rush? Diners can pre-order meals off Koa’s website, and staff will run your meal out to your waiting car.
What you’re getting: Angry Korean Benedict, guava lava mochi waffle
A one-of-a-kind international spot for a "G’day mate" brekky
With restaurants all over the globe from London to Tokyo, the Australian chain Bill’s knows how to brunch, and they offer diners a unique Ozzie experience to start your day right. The nicely designed interiors invite brunchers to dine in delight in the spacious, high ceiling restaurant with wooden walls and big windows overlooking the bustling Waikiki. Dine on their Full Aussie breakfast that comes with fresh local eggs, cumin-roasted tomatoes, and fennel sausage. Sip on a homemade hibiscus and lime soda while you sit back on the plush chairs. Don’t miss out on the ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter. The restaurant, which offers validated parking, is located on Beachwalk Avenue, so after stuffing yourself silly, you can wander down to the beach to catch some waves and rays.
What you’re getting: Full Aussie breakfast, ricotta hotcakes
Breakfast served all day at an industrial hip spot
The newly redeveloped warehouse district of Kakaako is quickly turning into Honolulu’s epicenter of hip culture, fashion, arts, and food. Morning Brew, a coffee shop with roots on the opposite side of the island, is fueling that development out of the district's SALT building. Their original shop in Kailua has the laid-back feel of a mom and pop cafe while the newer location oozes industrial, hipster chic. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee while overlooking graffiti-inspired art that adorns many of the old warehouses in the district. Tear into the popular Vegan Banana Pancakes or the stuffed Grilled Steak Breakfast Burrito. And no need to wake up early as breakfast is served all day until closing at 6pm.
What you’re getting: Vegan Banana Pancakes, Grilled Steak Breakfast Burrito
Tropical French cafe meets HNL South Shore culture
Just around the way from Morning Brew in the SALT building is the hip Avro Café. The Aussie-inspired café opened up inside the super cool Paiko botanical boutique, meaning exotic plant life surrounds everything. The place is usually packed with trendy folks that likely bike-shared their way to a late morning brunch. Tourists rub elbows with tan, tattooed locals and munch on Arvo’s beautifully plated Loaded Avocado Toast and sip flat white cappuccinos beneath frilly umbrellas on sidewalk seating. Try the Matcha Chia Seed Pudding while the brave can tackle the uniquely Aussie Vegemite Toast, the umami-filled food spread made from leftover brewers' yeast extract. Arvo also sells tees so you can wear the lifestyle home.
What you’re getting: Loaded Avocado Toast, Matcha Chia Seed Pudding
Every color of the rainbow bagels will make your day shine
This café sits in the shadow of Diamond Head but stands just as tall with its fresh and local take on traditional brunch dining. Dive into their crabmeat and avocado omelet or fall into their fresh fruit topped açaí bowls drizzled with honey. They also offer a rainbow array of bagels with flavors like strawberry guava, taro, and spinach. And just don't settle for cream cheese as you can turn that bagel into breakfast sandwich stuffed with eggs and sausage. Great for taking away for that hike up the crater around the way. This cash-only restaurant is sure to please all brunch diners or breakfast-goers.
What you’re getting: Crabmeat and Avocado Omelet, Strawberry Guava Bagel
Come for the legendary brunch, stay for the dolphins
Known as the legendary hideaway found at the end of Kahala Ave, the Kahala Hotel & Resort has played host to everyone from the Obamas, the Queen of England, the Dali Lama, rock stars, athletes, and celebrities. The resort’s restaurants are also legendary not only for their dishes but for the unsurpassed views of the beach and the expanding Pacific Ocean. In particular, the Sunday Brunch at Hoku’s is not to be missed. The pricey buffet offers everything from chilled seafood, made to order omelets, king crab legs, prime rib, and decadent desserts. Don’t miss out on their signature ahi poke musubi, or fish stuffed rice ball, that's available during the buffet. Plan to dress up, as this is not a barefoot bar experience. After brunch, stroll down to the hotel’s ocean water lagoon to see the resident dolphins swim around. Last seating is at 2pm. Note: Hoku's is closed for remodeling until April 7, 2018.
What you’re getting: Sunday Brunch at Hoku’s
Bears dance in your latte in this dog-friendly cafe
This rustic café gem sits on busy Kapahulu Avenue, but if you if you brave the traffic and parking options, you’ll be rewarded with great brunch options. The vibe feels more Shibuya than Kaimuki, as the owner is from Japan, but much of their ingredients are locally sourced. Enjoy the crowd favorite Sunny Morning Creamy Potato Skillet or the organic kale Benedict. Watch life go by through their big storefront window while sipping a latte adorned with a cutesy bear designed in the foam. They’ll even offer you a water bowl for your fur baby if you decide to bring a dog along. But anything you order in this spot will surely start your day off right. Closed on Tuesday but most days stay open until 2:30pm for brunch items with later dining hours on Friday and Saturday from 5pm till 8pm.
What you’re getting: Organic kale benedict, Sunny Morning Creamy Potato Skillet