From food truck to brick-and-mortar Central Texas-style BBQ
The popularity of Sunset Smokehouse began as a food truck by Sunset Beach on the North Shore. Fast forward to earlier this year when Texas-native, James Kim, opened up the eatery’s first brick-and-mortar location in Wahiawa. Focused on succulent meats that have been smoked for over 12 long hours, the bright, casual spot offers five types of meat of choice — beef brisket, beef ribs, pork spare ribs, pulled pork, and beef sausage. Pair it with any (or all!) of the freshly made sides ranging from a creamy or tangy coleslaw, potato salad, creamed corn, and hot pinto beans. For a relatively lighter meal, opt for the City Limits sandwich, made from a mix of chopped lean and fatty brisket, and an order of Texas sweet tea.
A kid-friendly Kaka’ako café for the urban mom
This casual café is perhaps one of Honolulu’s kid-friendliest spots where parents can come enjoy their cups of coffee or warm chai lattes while their keiki get their play on. The space also offers weekly kid-friendly activities ranging from arts and crafts workshops and singing to storytime and live music. For a snack break, take your pick from the avocado toast, colorful acai bowls, fresh fruit smoothies or dessert toast made with Hawaiian sweet bread — the Unicorn Toast made with Shokupan bread, cream cheese, strawberries, pineapples, and drizzled with honey and rainbow sprinkles, is especially popular and Insta-worthy.
‘Ono family recipes at Kaimuki’s latest authentic Hawaiian food spot
For those looking for a sumptuous plate lunch, look no further than Kaimuki’s latest opening for Hawaiian food. Family recipes passed down from one generation to the next reign supreme on Oahu Grill’s menu of staples like freshly pounded poi, lomi salmon, garlic shrimp, kalua pig, and squid lu`au. You can be sure that meats are smoked with aromatic wood chips and not liquid smoke. A crowd favorite is the Tuesday special of chicken hekka, a savory long-rice noodle dish made with shredded chicken simmered in a shoyu sauce along with green beans and carrots.
Korean food and karaoke in a casual sports bar
At the relatively underrated Billion Pocha 1201, there’s nothing better than ordering a serving of spicy chicken & cheese to go with your nighttime karaoke session. With an October soft opening, the neighborhood’s newest sports bar serves up steaming spicy Korean noodle stews, finger-licking, spicy chicken wings, and more. Coupled with a happy hour that offers $3 beers and $10 food specials from 2-8pm, your weeknight plans have just become soju-much better.
Where sizzling steak meets the casual beach vibes of Waikiki
One of the newest additions to Honolulu’s vibrant dining scene, Aloha Steak House is a much needed, wallet-friendly meat palace in Waikiki. With a distinctly warm interior and industrial-style motif, this carnivore’s dream immediately transports diners to a casual beach house. The only difference is this one is serving up ounces of sizzling, flavorful cuts of beef. The menu’s pièce de résistance is the tomahawk steak, a more than 2-pound, “super-vigorous” grill of bone-in ribeye. If it’s sold out, which is usually the case if you’re there after 8pm, the ribeye with garlic shrimp is the next best thing. According to ASH, there are two ways to eat your meat: on-the-rice -- where you put your piece of steak on a bed of white rice -- or on-the-salad, where your steak goes atop a fresh greens. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to try the Maui sweet onion sauce. It’s addicting.