In one of the older neighborhoods in Honolulu, there is an area I call Upper Kaimuki Town. Comprised of not more than a few blocks, the area is bordered by Koko Head Avenue to the East, 11th Avenue to the West, Waialae Avenue to the North, and Harding Avenue to the South.
In this compact space you will find a surprising number of cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and more. You can find everything from coffee and pastries for breakfast, dim sum for lunch, Thai food for dinner, and many more delicious things in between.
There are several public parking lots and lots of on-street parking. And in between meals there are many small, locally-owned shops to explore.
Here is a listing of some of my favorite places in the area. We eat at some more than others but they are all good.
Koa Pancake House
A part of a local chain, this is no-frills, good food with lots of different options. You order at the counter, find a seat, and your food is brought to your table. Food is served on paper plates with disposable utensils. They also serve lunch items but it’s breakfast we enjoy.
Koko Head Cafe
This upscale brunch restaurant is a favorite. From the daily pastries to the skillet meals to their self-proclaimed, “Best Hash Brown Ever” (my nephew’s favorite), everything is delicious.
Moke’s Bread & Breakfast
While everything that I’ve tried is delicious, I go for one thing, the Liliko’i Pancakes – big fluffy pancakes topped with the most delicious passion fruit cream sauce (did I mention that I LOVE lilikoi?).
Big City Diner
Big City Diner has been a family favorite for years and one of our favorite places to go for Sunday breakfast. Favorites include the Mr. Chipper pancakes, Ani’s Cinnamon Bread French Toast, and the Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Haupia (coconut) Cream Sauce. On the savory side, we love the loco moco with kim chee fried rice and any version of the eggs benedicts served on the weekend. Their lunch/dinner menu is also very good (which is why they are under all-day dining) but we mainly go to Big City Diner for breakfast.
Lunch & Dinner
Chubbies Burgers is a relatively new addition to Kaimuki Town. It was formerly a food truck in town and is now a brick and mortar location. The burgers are juicy and delicious but we especially love their onion rings.
Happy Days Chinese Restaurant
Growing up there were a lot of restaurants that served dim sum on rolling carts. Nowadays, it’s harder and harder to find. Happy Days still rolls out the carts and the dim sum is good. If dim sum is not your thing, order off the extensive menu for traditional Chinese dishes.
When the restaurant is filled, it feels very crowded and noisy (as a Chinese restaurant should be). As with most traditional Chinese restaurants, service can be brusque and the last time we were there, the server was wearing a shirt that said “I don’t give a sh*t” …
3553 Waialae Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96816
Honolulu Burger Co.
Another relative newcomer to the area also happens to be a burger joint but I’m not complaining. They offer a good selection of delicious burgers and we always get a side of truffle fries. (You can also find them at the KCC Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.)
To Thai For
A Thai restaurant that has a spice scale that ranges from American low to Thai high is no joke. We like spice but order everything at American medium (I can’t even begin to imagine what Thai high would do to my taste buds).
3571 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
The Surfing Pig
This small restaurant serves up generous portions and big, tasty flavors. We have only gone for brunch but are looking forward to trying their dinner menu. The staff is super friendly and they were able to accommodate a wheelchair.
Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery
Visitors to Hawaii only think of one place for malasadas but there are several places and Pipeline Bakeshop is one of them. They are well worth the visit but if malasadas aren’t your thing, try their cake bombs, monster cookies, or ice cream. Your sweet tooth will be happy.