So you’ve been to the big chain restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake factory downtown, but how about something a little more on the personal side? Take a breezy ride up to the Winward side of the island, away from the crowd and bustle to try out some small biz restaurants. These top five Kailua eateries will have you saying, “CP-What??”
1. Kalapawai Café & Deli – You might pass right by this place if you don’t slow down upon arriving to Kailua Town. Kalapawai is located at the start of Kailua Town at Kailua and Oneawa crossroads, disguised as a green painted abode. Glancing at it from afar, you’ll see customers sitting around outside eating their lunch, which sets the mood for what you’ll see further into Kailua Town. The restaurant is humble, the staff—laid back. It’s a place where you can drink your coffee and eat your lunch bowl for 3 hours and you wouldn’t get shooed out.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Kalapawai will fill your off-the-beach cravings. The restaurant serves an array from breakfast bagels and wraps, to cold and hot sanwhiches, pizza, salads and soups. The food is reminiscent of a homemade style; nothing too fancy. For a savory bite, try their delicious Roast Beef dip or the flavorful Kailua Club cold sandwich.
Make sure to sign up for their emailings to get notifications of specials and wine tastings.
750 Kailua Road Open daily: 6:30am – 9:00pm
2. Kailua Farmer’s Market – No, its not a restaurant…its even better—its Kailua Farmers Market. Every Thursday from 5-7:30pm, food vendors and farmers congregate to show some local food lovin’. Come hungry here because there is a huge array of food to eat, and the smell of it all will definitely win you and your wallet over.
Some top picks include North Shore Farms and their famous pesto pizza and fried tomatoes. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Honey Bee Coop with a selection of Winward harvested honey, or maybe at Sweet Stop and Malie Kai Chocolates for something bittersweet.
If you’re looking more on the dinner side, Da Spot offers a mouthful of culture with Egyptian, Thai and Mediterranean inspired plates. Right next door, Na’ono Kahuku serves up some roasted corn and flavored butter sauces to satisfy your tastebuds.
Lets not forget the most important aspects of a farmers market…produce! About 3 vendors at Kailua Farmers Market serve up locally grown fruits and veggies. When all is
said and done, make sure you swing by SKA Tropicals or Growing Creations to pick up a bundle of tropical flowers for your sweetheart.
591 Kailua Road (parking garage across from Pier 1 Imports) Thursdays, 5:00-7:30pm
3. Pepper’s Place – When you’re a Philadelphia native living in Hawaii, it’s hard to find a good cheesesteak that makes it feel like you’re home. But alas, Pepper’s Place has filled that empty void for some of us Northeasters. (It helps that the business’ owner is from Philadelphia, too)
Some might not realize it, but the perfect cheesesteak has its requirements to meet “Philly Cheesesteak” status. This includes a great roll, the steak, the cheese and the toppings. Pepper’s Place is a pretty close resemblance to “Philly Cheesesteak”.
Service is quick, friendly and the seating area resembles that of a typical cheesesteak and fried goods joint—small inside, booth seats and tile floors, of course. There is seating outside which gives a better aloha breeze during your dining pleasure.
600 Kailua Road Open daily: 10am-8pm
4. Crepes No Ka ‘Oi – Feeling a little French and fancy? Then head over to Crepes No Ka ‘Oi. The English translation of “No Ka ‘Oi” means “The best” and that they are! The easy part is deciding whether you want a dinner crepe or dessert crepe, before you get to a detailed list of what types they make.
Their local gourmet crepes bring in long waits for a table, but its worth it when you enter to see the eye pleasing pastel walls which are graced by the paintings of local artists. After ordering, watch the chefs cook up your crepe from your seat at their work station behind the counter.
Tea lover? You’ll have an endless amount of choices when it comes to this beverage. The gourmet loose leaf teas are served in a mesh spoon holder—just to make it that much fancier when you drink with your pinky up.
Whether you want something chocolaty and sweet like the Lover’s Delight crepe filled with strawberries, bananas, nutella and whipped cream or something savory and meaty, like La Bella Italia filled with Italian sausage, peppers, marinara sauce and provolone cheese, Crepes No Ka ‘Oi will definitely be serving you up something you’ll want to try. Both meat lovers and vegetarians will be able to find their favorite dish on this menu!
131 Hekili Street Open: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 7am-8pm Friday, Saturday 7am-9pm Sunday 7am-2pm
5. Baci Bistro – For a real spicy meatball, Baci Bistro serves up the best you can get. The “homemade Italian” feel of this restaurant atmosphere and food reaches wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Sitting indoors or outdoors under the sparking string lights, you’ll get this feeling wherever you sit.
Baci Bistro serves lunch, dinner and dessert. Want a good fresh caprese? Get it here. Want a saucy chicken marsala? Get it here. Want a creamy fettuccine with scallops? I think you know where to get it now.
Service is attentive and they give good recommendations for wine pairing with your meals. If you have room for dessert, be prepared for more richness to hit your stomach. Selections like tiramisu, crème brulee and the gelato among others will leave you in a state of fulfillment—literally!
30 Aulike Street Open weekdays 11:30am – 10pm weekends 5:30pm – 10:30pm