|Honolulu arguably has the best nightlife in all of Hawaii. // Photo by Freeimages.com/Diane Groves|
From sleek rooftop bars and pools to authentic restaurants and live music set on breezy beaches over a stiff Mai Tai, these pointers will help sell Oahu tourism to just about every generation of clients old enough to truly enjoy the dark.
Dining Out International Style
Foodies with a taste for the best international cuisine should keep their eyes peeled for these Oahu restaurants that celebrate the island's cultural diversity.
Ethiopian Love (Ethiopian)
A Hawaii transplant from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, owner Abraham Samuel shares his culture and cuisine at this downtown Honolulu restaurant.
Authentic to Ethiopian cuisine, nearly everything on Samuel’s menu is served on injera (a spongy, fermented flatbread), which he makes daily from scratch.
Ethiopian Love’s menu also features wats (a stew with either beef or lentils) and tibs (stir-fries with beef or chicken), offering diners a true taste of Ethiopia.
According to the restaurant's Yelp.com page, Ethopian Love is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. It is open all day on both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Jing Du Noodle (Northern Chinese)
A downtown Honolulu Chinese eatery specializing in handmade shaved noodles, Jing Du Noodle’s Oahu resident owners, the Zhao family, hand shave every noodle served.
Shaped flat, with thin ruffled edges, the noodles are better able to hold the flavoring of its broth. Menu highlights here include a fried rib casserole (flash-fried, marinated braised pork ribs with house broth and fish cake) and original spicy chicken (seasoned with layers of herbs and spices, and served with green onions and house broth).
According to the restaurant's Yelp.com page, Jing Du Noodle is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Kan Zaman (Mediterranean)
This downtown Honolulu restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine offers a variety of entrees inspired by the cuisines of Morocco and Lebanon.
Favorites here include Warak Enab Bil Zeyte (poached grape leaves stuffed with chopped parsley, onion, mint and rice), Badinjan Mahchi (Lebanese-style rice-stuffed eggplant), and Merguez Couscous (steamed couscous topped with carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, cabbage, chickpeas and harissa-spiced lamb sausage).
According to the restaurant's Yelp.com page, Kan Zaman is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
The Pig and The Lady (Vietnamese Fusion)
A recipient of much national food media acclaim and recognition, Chef Andrew Le and family’s The Pig and The Lady restaurant in downtown Honolulu offers diners an array of intriguing Vietnamese-inspired dishes certain to please (and surprise) the palate.
According to the Travel Agent piece, "Live Like a Local: Exploring Honolulu's Chinatown" by Noah Lederman, "The scene, despite mason jars serving as glasses, Cafe du Monde coffee cans lining the counters, old farm doors standing in for tables, and a chef who dishes up street food, almost feels as if it could pass for a luxury establishment."
"Perhaps it's the screen prints and watercolor paintings lining the brick walls," says Lederman. "Or more likely the quality of the food. Chef Andrew Le's take on fried chicken could shepherd in restauranteurs from across the 48 just to learn his secrets. It's also part of his mission to discover and then introduce niche cuisine, like Cha Ca La Vong, a speciality of one Hanoi restaurant."
Where to Get a Drink
Nightlife lovers need to check out these cool spots known for some local food and brews.
Bar Leather Apron
Home to the state's largest collection of whiskeys and Manifest's bartending guru, Justin Park. It is located in downtown's Topa Financial Center. We were told reservations are recommended.
As the only rooftop restaurant, lounge, and nightclub in Hawaii, SKY Waikiki offers views overlooking Diamond Head and the glittering Honolulu city lights.
Rum Fire's unique "Pacific Rim of Fire" menu highlights its global influences but with a distinctly Hawaiian focus. The menu mixes the spicy hot sizzle of the Pacific Rim of Fire with the fresh, cool, tropical touches of Waikiki. Sip on a tropical rum drink and enjoy some social comfort food.
The Study isn't what it immediately appears to be. It hides behind a wall of books in the lobby of THE MODERN HONOLULU. At 6 p.m. each evening, the bookshelves rotate to reveal a pretty unique drinking spot. Cocktail tables are barely an arm’s length from endless sectionals. We also heard the drinks here are legendary. Try the "Sailor Jerry," a mix of spiced rum and orange Curacao served on the rocks and enhanced by fresh-pressed lemon and a cinnamon-tincture rim.
Follow the velvet rope to one of the most exclusive nightclubs in Honolulu. This is where some of Hawaii's best DJs will be. It's also not uncommon to spot a celebrity or two here.
House Without a Key
House Without A Key is a distinctive indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant providing more casual fare and nightly Hawaiian music. It's Halekulani's gathering spot for informal meals and our signature Mai Tais.
Livestock Tavern is a seasonal American eatery serving as a restaurant and bar to Honolulu’s Chinatown Art District, which is located on the corner of Smith and Hotel streets.
With a focus on simple and comforting dishes, Livestock Tavern compliments its cuisine with a wine program consisting of a selection of worldly wines. A full bar with hand-crafted spirits, small production beers and classic cocktails complete its beverage program.