I had the good fortune last week to try out the terrific new menu at the cafe in the legendary Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, in the heart of Waikiki. Hula's, which celebrates 14 years in its current open-air location just a short stroll from gay-popular Queen's Surf Beach (before that it had been around the corner on Kuhio Avenue since the '70s), has been serving food for as long as I've been going. But the new menu is fresh, inventive, and fun, and definitely makes Hula's just as viable as a dinner or, on weekends, brunch option as it is a great place for cocktails and dancing.
Food service is available Wednesday through Monday from 3:30 until 9:30, and additionally on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 on for brunch. The menu takes a classic "pupu platter" or tapas-style approach, featuring a number of inventive, well-crafted smaller plates that can easily be combined to make a more substantial meal. Highlights include sweet potato fries with pineapple-cilantro sauce, spiced homemade lotus chips with curry aioli, ahi poke "sushi cupcakes", Tuscan BLT sliders, Korean barbecue kalbi tacos, and five-spice duck quesadillas with raspberry-chipotle sauce. At brunch, the highlights include eggs Benedict with arugula, tomato, and pancetta; Banana's Foster-style pancakes, and Hawaiian breakfast bread pudding made with taro bread, papaya, banana, mango, apricots, and Tahitian vanilla sauce.
The venerable club has also started booking some excellent live-music acts on weekends, and some of Honolulu's top DJs continue to provide the music at other times.
For more ideas about fun nightlife in Honolulu, check out the new Honolulu Gay Bars Guide, which includes several clubs as well as a handful of gay-popular restaurants.