Food Finds: Kailua

1) Prima

Heating up Kailua's culinary scene is Prima, a hot new Italian/American restaurant by a trio of local chefs with some serious cooking street cred.

Folded inside a nondescript strip mall next to Foodland, Prima is known for flipping out some of the island's best kiawe wood brick oven pizzas. We go bananas for their Di Bologna ($18), a thin crust, handcrafted pizza topped with pepperocini, mozzarella, a soft poached egg, rosemary, mortadella Spaghetti all'Amatriciana, tomato, red onion and guanciale. If you're going with a group we recommend ordering family style so you can sample some of their other Prima-ere dishes like the pappardelle ($18), curry bolognese with fried curry leaves or their slow roasted pork belly ($32), with king trumpet mushrooms, mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. Delizioso!

If a visit to Prima is a top priority, make sure to put in your reservation well in advance - they're so popular among Kailua residents that they typically have a line winding around the door. And because they fire food to order you may have to wait a bit for your meal. But stick around for dessert - their pistachio glace will make your eyes glaze over.

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2) Lanikai Juice

Squeeze some time into your Hawai‘i trip for a visit to Lanikai Juice, a locally owned juice shop which is mixing things up with their use of local organic ingredients and high quality products. While Lanikai Juice now offers locations across O‘ahu you can still pay a visit to their original shop on Kailua Road.

Since opening in Windward Oahu in 1997, Pablo Gonzalez (considered by some as the "Alan Wong" of smoothies) has been stirring up the local juice business focusing on using local products to create unique smoothie blends such as Aloha Date, Pele's Papaya Cream and Ginger Ono.

The award-winning shop has been helping residents get juiced up with their selection of smoothies, bowls, juices and supplements. After a day splashing around Kailua's aquamarine waters cool off with your pick of one of Lanikai Juice's more popular items -- their acai bowl. If you're crazy for coconuts you must try their Acai Colada Bowl, which includes a blend of bananas, strawberries, pineapple, honey, natural coconut milk and topped with dried pineapple and coconut.


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3) Island Snow

Hailing from the Windward side of O‘ahu, Island Snow is freezing out the competition. This shave ice stand is the perfect hits-the-spot stop after a long day in the sand and sun at one of Kailua's beautiful beaches. And after you've slurped up your shave ice you can check out Island Snow's buffet of surf wear, street wear, sunnies and accessories - just what you need to mix up your wardrobe before hitting the shores again tomorrow!

Within walking distance of Kailua Beach just off Kailua Road, Island Snow is known for its fast, friendly service and full-size servings. Splurge for the to-go cup (at only $3 though is it really a splurge?) and avoid the mess of a cone.

This shave ice stand is so cool it has attracted a loyal following. In fact, Island Snow's real claim-to-fame is the regular visits it receives from President Obama and his ‘ohana (family), who frequent here when they make their annual "migration" to Hawai‘i during the holidays. Hey, if it's good enough for the prez...



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4) Kalapawai Market

For groceries on the go, Kalapawai Market in Kailua has been a staple for area residents since their hanabata (hah-nah-bah-tah or small kid) days growing up. Their trademark green façade and barn-like exterior makes it a recognizable landmark as you mosey by their storefront off of South Kalaheo Avenue.

Established in 1932, their location near the entrance to Kailua Beach Park makes it the perfect go-to for last-minute provisions like a bag of ice, six pack of juice or their selection of made-to-order sandwiches, which make for the perfect picnic lunch. And no matter what time of day you visit Kalapawai you'll find yourself rubbing shoulders with Lanikai and Kailua regulars - many of whom, consider a visit to Kalapawai for a toasted bagel and cup of coffee as routine as brushing their teeth in the morning.

If you need some items before making the trek back into Waikiki (like say, a bottle of wine to pair with dinner or ice cream bar to cool off) a quick run to Kalapawai will have you stocked with everything you need - and then some.


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5) Moke's Bread & Breakfast

Named after chef Moses "Moke" Warren, at Moke's Bread and Breakfast, dining here is a true family affair. From the ambiance - which feels like you've just stepped into the Warren's home -- at Moke's, the entire Warren ‘ohana (family) chips in to support Moke's dream, serving up homemade baked goodies, breakfast favorites and of course their luscious lilikoi pancakes.

While there are many Kailua breakfast spots starting to pop up, what we love about this still-secret spot is the fact that while there's almost always a queue of hungry diners waiting to pound some pancakes Moke's is still a largely undiscovered gem. Their fresh, never frozen menu is chock full of local favorites. From farm-fresh omelets and homemade corned beef hash to their loco-licious loco moco we promise you won't leave hungry. Moke's is open daily except for Tuesdays from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you can, we'd recommend you moke your way over during the week and avoiding the weekend.


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6) Cinnamon's

They say good things come to those who wait- and that is definitely the case with Cinnamon's, one of Kailua's most beloved eateries. Because of its popularity, you'll want to dash over early in order to spice up your morning with Cinnamon's popular breakfast dishes. And with a selection ranging from Hawaiian-inspired omelets to eggs benedict, its name isn't the only thing sweet about this eatery.

While everything on its menu receives rave reviews, Cinnamon's takes the cake for their signature pancakes like guava chiffon and red velvet. But in addition to their great dishes, is their sweet service. Here servers wait on everyone as if they were a member of their own ohana (family), so that a meal here feels just like another morning around the kitchen table (but with an order of loco moco and minus the dishes).

Sprinkle in a visit to Cinnamon's, which is open for breakfast daily and lunch everyday except Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you can't make the ride over to the Windward side check out Cinnamon's new location at the ‘Ilikai hotel in Waikiki.


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7) Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen

Lace up your boots (or slide on your slippers) and head over to Kailua to Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen and start your day off right! When we're flipping for flapjacks, we head on over to O'ahu's Windward side for some banana pancakes smothered in their irresistible macadamia nut sauce.

Originally a hole in the wall just off Kailua's main drag, Boots and Kimo's has new stomping grounds in a building just across the street from Target. The restaurant fills up quickly so be a good sport and settle in for a wait by checking out the restaurant's vast selection of sports paraphernalia covering the walls.

But here it's not just the décor that's full of local flavor. Boots & Kimo's is known for its home-style cooking, serving dishes that you would find in any hale (house) - like omelets, fried rice and of course, onolicious pancakes. In fact we wouldn't be surprised if Gwen Stefani was inspired after a visit here. The pancakes are bananas. B. A. N. A. N. A. S.

Named after owners and brothers Jesse and Rick Kiakona's father, Boots and their Uncle Kimo, Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Beat the hordes of hungry guests and arrive by 8 a.m. or call ahead and order takeout to picnic at nearby Kailua Beach Park!


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8) Baci Bistro

Get a taste of Italy with a delizioso meal at Baci Bistro. This quaint European-style café, located off Aulike Street in quiet Kailua boasts a warm and cozy atmosphere perfect for meeting up with friends for lunch or an intimate dinner with your significant other.

Eat your heart out with exquisite entrees made to order. At Baci Bistro they've noodled out a reputation for their exceptional ravioli dishes such as the Ravioli d'Argosta ($18.95), which features ravioli filled with lobster, prosciutto and ricotta cheese in a lobster cream sauce. Or you can't go wrong with the Ravioli del Giorno ($17.95), a Baci specialty, featuring the special ravioli of the day!

But whatever you do, don't desert before dessert! Save room to dig into Baci Bistro's dolci (dessert) menu, which features crowd pleasers like the Marscapone Cheesecake ($6.95), topped with white chocolate and a light berry sauce or Chocolate Decadence ($6.95). If you're looking for something to cool off the Gelato Affogato alla Baci ($9.95) features vanilla gelato with Chambord raspberry liqueur. No matter what you choose, Baci Bistro's enchanting dishes will literally make you feel as if you've pasta way and gone to heaven.

Baci Bistro is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. and for dinner daily from 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Take out is available and reservations are accepted over the phone at (808) 262-7555 or online at


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