Grab a bite at this longtime favorite.
Before nary a sizzling plate hits your table, you should know that there are two very good reasons to make the trek up Kapahulu Avenue to Side Street Inn on Da’ Strip for a meal. First, it’s only the most in-the-know diners who seek out eateries at destinations where the local chefs, waiters, bartenders and restaurateurs head immediately following their shifts. And second, who doesn’t want to eat at a restaurant that foodie icon Anthony Bourdain chose for his closing meal in Hawai‘i?
Side Street Inn on Da’ Strip is the second offshoot of a legendary restaurant in downtown Honolulu tucked into a nondescript alley that became the go-to for post-shift restaurant workers. Owner and chef Colin Nishida took a sports bar ambiance, piped in karaoke, a bar and some rag-tag booths and served up family style local fare that was hearty, rich and delicious … before opening a polished outpost (ever so slightly; it’s still got a sports bar ambiance and plenty of viewable TVs) in 2009 on Kapahulu.
Be sure to make a reservation: This spot is even more popular, as stated, with locals than visitors and tables are a hot ticket. The reason? First and foremost, a heaping platter of deep fried bone-in pork chops—
Nishida’s specialty. The panko crust is delicately crispy, while the “other white meat” inside remains moist and flavorful.
In fact, they’re so confident in this dish that they refuse to serve any fancy dipping sauce for the plateful of chops, other than ketchup (much to the chagrin of more refined editors—er, sorry—diners).
Other standouts—it’s hard to narrow them down—include perhaps the best fried rice on the island (including a knockout kim chee version); a local greens spinach salad; any of the steamed whole fish options (one version has ginger, shiitake and soy reduction); sizzling rib-eye steak sliced “pupu-style” and so on.
Don’t miss the homemade bread pudding with Hawai‘i’s own Roselani ice cream; you’ll stumble home a little “richer” and heavier, just like Bourdain.
Side Street Inn on Da’ Strip
614 Kapahulu Ave. [A:12 Waikiki Map]
Photos: Jeff Sanner