Jason Genegabus

Friday, April 23, 2004

Honolulu’s bars no secret

I JUST HAD to laugh a couple of weeks ago when I read somewhere that, and I quote, "Honolulu isn't a bar town."

Geez, I'm snickering to myself just typing that line out. Honolulu isn't a bar town? As someone who visits a different watering hole just about every week of the year, I'd have to disagree.

From Kahala to Kakaako, there are more than a few places to visit, and even more if you consider neighborhoods in Pearl City, Hawaii Kai, Kailua and out on the North Shore.

START IN Manoa, for example. Puck's Alley is home to Magoo's, the closest thing we have to a true college bar on this rock. When they've got all the taps working, this place is legendary for its cheap pitchers and diverse menu.

Just a few doors down from Magoo's is East Side Grill, where Robbie Acoba does a fine job of making you feel like you're drinking at his house, not at his bar. And up the street, the guys at Old School Bar and Grill have really started to turn things around in the space that formerly housed Players University.

Also in the area are Bedroq Bar and Grill, Cafe Anasia, and one of Honolulu's most well-known spots, Anna Bannana's. Keep heading down Beretania and there are even more places to drink!

TAKE A trip into Waikiki and, you guessed it, there are a lot of options when it comes to bars. Sure, a lot of them are located in hotels and cater to the tourist crowd, but there are more than a few options if you're looking for a drink off the beaten path.

Unless someone tells you about the Deep End, there's absolutely no way to know about it. Located on the fifth floor next to the pool at the OHANA Maile Sky Court Hotel, customers are welcome to buy a pitcher and take it outside, or just relax with some of the regulars and throw darts indoors.

Over at Arnold's Beach Bar and Grill, you don't have to pay tourist prices in order to drink in Waikiki. Six bucks gets you a pitcher here, and the bar's location on Saratoga Road is so out of the way that you'll impress both locals and visitors if you decide to bring them along.

Other choices on the way towards Ala Moana Center include the Harbor Pub and Snapper's Bar and Grill, and true bar folk always remember to keep the Hideaway in their back pocket as a place to sneak off to when they're nearby.

GETTING TIPSY yet? I hope not -- there are still a lot more bars to tell you about!

While some people are more than happy to have a few and dance a bit at places like Pipeline Cafe, Blue Tropix, Venus Nightclub, the Wave Waikiki or the Ocean Club, there are options for those who want to visit a classy joint and get sloppy.

You don't have to be a member at the Honolulu Club to visit the bar/lounge there, and $3 isn't a bad price to pay for a domestic bottle, especially when live entertainment is also offered during the week from 6 to 9 p.m.

The lounge at Morton's is another option for an upscale pau hana celebration, with $3 "Mortini" specials and free steak sandwiches from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays. And if Indigo's Green Room is your idea of a good time, keep in mind the bars at Palomino, Kincaid's and Brew Moon for the same type of drinking experience.

KEEP EXPLORING, and you'll find even more establishments worth checking out.

Brave the crackheads and transsexual prostitutes Downtown, and you'll be rewarded with gems like Hank's Cafe on Nuuanu Avenue and Ferguson's Irish Pub. Owners Hank Taufaasau and John Ferguson give their bars personality, setting them apart from competitors in the area.

On Kapahulu Avenue, Dave Young is settling in as a neighborhood favorite with the recently-opened On Stage Drinks and Grinds (be sure to stop by on Sunday nights for an acoustic session with John Cruz). And if you live in Kahala, Ye Olde Fox and Hounds Pub and Grub is pretty much your only option when it comes to a true bar atmosphere.

You don't even have to drink alcohol to visit a bar in Honolulu. Just across the street from On Stage is Hale Noa, where you can relax with a bowl of awa and talk story in Hawaiian. Or check out the Smokin Bean, where you can toke on a cigar while knocking back a cup of java at the coffee bar.

THERE YOU go -- a quick listing of bars to visit if you're looking for some place new.

And that's not taking into account bars located outside of (what we call) town, like Chez Monique in Aiea, Kemoo Farms in Wahiawa, the Creekside Lounge in Kailua and Hawaii Kai's Kona Brewing Company.

Honolulu is a bar town, and I've got the liver to prove it.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Barfly appears every Friday in Star-Bulletin Weekend.
E-mail Jason Genegabus at with suggestions of neighborhood bars to visit.


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