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When I go on vacation, I don’t want to eat at the same types of places I frequent at home. I want to eat local food, visit mom-and-pop shops, and go to the restaurants that are away from the tourists. I feel like you can learn a lot about a place that you are visiting just by eating at local restaurants.
If you’re like me, if you want to get a real taste of Hawaiian flavor at a truly hidden gem, you will love Side Street Inn.
My husband discovered Side Street Inn years before we ever moved to Hawaii. Someone who lived here took him during one of his visits here. Honestly, I don’t know how else we would have learned about it since it seems to be a place that not many other people I know have heard about. My husband loved Side Street Inn so much that it was the first place he took me when we moved here. And now, it’s the place that we take our friends and family who come to visit.
As far as I know, you won’t find food anywhere like this in Hawaii. They call their food “Local Style Comfort Food,” and that’s the best way I can describe it. Side Street Inn is the kind of restaurant that chefs eat at when they visit Oahu. You’ll find a mix of tourists and locals here, too.
From the outside, Side Street Inn doesn’t look like much. Its original location is literally down a side street, way off the beaten path. And I love that the inside is unassuming, too. It’s casual, unpretentious, and complete with a bar and big-screen TVs. Side Street Inn is exactly the low-key kind of place I want to eat at after spending a day relaxing at the beach.
Their menu is broken down by type of meat: beef, pork, fish and seafood, and chicken. Also on offer are fried rice, fried noodles, and many different salads and sides.
You’ll find familiar food, like their sizzling rib-eye steak, cut pupu style, served on a bed of onions and mushrooms and sautéed in house garlic butter. But ou will also find familiar food done local style, with dishes like teriyaki ribeye, lilikoi BBQ baby back ribs, and hoisin BBQ baby back ribs.
My favorite dishes include Side Street Inn’s famous side style fried rice with char siu, Portuguese sausage & bacon, peas & carrots and green onions. You absolutely have to get this when you go:
I always get the ahi belly, seasoned and pan fried:
The pan fried island pork chops is another favorite of mine.
And make sure you leave room for dessert!
Beer geeks will love Side Street Inn. In fact, one of the founders of Rogue Ales, Jack Joyce, who has spent a lot of time in Hawaii, created a beer for owner Colin Nishida’s Side Street Inn as a wedding present.
Side Street Inn Ale was served at Colin’s wedding reception. Now, that beer is served at Side Street Inn. If you are a beer drinker, going to Side Street Inn is worth it to try this beer alone.
Pro Tip: Sometimes, you can find Side Street Inn at local grocery stores in Hawaii, like Safeway, Foodland, or Whole Foods. But you can’t always count on finding it there. And you certainly won’t find it anywhere else. Whenever I find it in the store, I get it, because I don’t see it too often. If you go to the grocery store in Hawaii to stock up on snacks and drinks, make sure you look for Side Street Inn Ale, whether you plan to visit Side Street Inn or not.
Side Street Inn is what I consider to be a hidden gem of Oahu. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy spots of Waikiki, and the food is delicious.
All of the food is served family style, so come hungry and be prepared to share. If you are coming to Hawaii with a big group of people, Side Street Inn is perfect because you can try a bunch of different dishes. And trust me, you will want to!
You can visit Side Street Inn at its original location at 1225 Hopaka St., Honolulu. Its second location is located at 614 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu.
Parking is difficult in Honolulu, and both locations offer valet parking. Or, you could take a cab or Uber, since both restaurants are close to Waikiki.
Reservations are a must! Call at least a week in advance to get the time you want.
If you’re interested in learning more about Hawaiian food – and trying lots of new dishes – call us to learn about our Aloha Plate Hawaii Food Tour.
Your guide for this food tour will be celebrity Lanai Tabura. Lanai was born and raised on the island of Lanai and was the winner of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” Lanai loves taking visitors to his favorite spots and sharing his knowledge of Hawaiian food and culture.
During this tour, you will learn about the food and culture of Hawaii and have the chance to try some local food.
Lanai customizes each food tour based on what’s fresh that day. Lanai also takes your preferences into consideration. Frequent stops include poke, seafood, food trucks, and local favorites like chicken katsu, lau lau, mac salad, and sticky rice. If there is any food you want to try, just let us know!
Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to savor the flavors of Hawaii with a celebrity chef! Lanai loves meeting visitors and years of insider knowledge to share with you. Call us today to get started!