At Tropical Tribe, health meets flavor in bowls and shakes that combine fruits and herbs harvested from around the world. Açai bowls blend the popular superfruit with guarana imported from the Amazon rainforest. Shakes made with cool Yerba Mate tea quell thirst using a nutritious herb from the Atlantic rain forest, not to be confused with the Atlantis rainforest, which is made of actual rain.:m]]
Meandering through rows of coffee trees in a Waialua coffee orchard, roastmaster John Alvarez gauges by sight alone the maturity of the trees and the ripeness of the berries peeking out from verdant leaves. Though the coffee aficionado follows his beans’ route from germination into each piping mug, his true passion lies in roasting. Back at his roasting site in the shadow of Mount Ka'ala, handfuls of beans cascade through his fingers, pouring back into the drum roaster’s cooling bin as he inspects their chafes and hues to ensure an even roast. Though he concedes each island’s orchards produce different flavors, it’s the slow-roasting process—featured on Hawaiian Grown—that accounts for his coffee’s smooth, sweet taste. “It’s like being a chef at a restaurant,” he says of his duties. “A lot of people take it for granted, but it’s what makes all the difference.” Just outside, amid the Ilikai Hotel's fountains and gardens where his coffee shop is located, people sit on the patio, take in the sun, chat, and sip on the signature coffee.
Kissaten Japanese Noodle Shop’s litany of ramen showcases a variety of broths composed of miso, curry, or classic shio base, highlighted by the fresh medallions of pork or fried shrimp tempura floating amid thin noodles. In addition to the 12 types of noodle bowls, Kissaten Japanese Noodle Shop serves up rice dishes adorned with shitake mushrooms or vegetable tempura, or beef bowls served over yam noodles. A second location bolsters the menu with a variety of delicate café fare, such as salads with smoked salmon and baby spinach and sandwiches with shaved pastrami and caramelized onions.
Cozily tucked within a cluster of missionary houses erected in the 1820s, Mission Houses Tea Parlor reawakens 19th-century English etiquette with old-fashioned tea parties. Named for an 1820s missionary, the Lucia Holman tea service brandishes fine china harboring cups of burbling warm tea steeped from the finest loose leaves. From underneath centuries-old trees, outdoor tea sippers can nibble on flaky, buttery scones, slathering them with generous layers of house-made lemon curd and rich devonshire cream before scarfing them down with the traditional British swiftness. Patrons can munch on an array of dainty sandwiches, grasping the moist miniatures between graceful fingers, or whetting broken broomsticks and piercing them with swift thrusts. Chocolaty desert pastries add elegance to the midmorning feast, allowing guests to enjoy sugar without catapulting bags of it across the street at neighbors’ houses.
Manifest Hawaii blurs boundaries as a caffeine-purveying lounge by day, a cocktail-pouring live-music party by night, and an art gallery by choice. While Apollo rides his chariot, Waialua coffee aficionados mingle among multimedia masterpieces sipping espressos ($2), slurping cappuccinos ($3.50), or shot-gunning mochas ($4). Those who, like Popeye, prefer to get their strength from leaves rather than beans can sample the Tiger Spice chai, and others who, like Olive Oyl, have trouble making up their minds can get a taste of both chai and espresso in the Dirty chai ($4.50). Evening quaffs come brewed and bottled ($5) or freshly mixed with premium liquors ($7). Each evening brings a different band to the stage to get guests grooving, and Manifest regularly hosts special events, fundraisers, and mad-hatter-helmed tea parties.
Created by local indie rocker Josh86 and his business partner, Serena Hashimoto, as a comfy, stylish diner to lounge about, the Downbeat Diner & Lounge attracts famished lunch munchers and night owls with a vegan-friendly menu of American classics. Patrons can sprawl out in the funky-patterned booths before downing the American burger, which is topped with cheddar and doused in house sauce ($7.50). Those who wake up late can still snack on the breakfast menu all day, filling bellies with the Loco Moco, a gravy- and egg-slathered burger or veggie patty ($7). Like the vegetarian superheroes of the 1930s, every menu item has its vegan foil—even dairified desserts such as the milkshake ($5) and meaty meals such as the bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato sandwich ($7.50).
Located within the bright-orange Herbal Spa and Saunas building, Ngon Vietnamese Restaurant serves up traditional Vietnamese cuisine to patrons relaxing after spa treatments as well as to those who walk in from the street. Chefs skillfully prepare creamy curries, banh mi sandwiches, and pho that's simmered with beef or vegetarian stock. Another specialty is banh xeo, a sizzling rice flour cake that cradles shrimp, sliced pork, bean sprouts, and chives; Honolulu Magazine described that dish's taste as "the essence of Vietnam."