A more than 50-year-old throwback to the gastro-glories and tiki traditions of Hawaii's past, La Mariana solves its visitors' palate puzzles with the help of a broad menu encompassing some of the best of both surf and turf. Amidst a festively decorated interior heavy on natural materials and whimsical lighting, guests can enjoy the fork-ready finery of steak and prime rib, "local-style" curries, and a multitude of fresh seafood while chatting with the tiki-faced cups containing their mai tais, zombies, and other cocktails. Sandwiches, such as the shrimp and avocado sandwich, are $8–$13, and entrees, such as grilled mahi mahi, are $7–16.
It begins with a private elevator ride. An uninterrupted, 36-floor ascent that ends at the top of the Ala Moana Hotel, also known as The Signature Prime Steak and Seafood. Upon stepping off the car, eyes are drawn to nearly every detail of the expansive restaurant. In one corner, a wooden installation mushrooms over an art-deco bar that gleams with crystal and marble. In another corner, an ornate butterfly chandelier is reflected in the lid of a white grand piano.
During happy hour, guests can gather in the area around the piano, or they can cozy up in one of the room's many dining areas. Some include leather-wrapped booths, the curved seats of which open toward floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the Waikiki skyline. These views are perhaps what the restaurant is best known for. Depending on which area you sit in, you'll take in panoramic views of the ocean, the city, the mountains, sunset, and on Friday nights, a fireworks show.
Those more interested in oenology than topography might consider reserving the private wine room, a 10-person space enclosed by wine displays. The elegant wine list includes both Old World and New World varietals available by the glass, bottle, or half bottle. The food is equally elegant with a classic steakhouse selection that includes everything from prime porterhouse and rack of lamb to Maine lobster. There's a light Asian influence as well, evidenced by beautifully plated appetizers of ahi sashimi and ahi katsu.
The sunlight bathed, palm-fortified fairways of the beautifully landscaped Kaanapali Golf Course wend around the slatted windows of Paradise Grill, filling each portal with greenery backed by sunsets and rolling ocean. It's a stunning venue in which to enjoy some casual island culture. A high-vaulted diagonal ceiling stretches overhead, lending the eatery a modern feel. The first-floor bar boasts 11 flat-screen TVs and a quieter, second-floor dining room is where guests slice into ocean-fresh fish or pull gooey slices of handmade Round Table pizzas. The chefs whip up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night meals affectionately called Buenas Noshes.
Once a month at Formaggio Grill, guests indulge in four-course meals paired with fine wines. It sounds like a typical dinner party, save one difference: no one can see a thing. The monthly event is called Dining in the Dark, and Formaggio Grill hopes that it will encourage guests to slow down, savor their dinners, and even reconsider their approaches to fine dining.
Even without the blindfolds, Formaggio Grill touts that mission with careful preparation of Mediterranean-style cuisine in a warm, welcoming space. Chefs smoke prime rib over kiawe wood and toss pastas with housemade sausage. Servers are happy to help pair entrees with selections from a list of more than 50 wines from around the world.
The restaurant envelops diners in warm reds and golds, and low light casts plush red stools and a wooden bar in a warm glow. The artwork of Ron Genta adds splashes of color to the walls, and local musicians take to the stage on the weekends to entertain patrons with smooth guitar sounds or the dulcet tones of a whale’s song.
Chef JJ built himself an empire out of sugar, complete with chocolate pyramids covered in cocoa powder. He wanted to bring all things European to Hawaii, so he founded JJ Bistro & French Pastry, where he crafts delectable desserts and a menu of entrees fusing French influence with local ingredients. His baked lamb wellington features crisp bell pepper within a shelf of flaky pastry, and his seafood brioche combines the daily catch with shiitake mushrooms and black-pepper sauce. In addition to the aforementioned chocolate pyramids, he crafts key-lime tarts, chocolate-banana confit, and black-currant cassis in individual servings. He just uses bigger mixing bowls to create the same mouthwatering cakes for birthdays or weddings.
Despite the general European flair, the chef can't resist showing off local cuisine in all its glory with his daily specials of fresh-caught seafood. The mini seafood menu features shrimp, mussels, crab, and lobster, cooked to order and bedecked in one of four sauces, such as garlic butter or J'Jun sauce, Chef JJ's blend of Cajun spices with seldom-used contractions.
With an eclectic childhood that took place amid the bustling cityscape of São Paolo, Brazil, in the steamy kitchen of their parents’ Chinese restaurant and on surfboards riding the oceans of Mexico, brothers Wing, Ed, and Mingo have tasted a panoply of flavors. Their intimate familiarity with the international cuisines of their youth has coalesced into Wahoo’s Fish Taco, a taqueria with Mexican specialties that brim with Brazilian and Asian touches. House-made sauces, such as the roasted-pepper cilantro sauce and the spicy Mr. Lee’s sauce, drizzle wahoo- and mahi-mahi-stuffed tacos and fork-ready entrees such as the Maui bowl, a customer favorite that combines teriyaki steak with beans and rice. The full bar serves margaritas infused with local limes, house-made sweet-and-sour mix, and straws handcrafted by artisan strawsmiths to anoint tongues during lunch, dinner, or the eatery's daily happy hours. To add to the global flavors, live musicians flaunt their fingerwork in the restaurant three days a week.