After falling in love with Wahiawa upon his first visit, master coffee-brewer Mike Richards quickly plotted a way to join the community’s eclectic crowd on a more permanent basis. The fruition of this aim, Perk-A-Lot Coffee & Sandwich Shop, marries Wahiawa’s uplifting spirit with a low-key ambiance and delicious coffeehouse fare. Since opening its doors in 2011, this up-and-coming spot has evolved into a cherished hangout for locals and coffee connoisseurs on pilgrimages from nearby islands. Mike and his friendly staff of baristas prepare café beverages behind simple wooden counters, pairing iced or steaming drinks with handmade wraps and sandwiches. When they aren’t sitting down to enjoy pastries such as lemon scones and fudge brownies, visitors can walk across the café’s checkerboard floor to view the local art that adorns the walls. On Friday nights, local poets and musicians stage performances for crowds, who signal their approval by snapping and pelting the stage with packets of sugar.
Staff members at Green Snow carefully shave blocks of ice into very fine pieces before infusing the desserts with flavors. Local specialties include guava, lychee, and lilikoi––a juicy passionfruit. They also use the icy medium to duplicate other drinks such as root beer. The staffers then top off frosty concoctions with sweetened condensed milk, azuki beans, or li hing plum powder.
VG Addict fulfills dragon-slaying and Formula 1–driving fantasies with a virtual treasure trove of new and used video games, DVDs, and accessories. Customers can stop by the retail store to bask in a glorious assortment of classics and new releases for systems from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to Nintendo Wii and handheld consoles. Gamers are encouraged to test-drive games before they buy, ensuring games are in working order and haven't been exposed to damage by previous owners.
Rainbow Tea House takes tea beyond the standard afternoon cuppa with bubble tea drinks, boba milk tea, and thai milk tea. Fresh fruit smoothies, sorbet caf?, and honeydew and taro milkshakes offer some tasty tea alternatives in the sun-drenched spot brightened by canary-yellow walls, sunflowers in the window, and white tables and chairs.
Universe Juice Café harnesses solar energy to blend and squeeze organic fruit into refreshing drinks that complement a menu of fresh, healthy fare. The Mantra smoothie mixes together berries, bananas, papayas, and positive thoughts ($6.75), and the Malo Man swaggers out of the blender with banana, ginger, pa'i 'ai, and noni ($6.50), and refuses to ask directions to the nearest glass. Signature poke bowls layer spicy or shoyu-style Hawaiian ahi over rice ($8) and kale ($10.50), as savory naan flatbread paninis embrace vegetable and turkey fillings ($8.50+). Universe Juice Café's warm-colored walls and intimate café seating abut a wood-topped juice bar, creating a cozy atmosphere for dining, drinking, and blending in time to live music showcases.
At Kua'Aina Sandwich, success lies between two halves of a fresh kaiser roll. The shop opened in Hawaii in 1975, and the popularity of its burgers, sandwiches, and fresh cut shoestring fries caused Kua'Aina to expand to a third Oahu location and to franchises in London and Japan. Perhaps people noticed that Kua'Aina's cooks aren't afraid to play around with the traditional burger toppings. Sure, they make classic 1/3- and 1/2- pound cheeseburgers, but they also add accents such as pineapple and avocado.
Cheese and avocados make repeat appearances atop Kua'Aina's charbroiled sandwiches. Toasted multi-grain or hearth rye bread serves as the foundation for the tuna-and-avocado sandwich, pastrami sandwich, or a combination BLT-avocado sandwich so delicious that it defies the normal laws of acronyms.