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).
Glenn Chu’s earliest memories of cooking are of watching his Chinese grandmother pluck veggies from her garden in Manoa, fire up a wood-burning stove, and stir-fry the pickings in an oversized wok. While studying and working on the mainland, he learned Western cooking methods, honing his skills to a level that earned one of his recipes publication in Bon Appétit. He draws together this experience to influence his work as Executive Chef of INDIGO, where the blend of Asian, French, and Mediterranean styles is evident in the goat cheese won ton appetizer, the wasabi soy and sun-dried tomatoes on ahi steak, and the sautéed eggplant and pineapple chutney on spicy shrimp. The dining room presents accents of crimson red and high ceilings, while outdoor spaces welcome vacationing demigods.
According to psychologists, the color red makes people hungry. So it's no wonder that Rakuen Lounge’s combination of vibrant, crimson tabletops and artistically plated sushi consistently incites stomach rumbles. Here, the chefs design their quirky specialty rolls with organic ingredients and a knowing wink: their caterpillar roll arrives adorned with jewel-toned red eyes and micro greens doubling as antennae, creating a presentation that was oohed and ahhed over by Non Stop Honolulu’s Tracy Chan. Bartenders congregate in the center of the dining room at a square-shaped bar where they shake up signature martinis with sake and yuzu, fresh fruit juices, and other seasonal ingredients procured from local vendors rather than intergalactic grocery store chains.
The glow of flat-screen TVs and projectors dances in blues and whites off leather furnishings and acres of hardwood and brushed aluminum. At Nocturna Lounge, sharply dressed guests gain confidence as they belt karaoke classics and headbang over faux drum kits during games of Rock Band. The sprawling karaoke list includes time-tested numbers such as "You’ve Lost that Lovin' Feelin'," new songs from artists including Cee Lo Green, and obscure numbers from films including Team America: World Police. The melodies drift through an open lounge and four private suites, which shelter visitors during songs or rounds of Xbox games such as Call of Duty and Street Fighter, in which martial artists battle evil cobblestones. Customers even vie for prizes against members of Team Nocturna. In between each bout, barkeepers decant imported beers and specialty cocktails behind the icy silhouettes of a forest of bottles.
Scream Team creates new nightmares by bringing already existing ones to life, drawing upon horror staples such as demonic clowns and decaying zombies for their fully immersive haunted houses. In 2011, a rogue’s gallery of cinematic madmen—from Michael Myers to Freddy Krueger to Nick Nolte—brought hypothermia to the spines of patrons tiptoeing through Hollywood Horror, which ran alongside the blood-spattered carnival of Twisted Fun House. Their houses stay open through the end of October and then, like an office of candy-corn salesmen, vanish after Halloween.
Apartment 3 flaunts the chic side of belly-warming comfort cuisine with its menu of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and more constructed from as many locally and sustainably sourced ingredients as possible. Share fantasy bocce-ball-team picks while sharing The Yard Sale, a seasonally handpicked myriad of pickled veggies, on-location cured meats, and goat cheese lightly sprinkled with olive oil ($13), or dunk thirsty french fries in a tank of Sriracha ketchup ($7). Meat, vegetable, and white pizzas ($11–$12) sate circular cravings, and the Italian Dog, a mozzarella-dressed meat tube with tomatoes, basil, and balsamic, lubricates the stomach's elaborate system of levers and pulleys ($11).
Menus and pricing may vary slightly between Chuck's Restaurants's three locations—Ko 'Olina, Waikiki, and Waikiki Beach—but all three meld upscale cuts and catches with a casual atmosphere, obviating the awkward sight of a tuxedo jacket thrown over a Garfield-print aloha shirt. Open lava-rock grills send meaty aromas to gallantly guide diners to the all-you-can-eat salad bar offered with every entree. On any given night, an array of veggies might be escorted by soupy sidekicks such as seafood chowder, french onion, or tomato vegetable. A herd of aged USDA Prime–grade steaks graze with the teriyaki sirloin, which soaks for 48 hours in a house-made marinade before reaching your plate. Chuck's fish-finaglers hook the catch of the day from local waters, presenting a line of island fish such as hebi, opah, or ahi, served grilled or sautéed (market value). Several variations on surf 'n' turf unite feuding sectors of the culinary kingdom by wedding prime rib (starting at $28.75) to lobster tail (market value), and sirloin (starting at $24.50) to scallops ($28.50). Most meals range $20–$40.