As an accomplished ballroom-dance instructor and television actor, Ed Nix derives joy from seeing his students land coveted roles. The Nix Performing Arts Center is meant to help them across each stepping stone, from introductory classes to audition prep. While highly skilled teachers pass on their expertise in dancing, acting, voice work, and modeling, pupils perfect their maneuvers atop the marley and sprung flooring of the 1,000-square-foot facility.
NixPAC welcomes guests of all experience levels, whether they are aiming to dazzle cruise-line talent scouts or are simply harnessing a sense of rhythm. Staff members strive to cultivate a familial bond with their groups; they readily dispense career advice on choosing a future dance school, where they then send care packages filled with extra feet.
The friendly staff at Lisa's House pairs cold beer with pupu platters and fresh seafood—all served in a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Diners can fuel up before limerick-style rap battles with an array of poke plates, including spicy Korean salmon poke ($8.75) and fresh Hawaiian-style ahi poke (market price). Lisa's House also serves chicken ($7.75–$8), pork ($8.75 each), and steak dishes, including the house-specialty New York steak awash in ginger-cilantro pesto ($9.75). Patrons who are concerned about sinking their steeds during dolphin rides can dine on lighter fare, diving into more than 15 pupus, including kim chee kamaboko dip ($7.75) and portobello fries ($7.75).
When Antonio “Trigo” Da Silva moved to Hawaii in 2007, he found a community of people who wanted to learn more about their own Portuguese heritage. That’s why he opened Adega Portuguesa Restaurant in Chinatown. There, visitors can sample traditional dishes such as Portuguese-style bean soup, Northern Portuguese–style codfish, or bitoque—a dish made by crowning a new york strip steak with brown gravy and a fried egg.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the eatery’s cooks also prepare Brazilian dishes such as feijoada, a medley of black beans, beef, pork, sausage, and bacon stewed with farofa and sliced orange. Beer, cocktails, and imported wines wash back each bite. In addition to tasting traditional foods, guests can dance to live Portuguese music or learn the native tongue in Portuguese language classes.
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).
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.
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.