Living in central Oahu is great. I love that it gets cool at night, that the schools in the area are solid and that the neighborhoods are mostly clean and well kept. But I’ve always thought that the Mililani/Waipio area lacks options for drinks and/or late night food.
In the bar category, you only have a few choices — and Nancy’s Kitchen is about the only place if you’re stuck in Waipio. I’ve been there a few times for late night drinks, a takeout dinner or two and a sit-down lunch. The only time I hadn’t been to Nancy’s was during happy hour.
Located in the Waipio Shopping Center near Foodland, Nancy’s is as local an establishment as they come. Even though I showed up toward the end of happy hour at 7 p.m., I saw a lot of what I was expecting — and missed a little of what I was hoping for.
Where: Gentry Waipio Shopping Center
Construction workers in fluorescent T-shirts? Check. Girls with fake Louis Vuitton bags? Check. Guys rocking T-shirts with aluminum foil imprinted on them? Check, check, and check.
I was hoping to get to hear some crazy karaoke versions of old school local songs, but instead heard Lil’ Wayne and Drake through the sound system grow increasingly louder as the evening progressed. If you’re looking for a little elbow room, the entire restaurant turns into overflow for the bar as it gets more crowded, making for a comfortable option to enjoy pupu and drinks if it’s too crowded in the narrow bar area.
I also expected Heineken or Bud Light on special. Nope!
I would’ve never guessed this, but pitchers of Killian’s Irish Red are $15 during happy hour at Nancy’s. And I didn’t have to guess that everyone there still orders Heineken. The big Heinekens. The ones you buy at a gas station when a single beer isn’t enough, and a six-pack can’t be had for all the change in your ashtray.
THE BIGGEST surprise of the night? I actually enjoyed the atmosphere.
That’s right, the guy who loathes Wonder Woman-style Hawaiian bracelets. He who thinks pidgin gets irritating. He who almost never drinks Heineken. I had an incredible time at Nancy’s.
Now, let’s put this all in perspective. I showed up on a Friday after a long week of work, and my last visit here wasn’t so memorable due to a punchy crowd at the time, so the bar was set fairly low.
But things have definitely seemed to change. Everyone looked as though they were enjoying themselves tremendously; I often heard laughter from tables nearby, while couples at the dartboards cheered each other on with smiles. An old guy at the bar even started dancing in his seat to a Nicki Minaj song. (Yeah I saw you, homie!)
If you’re going to order food, go ahead and pass on the Pipikaula ($5.25), which lacked in flavor and overall amount of food served on the plate. Instead, check out the steak combo ($14), which also comes with sauteed shrimp, mushrooms, onions and calamari, or the calamari rings ($7.25), which were fried to perfection and arrived at our table nice and hot. The ahi poke ($7.75) was average.
Service at Nancy’s is decent. Our waitress was sweet, but probably could’ve used a notepad. Once our drink orders got straightened out, we had beers arrive consistently as we finished our previous (the benchmark for good service in a bar). I’m also a little disappointed in myself for arriving so close to the end of happy hour, because I wanted to take advantage of the $5 Grey Goose specials.
This last trip to Nancy’s makes me think there will be another in the near future — as soon as I can find my Affliction shirt.
Pau Hana Patrol is a weekly look at Honolulu bar and restaurant happy hours. E-mail happy hour tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.