Excerpts from “Pau Hana Patrol” in the Star-Advertiser’s TGIF weekly entertainment guide. Hours, menus and prices may change; call establishments for updated information.
Tsukiji Fish Market & Restaurant
Tsukiji, in Ala Moana Center’s Ho’okipa Terrace, can quickly be identified by the fish paintings on its blue exterior walls. Happy-hour specials are served from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The happy-hour seating area fills up quickly, but note: You can reserve a table.
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The designated pau hana space, with windows facing an interior courtyard, is to the right of the entrance. There is seating at the bar, in red booths along one wall and at tables. The roomy corner has a nice, intimate feeling, set off from the rest of the vast restaurant, which seats 400.
The restaurant’s overall look is industrial eclectic, with exposed beams and pipes in a vaulted ceiling, a concrete floor, lots of black and rust metal, red foliage paintings and dark wood.
Happy-hour specials concentrate on bottled-beer deals and a daily special cocktail. A wide selection of Japanese-style food, tailored to island tastes, is the reason to have happy hour at Tsukiji; the seafood is fresh, and the dishes are flavorful and bargain-priced. Servings are generous.
Try the delicate, lightly fried shrimp shumai or spicy tuna roll, with perfectly textured sushi rice; garlic Manila clams, stewed in garlic butter lemon broth; or Crisp-Fire Ribs, a huge platter of dark, slow-cooked, boneless pork spareribs tossed in a hot-peppery ponzu sauce.
With its wide happy-hour window, Tsukiji is a great, unpretentious place to make a meal of heavy pupu with a group of friends. The food is fresh and affordable, thanks to the high volume of buffet dinners that the restaurant serves.
— Mindy Pennybacker, Aug. 21
Tsukiji Fish Market & Restaurant
Ho’okipa Terrace, Ala Moana Center
Brick Oven Pizza
Brick Oven Pizza pub, which has had a presence on Kauai since 1977, now has two locations on Oahu: in Kapolei and at Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center.
The Kaneohe location has plenty of seating, with both tables and booths in the front dining area. The restaurant also feels nice and airy, with multiple windows. The decor here is more contemporary than country.
The bar is in a separate area at the back. It has a mellow vibe, with plenty of stools arranged around three sleek, flat-screen TVs.
This is a place for everybody: singles, couples, friends, seniors and families with young children (yes, it’s kid-friendly).
Daily happy hour is from 2 to 6 p.m. The menu includes appetizers, beers on tap, cocktails and a few desserts, with appetizers $1 to $2 off. You have the usual fare of chicken wings, calamari and sauteed mushrooms.
The calamari was nice and crisp, the sauteed mushrooms juicy and garlicky, while the barbecue chicken wings, smothered in a sauce that required plenty of napkins, were tasty. Nothing fancy, but decent portions.
You can build your own pizza here, choosing a sauce and two toppings for the same price.
Beer on tap comes at a discounted price for happy hour, and who could argue when it’s served up in a cold pint glass to go with your calamari or pizza? If you and a friend are sharing, a pitcher might be the best choice.
Cocktails here aren’t fancy, but tasty. Brick Oven has its own signature Mai Tai with Bacardi, banana liqueur, orgeat and a float of Whalers dark rum. The Frozen Mo’o is a blend of mint and coconut water vodka with fresh lime sour.
Try the Bad-Ass Blueberry Mojito, a refreshing combo of muddled blueberries with mint, "fortified" with Bombay Sapphire and fresh lime sour served over the rocks in a pint glass.
— Nina Wu, May 29
Brick Oven Pizza
46-047 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe
Luibueno’s Mexican and Latin Cuisine
Luibueno’s ambiance and decor recall Baja California, which shares a kinship with Hawaii in its surf and fishing culture and volcanic landscape. As in a true Mexican cantina, the interior is dark and cavelike, though windows let in light.
The color scheme at this popular North Shore haunt is warm adobe yellow, red and orange, with bullfight and surf posters, a velvet painting of Elvis in white jumpsuit and eagle belt buckle, and a photo of Clint Eastwood in serape and cowboy hat. The restaurant plays soft music, alternating among mariachi, bossa nova, salsa and rock.
During happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. daily, the restaurant offers a generous selection of drinks and beers, including Negra Modelo, at reduced prices, along with complimentary chips and salsa. Get there early to ensure a seat.
The classic margarita, a greenish pour of lime juice and tequila on the rocks, is an authentic Mexican classic, in contrast with the commonly served ice-blended style. Find a pleasing selection of tequila and mescal at the bar.
Other good drink choices include the Pama-tini, made with Pama pomegranate liqueur, Seagram’s vodka and fresh lime juice — big, chilled, dark pink and not too sweet.
High-quality, low-priced, Baja-style Mexican dishes rock this happy hour — filling, prettily composed and made with fresh, largely local ingredients, and with vegetarian, seafood, beef and pork options.
Try the ceviche — three tostadas topped with citrus-cooked fish, avocado and pico de gallo — or the San Felipe-style beer-battered fish taco, with the rich crunch of fish and chips.
Mexican Street Tacos are heaped with shredded green and red cabbage; no need to order salad. They can be filled with mahimahi, chopped into bite-size pieces to showcase the freshness of the fish; served as chalupas, with tender, braised beef brisket over red salsa; or ordered "al pastor," with achiote-marinated cubed pork, grilled onion, pineapple and cilantro.
The generous "horas buenos" offerings, mellow atmosphere and rapid, good-humored service are a rich reward for starting your evening early, or ending a date night, at Luibueno’s.
— Mindy Pennybacker, May 22
Luibueno’s Mexican and Latin Cuisine
66-165 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa
MAC 24/7 is one of those welcome places for local people who claim to hate Waikiki — the Waikiki that’s crowded and noisy. Inside the Hilton Waikiki Beach hotel, MAC 24/7 is tranquil and spacious, and rarely crowded, with a happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m. daily.
It’s a good place to unwind after getting off early from work or to brace for an evening on the town. A second happy hour, from midnight to 3 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, serves night owls.
There are two sections to the restaurant. You might be tempted to stop at the long bar, which is what you see at the entrance. There are three flat-screen TVs on the wall tuned to sports, but the sound is usually off so you don’t hear crowd noise or the rants and raves of the announcers. Belly up to the bar or take one of the booths nearby if you’re with friends.
A dining room behind the bar comes with a nice surprise: a view of a small but elegant garden, with a pavilion and manicured lawn.
Happy-hour drinks are standard fare, with discounted Kona Longboard, Bud Light and Stella for our visit. Hawaiian Favorite Cocktails — a Blue Hawaiian, a Luscious Lychee made with Norwegian vodka, a satisfying Mai Tai — were also offered.
There are no food discounts, but the appetizer menu has some nice selections, including a Hawaii-inspired Vietnamese roll that includes tea-smoked kalbi, prawns from Kauai, hearts of palm and a Kona coffee caramel soy sauce. The dish is rich and has a deep, full-bodied flavor, with a variety of textures.
Diners also can order off a full menu of burgers, steaks, fish and a nice variety of island-inspired dishes. And since this restaurant is open 24/7, there are also breakfast items, available anytime.
If you’re looking for early-morning amusement, order one of the Mac Daddy Pancake Challenge dishes for your visiting friends and watch in amazement when the huge stack arrives.
For dessert, try the sampler of Portuguese bread pudding, Kona coffee flan and Lynne’s Famous Ooey Gooey Mac Nut Brownie Bites, all in small bites.
— Steven Mark, Feb. 13
Hilton Waikiki Beach, 2500 Kuhio Ave.
Kaiwa is a gem, with courteous, experienced servers; varied, carefully prepared dishes; and a buzz-worthy setting. Despite the slight humbug of parking in Waikiki, and with a happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m. daily, this tasty Japanese haven is well worth seeking out.
Kaiwa is a small restaurant, upstairs within the Waikiki Beach Walk shopping strip. It’s tastefully designed and darkened inside, with a reflective silver wall, black tabletops, white chairs and wood-toned flooring.
Outside, a grouping of tables provides a view of the busy street scene below. These tables are simple but pleasant, covered by red umbrellas.
While a constant stream of tourists keeps Kaiwa busy (reservations are highly recommended), its Japanese sensibility regarding presentation and service creates a welcome sense of calm. Dishes come quickly and the staffers are knowledgeable.
Sapporo and house wine were offered on special for our visit, as were a spicy hamachi and shrimp tempura roll, and an attractive sashimi trio. The happy-hour menu at Kaiwa is extensive enough to support two or three visits before you’ve sampled all the treats.
Try the Tonpei Yaki, a grilled dish that’s a made-in-heaven match for beer. This grilled mix of sliced pork belly, bean sprouts, cabbage, onion and egg is wrapped in a crepe, drizzled with hoisin and mayo, and topped with bonito flakes that "dance" from the heat of the dish when served.
The restaurant can fill up, even during happy hour, but you can improve your odds by arriving just as Kaiwa opens at 5 p.m.
— Elizabeth Kieszkowski, Jan. 16
Waikiki Beach Walk, 226 Lewers St., second floor