The Beach House by 604, at the Pililaau Army Recreation Center in Waianae, is a place of respite for soldiers on leave, but the benefits extend beyond the military.
Manager Eddie “Scoots” Wycheck estimates that at least 60% of his customers are nonmilitary, mostly from the neighborhood. “Locals are our client base,” he said.
Many regulars will make a night of it, Wycheck said, arriving to watch the sunset, staying for the live music and dinner, finally leaving at closing time.
He’s pleased, he said, that in just a year — Beach House marks its first anniversary Friday — the restaurant has found a place in the community.
“We’re a one-stop shop for Waianae,” Wycheck said. “We got the beach, we got the sunset, we got the food, we got the drink.”
Beach House is an offshoot of Restaurant 604 in Pearl Harbor, both owned by Donovan Maples of the Coconut Restaurant Group, and sharing the same menu. The numeral in both names comes from the Navy-assigned building number of the original restaurant.
Beach House sits right above the sand at Pokai Bay, one of Oahu’s most beautiful sweeps of beach. It has a spacious patio facing west, which means you can’t beat this location for a view of the sun dropping into the sea.
Aloha Hour runs 2 to 4 p.m., long before sunset, but the view is still worth a million bucks. Sand, surf, sun, sea — it’s stunning, and nowhere near as crowded as what you’d find at a resort. It will suck all the townside tension out of your bones.
The parking lot is for military only; others park just outside the gate and will need to show identification when walking up to the restaurant. You can also walk straight in off the beach — no ID required.
Aloha Hour half-price specials cover seven items on the appetizer menu, the greatest of these being the Drunken Kalua Nachos ($7 at pau hana). This is a dish that subscribes to the pile-it-on philosophy of more is more.
Roast pork is layered with pico de gallo, chipotle sour cream, cilantro-ranch dressing and green onions, but key to it all is a cheese sauce flavored with Fat Tire beer. It’s a smoky, delicious mess, in the best sense.
We also enjoyed the coconut shrimp ($7), deep-fried, deep brown and nicely coconutty, with a Thai chili sauce. Garlic fries ($3.50) and crispy calamari ($6.50) are other options, but what’s nice to see on a bar menu are some veggie-based items: Garlic hummus served with cucumbers and pita bread ($4.50), edamame ($3.50) and vegetable spring rolls ($4.50).
We were hungry after a day on the beach, though, so we opted for a couple of items on the regular menu. 604’s Hawaiian Pizza ($18) is another flavor explosion, a 10-inch thin-crust pizza loaded with chopped teriyaki chicken and kalua pork. A mango-guava barbecue sauce forms the base, rather than a tomato sauce, and pineapple salsa goes over all.
This hearty pizza finds the right balance of smoky and sweet, no small trick with so much going on.
Another good choice was a plate of ahi tostadas ($15), made with crisp wonton chips topped with creamy ahi poke. Light and tasty, they’re served over a generous bed of mixed greens.
Well drinks and draft beer — 14 choices from Pabst Blue Ribbon and Primo to Kona Big Wave and Firestone Walker — are half off. A glass would run you as little as $1.25 (Pabst) to $3.75 for the pricier pours.
To complete the beachside vibe, though, you might want to dip into the specialty cocktails, all of them tropical constructions with names like Chee-Huu Chi-Chi, and all priced at $10, quite reasonable for drinks in this genre.
We tried two mai tai incarnations: It’s 6:04 Somewhere, the house mai tai made with pineapple vodka, orange and pineapple juices and two kinds of rum; and the Kauai Tai, a frozen drink made with Kauai’s Koloa rums and topped with pineapple whip. They were frosty and refreshing, sweet but not overly so.
Also a hit at our table was the Coco-Jito, a mix of rum, lime, mint and coconut cream.
The crowning cocktail here is the bloody mary, billed as “Hawaii’s Best.” It’s a sprightly brew, topped with a virtual salad of extras — the usual celery stalk and olive, but also cubes of cheese and pipikaula, a whole shrimp, pickled onion, pepperoncini, thin slice of pineapple, even a pickled green bean. It’s well worth the $12 price, especially if you consider the extras as additions to your happy hour pupu.
If you’re already in the neighborhood, whether Waianae is your home or you’re spending a day at the bay, Beach House is a no-brainer for a sip and a bite at happy hour. But it’s also worth the drive out to the western end of Oahu, for a relaxing sunshiny afternoon.
Although happy hour ends before sunset, you can hang around for dinner to catch that golden moment, or just walk outside and plop yourself on the sand, satisfied.
BEACH HOUSE BY 604
Pililaau Army Recreation Center, 85-010 Army St., Waianae
Happy hour: 2-4 p.m. daily
>> Drunken Kalua Nachos, $7
>> Coconut shrimp, $7
>> Bloody mary, $12