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Named for the father of modern surfing, and outfitted with much Duke Kahanamoku memorabilia, Duke's is both an open-air bar and a very popular steak-and-seafood grill. It's known for its slow-roasted prime rib, huli huli (rotisserie) chicken, and grilled catch of the day, as well as for a simple and economical Sunday brunch. Their cocktails are probably the best in Waikiki. A drawback is that it's often loud and crowded, and the live contemporary Hawaiian music often stymies conversation. You can experience many of the same great flavors and pay half the price by siting in the bar. www.dukeswaikiki.com. Credit cards accepted.
Chef-owner Ed Kenney, who presides over the popular restaurant Town, has contributed this new restaurant at the Hawaii State Art Museum to the downtown business-lunch crowd. Contemporary furnishings and art provide just the right frame for the variety of lunch options inspired by Kenney's philosophy of "local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always." You'll find salads with organic local produce, Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches and even filet mignon for those with a bit more time to linger at this casual, contemporary local favorite. The restaurant is open late only on first Fridays (5:30-8:30 pm). Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No dinner.
This contemporary fusion sushi bar was started in Miami by Kevin Aoki, son of famous restaurateur Rocky Aoki. As a result, you'll find some Cuban-influenced fusion dishes on the mostly-traditional sushi menu that are as exceptional as they are unique, like the nigiri with slices of Cuban beef or the spicy lobster roll with cucumber and a spicy cream sauce. Chef Hide Yoshimoto is constantly coming up with new creations to show off the freshness of Hawaii's fish and other island ingredients. This is a hot spot at night for local club goers and scensters, but for meals, it's outstanding. Be sure to try the Emperor Roll, which Hide created specifically for Kevin, and the New Style Doraku Roll, which is like a California roll topped with tuna, radish, shiso, and a special sauce. www.dorakusushi.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
Around the country, the steak house has returned to prominence as chefs rediscover the art of dry-aging beef and of preparing the perfect béarnaise sauce. D.K. Kodama's chic second-floor restaurant characterizes this trend with such presentations as a 22-ounce "Paniolo" (cowboy) rib-eye steak, dry-aged 30 days on the bone with house-made rub, grilled local onions, and creamed corn. The restaurant shares space, but not a menu, with Kodama's Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar; sit at the bar perched between the two and you can order from either menu. www.dksteakhouse.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Casual and family-friendly, the Dixie Grill, just off the freeway in Pearl City, brings a taste of the South to the islands with barbecue (including a variety of spicy sauces to choose from), seafood specialties (creole mahimahi, fried catfish), coleslaw, and hush puppies. This place is convenient if you're visiting Pearl Harbor or the swap meet. www.dixiegrill.com. Reservations not accepted. Credit cards accepted.
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