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Indigo sets the right mood for an evening out on the town: the walls are redbrick, the ceilings are high, and from the restaurant's lounge next door comes the sultry sound of late-night jazz. Take a bite of goat cheese wontons with four-fruit sauce followed by rich Mongolian lamb chops. After dinner, duck into the hip Green Room lounge for a nightcap. If you're touring downtown at lunchtime, the Eurasian buffet with trio of dim sum is an especially good deal at around $16 per person. www.indigo-hawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
At this restaurant owned by Indians of Malaysian origin, dosai, griddle breads made of rice and lentil flour, are filled variously with savory and sweet ingredients. Like most such restaurants, this one is very vegetarian-friendly, serving up dals (lentil stews), curries, and samosas. www.indiacafehawaii.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch Mon.--Thurs.
If the Rat Pack reconvened for big steaks and a bigger red, they'd feel right at home at Hy's, which has changed little in the last 30 years. The formula: prime-grade beef, old-style service, a men's-club atmosphere (but ladies very welcome), and a wine list recognized for excellence by Wine Spectator. Specialties include Beef Wellington, Caesar salad, and those tableside flambéed desserts rarely seen these days. www.hyshawaii.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
The placid younger sister of boisterous Duke's, downstairs, this restaurant and bar resembles a plantation-period summer home: open to the air, outfitted with kitschy decor, stone-flagged floors, warm wood, and floral prints. The food is carefully prepared and familiar—standard breakfast items, steaks and grilled seafood at dinner—but with local and Asian touches that add interest. There's a fabulous Diamond Head view. www.hulagrillwaikiki.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
The cool courtyards and varied galleries of the Honolulu Museum of Art are well worth a visit and, afterward, so is this popular lunch restaurant. The café overflows onto a lanai from which you can ponder Asian statuary and a burbling water feature while you wait for your salade niçoise or signature Piadina sandwich (a fresh-baked flatbread round stuffed with arugula, tomatoes, basil, and cheese). www.honolulumuseum.org. No dinner.
Built around chef Hiroshi Fukui's signature style of "West & Japan" cuisine, this sleek dinner house focuses on small plates to share (enough for two servings each), with an exceptional choice of hard-to-find wines by the glass and in flights. Do not miss Hiroshi's braised veal cheeks (he was doing them before everyone else), the locally raised kampachi fish carpaccio, or the best misoyaki (marinated in a rich miso-soy blend, then grilled) butterfish ever. For a decadent treat, try the foie gras nigiri. You can also order off the menu from Vino, next door, as they share a kitchen. www.hiroshihawaii.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
The sign claims to serve authentic Nepali and Indian cuisine, but many dishes incorporate a blend of cultures, including Chinese and Hawaiian. Start with Himalayan spring rolls or garlic naan bread, try the mahi Nepali masala—which is a Nepalese curry with Hawaii mahimahi—and don't miss the mango kulfi, which is like a creamy mango dessert. The extensive menu appeals to a wide range of tastes—some that soothe the palate, others that excite—which may be why this little restaurant tucked away in a business/residential area is packed every night. Perhaps it helps that this place is BYOB with no corkage fee, as well. himalayankitchen.net. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
Step back in time to an era where you could buy a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch and some ice cake from the store and sit on the pier as fishermen idly motored by. It doesn't feel like much more than a shack on the pier, but the food is pumped out by one of Oahu's hottest young chefs, Mark Noguchi. Try the guava barbecue chicken or the luau stew (a hearty stew made with taro leaves and beef), which are his specialties. If you're hungry, try the off-menu Cheekeater Burger, a beef burger topped with homemade Thousand Island dressing, Portuguese sausage, Spam, bacon, and a fried egg. This is well worth the drive—way, way off the beaten path. www.heeiapier.com. Reservations not accepted. Closed Mon. No dinner.
The vine-like hau tree is ideal for sitting under, and it's said that the one that spreads itself over this beachside courtyard is the very one that shaded Robert Louis Stevenson as he mused and wrote about Hawaii. In any case, diners are still enjoying the shade and the island-casual food, but we like the place for late-afternoon or early-evening drinks, pupu, and people-watching. The poi pancakes at breakfast, papaya chicken salad at lunch, and fresh fish selection at dinner are all favorites. www.kaimana.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
After the long drive to the North Shore, it's a treat to while away the afternoon on the covered open-air lanai at Haleiwa Joe's, scoring a couple of cute souvenir glasses, watching the boats and surfers in the harbor, and munching crunchy coconut shrimp, a mahi burger, or whatever's the freshest fish special. It's just past the Anahulu Stream Bridge. A Kaneohe location overlooks lush Haiku Gardens. www.haleiwajoes.com. Reservations not accepted. Credit cards accepted.
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