By Lisa Scontras | Photos by Davin Iyamatsu
130 Mango St.
Known for its sizzling hamburger steak, this family-run business has been around for generations. Check the daily specials board for a local mix of pig's feet, meat loaf, and variety of Asian, American, fusion menu items. Serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
The restaurant is decorated with Dot's family photos - the establishment's owners for 60 years.
Dot's homemade menu comes in generous portions and is priced reasonably, and the venue occasionally doubles as the neighborhood's comedy club/night club. Famous for their annual Father's Day with Frank De Lima dinner show, Dot's also welcomes comedians and musicians throughout the year.
Join Steve Lucas & Friends on stage at Dot's for jazz every Thursday evening in September. Lots of parking and no cover charge. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
1017 Kilani Ave.
While some island restaurants are struggling to stay in business, Sunny Side on Kilani Avenue, one of Wahaiwa's main thoroughfares, manages to feed a full house almost daily.
Their specialty breakfast and lunch menu features simple offerings of local lunch plates, burgers in an eat-in/take out casual environment.
"My favorite breakfast is the fried rice special, which includes a grilled hotdog and an egg, which I order over-easy so it blends in nicely with the rice and hotdog," says Don Robbins, a loyal customer and Wahiawa resident for nearly two decades. "Besides its meals, Sunny Side bakes its famous pies and people come from all over the island to order them. My favorites are the banana, the pear/peach combination, and the chocolate cream pies."
Robbins says the secret is in their recipe for the crust, which is just the right combination of moist and flaky.
"The pies - whole or by the slice - come out warm from the oven, and they are to-die-for," he says.
One of the secrets of Sunny Side's success, separate from their recipes, is the fact that most of the employees have been working at the popular eatery for decades. The environment is one that respects its employees, and it shows in the product, the service and the customer satisfaction.
"It's sort of like Cheers," says Robbins. "Everybody knows your name and they all greet me when I walk in. It's a nice feeling."
Eat in or take out. Pie pick-up window is outside.
71 So. Kamehameha Hwy.
Craving Italian? Try the succulent Shrimp, Scallops and Asparagus Linguine prepared to perfection in a zesty lemon sauce. Other house favorites include homemade Crab Alfredo, traditional Chicken Parmesan, lazagna or a duo of filet mignon and garlic shrimp.
The quaint atmosphere at Café Olive is as comforting as the genuine Italian service. Superb and friendly.
And while the food tastes like it should be expensive, it's not. And better yet, the restaurant's BYOB policy allows you to bring in your own favorite bottle of wine, with no corkage fee.
Be sure to check out the chef's specials board for the house specialties. And don't forget to save room for the tiramisu.
23 So. Kamehameha Hwy.
If you're looking for real Southern smokehouse barbecue at reasonable prices, Molly's is most definitely worth the trip.
Specializing in authentic Texas style barbecue, Molly's is known for dishing up generous, Texas-size portions of baby back ribs, fried catfish, country fried chicken, authentic Jambalaya and melt-in-your-mouth brisket. And then there's hog-heaven side dishes like macaroni and cheese, warm corn bread and peppercorn cream gravy to fill out your plate-full. For desert, the specialty of the house is sweet potato pie.
With plenty of Southern hospitality and heapings of food, Molly's Smokehouse draws a crowd of locals and tourists alike.
Located on Kamehameha Hwy. next door to Jack in the Box.
704 Kilani Ave.
Calling all chocolate lovers. Alert, alert. Chocolate lovers beware: After eating one of the most wonderfully indulgent chocolate brownies on the island, you may not be able to stop.
Baked fresh daily at Kilani Bakery with just the right chewyness, just the right fudgyness to completely satisfy the most desperate chocolate craving. These brownies are to die for.
Celebrating 51 years in business, this landmark, located at 704 Kilani Avenue, is also known for its Chantilly cake, lemon meringue pie and ice-cream cakes as well as a delightful selection of other treats.
Maui Mike's Fire-Roasted Chicken
96 S. Kamehameha Hwy. (on the corner of Olive Ave.)
Think slow cooked, juicy, tender, mouth-watering comfort food. Maui Mike's is all about serving up the best rotisserie chickens on the planet, hands down.
And it's no wonder. The hotspot starts with only the plumpest, free-roaming chickens, raised on a healthy all-natural diet - no steroids, no hormones, not antibiotics, … no synthetic additives of any kind. Then fire roasted until they sizzle with flavor.
One taste of these down-home eats served with plenty of Aloha will have you hooked. Eat in or take out.
Dong Yang Inn
546 Olive Ave.
For nearly 35 years, Yong Suk Potts and her family have been serving up home-cooked Korean favorites to a steady stream of local residents.
"We have so many regular customers, we already know what they want to eat before they order," says Robin Potts, the owner's son.
The family-owned business' signature dish - the Meat Chun with Special Sauce - is so popular, t-shirts that say "Got Meat Chun on Your Mind?" are for sale at the cashier.
Plate lunches at this hole-in-the-wall favorite range in price from $6.50 to $8, with a couple of exceptions.
"You can feed a family of six, reasonably priced, and everyone will leave with full stomachs," says Robin. "My mom never worries about prices. It's not about profit. She says it's about putting smiles on faces."
Robin attributes the restaurant's success to his mom's passion for food.
"You can actually taste the love in her food," he says.
Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.