Hawaii may be best known for its breathtaking vistas and unique wildlife, but it’s also world-famous for its culture and hospitality. Kawailoa Tavern serves up traditional, authentic Hawaiian recipes with a hearty helping of aloha. Named after the plantation the owners’ family hails from, Haleiwa’s premier dinner spot honors generations of cultural traditions with fresh interpretations.
A Tavern Steeped in Tradition
Historically, plantation workers at Haleiwa Kawailoa Camp rewarded themselves for a long day of hard labor with dinner that typically consisted of grilled meats, pickled vegetables, and two scoops of rice. Just before mealtime, the scents of smoke and grilling meat permeated the air around the camp, warming workers’ spirits. Workers and their families shared communal meals, with dinner serving as a foundation of fellowship and a backdrop for conversation. After dinner, people would quench their thirst with cold beer and enjoy a few rounds of games.
A Modern Take on Authentic Cuisine
These rich traditions shaped the Kawailoa Tavern as the owners conceived of it from their parents’ stories. The restaurant serves up an array of savory smoked meats, seasoned in the traditional method and grilled to perfection. Produce is locally sourced, as are many other ingredients, including meat and fish.
Dishes include favorites like poke and Hawaiian Style Raw Fish prepared by Head Chef Bobby Ahquin, who hails from Waimanalo and specializes in authentic Hawaiian cuisine infused with Southern American cooking. A prime example of his signature style is the Hawaiian Style Brisket, seasoned with a combination of Hawaiian salts, American South rubs, and 12 hours of smoking.
The tavern also features smoked chicken wings marinated in a secret family recipe, smoked pork marinated in sugar cane, and a 10 oz ribeye with a Filipino sauce, another secret family recipe. These dishes are perfectly complemented by appetizers like the world’s only Kim Chee Mac-n-Cheese as well as fresh poke and Tofu Poke. Wash down your dinner with a delicious Asian-themed cocktail, one of the vast selection of beers, or wine.
Whether you’re a Haleiwa local or stopping through, pop in to eat at this famous dinner spot. While you’re waiting for your meal, enjoy a game of shuffleboard or another family-friendly board game, just as the plantation workers would have years ago. Call (808) 744-3754 to speak with a friendly staff member about reservations and events, or visit the website to see their menu.