Vintage Eats

Mid-century restaurants

Although the vast majority of Honolulu’s mid-century Polynesian-themed restaurants, drive-in diners and Tiki bars have long since been torn down, there are a handful of establishments still thriving after all these years. We’ll be adding to this list, but for now here are half a dozen or so that we like and one we wish hadn’t been turned into a car dealership 😉 … click on addresses below for Google Map locations.

Buzz’s Original Steak House (413 Kawailoa Rd.) – Established in 1962, if you’re looking for a vintage “island style” restaurant & bar in which to enjoy a meal or Mai Tai, Buzz’s Original Steak House is worth the drive. Located on the Windward side of Oahu just across from Kailua Bay.

Rainbow Drive-In (3308 Kanaina Ave.) – These guys have been serving up generous portions to the Waikiki beach crowd since 1961 so if you’re a fan of Hawaiian mixed plates, loco moco, chili or just traditional burgers, this popular fast food-style joint will be for you.

Leonard’s Bakery (933 Kapahulu Ave.) – Established in 1952, this busy family bakery makes the best malasadas (portugese donuts) we’ve ever tasted. They always seem to have a line-up too so plan accordingly.

La Mariana Tiki Bar & Restaurant (50 Sand Island Access Rd.) – The only remaining authentic Tiki Bar & Restaurant on Oahu has been in business since 1957 and is definitely a must for fans of Polynesian Pop. More here!

Pagoda Floating Restaurant (1525 Rycroft St.) – A kitschy, mid-century buffet-style restaurant surrounded by a man-made tropical pond filled with Japanese koi fish … and a waterfall! A Honolulu fixture since 1964. More here!

Top of Waikiki (2270 Kalakaua Ave.) – Since 1965 this revolving restaurant atop the 18th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza & Wimberly Office Building – designed by modernist architect Edwin Bauer – has been offering up spectacular views and world class fare. Worth checking out for the views alone.

Wailana Coffee House (1860 Ala Moana Blvd.) – Established in 1970 on the site of the former Kapiolani Drive-In, this friendly greasy spoon is one of the few Waikiki eateries open 24/7 and should satisfy anyone looking for all-you-can-eat pancakes and the usual diner fare.

South Seas Restaurant (2841 N. Nimitz Hwy.) – Closed in 1985, we couldn’t resist including this Tikilicious mid-century building (see photos above!) which was once home to the Samoan Steak House & Tonga Lounge. Located near the airport it’s since been turned into a Kia automobile dealership but is worth the pilgrimage if you’re a fan of Tiki Culture. More on this fabulous location at TikiCentral.com.

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