There are no shortages of good places to eat in Waikiki, but breakfast can be a challenge. Visitors from the mainland such as myself are up before the sun, so a good morning meal is a must. I like to try new restaurants, especially local favorites, so when I found myself close to the Wailana Coffee House I decided to give it a try as have millions before me since the diner’s opening in 1958. I have heard that often a line wraps around the corner outside, so I counted myself lucky as I was able to be seated right away.
My first impression of the Wailana Coffee House was that this diner was a blast from the past – there were no customers with laptops open and no tvs on the wall to distract me from the task at hand, just the familiar clank of dishes and silverware and indistinct chatter. A waitress hurried by with syrup for another table and the contents of one of them was white. I asked her what flavor it was, and when she quickly replied “Coconut”, my eyes were immediately drawn to the pineapple pancakes on the menu. There is nothing like fresh pineapples from Hawaii and I’ve seldom met a pancake I didn’t like so I ordered, sat back, and soaked in my surroundings. I knew a scene from Hawaii Five 0 was filmed here but I couldn’t be sure exactly where. Above the kitchen where the plates were being warmed by hot lamps was a brick wall paper that seemed out of place in Hawaii. I surmised it was installed at the same time as the vinyl booths and matching round stools at the counter.
It seemed like I had just ordered when my food arrived. I drizzled the coconut syrup over my stack of pancakes and took my first bite. It was immediately apparent why the Wailana Coffee House is a favorite on Yelp and Tripadvisor. I don’t know if it was the syrup, the fresh pineapple, the pancakes, or the ambience, but somehow my food disappeared far before I was finished eating it. I look back on that breakfast and I know how sharks must feel during a feeding frenzy. If somehow they could cross Ala Moana Boulevard, sharks could feed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because Wailana Coffee House is always open.
Having eaten at a iconic Waikiki establishment, I was shocked that my check was under $10. That is almost unheard of in Hawaii and is surely a factor in the restaurant’s success and longevity. I don’t know where I will eat for lunch or dinner later today, but I know where I will eat breakfast tomorrow.
Many Mahalos to Kim Turok for this post!