The Shrimp Trucks Are Awesome And So Is Ted’s Bakery, Banzai Sushi and Cholo’s Mexican
Dining on the North Shore does not involve five-star restaurants, tourist theme spots or famous chefs serving “Asian/fusion cooking.” Drinking does not involve dance floors and cover charges. The North Shore is far too simple for such extravagance.
Instead, meals are as likely to be served on paper plates and drinks downed in a cozy little joint where the staff knows at least half the patrons.
The shrimp trucks are the perfect example of North Shore cuisine. For about 10 bucks a full meal can be enjoyed while sitting on a picnic table with friends and strangers as traffic trickles by on the adjacent highway.
Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck is legendary in a place of legends. Its ample serving of peel-and-eat shrimp is heavy – and we mean heavy – on garlic. More napkins, please! Good thing it comes with rice. A few feet away is the Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck, which has more of a variety with its menu including coconut tempura shrimp; garlic butter squid and teriyaki beef. The Thai truck has what some locals consider the best Thai food on the entire island, Honolulu’s fancy restaurants be damned.
Further up the road, Romy’s Kahuku Shrimp & Prawns raises its own shrimp, making it a popular stop. It’s located in Kahuku between the James Campbell wildlife refuge and Turtle Bay Resort. If there’s a line here (likely) and the stomach can’t stomach the wait, a half-mile farther up the highway is Macky’s Original Shrimp Farm.
All these shrimp and food trucks are open for lunch and early dining, from 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Another simple and delicious spot is Ted’s Bakery. It serves hearty plate lunches with four – four! – scoops of rice and sandwiches. Many simply come here just for the pies, specifically the chocolate haupia cream. A couple of small tables are roadside outside and even the occasional North Shore shower doesn’t keep the surfers from their food. Like the trucks, Ted’s is open ’til 6. The kitchen closes at 3, so only sandwiches and pies are then available. Ted’s is on the right side of the highway just past Sunset Beach.
A bit more sophistication – we said a bit, not a lot – can be found in the North Shore Market Place (about a half-mile from Giovanni’s shrimp truck). For starters, there’s Cholo’s, a Mexican restaurant. If this seems out of place in Hawaii, just have one of its margaritas, the best in the North Shore. They are made with fresh lime juice, not a pre-made mix. The food is pretty authentic, too. The salsa sells this fact right from the start.
Pipeline isn’t the only bonzai in the North Shore. After dark it’s Bonzai Sushi. There’s no pounding waves, but pounding down sake and sushi on the outdoor patio, especially during the 4-7 Happy Hour.
Some sit on cushions on the deck and Wednesday is unofficial local’s night. It’s usually going until 10 or 11, not rocking like a nightclub, just hanging and telling stories. It’s the closest thing a visitor can get to sitting around a campfire with North Shore surfers.
The North Shore Market Place also has a third restaurant, a small surf museum, a clothing store, a surf and bike shop and an ATM that doesn’t work. The latter brings up an interesting point: bring enough cash for the visit and a couple of credit cards in case an establishment doesn’t take, say, American Express. (Been there, done that!) Also in the market place is The Coffee Gallery with Java so strong it’s amazing it doesn’t burn a hole in the cup.
The only sit-down dining with an ocean view in the North Shore is not actually on the water but across it, Halewa Joe’s. It features fish, shrimp, meat, chicken and soups and salads.
And tourists always stop for the famed shaved ice in Halewa.