October 31, 2014

Great Mexican Eats in Wahiawa at El Palenque

In a tiny hole-in-the-wall in Wahiawa is El Palenque.  The place is so small that it's easy to overlook, but step inside and you'll be treated to great service and Mexican food.
Complimentary Chips and Salsa
Chicken Nachos

Chicken Chimichangas

Cyrus's Quesadilla
The complimentary salsa had quite a bit of a spicy kick.

I had the Chicken Chimichanga, which was very good.  Instead of giving one gigantic chimichanga like most other Mexican restaurants do, they give two smaller-sized ones, and they are quite delicious.  The chicken was seasoned well and the rice and beans were flavorful.

My kids are not big rice and beans eaters, so they didn't touch most of the rice and beans on their plates, but they ate up the quesadillas!

Service was great, and so was the food.

El Palenque
177 Kamehameha Hwy  
Wahiawā, HI 96786
(808) 622-5829

October 30, 2014

Top 10: My Favorite Pizzas on Oahu

I'm by no means a pizza expert, I just know what kind of pizza I like and don't like, and here are my Top 10 Favorite Pizzas on Oahu (note: I didn't include any "chain" restaurants even though I think several chains serve great pizzas as well - that will have to be another top 10 list!):
    1. North Shore Farms' Pesto Pizza: You can get this delectable pizza by the slice at various farmers markets and events around Oahu.  The first time I had it I immediately fell in love, and whenever I see the North Shore Farms booth I'll stand in the long line to get the famous pizza.

    2. Pesto-riffic Deep Dish from Kaneohe Boston's Pizza - SO GOOD!  Mozzarella, bacon, chicken, and pesto in a deep dish crust.  Amazing stuff.
    3. JJ Dolan's: A good friend of mine told me about this place, and after years of wanting to go there, we finally did, and it was totally worth the wait.  This was a special pizza of the day - 
    Tomatoes, Chicken, Rosemary, and Feta, but The Giacomo was very good too. 

    4. The personal size pizzas from Big Kahuna's Pizza 'n Stuffs are loaded with toppings and so delicious.  My fave is the Banzai - topped with Teriyaki Chicken, mushrooms, and green onions.  The pizza was good and very filling.  Don't forget to order some Garlic Balls on the side!
    5. Kalua Pork Pizza from Pizza Corner - So colorful and pretty, and so yummy too!  The combination of kalua pork and mangoes make for one tasty pizza!
    6. The Margherita Pizza from V Lounge is a classic, and so delicious!
    7. The Margherita Pizza from Brick Oven Pizza is very good - be sure to request for garlic butter sauce on the crust.  Brick Oven is very kid-friendly - they give dough balls to kids to play with to keep them occupied until the pizza comes.

    8. A hidden gem in Waialua, Jerry's Pizza Mill's BBQ Chicken was huge and delicious.
    9. The happy hour deals at Monkeypod Kitchen are awesome, and one of my favorite happy hour items is the Hamakua Wild Mushroom Pizza - truffle oil, Parmesan, organic local thyme, and Monkeypod white sauce make for an indulgent pizza!
    10. Amina's Pizzeria, an unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves such delicious pizzas!  Amina's Combination, topped with Pepperoni, Italian Meatball, Olives, Bell Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes, was truly delicious, and the crust was perfect.

    October 29, 2014

    Miami Grill - Casual Dining at Great Prices

    If you're looking for a place offering fast, friendly service and good food, check out Miami Grill in Waipahu!

    Kids Hamburger

    Rodeo Burger
    Grilled Chicken Club with Seasoned Fries

    Onion Rings
    Kids Corn Dog Nuggets
    Mango Cheesecake

    Miami Grill offers an extensive menu of salads, burgers, sandwiches, pitas, platters, and more, all at reasonable prices.

    Our food came out quite quickly, and everything was delicious. I had the Grilled Chicken Club and a side of Seasoned Fries. The chicken was juicy and the fries were tasty.

    Kids meals are a deal at just $4.99 for an entree, fries, drink, and a cookie.

    For dessert, there is a nice display case of all sorts of decadent desserts (not made in-house), and we couldn't resist the Mango Cheesecake.

    They also offer a small selection of Dreyer's ice cream.

    Miami Grill was a nice spot to grab a casual meal.

    Miami Grill
    94-050 Farrington Hwy
    Waipahu, HI 96797
    (808) 680-9000

    Hana Hou / Wordless Wednesday - White River West Sno-Park

    In Hawaii, Hana Hou means to repeat; do again, so on this and every Wednesday, I'll be posting a photo of a place that I'd love to visit again, or of an activity that I'd love to try again on a future trip.

    Where would you like to visit again?

    White River West Sno-Park at Mt. Hood National Forest

    October 28, 2014

    A Great Place to Stay in Hollywood - Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood

    Conveniently located near numerous shops and restaurants, the 101 freeway, and iconic Hollywood Boulevard, the Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood is a great hotel for tourists or anyone who has to do business nearby.
    Check-in was quick and friendly.  After receiving information on the complimentary Wi-Fi, I was given complimentary bottles of water due to being a Hilton Honors Blue Member, and was soon on my way to the room.

    On the way I noticed how bright and inviting the lobby decor was, and I couldn't wait to check out the room.

    The library
    Complimentary cookies in the evening

    Our family was hosted for the night in a 2 Queen Beds room. It was quite spacious, with comfortable  Hilton Serta Perfect Sleeperbeds, an oversize work desk, an arm chair, a 32-inch flat screen TV, a microwave, a mini-refrigerator, and a Keurig® coffeemaker.

    2 Queen beds
    Work desk

    Arm chair
    We had a nice view of the pool (love the Hollywood sign!), and although at times throughout the night we could hear traffic noise from the streets or fireworks from the nearby Hollywood Bowl, when it was time to sleep we all slept soundly.

    The pool
    The only issue we encountered with the room took place about 30 minutes after check-in, when a housekeeper opened our door (she didn't even knock first!).  Apparently she assumed no one had checked in yet, and she was there to put towels in our room (which we already had). Luckily a luggage cart we used to transport our belongings partially blocked the door so she wasn't able to just walk right in, and she was apologetic after realizing the room had occupants.

    Overall I thought the room was clean and nicely-sized, there were lots of amenities, and the decor was fresh and sleek.

    On-site is the Great American Grill.  There are numerous other restaurants within walking distance, or you can also order room service, as I did.
    Room service - Turkey Club with Fries
    The Turkey Club was delicious!

    Other Services and Amenities
    • Complimentary coffee and tea in the morning
    • Complimentary fruit-infused water and cookies in the evening
    • Business Center
    • Laundry Facilities 
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi
    • Fitness Center
    • Pavilion Pantry 
    • Neutrogena bath amenities
    Click here for a complete list of services and amenities.

    Complimentary coffee and tea in the morning

    Pavilion Pantry
    Fitness Center

    Final Thoughts
    Despite the issue with housekeeping, we had no other issues during our stay, and I wish we could have stayed longer to experience more of the Hollywood area.

    The room was clean and comfortable, the location was convenient, and the service was great.   

    The Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood is an ideal place to stay for travelers on business or pleasure.

    Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood
    2005 N Highland Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90068
    (323) 876-8600

    Thank you to Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood for hosting our stay. Valet parking, room service, and gratuities were paid on my own.

    October 27, 2014

    Kissaten Coffee Bar - So Much More Than Coffee!

    Not too long ago I attended an event at Kissaten Coffee Bar, where, in addition to specialty coffees, they also serve soups, salads, a variety of local specialties, and more.

    Chicken Katsu
    Truffle Parmesan Fries
    Kamuela Tomato Bruschetta
    Tomato Watermelon Salad
    Acai Bowl
    My faves were the bruschetta (almost pico-de-gallo-like) and katsu (very tasty).  I also enjoyed the fries, and the salad was refreshing, but the yakisoba had a little too much ginger for my liking.

    The restaurant is an open air space, and the setting is very informal so it's a nice spot to grab some coffee, breakfast, or a casual dinner.

    Kissaten Coffee Bar
    500 Ala Moana Blvd
    Honolulu, HI  96813
    (808) 593-7090

    October 26, 2014

    Consistently Great at California Pizza Kitchen

    California Pizza Kitchen is one of my favorite chain restaurants on Oahu. Whenever I dine there, I usually have a great experience, and I was looking forward to another great meal.

    Complimentary Bread
    Avocado Club Egg Rolls

    The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
    Salted Caramel Pudding
    I always order the Avocado Club Egg Rolls, and they were delicious, as usual (anything with bacon and avocado is usually good!).

    I decided to order the BBQ Chicken Salad instead of a pizza, like I normally do.  It was really good - I loved the BBQ sauce.  It was such a huge serving, it lasted me two more meals!

    And although I've seen the Salted Caramel Pudding on the menu before, it wasn't until earlier this year that I grew a fondness for Salted Caramel, so I knew I had to try the pudding.  It was amazing.

    This was another great visit at CPK!

    California Pizza Kitchen
    98-1005 Moanalua Road #219
    Aiea, HI 96701
    (808) 487-7741

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