I’ll be the first to admit I have a huge blogger/girl crush on Goldfish Kiss. Her posts make me want to run on the beach and book a flight to Hawaii, like right now. I saw recently that she and her family are moving to my hood, the Bay Area. This inspired me to share some of my favorite Hawaii themed places to eat and visit in the SF Bay Area.
Acai is an amazing healthy treat. This cute shop also has a location on the Big Island. In SF it’s very conveniently located in the Embarcadero center with easy parking and access to public transportation. Acai is a treat you don’t have to feel too guilty in indulging in unlike most of the favorites in this post. Acai is loaded with antioxidants that can positively effect your health. The shop offers several different bowls but I much prefer the basic blue Hawaiian with banana, granola, berries, and a bit of honey. This bowl clocks in at 300 calories, not too shabby. For those fish fans Blue Hawaii also offers fresh poke bowls during the week.
Tucked away in SF near Balboa Park BART is Pineapples. The cafe was started by a couple who is from Guam. Their menu offers everything from shave ice, Acai bowls, Kona coffee waffles, tropical teas (love the mint lemonade and likiloi passion tea), sandwiches to dole whips. I am a huge fan of everything I have tried here but the dole whip is the icing on the cake. I love that it’s much cheaper than the Disneyland version at $3 AND I can add toppings like Li-hing and mochi. You can even make it into a float if you heart (or stomach) desires or make it fancy with ice cream.
Every year around the first week of August, the San Mateo event center becomes a little taste of Hawaii with their annual aloha festival. The event itself it free but if you drive it’s $10 per car. My husband like to get there early and make a beeline to the food booths in the back that have (you guessed it!) malasadas, shave ice, and much more. Then we usually spend a hour or so browsing the booths inside the event center. They have a mini Hawaii grocery that had my favorite teas, Li-hing, candies, and mochi mixes. A word of caution here is that one year I bought some Hawaiian tea only to find it expired so check the dates! Many of the booths have beautiful arts, crafts, and clothing too. Outside there is traditional hula and live music so it’s a fun filled day.
Nestled in one of the cutest downtown areas in the Bay Area is Noelani’s. The restaurant started by two best friends and locals from Oahu and the Big Island. I recently celebrated New Year’s Eve here. Everything was so delicious from the Tsunami fries (that were tossed with Li-hing) to dessert of hula pie (homemade mud pie with Oreo cookie crust, fudge, vanilla bean/coffee ice cream and toasted coconut) and malasadas. They had live entertainment for New Years which made the meal even more special!
My best meal hands down in 2015 was from this locally owned pop up in Bernal Heights. Everything was fresh and locally sourced with a modern Hawaii flair. Now ‘aina has their full time restaurant in the Dogpatch. Reservations are hard to come by but they do set aside tables for walk in. ‘Aina is locally owned and operated by Jordan Keo who is a chef from Hilo on the Big Island. He has worked at Michelin-starred French restaurant La Folie and temped palettes at Google cafes and Airb&b. At one one of their most recent pop-ups (and extremely rainy) at the El Rio my husband and I met Jordan’s wife, Cheryl Liew who was absolutely delightful. She is the CFO and co-owner of the restaurant. She made me love the message of the restaurant (living off of the land) even more! Looks like their menu at the Dogpatch location has boozy tropical drinks (along with their trademark guava malasadas) so I can not wait to check out in person.