Late Night Eats

Okay, I saw this Wall Street Journal article that states “Americans eat 554 million Jack-In-The-Box tacos a year – and no one knows why”.  That’s 1,055 a minute!

That got me thinking about all those late night grinds we used to go through – when our bodies could handle it.

Since we’re talking JITB tacos – I remember when I could finally drive and we’d hit town because that’s where had stuff to do at night.  Then after the movie or concert or pool hall – what else was there for underage teenagers to do – but eat.  The go-to place was Jack In The Box at the corner of King and McCully.  Besides the cute girl named Emily that worked there, that was the only JITB around town.  The order was almost always the same – 3 tacos with extra sauce, onion rings, and a diet-coke (like that makes a difference).  Remember, this was before the 2 for 99¢ deal.  Now with the 2-fer, the dilemma is whether to buy 2 or 4 tacos.  2 isn’t enough and 4 puts me over the top, but usually the 4 tacos wins.  Gotta have onion rings too.  And the diet-coke still doesn’t help.

But what other late night foods did you MLCers used to grind?

Of course, there was Zippy’s.  Not necessarily for the food – more to check out the cars and the chicks.  The chili dog plate was always a winner.  Saimin – not at Zippy’s for saimin.  Zip-pac was only if you’re planning to sleep in late the next morning.  Gravy and fries when the funds were low.

Oh, but if you’re on a date – spare no cost – the Saimin Lanai restaurant in back it was.

If we were craving saimin, that usually meant a trip to Kalihi.  One of our favorites was Saimin House when it was located by Tamashiro Market.  Next door to Saimin House was a soda factory and they had a soda machine – the bottled kine – right outside their folded wooden doors.  Always remember to buy your soda on the way in to eat your saimin.  And when pau – take the empty bottle out and put it in the wooden case next to the soda machine.

Sometimes we’d opt for other saimin places; Palace Saimin, Hall Saimin, Tanoue’s.

Another regular joint was Washington Saimin on King St.  But it wasn’t for their saimin.  Run by a Korean family, we used to grind the Bul Go Gi plate.  They’d start off giving us the scoop of mac salad which we’d immediately pour shoyu over and eat that as our appetizer.  Then came out the plate of rice blanketed with hot, ono Korean bar-b-que meat.  Sometimes when we had to wait for available booths we used to mosey on over to the next door photo studio and check out the cute girls graduation pictures displayed in the window.

If we were cruising around the Ala Moana or Waikiki area, late night food meant waffle dogs from KC Drive In back when it was at the Ala Wai/Kalakaua junction.  Although I was hesitant to eat there with a full car-load of guys, especially when you hear “Oops” coming from the back seat.  Or “pass some napkins, quick!”.

Another place I liked to go – but it was usually reserved for dates – was King’s Bakery.  Great place to eat breakfast stuffs late at night.  I also liked to go there with just a friend or two and sit at the counter watching the short-order cook whip up the pancakes, Portuguese sausage omelets, sweet bread french toast, and other breakfast items.  Plus, felt kinda grownup sitting at the counter.  And before leaving – always had to take a peek at the pastries.  Never bought anything because was probably too full – but always took a look.

One thing about growing up on the Windward side was that after the late night grinds, the long drive over the Pali really set the pace for calling it a night.  Dropping my friends off at their house sometimes meant waking them up.  Cruise some more?  Forget it.  I just want to go home and sleep.  And the full stomach and long drive made falling asleep almost effortless.

Okay, what late night places did you folks go?  Whether with the boys (or girls) or on a date?


61 Responses to “Late Night Eats”

  1. Hbh says:

    So guys what is life like in Oahu today compared to the 70s, 60s etc. I know everything is more expensive, and less slower pace etc. Are there any pros except for the modern stuff? Just wondering.

    • Rodney says:

      It’s become big-city like with big-city crime, homeless problems, etc. Pros? Hmmm… Big box stores?

      • Hbh says:

        That bad huh? I really wasn’t trying to judge. However, when you hear about regulations like the fireworks limitations. and no live christmas trees or climbing the banyan trees. Coupled with a heavy rail project that will cost you guys over 10+ billon and with the cost of cooling down classrooms recently because someone just has to start school earlier. All these things and more makes an outside observer who grewup in different times on Oahu wonder if you guys had a hostile takeover? Have people forgotten what life was like before? Why would anyone trade a slower paced life and everything tangible with it for the big city problems you mentioned now? We all know the earlier times on Oahu wasn’t exactly 100% perfect. We had our own problems back then. However, meth, high homelessness, violent crimes wasn’t it. One would think that all these issues are caused not from changes of modern times. But changes of thinking relating to policy in our politics? Do you guys ever think like this when watching things change?

        • Hbh says:

          I get we all share the common issues of humanity. Like I chuckle when I hear people from Oahu say they need the walmart or other new restaurants to open there. But those who are like me when moving to the mainland and living here I can’t help but ask, why can’t I get good saimin or god just to experience eating something as simple as a chili rice bowl from rainbows or zippys again lol. Forget malasadas lol. Maybe that saying fits? Never know what you got til its gone? Anyway not my intention to ramble or make this a political discussion. Just wondering if my uncles or aunties ever think like I do now? Or am I abnormal lol?

  2. Rodney says:

    At one late-night outing, @Shoyu Burner took me to a Japanese place on Kapiolani, makai side, somewhere between Keeaumoku and Atkinson and ordered me a okayo donburi. I asked him what he was ordering, but he said not to worry, I’ll like it. And I did! First time I ate donburi. But I have no idea what the name of the place was.

  3. ankleBYTERS says:

    Shakey’s Pizza in Kaneohe for late night munchies since I lived right next door, Zippy’s or Windy’s Drive In.

    Oahu Eateries Memorialized

  4. Andrew says:

    Jumbo Jack for $0.99 was what we used to go for, after already spending all of our money on Saturday nights, or I should say Sunday morning.

  5. hemajang says:

    In high school we came into town and ate at most of the places already mentioned. Our favorite stop was KC Drive In mainly because of the car hop we knew. Zippy’s wasn’t around then. In the country we hung around Scotty’s in Pearl City, liked their french fries. For late night saimin or fried saimin Wailani Restaurant in Waipahu was the place to go. And Barney’s Burgerhouse in Ewa Beach. When didn’t have much money I ordered the beef stew gravy on rice, think it was a quarter …if lady nice she might put a piece of meat.

    • 4G says:

      Ahh – Scotty’s

      I remember, somewhere like mid to late ’60’s, five hamburgers for a dollar from that PC location. Had on Scotty’s in town, too, right – like Keeaumoku? Or am I just making that up?

      I am pretty sure about the Pearl City location and the “five burgers for a buck”, though


  6. Mark Shelby says:

    When I was a teen, most Friday and Sat. nights my buddies and I would be cruising Waikiki (remember when Kalakaua was a two way street?. Then finally find a parking spot and go walking around checking out all of the mainland girls. Then when we got late night hungry we would walk around the International Marketplace food court and just keep trying all of the different kinds of food at the different little walk up restaurants.

  7. Mark'75 says:

    As a rookie policeman(was around 21 years old), we’d finish work after 2:00am. From the old station, we often went to Makiki Zippy’s dining room where Millie always greeted us. No matter what kind of night we had, we always left there happy and full!

    Many years later, one of my favorite places during the midnight shift to go in the wee hours of the morning, was Liliha Bakery. Could sit at the counter and enjoy an early breakfast without having someone standing behind, waiting to take my seat.

  8. Mark Shelby says:

    One of mine was Jolly Roger in Kahala. One Terry Beef King extra grilled onions and one Strawberry Slush Float! Just drink slow so you don’t get the dreaded brain freeze! Youch!

  9. Mark'75 says:

    Another place we’d go was University Pizza Hut. Mainly pizzas to go with PITCHERS of beer and wine coolers.

  10. 4G says:

    Oh, oh – Magoo’s Pizza from one of their wagons! With anchovies! LOL

  11. 4G says:

    Again, not real “late” night, but Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor at Kahala Mall – was like were the Panda’s is today?

  12. 4G says:

    Don’t know if it was really “late night”, but I remember a few relatively late nights at McCully Chop Suey.

    • Seawalker says:

      Saw F. Del1ma there once. Ho, the buggah was big back then. Does that mean he’s Pordagee, who loves andagee? Nah, must’ve been there after the Noodle Shop gig judging from the time. Everybody talks about the McCully C.S. sign and how it should be taken down. The Wo Fat sign is still up on Hotel St. WWD?

  13. khs68 says:

    In the late 70″s Eggs ‘n Things and Wailana Coffee Shop were our go to places after the Point. Those were the days when we could stay up until the sun came out. *sigh*

  14. 4G says:

    Oh – Columbia Inn on Kapiolani! How could I forget that place? Was an institution!

  15. 4G says:

    We would go to Coco’s every once in a blue moon. Mainly cause couldn’t afford the prices! LOL

  16. Kage says:

    I did not do much late night hanging out. When I did it was always JITB or Zippy’s. It depended on the amount of funds leftover after going to The Wave. 🙂

  17. Kage says:

    JITB tacos are awesome…. I do not know why, but I have to order it when I go there. They are not 2 for 99cents anymore. I think it is like $1.29 or something like that. Still a good deal.

    • Mark Shelby says:

      In San Diego they are still 2 for $0.99 cents. Gooey goodness! It’s the cost of shipping that makes everything more expensive in Hawaii, as we have all felt for years.

  18. Seawalker says:

    At the tail-end days of eating out after the nightclubs, we’d head to Sonoya’s for ramen. We’d go in there all lit-up and glowing red like a traffic light. But that was then and now is now. You don’t get much of a good night’s sleep after all that chow nowadays. You went to late night grinds because you wanted to sober up before heading home. Anything and everything tasted good back in days.

  19. Seawalker says:

    Had all kine good places to go grind late at night. But the more memorable times were not at any specific joint or place. Ho, just go grab one cold pack and buy some roast duck or crispy chicken to go with it. Head up to Tantalus lookout and suck ’em up with them pupus. Ahh… it doesn’t get any better than that. Except maybe if you got an extra joint or two lying around. Was fun driving down the winding hill afterwards. Hehe

  20. dihudfan says:

    JITB tacos and cheeseburgahs… overnite fishing at Kaneohe Marine Base, we had passes to go fishing there… 6 tacos, 4 cheeseburgahs… get to the fishin grounds and bust out the joints… cast out our lines and grind… nevah used to catch to much fish, but had fun…

    We used to go to Chunkys most of the time… nevah have Zippys back than… Palace Saimin, Sekiyas, Tanoues or Janes at the corner of Liliha an Vineyard and Palama Saimin… If we had money, we would go to Ala Moana blvd Flamingos next to Honolulu Iron Works… or Kelleys down by the airport…

    • 4G says:

      Eh, @dihudfan – Jane’s as in Jane’s Fountain – now near Liliha and Kuakini?

      I ask because it was only like three or four years ago that I tried that place. Probably different owner, even if it’s the same name. But – was pretty good! Good homemade hamburger and the saimin wasn’t bad, either! Been meaning to go back there . . . .

      • dihudfan says:

        @4G… yeah I know the Janes Fountain, not sure if they are related… original one wuz on Vineyard and Liliha whea the Times is now, it wuz run by the Nakama family (all pretty sistahs, one wuz my classmate)… Next time I go Janes Fountain, will be sure to ask the owner…

  21. M says:

    Chico’s Pizza Parlor was a weekly hang out. Fried chicken and potato wedges.

  22. sally says:

    I worked at Zippys so that was the last place I wanted to go after going out hahaha!

  23. sally says:

    JITB (not for tacos! lol) then across the street CPB parking lot for shenanigans with 3-4 carloads of us. @4G you may have been there but I don’t recall… sorry!

  24. Mark'75 says:

    Gotta be MLC to remember Sekiya’s before they had a/c. Just sweat and eat, but was soooo good! In addition to the big jukebox, I recall small ones in each booth mounted on the wall.

    Had rock n roll songs but also had this kind too!

  25. Mark'75 says:

    The Saimin Lanai at McCully Zippy’s was the place for a late night zip mein. After standing in line and finally getting a seat, I used to watch the steady stream of headlight reflections in the picture windows, going around the building.

    Can recall the jukebox pounding out this song:

  26. Mark'75 says:

    JITB tacos! I remember having them with a jumbo jack with cheese late nights at McCully and King. I always chuckled seeing the fine print on the foil wrapper of the jumbo jack: “Ralston Purina Company,” with their square checker logo.

  27. Seawalker says:

    Either 2 or 4 JITB tacos? Kind of little bit for the town folks. Used to do close to a dozen myself. Chased it down with beer. Now that was right on the kinipopo!!!!!!!!

  28. Seawalker says:

    Wong N Wong’s on Maunakea Street. Aside from the weirdos walking around outside, it was worth going there to have the Wong N Wong Special Noodle late at night. Trying to pinpoint it in my head. Might have been the current Nam Fong location (next to Sing Cheong Yuan bakery).

    @Mark’75- do you know?

    • Mark'75 says:

      @Seawalker: I think Wong N Wong was at 1023 Maunakea Street, just mauka of Lin’s Lei Shop. The Wong N Wong special noodle was great anytime, day or night!

      • Seawalker says:

        Thanks for confirming, @Mark. I remember it was around there somewhere. Mr. Wong was probably thinking when we walked in the door–oh, great… more alcoholics in the joint. LOL

  29. NKHEA says:

    Jolly Rogers for Teri-king and Suzy Q and Chunky’s Teri plate extra mac.

  30. Hbh says:

    For some reason I remember a jitb over by Ala Mo on Mauka side heading towards the area by McKinley HS. There was a McDonald’s not far from it too and a Asian book store that had all those Adult magnas or anime comics? I remember the jitb because I used to run and get egg breakfast sandwiches there.

    Let’s see I wasn’t as old as you guys however, for me it was KC drive in (waffle dogs) Manapua and charsu at pattys kitchen next to holiday Mart. Teriyaki burger at Orange Julius. Ice cream at Ed and Dons. Who can forget Farrells at Ala mo? Chilli rice at both Rainbows and Zippys. Filipino spaghetti at aunties and Portuguese saugage with rice and egg too. I remember always sampling frozen yogart right across Waikiki beach. So many more places. Man I miss ono local grindz.

  31. 4G says:

    Oh – that JITB at McCully and King – after getting your food you would go across McCully to the bank (was it City Bank?) parking lot to eat.

  32. 4G says:

    I remember spending a lot of night times at most of the joints you mention, @Rod. Never really hung out at saimin stands with “the guys”, but Boulevard and Sekiya also come to mind.

    I also remember quite a few late nights at Likelike Drive In. Hard to believe they are actually still there.

    I think Violet’s is still around, too – I haven’t been there in eons . . . .

    Oh – and there was always Kelly’s (well, not so much anymore – 🙁 )

    There’s got to be more . . . .

  33. 4G says:

    Those JITB tacos were (are) strangely attractive. 😉

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