Pau Hana Patrol: Kemo‘o offers great views

Aug. 8, 2014 | 1 Comment In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition

By STEFANIE NAKASONE / snakasone@staradvertiser.com

Growing up in Wahiawa, I was always aware of Kemo’o Farms Pub, but never considered going there. Neither did any of my family or friends. With its location right across the street from Schofield Barracks, the bar and grill, to us, was simply a place military guys went to — not locals.

The ambience was peaceful during happy hour July 22 at Kemo'o Farms' lakeside lanai in Wahiawa. (Jamm Aquino / Jaquino@staradvertiser.com)

KEMO’O FARMS PUB AND LAKESIDE LANAI

1718 Wilikina Drive

(808) 621-1835

Happy Hour
2:30-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
>> $3 drafts (all-day, different selection each day)
>> Fries, chips and salsa, sweet potato tots, $3
>> Mozzarella, poppers, $4
>> Nachos, $5 (add chicken or beef, $7)
>> Cheesecake, brownie sundae, $5
>> Buffalo wings, $6

Besides, it’s on Lake Wilson, which is like the country’s Ala Wai Canal. (OK, Lake Wilson’s not that bad, but let’s just say I wouldn’t eat any fish caught there).

After recently stopping by to sample Kemo’o Farms’ happy hour, though, I came away with an entirely new view.

THE EXPERIENCE

After a long day of being trapped in our respective offices, my friend and I decided to skip the pub part of Kemo’o Farms and head down to the Lakeside Lanai, an outdoor no-frills patio located below street level.

The first thing we noticed when visiting on a Tuesday afternoon was the overwhelming scent of the surrounding eucalyptus trees, which we found to be relaxing. (It probably helps mask any scent from the lake, too.)

Speaking of the lake … for the first time in my life, I actually found Lake Wilson to be beautiful. The view overlooking the lake as the sun set coupled with the surrounding trees made the lanai feel like a peaceful, out-of-the-way escape into nature.

Adding to the comfort factor was the service — our waitresses were very welcoming and attentive during our entire visit.

THE FOOD

Kemo’o Farms offers pretty basic bar food as part of its happy hour specials. But each item we tried not only tasted good but also came in huge portions for the price.

The most eye-popping dish was the chicken nachos ($7), which came loaded on a football-size plate. The nachos were topped with onions, jalapenos, olives, tomatoes and cheese, and came with salsa and sour cream on the side. The sweet potato tots served with a garlic aioli ($3) were also delicious, coming out from the kitchen perfectly crisp.

We also tried the honey barbecue buffalo wings, which at $6 for eight huge wings was a good deal. The honey barbecue sauce was too much honey and not enough barbecue for my taste, but there are other flavors to choose from, so I’d be willing to give the wings another try.

If you happen to visit on a Tuesday late during happy hour, like we did, I suggest staying past 5 p.m., when Taco Tuesday specials begin. The $1 tacos, in hard or soft shells, come with beef, chicken or pork. They are delicious, especially with a few dabs of habanero hot sauce homemade by one of the bartenders (just ask).

An order of nachos is $5. (Jamm Aquino / Jaquino@staradvertiser.com)

An order of nachos is $5. (Jamm Aquino / Jaquino@staradvertiser.com)

THE DRINKS

While there are no happy hour-specific drink specials, there are select $3 drafts available all day except Wednesday, when Corona bottles are $4.

For cocktail lovers like myself, the lakeside lanai offers a full bar and many cocktail suggestions that are reasonably priced.

I first tried the Orange Crush ($5), made of orange vodka, Sprite and orange juice. The drink was well-balanced, but it wasn’t outstanding; it was pretty much just a screwdriver.

The Raspberry Kamikaze ($5) was a real winner. Served in a martini glass, this mix of raspberry vodka and Chambord (a personal favorite) with a splash of triple sec and lime juice was delicious and potentially dangerous — I could drink these all night.

THE VERDICT

With a chill and friendly environment, Kemo’o Farms is a great place to stop by during pau hana time. The lakeside lanai is beautiful, and while the bar’s happy hour pupu won’t be winning any awards, they certainly hit the spot and are fairly cheap, as are the drinks.

(Just to note, Kemo’o Farms is a cash-only establishment.)

  • kuewa

    Not so long ago, Kemo`o Farms was a premier destination for Hawaiian food and music, with Charles KL Davis at the piano. What memories!